As far as political ranting goes… well, I’ve got to get something off my chest. This Coronavirus business has made people insane. I don’t know any other way to put it. There are those out there who are convinced this thing is so bad, we need to stay locked up until the end of time, and in trademark Leftist fashion, if even one person dies…. Wuhan Flu is serious, certainly serious enough to take some sensible precautions. There is no evidence I’ve seen that suggests it’s the fucking plague.
On the other hand, there are those who are going on as if nothing is happening, and they are pretty dumb too. Beaches were opened back up recently in my state. And by itself, that is fine. I’m worried that excessive use of executive power to enforce the lockdown can go very badly in the end. But just because you can do a thing does not mean you should. Hordes of people going to the beach to party… well that’s pretty dumb too. It’s one thing if you need to break quarantine to earn a living, to get food, to do the things you need to do for you and yours.
It’s quite another to party as if nothing is happening. Again, it’s their right. But it’s stupid.
Worse than both of those, though, is the SURETY so many folks posting all over social media appear to have. They use the word “facts” after a cursory 5 minute Google search, or watching some journalist on TV, one who hasn’t been right about anything since before Donald Trump was elected President. The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is in full force. And they get so damned angry when you dare to point out that, quite frankly, very few people know what they are talking about.
I don’t either! But at least I’ll say so. We’re not really going to have solid numbers on this disease until the threat has passed, in all likelihood. It’s one thing to make a semi-educated guess based on the fragmentary data we have now. It’s quite another to claim it’s a “fact”.
Take fatality rates by country. Some Leftists have been bloviating about how America has the highest death toll! Okay. America has, for example, roundabout 5 times the population of Italy. You need to compare death rate per capita. Second, China’s numbers are most likely bogus, and probably much higher than they’ve reported. I have no specific evidence of this, but that is standard operating procedure for the ChiComs: saving face and burying the truth. They certainly buried the impact of the disease when it was in its early stages. Why should anybody trust their numbers now?
But beyond that, data collection methods differ by country. For instance, if someone has cancer, and coronavirus, and dies… which one is labeled as the cause? How accurate is the tally in each country? How corrupt is each country’s government? Speculating on relative death rates per capita using the official numbers as a base, I get that. It’s probably still inaccurate, but it’s something to look at.
Being SURE about the numbers… that’s a different kettle of fish.
The same operates on the side of some Rightists, many of whom appear to be taking the threat too lightly given the lack of data. If you don’t know for sure how bad it is, it makes sense to take some precautionary measures until you can assess the risk more accurately. I get that the various governments are exceeding the bounds of the Constitution in many places, and need to be smacked down, in case these measures acquire some kind of permanence. But one of the few legitimate functions of a government is to protect the citizenry from the kinds of existential threats individuals, alone, cannot effectively defend against. The same moral justification for the existence of the military may be valid in the case of an international pandemic.
I am very, very worried about politicians getting a taste for power right now. So I’m not going to shit overmuch on the people who are angry at the limitations. Again, I don’t have enough accurate data or knowledge to make these kinds of calls. Neither do the politicians. Or the protesters. So do as you will, as makes sense to your own personal risk assessment.
But understand that not even the doctors are sure about much of anything right now.
And be ready to change your position as better data trickles in. We may find that we grossly overreacted to this.
Then again, we ma
Good Lord – and I feel justified in invoking Him in this – what a mess since I’ve last dropped a blog post here. I have a mix of good, bad, and ugly. Some may prefer the bad news first, but I’ll lead with the good instead, because in light of a lot of folks being stuck indoors for the duration, this may be a helpful recommendation.
My good friend Francis is releasing his new book The Warm Lands for free this Friday (Amazon link). We’re all going to need a lot of reading material, I suspect. By nature, I am an introvert, and so I suppose being stuck indoors with a virtual stack of books is not the worst thing that could happen. In any event, folks, nab yourself a copy and pass it along to your friends. You’ll need the entertainment in the days to come.
But then I look at my various investments. You know, a friend of mine known ’round the world as ClarkHat told me I’d be better off going cash. I didn’t listen. Usually I have an internal heuristic: ClarkHat is always right. It’s not 100% accurate, but it’s well north of 95%. Next time I’ll remember that a bit better. I kept a lot of my holdings in gold, and even that tanked, which was pretty damned shocking. Last Thursday I made the mistake of looking at my investment balances, and it took about a quarter of a bottle of cheap scotch going down the hatch to numb the pain.
Preparations-wise, I am good to go. Being the paranoid introvert that I am, I was well ahead of the game in stocking up with canned goods and various foodstuffs. Ammunition? Heh. It’s me. I’ve got enough to conquer my zip code without too much difficulty. I joke about leading a Mad Max Road Warrior gang up the I-4 corridor to sack Disneyworld and make it the seat of my hive of scum and villainy. I’m only mostly joking.
Look, I’m not a doctor. So I won’t dispense advice of the nature, save to mention that my brother is in medical, in the military, and he’s been indicating that things are very bad. They are working him to the bone on lab testing, and the information coming down from on high hasn’t been very optimistic. I’ll summarize my thoughts on the matter:
- This isn’t the zombie apocalypse. Fatality rates seem to vary from 0.7% at the low end to 7% at the high end, depending on a lot of factors. ~2% seems to be pretty standard, insofar as we can tell. That’s not enough to collapse a civilization, but…
- …It is enough to collapse an economy. If the lockdown/suppression activity ends in a few weeks, I expect the markets will snap back into place like a rubber band. Most of the losses will be made good. Business as usual will resume. But that does not seem likely. If lockdowns continue for months without end, I expect the economic damage will be severe. The rubber band will break. Enter a depression to make the ’08 recession look like a walk in the park.
- The fact that Trump is already talking about massive stimulus and UBI packages indicates that he’s well aware of this. Things are going to get ugly, economically. Prepare accordingly.
- If all of the above is true, we might get a major political shift. We’re talking once-in-a-generation shift.
Consider that white liberal urbanites have been spotted lining up at gun stores in otherwise gun-unfriendly locales like California. Deep down, I think they know the same truth that Francis has talked about at his place on more than one occasion: urban race relations are very poor. Add social justice race hustling to the mix, and… well we saw what happened in Ferguson. With this crisis comes the opportunity for a great deal of nefarious behavior. We know it. Hustlers know it. And the urbanite cosmopolitans – for all their supposed enlightened sophistication – know it too.
This goes far larger than that, though. Border shutdowns are being discussed even in the European Union. We may see a shift away from globalism, and its supply chain vulnerabilities to diseases like this, to stronger borders and domestic manufacturing and supply chains despite a higher cost in dollars, because now awareness of vulnerability to situations like this one is added to the “cost” column. The fact that China was saber-rattling with Trump about the possibility of stopping pharmaceutical shipments to the US is a big red flag, and probably a knee-jerk misstep on the part of the Chinese. That only adds to this perception.
So while Trump appears to be shifting Leftward on policies like temporary UBI, the rest of the populace may be shifting rightward on matters of border security and “social justice” stupidity. How much time does anyone have for genderqueer fartkin when the economy is taking a gigantic dump and a worldwide pandemic is in full swing? Expect patience for that stupidity to evaporate like a fart in a hurricane.
I don’t know where this leaves the 2020 election, except that if Trump plays his cards right, he could come out looking like a prophet with regard to his on-the-record opposition to Chinese supply chain dominance in particular, and globalism in general. But either way, one of Taleb’s Black Swans has made its appearance, and I expect the ramifications from COVID-19 to continue to echo for many years. The political and economic fallout may well be an order of magnitude greater than the disease itself.
Meanwhile, active debate continues among many very intelligent people in my circle as to how bad the disease really is. It’s probably not worth buying 500 boxes of toilet paper – as some have done. But if you don’t have 3 months of food, water, and other consumables now, you better get on that. A 2% fatality rate is enough that things will be shutdown. No polity can tolerate that high of a death rate for an extended period of time in the modern era. Governments will take all kinds of measures – for good or ill – to prevent it. Navigating the suppression of the disease through social distancing while avoiding catastrophic economic collapse will be a hard road. I expect some countries will fail in this regard. Others (like China) will probably turn to outright tyranny to suppress it.
It may very well be that the WWE President
Comacho… er… Trump is exactly what the doctor ordered (sorry, the pun was irresistible). Either way, as a friend of mine said earlier today, this will further reduce the Obama legacy to oblivion, sandwiched between the 9/11 president, and the Kung Flu president. An empty suit who faced little in the way of challenge.
Stay safe, my friends, and attend to your reading lists. May God keep you.