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Keyword: ‘COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals’

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 2

May 16, 2020 5 comments

In the previous part, I wrote about how the especially disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals. To summarize the gist of that post, the most ardent supporters of LIEbralism in west come in two main flavors- the very rich (billionaires and multi-millionaires) and their professional managerial class (PMC) lackeys. Sure.. more than a few partisan followers of these two groups do also self-identify as LIEbrals- but are largely irrelevant since they have little real power. I also promised to talk about how LIEbral mental shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. These include, in no particular order, the LIEbral obsession with ineffective lock-downs which have far more to maintaining the appearance of action than making a real difference. As you will, later on in this series, the shortcomings are a result of the peculiar mental gymnastics necessary to maintain belief in LIEbralism.

But before we go that far, let us talk about the most obvious but deliberately ignored question- namely, is the response to this pandemic justified by its mortality rate? If you have watched any of the fake corporate “news” outlets, you might have seen what can be best described as a ‘death clock’ which shows how many people have allegedly died of the pandemic to date. Oddly enough, those bullshit counters do not show you the age distribution of those who have been diagnosed with that infection vs those who with very adverse outcomes such as ending up in the ICU and death. But why does that matter and what does it have to with LIEbral intellectual bankruptcy? As it turns out.. a whole fucking lot! See.. much of the statistics these LIEbrals are peddling on corporate media have no basis in reality. To understand what I am talking about, let us quickly go over a few basic concepts in statistics as it applies to epidemiology.

Infectious diseases come in two flavors- one in which almost every successful infection results in a clinically evident illness and another in which most infections result in an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease. Examples in the first category include diseases such as smallpox, chickenpox, measles, herpes, influenza, ebola etc. Examples in second category include diseases such as polio (especially in children under 8), meningococcal meningitis (surprisingly!) and infectious mononucleosis (another surprise) etc. Infections which cause an asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic disease do so in people who were not previously immune. A superficially similar but mechanistically different phenomena known as mild self-limiting infections occurs if you are immune to a closely related strain of the offending virus and is the basis of vaccines for rotavirus infections and genital warts. With that out of the way, let us talk about COVID-19..

Everything we know thus far about COVID-19 suggests that it clearly falls in the second category. And here is where it is important to understand which type of epidemiological data allows you to make what sort of conclusions. See.. calculating the Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) for any disease with a high percentage of asymptomatic cases requires different criteria from one in which almost every successful infection causes an symptomatic illness. In the later, we can assume that total number of cases = total number of people with specific set of symptoms. For the former, we cannot make that assumption and this has huge consequences for calculating the IFR. In the case of COVID-19, the number of positive PCR-tests from areas with high rates of positive test suggest that not enough testing has been done. So places with 30-50% positive tests such as NYC, Detroit, Northern Italy at beginning of epidemic etc are totally useless for calculating IFR.

To make a long story short, even the most basic calculation of a disease with a known high rate of asymptomatic illness requires test positive rates of below 10%, preferably less than 5%. Luckily there are certain areas of the world where the positive test rates have seldom exceeded 10% and are usually around 5%. These include the western provinces of Canada, Germany and South Korea. We also know that these jurisdictions have done a decent amount of testing since the majority of positive cases are between 20-60 years of age. Based on data from these three well-tested populations we can make a determination of the upper limit of IFR by age group. It is as follows: 0-10 = 0.0%, 10-20 = 0%, 20-30 = 0.1%, 30-40 = 0.1%, 40-50 =0.1%, 50-60 = 0.2%, 60-70 = 0.3-0.5%, 70-80 = 3-5%, 80+ = 5-20% (more in institutionalized people).

In other words, death rate for anybody between 0-50 years of age with COVID-19 is less than 0.1% or 1 in 1000. For those between 50-60, it is less than 0.2% or 1 in 500, and upto 1 in 200 for people between 70-80 who are not institutionalized. And remember.. these are the maximum rates. What we know from serological tests done around the world suggest that there are 10-50x undiagnosed and spontaneously cured infections for everyone caught in the act by PCR-based tests. Even if we take a conservative 5X multiplier, the IFR of COVID-19 now becomes less than 0.02% (1 in 5,000) for those between 0-50, 0.04% or (1 in 2,500) for those between 50-60, and a maximum of 0.1% (i in 1,000) for those between 70-80 who are not institutionalized.

In other words, we can readily identify those at greatest risk from bad outcomes based on age, general health status and certain pre-existing conditions (poorly controlled type II diabetes, serious obesity, COPD, recent treatment for cancer etc). Some of you might say.. but what about our hospitals getting overwhelmed? Well.. as it turns out the risk of hospitalization for each age group, based on PCR-test only, is as follows: 0-50 = less than 2%, 50-60 = 3-5%, 60-70 = ~ 5-10%, 70-80 = ~ 20%. If we use the serological test 5x multiplier, only those above 60 have a hospitalization rate than exceeds 1%. But what about rates of ICU use? Well.. once again using the PCR-only data, only 0.2-0.5% (1 in 500 to 1 in 200) of patients below 50 end up in the ICU- and most of them have serious pre-existing illnesses. For those between 50-70, it is about 1-2% (1 in 100 to 1 in 50)- again mostly with serious pre-existing conditions.

It is only once you get in the 70-80 group, that ICU use starts reaching 10%. And remember.. this is based on PCR-positive cases. You can divide those numbers by 5 to get an estimate based on serological tests. To put in another way, for anybody below 50, COVID-19 poses a lower risk than yearly Influenza A epidemics. For those between 50-70, the risk is about what you might expect in a bad influenza season. It is only once you reach the 80+ age cohort, especially those in very poor general health that the mortality due to COVID-19 starts looking gnarly. But, you see, there is a much easier way to protect that group and others with high-risk co-morbidities. We could provide them good protection by staffing nursing homes adequately, testing the staff who work there frequently, maybe give free face masks and hand sanitizers to everybody over 65. Perhaps we could give free restaurant and grocery delivery to those over 65.

My point is that there are many ways to protect the most vulnerable in our society without shutting down the economy, causing 30-40% unemployment rates and all its attendant socio-economic and political sequelae. But the problem, you see, is that LIEbrals are incapable of objective analysis and rational response, because they do not fit the fashionable “consensus”. It does not take a genius to figure out within next few weeks to months, it will be obvious to most people that COVID-19 is no more lethal than Influenza for those below 65. It is at that time, and with unemployment north of 30%, many will start asking whether all these interminable lock-downs, massive job losses, career-ruining turns and social distancing bullshit was worth it. I don’t think LIEberals have thought that far, because they are intellectually bankrupt. But the 30-40% of those without jobs or a future won’t stop asking them and it won’t be a pretty sight.

In the next part, I will go into why the LIEbral opposition to use of Hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 was such an incredibly bad and stupid idea. Will go into why the promotion by Remdesivir by that stupid conman.. I mean Fauci.. is going to haunt them. Hope to also discuss antibody tests- specifically their specificity and sensitivity for detection antibodies to COVID-19.

What do you think? Comments?

COVID-19 Pandemic has Bared Intellectual Bankruptcy of LIEbrals: 1

May 14, 2020 5 comments

Most of you will have read my previous posts in which I predict that the disastrous response to COVID-19 pandemic will ultimately destroy residual credibility of mainstream corporate media in this country, increase political divisions, have a large effect on the 2020 elections and very likely hurt the democratic party’s prospects in that election and the one in 2022. While writing those posts, and reading them later, I noticed an interesting thread which ran through all those posts and even a prior series I had written. To make a long story short, the horrifyingly inept response of western countries (and to fair, even many east-Asian ones such as China) represent a failure of the ideology of LIEbralism and its institutions. But before we go further, let us talk about what LIEbralism is and is not. This will allow us to get a better grasp of the ideology rather than talk about it by invoking totally wrong stereotypes as done by most idiots in this country.

Firstly, LIEbralism is NOT Socialism, Communism or any combination of them. In fact, LIEbralism does not require democracy, as 18th and 19th century England was a LIEbral society without having anything close to universal suffrage. Similarly openly slave-owning societies such as pre-1865 USA were LIEbral societies. Pre-1945 France, Netherlands, Portugal with their colonies in Asia and Africa were also LIEbral societies. So how do we define LIEbralism? How can LIEbralism exist without democracy and alongside slavery and racism? LIEbralism is best understood as the successor ideology to CONservatism which in turn succeeded Feudalism. The biggest difference between CONservatism and LIEbralism has to do with the rationale given by those in power to justify their position. Under CONservatism, elites justify their existence by invoking tradition and history. Under LIEbralism, elites justify their position and ill gotten gains by claiming that they are somehow “better” and “more deserving”.

To bolster those claims, they support lots of token causes which sound nice such as individual rights, rule of law, meritocracy, religious tolerance and equality. Of course, none of this means that they actually give a shit about making the world a better place- though they frequently claim this to be their goal. A better understanding of LIEbralism can be gained by examining what it actually supports in the economic realm. LIEbrals are strong believers in limited government, “free trade” and “free markets”. This is why, for example, it is was possible for wretched parasitic and highly unequal societies such as as 18th and 19th century UK to correctly call themselves LIEbral. Similarly, the founders of USA could write a nice sounding constitution and still be perfectly OK with slavery. Countries such as Belgium could claim to be civilized and LIEbral societies while simultaneously exploiting and killing millions of people in west Africa. LIEbralism is best understood as a worse form of CONservatism, but with secular humanistic facade and tons of double-think to justify its existence.

With that out of the way, let us focus on why the response to current COVID-19 pandemic will be incredibly damaging for LIEbralism in the west- including its most current incarnation aka neo-LIEbralism. So who are most prominent supporters of LIEbralism in the west? Well.. the most prominent and ardent supporters of that ideology fall into two groups- the very rich and those in sinecured professions and jobs. Let me expand on that a bit. When I am talking about the very rich, I am talking about those who will be bailed out of any financial loss by the government. So, that includes billionaires, multi-millionaires in certain sectors, top management of most large corporations.. basically anyone who personally call up elected politicians to bail them out- directly or indirectly. Somebody like Bill Gates, your average CEO of a multinational, large shareholders in Disney etc. Notably, it does not include the vast majority of people who operate small- and medium- sized business and we shall see why that matters later on.

The other group which supports LIEbralism most vocally is the PMC (professional managerial class). This group is defined by being credentialed at “prestigious” educational institutions, inhabiting the ‘right’ social circles and being employed in secure professions or positions with a highly subjective and elitist entry barrier. Fauci is a good example of such a creature, since he has been effectively a senior bureaucrat (and not a scientist) for the past four decades. Other examples of such critters include the vast majority of upper-level management-types in corporations, universities, hospitals etc throughout this country. While they lack the same type of access to government largess at billionaires and other really rich people, they make up for that by being far more numerous than the very rich. Members of this group are defined by a carefully cultivated image of competence alongside a simultaneous and shocking lack of even minimal competence in their supposed areas of expertise.

So why do I think that the ongoing botched response to COVID-19 pandemic will expose the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals to an hitherto unthinkable extent? To understand that, we have to first understand why CONservatism lost the battle to LIEbralism, Communism and Fascism a century ago. You might remember that me saying that the people making decisions about public health measures during this pandemic remind me of the horribly incompetent generals who led armies during WW1. As it turns out, the vast majority of incompetent generals, political leaders and all the others who led the world into that disastrous war were outspoken supporters of CONservatism. This was especially the case in countries which suffered tons of casualties during WW1 (France, German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Italy). Consequently, CONservatism lost the battle for public relations in those countries and the old regimes were replaced by ones who subscribed to other ideologies.

Since we are at almost a thousand words, I will continue this discussion in the next part of this series- which I hope to post within next couple of days. In it, I will show you how LIEbral mental pathologies and shortcomings can explain their disastrous response to this pandemic. You will, for example, see how the desire of LIEbrals to continue lock-downs has a lot to do with them trying to avoid looking incompetent rather than any real objective measure of efficacy. You wills also see how the mental pathologies and double-think inherent in LIEbralism can explain why its most vocal exponents avoid talking about the need to temporarily cancel rent collections of all types. I will also show you how their unwillingness to honestly and objectively assess risks has a lot to do with their real-life incompetence. And we also talk about the various strains of secular apocalypticism which pervades the mind of LIEbrals under late-capitalism in the declining west.

What do you think? Comments?

Some Predictions about Downstream Effects of COVID-19 Shutdown: 1

May 20, 2020 12 comments

Since I have been recently writing a lot of posts about the COVID-19 shutdown (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6), I thought it might be a good idea to write down some more and specific predictions about the downstream effects of COVID-19 shutdown. So here are some of them, in no particular order of importance or significance. Just so you know, most are pretty depressing.

1] As I have mentioned many times in the past, jobs in the service sector dominate the economic landscape of post-industrial western countries. Just think about how many people you know who work in a place which makes a real physical product or processes some raw material vs all those who work at some shop, mall, hotel, restaurant or something similar. But this goes even further, as the largest employers in most towns and cities in this country are either hospitals, universities or school districts. While these more “credentialed” jobs might seem to be something other than service sector jobs- they are just that and you will see why that matters later in this post.

While jobs in the service sector might seem too heterogeneous to be hit by the shutdown and its aftermath, they share some common features that make them especially vulnerable to economic disruption. Firstly, majority of business in the service sector operate on much low margin of profit compared to some other sectors. For example, there is no service sector equivalent of Apple or Microsoft with a few hundred billion dollars stashed into overseas accounts and obscure financial instruments. In other words, consumer sector businesses and employers lack the very deep pockets of corporations in other sectors.

Secondly, as a partial consequence of the first, they are heavily dependent on highly predictable levels of businesses activity and are usually (especially in west) financially over-optimized to the point that they cease to be profitable or even viable when capacity utilization levels are not close to maximum. This is a fancy way of saying that restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, most shops in malls etc become money pits if they are not operating at close to their maximum capacity for a good part of the year. FYI- this is less of an issue in some Asian countries where the proprietors often own the premises and are not so heavily financially leveraged.

But why does this matter? Well.. because even if they can survive a couple of months of being closed down due to helicopter money from the government, they are just not viable if forced to operate at 25% or 50% capacity for even couple of months. Sure.. restaurants which do mostly takeout (pizza joints, chinese) might survive, but the vast majority will simply close it down because there is no way a sane person would operate, for more than a couple of months, under poorly thought and uncertain regulations made up by bozos without any skin in the game.

And it gets worse.. the service sector is far less monopolized than other sectors of the economy, and the majority of business in it are either small or medium sized. Given that government largess seems to preferentially benefit the large and politically connected in every sector, it is likely.. almost certain.. that many small to medium sized businesses will go bankrupt or close forever. What makes this outcome especially problematic is that those business account for the majority of jobs in that sector. In other words, we will a large rise in long-term unemployment in the very societies which have decided (about four decades ago) to abandon their economies to the “free market” aka financialism and monopolization by choice.

To add insult to injury, the vast majority of people in this sector are under 60 years of age and therefore the least likely to die (less than 1 in 1,000 chance) from COVID-19. And here is what will happen next.. tens of millions will be unable to pay their rents, mortgages, student loans, car loans etc for a prolonged time. Of course, trying to throw so many people on the street and out of their cars will have some very nasty political repercussions- more so because the majority are young. Some of you might say.. but what about unemployment insurance? Well.. that amount paid by most western countries (but especially USA) is not adequate for covering majority of their bills- more so if you live in a medium to large city.

And it gets worse…

2] The whole “social-distancing” and “quarantine” bullshit along with dubious measures such as requiring everybody to wear mask in public perpetuates the atmosphere of a perpetual crisis. I liken these measures to the security theater we saw in USA after 9/11- but with the potential to cause infinitely more economic problems. Think about it.. would you eat out at restaurants with same frequency as before if you server was wearing a face mask and every alternate table was closed off with big stupid stickers? Would you go to a pub as often? What about a movie theater? What about shops in malls pestering you to disinfect your hands every time you walked into them? Would you buy as many clothes as before if you couldn’t try them out in fitting rooms?

What about airlines? would you take a flight as often if you had to deal with all that bullshit? What about vacations? Would you stay at hotels as often even if you still had a job? And all of this security theater for what end? To maybe slow spread of a highly infectious disease with an gross population IFR of less than 0.5% and mostly problematic in people over 70 and 80? A disease that does not cause symptoms bad enough to seek any medical attention in over 90% of those infected. A disease that is functionally asymptomatic in most people it infects? A disease that the vast majority recover from without any therapeutic intervention or long-term sequelae.

The vast majority of disease control measures deployed to stop this pandemic are closer to ritualistic virtue display than good science. Consider for example, face masks. Do they benefit people under 70 to the same extent as those over 70? And given the highly infectious nature of this disease along with very low mortality in most age cohorts, isn’t it a good idea to let non-vulnerable people get the illness and recover from it. thus conferring them immunity than wait for an effective and safe vaccine- which will likely take at least a few months. Now let me ask you another question- do you think I am the only one thinking along these lines?

It is becoming increasingly harder to maintain lock-down in many parts of the world and while those regions might suffer more death at first- it will become increasingly obvious that letting people under a certain age get infected while protecting the more vulnerable minority is the least bad option. Notice I said ‘least bad option’ because there is no realistic good option in the near future. You are really choosing between options that front-load death or those which spread far wider economic misery over a much longer time-scale. Personally, I choose the first and you can be sure that the majority will eventually choose it because the second one sucks far more.

Noe let me ask you a related question- what happens to the credibility of the people and institutions who pushed the second option. As many of you know, it is my opinion that Trump’s rise of power had a lot to the non-recovery of most people from the GFC of 2008 and continued neoliberal policies under Obummer. Imagine what such a crisis and much bigger repudiation of “credentialed” people and institutions would do for the political scene in this country. You might remember that in a previous post I made the case that rise of fascist and strong-men type leaders in continental Europe during 1920s and 1930s had everything to do with high rates of unemployment among men combined with a repudiation of the elites who led them into WW1.

You think Trump is bad? Just imagine the type of right-wing ‘populists’ that will arise in response to these stupid and ruinous lock-down policies. In future posts of this series, I intend to write about the impact of these stupid policies on schools, universities, future of “left”, effects on certain parts of manufacturing sector, municipal bonds, velocity of money, effect on rates of drug use and much more. But before I finish this post, let me say something else. If you think that a crisis of this extraordinary magnitude will make corporate-owned western governments question their faith in neoliberalism- think again.

And another thing.. this crisis will destroy whatever residual faith people in many countries still have in the WHO- but that is the topic of another post.

What do you think? Comments?