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Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 4

April 13, 2020 26 comments

In the previous post of this series, I made the point that all of the dumbshit “democratic” western countries and their sad imitators (India etc) have not thought through the full consequences of shutting down most of their economies in response to the SARS-2 pandemic. Because, if they had performed any due diligence, it would be obvious that stopping the collection of all types of rents and bills had to be done before shutting down other things. It is also no secret that some large countries (USA and India) lack both the bureaucratic and financial infrastructure to deliver timely and sufficient money to most of their people who have lost income because of this shutdown. Even those who have done a far better job in this regard (Denmark, Canada, UK etc) are still half-assing it by not covering all their people and cancelling economic rents. Bad as these things are, these are not their biggest failures- so far.

In my opinon, the single biggest failure (thus far) has been the complete lack of any exit plan- something which Kim Iversen alluded to in one of her many videos. Any politician, bureaucrat or “credentialed epidemiologist” who cannot present a definitive and feasible exit strategy from this thoughtless lockdown is not living in the real world. While there will be ample opportunity to dunk on politicians and bureaucrats later on this post (or series), let me start by exposing the utter incompetence of all those “credentialed epidemiologists” who staff the public health departments of western countries. You know who they remind me of.. WW1 generals. If you have read a significant amount of history, you will be aware that the vast majority of generals in WW1 on both sides were epic disasters and clusterfucks whose decisions caused far more casualties than if they hadn’t been born. But why were they such massive disasters? Well it has to do with how they ended up in their positions and careers prior to 1914.

See.. for almost 50 years prior to WW1, there was no large scale warfare in western Europe. The only real action most soldiers and generals in that part of world saw from end of Franco-Prussian War in 1871 to the start of WW1 in 1914 was restricted to putting down rebellions in colonies and a few small skirmishes in the Balkans. Therefore, an entire generation of western generals had never faced anything beyond dark-skinned tribals with spears and a few old firearms. To put it another way, the upper military ranks of western countries were filled with shysters and dummies who had reached their position via family connections, patronage and bribes, flattery and good social manners etc. Sure.. many of them had attended “prestigious” schools and universities and were capable of accurately reciting back whatever they had learned in them. To put it another way, they were incompetent posers who could nevertheless give the appearance of competence. But reality cannot be fooled and WW1 exposed them in a most unflattering manner.

The current crop of “credentialed epidemiologists” in USA and other western countries are, in many ways, similar to WW1 generals. Here is why.. firstly, neither has actually faced a large scale challenge of this magnitude in their entire careers. Sure, there have been bad influenza seasons and occasional outbreaks of some exotic diseases in Africa or East Asia- but dealing with routine or small-scale problems does not prepare one for making decisions during large scale meltdowns. Secondly, just like their military counterparts a century ago, the bulk of these “credentialed epidemiologists” went to “prestigious” universities where they learned to regurgitate the alleged “wisdom” of those who had fought past wars while also building up their social networks. Most importantly, their training and experience leaves them particularly unequipped to think outside the box of “conventional wisdom” and “established norms”. You know.. in some ways, they remind me of the current democratic party establishment.

But why does any of this matter? The brief answer is as follows: any strategy or plan is always subject to the constraints of the system it operates within and available resources. Sure.. you can always find new ways to unlock resources that were previously unavailable or partially bypass existing constraints, but in the end the feasibility of any given plan is dictated by what exists and is available at that time. Let me explain that concept with a couple of examples- the stalemate of trench warfare in WW1 was ultimately broken by using shock-troop tactics by Germans and combined arms operations by the other side- but both approaches, though new, were extensions of what was feasible at that time. Similarly, in WW2- the development of jet aircraft made it possible to fly faster, V1 and V2 demonstrated that cruise and ballistic missiles were not pipe dreams. However, once again, they were extensions of what was feasible at that time.

My point is that physical, logistical and technological feasibility of any strategy or plan of action is central to success- whether you are waging war or trying to control a pandemic. With that in mind, let us talk about something almost every commentator in mainstream media seems to have missed. Ever wonder how you can motivate people to follow a plan of action which might be painful in short-term, but potentially rewarding in long run? The more delusional of you might think that fear would work. However any close reading of history shows that fear by itself, at best, can only buy you a short time (weeks to months). So what else can? The answer is hope.. specifically hope for a better future. In other words, a leader with a reasonably feasible plan to overcome whatever adversity they are facing will always motivate people to go along for a far longer time than somebody who is using only fear. Hope trumps fear. With that in mind, let us go through their stupidities, not necessarily in order of importance.

1] ‘Social distancing’ and shutting down most of economy is unworkable over any period longer than a few weeks. Even countries which provide far more generous direct monetary support to their population than USA have been either unable/unwilling to provide full income replacement. Consequently, any shutdown that goes on for more than a few weeks will definitely have very nasty downstream and knock-on economic effects. But why does this matter? Well.. here is why. SARS-2 aka COVID-19 has a maximum fatality rate of about 1.5% in populations which conduct extensive testing + factoring in asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic patients who recovered (not counted in official positive numbers). Compare this to massive and inevitable job loss in the service sector due to ‘social distancing’ guidelines and the inevitable closure of many small business.Long story short, shutting down economy for more than a few weeks gives results in unemployment rates reaching 30% and beyond. Note that this will be on top of all the other problems caused by many people being unable to pay rent and other bills.

To put it bluntly, the number of severely pissed off people who are unemployed and in poverty will exceed the potential number of who might die by a minimum of over 20 times. Continuing the bullshit charade of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns until we develop an effective vaccine a year or more from now is not a viable option, regardless of what dumbfucks such as Faucci or Bill Gates want to to believe. We are already seeing lineups of thousands (who own cars) in many american cities to use food banks- and this is just the beginning. Let me remind you that similar combinations of unemployment and non-existent safety nets have, in the past, led to the rise of people such as Mussolini and Hitler. Unless the “credentialed epidemiologists” come up with a viable plan to reopen the economy real soon, things will develop a momentum and direction of their own- in ways that are not controllable.

2] ‘Social distancing’ and ‘flattening the curve’ loses its utility after a few weeks. Slowing the spread of a highly contagious but not-especially-lethal disease (in the absence of effective treatments or vaccines) for more than a couple of months merely prolongs the outbreak. While such measures can buy us a few weeks (at the beginning) to get things in order, find a better protocol for treatment or develop better measures to protect the most vulnerable groups etc- it cannot stop the inevitable. This becomes much more relevant once you understand that excess deaths due to ignoring other diseases and conditions, because of a misguided focus on SARS-2, will keep on increasing and quickly eclipse the extra mortality due to the later. People don’t stop having heart attacks, strokes, needing anti-cancer therapy, requiring elective surgery or receiving treatment for other acute and chronic conditions because there is a moderate pandemic of some sort. Anything which takes resources away from other medical issues will increase total mortality.

To make matters more interesting, most people above 80 who require incubation due to severe presentations of SARS-2 don’t make it- at least with currently used therapeutic interventions. This groups also makes up the majority of deaths due to that disease. At some stage, people will start asking whether intensive therapeutic interventions in severely ill people over a certain age is desirable given that it takes those resources away from people with far more treatable disease conditions. In wretched countries such as USA and India, the loss of income in a system without a decent safety net will cause additional problems such as many people being unable to purchase medications, seek medical help or even buy food. Do not, even for a minute, believe the idiots who are trying to tell you that such deprivations won’t cause widespread and violet social unrest.

Since this post is already close to 1700 words, I will stop now. In the next part we will talk about why legal enforcement of ‘social distancing’ and shutdowns are going to cause far more problems than you realize- especially after next two weeks. Will also go into why the fear of looking bad due to covid-19 deaths after shutdown is lifted might cause decision paralysis among the “credentialed” leading to further collateral damage. Might also go into the scientific and clinical evidence behind using Chloroquine and Hydroxychloroquine to treat SARS-2 in early stages of disease. Here is a quick spoiler, there is considerable evidence that both drugs are very effective at reducing the number of those who require hospitalization and ICU care, but only if given within first few days of initial symptoms- and this actually supports their known mode of action.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 3

April 1, 2020 22 comments

In the previous post, I posted links to two YouTube clips by Kim Iversen in which she makes the point that shutting down economy of most countries for many months, till the COVID-19 virus is contained, is just not feasible. Nor is it possible, without a yet to be developed and efficacious vaccine, to eliminate a highly infectious virus with a low mortality rate which has already spread all around the world. The point she was trying to make is that the bullshit being sold to you as official government response and policies is likely to cause far more collateral socio-economic damage and human deaths than the viral pandemic itself. Some of you might have also noticed that tons of online virtue signalling losers, who have never worked a manual job in their entire life or being anything other than economically secure, were infuriated by her observations and are still busy trying to censor and “de-platform” her.

It is telling that the so-called “left” in western countries is as intellectually bankrupt as the right-wing nutcases they pretend to oppose and claim moral superiority over. This similarity between supporters of the two alleged political extremes will, however, not be surprising to some readers. As you might have also read in some of my other previous posts on this topic (link 1, link 2) the governmental response to this pandemic in most western countries has so far heavily favored corporations and very rich over the majority of their citizens. Even western European countries, who have so far done more for their citizens than USA, have still not formulated an effective response. Now.. I am not saying that they won’t get their shit together eventually, but they have not shown any signs of doing that- so far. Confused at what I am talking about? Let me explain..

1] Let me ask you a series of simple questions. What percentage of all paid jobs in the west are not in the ‘essential’ category AND cannot be performed from home? You know the answer to this one- the majority. Now let us follow on to the related question. How many jobs in these sectors pay more than what you can get on unemployment insurance? The answer tro this one is that a large percentage do pay more than even the generous unemployment insurance paid in west European countries today. Things might have been different decades ago, when it was higher in those countries- but that is a topic for another post. Now, some of you might counter by pointing out the governments in many west European countries are willing to cover 75-80% of the pay (upto a certain amount) of employees for a few months, if their employer does not lay them off. Well.. the key words here are ‘if their employer does not lay them off’.

The point I am trying to make is that even if you assume this economic disruption will not extend past a few weeks, affected employers (aka corporations) will lay off a significant percentage of their employees. In other words, a shutdown which lasts more than a few weeks is going to put a massive number of people on relatively stingy unemployment insurance. This problem is hard to solve in so-called “liberal democracies” where interests and needs of corporations and capitalists always outweigh those of the majority. See.. the government of one-party states such as China can simply order its corporations to keep paying their employees at an acceptable rate, because those corporations know that they will be refunded by government and have no option other than accepting the government’s order. Even other supposedly democratic east Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea can make their corporations and businesses retain employees in ways than supposedly “liberal democracies” cannot or don’t want to.

And the situation get even more dismal once you consider things such as residential and small business rent, auto insurance, utilities and other forms of economic rents on the majority. Do you really think voluntary guidelines and suggestions to postpone rent and similar payments is going to cut it? Do you really think that people on significantly reduced income who don’t have much money saved because they were paid so poorly even before this crisis can afford the upcoming balloon payments on rent, utilities etc while being able to afford all essentials and have enough leftover to to stimulate the depressed economy by spending like they used to? And let us clear about something else, most of the trillions being given to corporations right now are going to end up in secret bank accounts in oversea tax havens- one way or the other. And this holds for large corporations that are based in west Europe as much as those based in USA.

2] No western country (which I am aware of) has thus far implemented a freeze on financial rents of any type. To put it bluntly, most of the paltry unemployment insurance payments (to those who ‘qualify’) are just going to end up in the pockets of those collect rents, credit card payments, auto loans payments etc. In other words, many large corporations will receive government money twice- once directly to “save” jobs and then indirectly as people who could barely afford these rent payments in past have to pass an even larger portion of their income onto those corporations. Now imagine what this will do for the disposable income and ability of those people to support business which do not collect such rents. And this not a trivial question as businesses which do not collect such rents employ many times the number of those that do collect rent. Imagine the effect of such an economic contraction on all those retail stores in malls and other business which depend on them. And it gets worse.

Have you seriously considered the impact of this pandemic on the financial situation of those who work in airlines, airports, tourism, hotels and restaurants. What about those who livelihood is connected to running music concerts and other large cultural gatherings? You do realize that most people working in those sectors aren’t well-paid in the best of times.. right? Have all those idiots who incessantly talk about shutting down the economy indefinitely “until the pandemic is over” understand the ramifications of such actions on the livelihood of a substantial minority of the population? Given that most western countries have still not offered to replace income of their working citizens and small businesses in addition to freezing rents, where do they think all that money necessary for restarting the economy is going to come from? Then again, virtue signalers are not known for their ability to think through their actions.

To make matters more interesting, the mortality rate of COVID-19 (once you factor in people who don’t develop symptoms and recover uneventfully) is less than 1%. And ya.. I am basing that number on countries such as South Korea and Germany who have done a much better job of extensive testing of their population than others such as Italy and Spain. Did I mention that majority of those who die will be more than 80 years old? The point I am trying to make is as follows: At some stage relatively soon (not more than four weeks from now) a lot of people who are younger and not well-paid or compensated for this shutdown will start asking questions about whether ineffectual attempts to stop a disease that kills mostly very old people is worth them losing their livelihoods and future. To make matters worse, if that is possible, the pig-headed response of bureaucrats to such concerns will only inflame this situation further. And it is going to cause far more problems in countries such as USA and UK than Italy or Spain who have the social structure necessary to deal with prolonged economic adversity.

In the next part, I will write about how the lack of realistic plans for controlling this virus or mitigating its effect and reopening economy will make the situation far worse than it has to be. Might also write about how this pandemic will diminish the already decreasing the direct and indirect power of USA (and west in general) outside their borders.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 2

March 24, 2020 38 comments

In the previous post of this series, I promised to write about how the poorly thought shutdowns in combination with inadequate income support will likely cause epically bad public reactions all over USA in the next two to three weeks. Let me quickly update that prediction by saying that the bad public reactions to shutdowns in countries doing an even shittier job of income support, such as India, will be worse. Having said that, there will be far more public anger and discontent in this country than any other major developed country. So let us start talking about the many reasons that thoughtless governmental reaction to this pandemic is likely to discredit both them and other associated institutions even further.

1] One of the most important lessons that western governments have not learned is that, over past three decades, an increasing distrust of them by public as well as vastly increased flow of information makes lying a really bad choice. See.. it was far easier for governments to lie during first half of 20th century because mass media was new and people had not become so cynical and atomized. For example, analysis of the absolutely pathetic quality of military leadership during WW1 took over a decade to even begin entering into the sphere of public conversation. Something similar occurred with WW2 where it took almost two decades for critiques about it (especially for the “victorious” side) to start entering into popular culture. Public critiques about Vietnam war took a few years, Gulf War 1.0 about 2 years, Gulf War 2.0 less than a year.

But how is any of this relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic? Well.. by now I am sure you must have heard or read screeds by numerous media busybodies about how even young people can die from COVID-19 infection. This bullshit usually takes the guise of some breathlessly retweeted article about how one or two under-40s died of it in Italy or Spain, or how some unnamed doctor is tweeting about how there are many young people in the ICU because of respiratory symptoms due to this infection. But the hard data (graphed in this tweet) tell a very different story. To put it bluntly, less than 1 in 500 people under 50 years of age with symptomatic COVID-19 infection of any type (fever, cough to respiratory distress) verified by PCR -based tests end up dying. Even those under 60 experience a mortality rate of somewhere between 0.4 to 1.3%.

These patterns holds irrespective of country or continent. Don’t forget that a good percentage of infected people either don’t become symptomatic or the symptoms are mild or vague enough for them to not seek medical attention or testing. To put it another way, it is realistic to assume that the mortality rate for people with COVID-19 infection who under 50 is below 1 in 500 and likely closer to 1 in 1000, once you factor in the untested asymptomatic (or mildly symptomatic and untested) individuals. The same is probably true for those between 50 and 60 years, with the real mortality rate (for all infected individuals) in this group approaching somewhere between 1 in 200 to 1 in 400. Officials pretending that mortality is not low in individuals under 60 is going to hurt their public credibility- when they need it the most.

2] Now let us talk about the topic of money, or more specifically how most people are going to have enough money to survive let alone pay bills during this shutdown. Given that the economy and most jobs in western countries is based on mass consumption, it is darkly comic to see that not one government (even among the supposedly socialist nordic countries) seems to have a fucking clue about how they plan to replace the income of every person in their country. Yes.. you heard that right! Every person, not just every person who can file an unemployment claim. This is especially important since a pretty sizable minority of people under 40 in those countries do not have regular well-paying jobs. Given that this group is also the one least affected by COVID-19, any decrease in their already meager lifestyle will make them ask questions about the utility of boomers and older people- to put it mildly. Did I mention that western countries are already socially atomized and most of them just don’t care about old people.

Even paying 80% of the salary of those not yet been fired from jobs is insufficient. And I am also pretty sure that the neoliberal mindset which pervades political and bureaucrat types in these countries will not consider a worthwhile universal basic income (albeit, temporary) until it is too late. To put it bluntly, any governmental measure to replace lost income which does not actually put enough money in the pockets of people by mid-April in USA and mid-May in most European countries is going to be basically useless- as far as the longer term is concerned. Many idiots like to believe that crisis bring people together, however a reading of history suggest that this occurs only when the crisis is well-manged by governments in charge. Don’t believe me.. just read about what happened in the aftermath of WW1, where even countries that were on the winning side (Italy, Spain, many countries in Eastern Europe) experienced long-term civil strife which led to authoritarian governments. That is why so many dictators arose in 1920s and 1930s.

This is even more relevant today since the 2008 global financial crisis destroyed the faith of many people (especially those under 40) in the previous systems and its institutions. There is a reason why Trump is the president and Bernie can get donations from millions of supporters. Expect the trend of people under 40 (and even 50) distrusting institutions to increase, not decrease. Should also point out that a pretty significant number of those under 40 don’t have kids and family and are therefore likely to go much further than those who might have something to lose. It does not help that an open-ended shutdown of most parts of economy is a very bad idea, even when faced by something like pandemic. People will not come together in solidarity if there is no light at end of tunnel and have nothing to gain by playing nice.

Let me spell that out a bit more clearly. See.. unless most under 40s (and under 50s) see a much better future at end of this particular tunnel, they will stop complying and playing nice with the system- especially if they see no compensation for the loss caused by measures which might reduce the mortality among boomers and older people. And you can’t blame them- what do they have to lose? It should also be noted that social atomization in western countries has long since reached levels where majority of people don’t really care about their old parents. Now try making people care about the welfare of old people to whom they are not related. This is also why I believe that Trump’s idea of slowly opening economy will get far more public support than most LIEbrals realize, even if doing so resulted in the death of many old people.

Will write more in next part about why Trump’s idea of opening the economy much sooner than recommended by “credentialed experts” might actually be one of his best brainfarts. And yes, he is absolutely right to ask whether the human loss and ruin caused by shutting down the economy is worth the lives saved by controlling this specific open-ended but low-mortality pandemic.

What do you think? Comments?

Inept Western Response to COVID-19 Will Result in Public Backlash: 1

March 22, 2020 25 comments

Initially, I considered making this the next post in my previous series about how the coronavirus pandemic will cause the most damage to USA. But upon further thinking, I realized that while the USA is going to suffer the most direct and indirect damage from this pandemic, so would most other western countries- if on a smaller scale. Then it hit me.. the most important reason behind why the western countries would suffer far more damage than east-Asian counterparts has a lot to do with differences in how government is structured (and works) in those two systems. The west, especially in past four decades, have become truly capitalist in that the needs and demands of those who have capital (corporations and very rich) supersede those of everybody else. In contrast, east-Asian countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan etc are not capitalist in the same way as western counties, because the demands and needs of society will frequently supersede those of their moneyed classes. Let me explain..

1] Initially, the provincial administration in Hubei tried to first minimize and then cover-up the impact of this outbreak, but failed. Once this became obvious, the central government in China just stepped in put and put incredible amounts of physical and monetary resources to control the outbreak. Most importantly, they did it without any concern to the cost of doing so or potential economic losses which their own moneyed class might suffer. To make a long story short, they put the welfare of majority above the needs and demands of their moneyed class. Their ability to marshal resources to get personal protective gear to affected areas, stop price gouging, maintain law and order, ensure people are fed and taken care of during the ensuing lockdown, remove affected people into quarantine, start dozens of clinical trials is very impressive. Most importantly, they let people who understood the problem (medical experts in infectious diseases) make all important decisions rather than let commercial interests and local capitalists hinder or dilute their recommendations for controlling the outbreak.

But they did not stop at just epidemiological measures to control this outbreak. Soon after the central government got involves, it ordered banks to stop collecting mortgage and loan payments and well as made sure that utilities stopped collecting bills. They made sure that people did not have to worry about pay rents or not having enough money for food and other necessities. To that end, they poured hundreds of billions (at least) into their economy to make sure that people kept getting paid even when they could not work due to being under lockdown. They went so far to make sure that food was regularly delivered to apartment buildings in areas under lock-down and that important functions such as garbage collection, food transport etc were not interrupted. My point is that the Chinese government did a lot to make sure that its own people (at least the majority) did not suffer from the consequences of not being able to work or move about freely when under lockdown because of the outbreak. To summarize, they did everything a competent government which cared for its own citizens would have done.

2] Now compare this to the shitshow currently playing out in western countries. First, they were delusional enough to believe that the outbreak would not spread to the west. This was also when their presstitutes were busy writing editorials about how China’s response was either too much, too little or otherwise “not correct”. They also spent the next two months doing almost nothing useful such as developing and distributing diagnostic tests etc. Then some of these idiots were spending time fantasizing about how this outbreak would destabilize China or Iran. Of course, China has never cared about what some idiots in declining western countries have been saying about them for decades. I remember how even two weeks ago, many credentialed losers in the field of biomedical research in west were busy writing editorials about how China’s approach to testing any drug which might have some therapeutic effect in those patients was a bad idea. We now know who was right, don’t we?

But it gets worse. When it became obvious that the virus had reached and was spreading in parts of northern Italy, governments in the EU were more concerned with potential losses suffered by their capitalist minority than the health of the majority. It does not take a genius to figure out that a sharp but brief shutdown of northern Italy along with a simultaneous massive increase in testing (perhaps with kits imported from South Korea) could have prevented much of the spread we are now seeing in Europe. While Italy, Spain and some other European countries have since implemented such socialist ideas such as freezing mortgage, utility, loan and in some cases rent payments, along with income support, it took them much longer than China to take these obvious steps. My point is that they could done this much earlier and with far better outcome, but a combination of magical racist thinking, obsession with interests of capitalist minority and general lack of competent people in their bureaucracies prevented them from making the right decisions at right time. But, at least, they are finally catching up with reality.

3] The response in USA has, thus far, been the biggest shitshow of them all. And let us be honest about something else- Trump’s contribution to this farce is minor, at best. Many features of the american system which contributed to this farcical response predate Trump, in many cases by a least a couple of decades. The current round of downsizing in public health institutions began under Obama- not unlike putting brown children in cages. Similarly, many governmental programs for developing drugs to treat emerging infectious diseases have been downsized for almost a decade now. Also, institutional sclerosis which prevents the government or companies from trying out new ideas under extreme circumstances has been a feature of biomedical research in USA for over two decades. We also cannot forget how concentrating research money into a few “prestigious” universities filled with mediocre credentialed but highly politically connected researchers has destroyed the quality of research in this country.

The response in USA to this pandemic has similarly been pathetic and comically inept. They have closed down the livelihood of over 100 million people (most of whom live paycheck to paycheck) without offering them prompt economic relief in the form of no-strings attached governmental money. They are still pretending that young people have the same risk of death from infection as boomers- something, which is going to backfire real soon. They are trying to bail out corporations without making sure that average people are bailed out first. They have offered no timeline for the return of normalcy. They have offered no hope to people in the form of of-label use of drugs which might reduce mortality in high-risk groups. Trump promoting Hydroxychloroquine or Chloroquine + Azithromycin to reduce viral loads and thus mortality is the probably the only good thing that has come out of the government, so far. And ya.. there is enough evidence that these drugs have some therapeutic effect- especially if given early in course of disease.

In the next part, I will write about how the poorly thought out shutdowns in combination with inadequate income and other support for most people will likely cause epically bad public reactions all over USA in the next two weeks. And yes, I am willing to bet that the legislative critters in Washington DC won’t be able to get their shit together and pass something that will stave off the beginnings of widespread social unrest in about two weeks. FYI- two weeks is about the length of time most people in USA can go without a paycheck. Did I mention that public trust in institutions (governmental or private) has never recovered since global financial crisis of 2008.

What do you think? Comments?

Long-Term Effects of Mismanaging COVID-19 Pandemic in West : 1

February 11, 2021 25 comments

As some of you might recall, I have written multiple posts (such as link 1, link 2) on the short-term effects of western countries mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic. It is gratifying to see that many of my predictions have come to pass and the rest look inevitable with each passing day. You might have heard that most people in large countries such as India and Brazil have largely stopped using face-masks and “social distancing” for past few months now and life in those countries has pretty much gone back to normal- at least for the majority whose sense of self doesn’t depend on need from approval by old white people. The same is true for almost every country in Africa and most of South-East and South Asia. Rest of world has seen that virus was nowhere as bad as incompetent “credentialed” old white people were pretending.

This is not to say that the virus is harmless, but something as bad as 1957 and 1968 Influenza pandemics is not something worth closing your economy over- doubly so if there is no clear exit strategy. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, still ongoing and politically-motivated school closings in many american states have already pissed off a significant percentage of their populations. You can also be very sure that the ill-will generated by these stupid stunts (along with revenue shortfalls) will have some nasty medium-term consequences for future funding of K-12 education in this country. Same is true for any future business or employment prospects for post-secondary educational institutions- especially in Anglo countries.

It goes without saying that the incompetent and “credentialed” leadershit + bureaucracy of these countries is going about their lives as if their stupid actions aren’t going to bite them in the ass later. You might have seen the sad farce of ‘Impeachment 2’ being played out in the capital of this nation, while the urgent needs of tens of millions for monetary compensation and assistance are ignored and belittled. And guess what.. Trump won’t be impeached by the necessary 2/3rd majority of Senate, once again. Then again, it has clear for over the past two decades that american political system has lost whatever touch it once had it with the lives of the majority. I am sure that all of this will end well for everyone concerned *sarcasm*.

So let us move to the longer-term effects of mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic by most western countries, but especially USA. As you will see, there are going to be some major and somewhat unexpected consequences of all the shit that has gone down over past year.

1] Many of you might have noticed that a lot of the bad, stupid and disastrous decisions were driven by mathematical models of infection spread and mortality. While such models have historically been useless and a complete shitshow, this was the first time that many people believed in the worthless predictions of these incomplete and unrealistic models. You might remember that many prominent epidemiologists (especially from UK) claiming that Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of COVID-19 was 3-13%, when in reality it is close to zero (less than 1 in 1,000 for age-groups younger than 70. You might also remember these same dumbfucks claiming that COVID-19 would kill tens of millions in the ‘global south’ while those regions turned out to be the most resistant to death from that infection. FYI, the population-wide IFR is closer to 0.2 or 0.3, even in aging developed countries.

Turns out that many average people have also noticed the almost total lack of connection of these models and their predictions to real-world outcomes. Now think of another popular type of models used to predict changes in reality. Yes, I am talking about “anthropogenic climate change” models. You can bet a lot of money that the utter failure of mathematical models from “prestigious institutions” peopled by “credential experts” to predict the real world course of COVID-19 pandemic will have massive effects of the willingness of people to believe in the predictions made by priests of that other secular religion aka environmentalism. This will be doubly so because implementing the suggestions made by the first set of morons has been so disastrous for the lives of majority. Expect a large increase in the number of people who will question the secular religion of ‘anthropogenic climate change’ and support for parties and leaders who don’t care about all that bullshit.

2] It goes without saying that the public-facing and administrative part of medical profession has not risen up to the occasion. From their unwillingess to even entertain the possibility that COVID-19 virus was an accidental leak from a Chinese research lab to their constant abrupt changes on issues ranging from the efficacy of face-masks to various therapeutic modalities for treating the infection and its complications- it is fair to say to say that the profession (especially its public-facing administrative side) has clearly demonstrated their deficiencies in the very topics they they claim expertise. And people have, once again, noticed this lack of competence. To make matters worse, many administrative types from this profession have facilitated the poor and disastrous decisions taken by political leaders and bureaucrats. These include pretending that all hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients when such occurrences were rare and no more common than in a bad influenza season.

To make matters worse, they have provided legitimacy to some of the worst decisions made during this pandemic- from closing small business, restaurants etc while letting large ones remain open to supporting the ill-advised school closures in many states run by democratic party. It does not help that many have actively obstructed or ignored trials of drugs which reduce mortality and morbidity from that disease. Their mindless promotion of mRNA vaccines for mass use in populations who are not at high risk of death from COVID-19, despite a rapidly increasing incidence of serious and deadly side-effects in addition to their less that stellar efficacy is unlikely to help their public image. While the degree of trust in medical profession has been on the decline for at least two decades, it is almost guaranteed that their bungling of the response to COVID-19 is going to accelerate that trend.

But it will be worse, as they are also the public face for another class of very bad decisions. Have you wondered how many people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities died alone and lonely of causes other than COVID-19 over past year? This is important because over 50% of those who enter such facilities don’t survive for over two years. Do you see what I am saying? And then there is the issue of all those who died of suicide, drug overdoses and late diagnosis of otherwise treatable conditions. In many countries, the number of under-50s who have died of suicides and overdoses is many times the number who have died from COVID-19. And let us be realistic, 80-somethings in nursing homes and assisted living don’t have much longer left on this earth unlike those under 50. If you think that all of this is not going to have any effect on their already worsening public image.. I have a bridge to sell. And yes.. there will be consequences, especially in this bad economy and widespread despair.

In the next part, I will go into how the liberal and leftist calls for even severe restrictions and shutdowns will doom them to political irrelevance in the foreseeable future. Will also go into how the role of internet monopolies in attempting to squash any dissenters who don’t profess faith in the “official truth” will have some incredibly bad and long-term consequences for the former’s future. 2021 might prove to be interesting than 2020.

What do you think? Comments?

Damage Due to COVID-19 Restrictions Will Cause a Huge Backlash- 1

December 19, 2020 20 comments

For the past few weeks, I have been considering writing a post (or two) listing my predictions for 2021. Since I have some spare time right now, let me start by making an obvious series of predictions about the upcoming year. And yes.. I have tackled this topic in a previous series and other older posts. I have also written about the ineffectiveness of conventional face masks and likely issues with widespread use of any potential vaccine. Thus far, every aspect of the response in western countries to COVID-19 from damaging widespread lockdowns that have no worthwhile effects on caseloads, ineffectual facemasks policies, hamhanded and delusional vaccination policies are creating a lot of fuel for huge public backlashes in 2021.

1] The most important determinant of long-term public support for all governmental policies concerning any war, restrictions or other deprivations comes down to the simple question- how much does it inconvenience or hurt the median person? Let me remind you that american public support for Vietnam war was very high in the beginning, but declined sharply once conscription became widespread and increasing number of recruits came back in body bags or as cripples. Similarly, the Iraq War was popular towards in the beginning when many stupid muricans believed they could win it at very little personal cost. Once it became obvious that the war was creating an endless stream of brain-damaged and crippled veterans, it became far less popular. The inability to move freely in Iraq years after that failed occupation, due to multiple ongoing insurgencies, did not help its popularity either.

So how does this knowledge help us predict the now inevitable backlash against botched response to COVID-19 by western countries, especially USA. For starters, we now have tons of data from both adjacent countries and states that brain-dead measures such as lockdowns, public making, closing restaurants and other small business etc have almost no effect on the rise and fall of case numbers. While some of you might not have heard about this because of spending too much time watching CNN and MSNBC- it is now increasingly common knowledge that many measures such as public masking pushed by public health “scientists” and faceless bureaucrats are nothing more than public theater while others such as closing restaurants, small businesses and physical retail are actively harmful. In the first 2-3 months people went along with the bullshit because they were afraid of the unknown, but now too many know somebody who tested positive for COVID-19 and had an uneventful spontaneous recovery.

My point is that the number of people who know somebody who contracted COVID-19 and recovered without complications is many fold more than those who know somebody who died. And for good reason! Mortality due to that infection in the under-50 population is somewhere between 1 in 5,000- 10,000. In fact, it crosses the 1 in 1,000 figure only for people above 60 and healthy non-institutionalized old people between 70-80 have a mortality rate of about 2-3%. But why does this matter? Well.. to put it bluntly, western societies don’t care much about lives of very old and institutionalized. While they may pretend to care about such people to show others around them that they are “good people”, they cannot keep up the charade for long if it is causing them to lose lots of money. By continuously lying to people that COVID-19 is far more dangerous than it is, the public health establishment in West is is serious risk of losing any residual public credibility which it might still have.

Which brings us to the second set of reasons why things are going to go ballistic in many countries aka this shitshow has been going on for almost 9 months now.

2] As you know, most human beings are conformist cowards who will go along any stupid belief system for a short time. The real problems start once the ridiculous crap continues past a few months. At that point, people will start reevaluating their previous beliefs- especially if they think that those beliefs are causing them financial or other loss. This is why most people either don’t join cults or slowly drop out of them as things get more extreme. While west European countries have a significantly better social safety net than USA, even they cannot keep the economy going for more than a few months. Things are even worse in countries with more fragile service-based economies + low job and career security + almost non-existent social safety net such as USA. Note that the shutdowns and restrictions are causing far more unemployment and financial damage to people under 40 and 50 than those over 65-70.

The problem with public health “scientists” and politicians trying to push their ineffectual ideas about indefinite lockdowns is that in addition to exaggerating the threat of COVID-19 they have not adequately compensated the people whose businesses and livelihoods have been affected. Even European countries which have far more generous wage replacement schemes than USA have not been able to make up the income loss to affected workers, not to mention uncertainty about future of affected business. The simple fact is that there many times more people who are being deliberately pushed into poverty by lying and incompetent governments in Western countries than there are people above 80. Things are even bleaker in USA where wage support is basically nonexistent for most laid-off and furloughed workers. Did I mention that most affected small businesses in USA are fucked.

To make matters worse, in almost every single Western country including USA the center-left part and its vocal minority PMC-class supporters are in favor of indefinite lockdowns without any hope or compensation. These sinecured assholes have lost all touch with the daily reality of a much larger group in their country. I predict, with complete certainty, that this will lead to the sort of backlash which will make Brexit vote and Trump’s election in 2016 look quaint. For example- the results of 2022 election in USA, barring some miracle or extreme incompetence by Republicans, will make the previous defeats suffered by Democratic party look comically small by comparison. I also predict similar electoral carnage for many other ruling parties in Western Europe in next two years- along with significant improvements in public support for right-wing parties. History might not repeat, but it often rhymes.

3] Many of you might have also heard that many social media companies and internet monopolies in the “free” West are trying to censor “unofficial” information about COVID-19, vaccine side-effects etc. I predict that such behavior by these corporations will have two main effects. Firstly, it will greatly increase public support behind those attempting to break up and regulate those corporations. But more importantly, it will amplify the very messages and distrust in “credentialed” authority which they are trying to suppress. If you don’t believe ask anybody for pre-1989 Eastern European countries if they believed official news about their own country. And yes.. it also feeds back into the anti-establishment dynamic which I talked about in the previous paragraph. The next two years will be most interesting.

The already moribund public health establishment in Western countries will be among the biggest loser in aftermath of this backlash. For starters, they have they lost any residual public goodwill during the past 9 months due to their inability to control COVID-19. But far worse was their poorly thought decisions (not based in scientific facts) which have caused massive damage to lives of thousands of times more people than those who died from COVID-19. Their pathetic attempts to pretend that COVID-19 vaccinations are safer than natural infection in younger age-groups is almost guaranteed to start some backlash in the next few weeks. Then again, public health in the past 40 years has been largely an exercise in bullshit mathematical models and SJW beliefs with no basis in reality. Will write about the effect of backlash on public perception of schools, universities, PMCs and politicians in upcoming part.

What do you think? Comments?

American Political ‘Elites’ Have Lost, Almost, All Touch with Reality: 2

August 21, 2020 10 comments

In the previous post of this series, I wrote about how the pathetic response by american political (and other) elites to the COVID-19 crisis is yet another example of their disconnect with reality. As I also mentioned, their rapidly growing disconnect from reality was first obvious almost two decades ago, but it took a number of subsequent developments such as their inept response to 2008 GFC and election of Trump in 2016 etc for this phenomenon to become unignorable. The ongoing and incredibly dysfunctional response by american political elites to COVID-19 pandemic should therefore be seen, in it its right context, as the latest obvious sign of their loss of touch with reality. To be fair the political elites of other western countries have not done much better than their american counterparts, so this isn’t strictly an american thing.

As some of you might know, I recently wrote a series about how the COVID-19 crisis exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of LIEbrals (aka most american elites) and another about how their inept response will result in a public backlash. Let us take the points made in those posts and pursue them further. As many of you might have noticed the “response” (if you can call it that) to the COVID-19 pandemic and its sequelae fall along partisan lines. Establishment Democrats and their brain-dead LIEbral supporters are all in for stupid and ineffectual measures such as indefinite lockdowns, closing down schools and universities, mandatory face masks and other pandemic theater without grounding in reality. The “other side” aka Establishment Republicans and their delusional CONservative supporters want to open everything without any plan to mitigate the possible negative consequences of doing so.

Did you notice a few big fucking problems with both courses of action, apart from the fact that they are both bonkers. In case you haven’t.. let me spell it out for you. Firstly, neither Democrats nor Republicans have any worthwhile plan to make the tens of millions who have lost financially during the shutdowns whole again. Now people such as MikeCA might mutter something about financial help contained in some bill that is being held up by the Republican-dominated senate. To which my answer is.. bullshit! Democrats passed some bills in the house to convince dumb folks that they are “doing something”. They did it with full knowledge that those bills would never be passed by senate and become law. You might remember the Republican equivalent of this being their many attempts to rescind Obamacare during 2012-2016 even though they knew that those bills would never pass and become law. It is all Kayfabe, a feature of politics in dying empires.

And this brings up the inevitable followup question- namely, why are the political elites of both parties so clueless about the massive negative impact of lockdowns due to COVID-19 panic on the already precarious financial situation for tens of millions of their fellow citizens and millions of small business? I mean.. hadn’t things already become pretty bad for the younger age-groups over past decade manifested by decreases in house + auto sales and opioid epidemic? Also note that this apparent cluelessness is not just restricted to their lack of understanding effect of shutdowns on tens of millions. It extends to many other areas such as the lack of realistic plans to limit mortality due to pandemic, reboot the economy and much much more.

In fact, the types of speeches you are seeing at the hilariously bad Democrat convention simply bolster my claim. Have you noticed how these D-rate actors aka political elites are spouting all that bullshit about “decency and norms”, “democracy is under threat”, “our international image”, “what will the children think” and “identity politics”, while almost totally ignoring the horrible socio-economic effects of this shutdown on average voters? How can they continue spouting policy- and governance- free drivel about how people should vote for them because Trump is a bad.. bad.. man. It is as if they learnt nothing from 2016, or maybe they do not want to learn anything from that humiliation because even the act of acknowledging that it happened makes them look totally incompetent. How do you lose to a reality show clown who was constantly mocked by corporate media and had less than half the funds as your candidate?

But it gets worse.. much worse. Have you noticed that Establishment Democrats have no realistic plan about how to reopen schools, universities and the rest of economy. If you ask them about their plan, those pathetic circle-jerkers will say something about “follow the science”, “wear masks all the time”, “e-learning for all”, “constant testing” and tons of other bullshit that is not practical in real-life. They have no plan about the hundreds of millions of people who depend on public schools for what is essentially baby-sitting their kids. They have no feasible plans about how to reopen universities, many of which are already in a pretty precarious financial situation. How many universities, even many state ones, can survive a year of being basically closed for undergraduate teaching- which is essentially their main source of income.

Do they think that students are going to keep paying tens of thousands for zoom lectures during the fall and especially winter sessions? Democrats want people to believe that electing Dementia Joe in November will somehow magically change everything. Do they think that people who have become very cynical over years in addition to being immiserated because of decisions by political class will forgive them? Don’t they remember what happened in 2016? Perhaps they think that keeping schools and universities closed for next few months will somehow create enough chaos to create a popular revolt against Trump? If so, this is a very stupid and short-sighted decision since most schools in Republican-controlled states are going to be kept open by September and it will quickly become obvious that risks to the young are essentially non-existent.

Ironically, this stupid Democrat-promoted policy to keep schools and universities closed for next few months is going to hurt the economy of ‘blue’ states far more than ‘red’ states. And that is just the tip of iceberg, since all the other stupid ‘social distancing’ and other bullshit policies are already destroying small to medium sized business in ‘blue’ states far more than ‘red’ ones. Do you think all the people whose livelihoods and business are getting destroyed are going to care about “following credentialed experts” and all that other bullshit to contain a disease which kills less than 1 in 2,000 people under 50 and about 1 in 500 of those between 50-70? Also don’t forget that Establishment Democrats are already talking about implementing economic austerity if they win in 2020. Talk about being more stupid and delusional than Trump..

And it gets even worse, if you can believe that. have you noticed that in addition to blathering about “values and decency”, “our international image” and other coastal bourgeoisie bullshit, they are promoting plans that no sane party which wants to election in the current environment would even dare to mention. You know.. things like referring to Hispanics as LatinX, talking incessantly about ‘gun control’, supporting bullshit causes such as transitioning children, killing oil and gas sector jobs and many other brainfarts which are not popular outside certain coastal zipcodes. Notice everything is missing from that list? What about plans for a comprehensive universal single-payer healthcare system, higher minimum wage, taxpayer funded higher education, less expensive childcare, changes to zoning codes to allow the construction of more affordable housing. But wait, there is more.. much more.

Establishment Democrats have still not put forth a feasible plan (one which does not involve hand-waving and invoking underpants gnomes) to reopen the economy completely. Think about it.. even after four months of the ongoing bullshit, they still don’t have a feasible plan to reopen the economy. But why not? Here is my theory.. because they are intellectually bankrupt. One of the most interesting and universal effects of a country adopting neoliberalism is that its ruling class gets increasingly filled with conartists, shysters, mountebanks, careerists and other creatures who are incapable of original and independent thought. This is why, for example, why Democrats could not use their electoral victory of 2008 to pass any major changes that would make them more popular. This is also why the recent DNC circle-jerk fest looked like a bad infomercial filmed in 1992. My point is that establishment Democrats are actually incapable of thinking in ways which have not been preapproved by the incestuous social bubbles they inhabit.

In the next part, I will tell you about how establishment Republicans are not that different from their Democrat counterparts- especially when it comes to privileging corporate interest over those of the vast majority of their voters.

What do you think? Comments?

Quick Thoughts on Why the Summer of 2020 Will be Full of Discontent

May 31, 2020 26 comments

Regular readers might remember that a couple of my posts on the topic of COVID-19 (link 1, link 2) explicitly mention the likelihood of serious and lasting social unrest – especially in USA. Some of you might also remember another post (link 3) on that topic on which I talked about collapse of public trust in the old establishment after WW1 and during the great depression of early 1930s was responsible for the rise of fascists and strongmen and military types all over the world- from Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland to Japan. Many years ago, I wrote yet another short post (link 4) about how the Nazi Party was a fringe party in Germany (receiving no more than 5% of votes for many years) until the economic crash of 1929 caused in a huge rise in unemployment which was made worse by the austerity policies of Heinrich Brüning.

To make a long story short, there is enough historical data from previous one hundred years that actual unemployment rates over 20% consistently produce interesting and “unexpected” political outcomes. As many of you might have heard, the unemployment rates in this country (massaged as they are) have now exceeded 25%. Let me also remind you that the unemployment benefit system in this country is designed to exclude people from receiving benefits. Therefore the real unemployment rate is probably closer to 35-40%. The last time we saw such high rates in our country was in the early 1930s- almost 90 years ago. To make matters a bit more interesting, the rates of unemployment among the healthy young are much higher than those of in older age groups. In other words almost everybody under 40 or 45 is screwed.

But why does it matter and what is the relevance of any of this to my predictions of widespread social unrest for the past two months? Well.. let me ask you a few simple questions. Firstly, how did all that talk of social-distancing and COVID-19 dissolve into thin air within the past 2-3 days? Isn’t it odd that the country went from pretending to shame people who violated all those stupid guidelines to burning down social unrest at multiple places in at least 25 cities (thus far) all over this country. Also, how come so many young white people have decided to protest the public murder and lynching of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. What is going on? Surely, all these young white people could not have suddenly developed so much empathy for black people within the past couple of months.. could they?

More than a few “hip” journalists are trying to spin a theory that this is all the result of people spending too much time indoors in past two months. Perhaps.. but why aren’t we seeing the same sorts of protests in other western countries yet? What is so exceptional about this country? Well.. have you ever considered the possibility that one of the biggest difference between USA and other developed country is the quality of the social safety net? Also, USA is an empire in an accelerating phase of its decline. Furthermore, you might have noticed that the age range of protesters skews heavily towards the younger end. In case you haven’t figure what I am getting at by now, let me say it clearly. It is not so much about about race and policing as much as it is about a collapse of belief in the ability of existing status quo to continue providing even the previous bare minimum of living standards.

However, this does not mean that race and policing are not an issue for most people protesting. It is just that they matter in ways not readily obvious to conventional thinkers. Let me explain.. white muricans of previous generations (upto middle of Gen-X) benefited from racial inequality and disparate policing of minorities. That is why for example, shitholes such as Reagan, Clinton, Bush41 and 43 got elected and why that whole “tough of crime” bullshit flourished from mid-1970s to 2008. However due to neoliberal globalization etc, almost everybody born in late 1970s and after has, to put it mildly, been fucked over by the system- regardless or race. Sure.. black people have been screwed over the most but, unlike in previous eras, so have whites below a certain age- albeit to a lesser degree. Long story short, whites people below a certain age have little to no loyalty for system. Then there is the issue of racial demography.

It is no secret that a rapidly increasing percentage of the younger age groups are non-white and therefore have even less of an attachment to the old status quo. It also does not help that those under 40 have been disproportionately affected by negative socio-economic changes from loss of job security, ever increasing costs for housing, higher education and healthcare, multiple asset bubbles whose bursting transferred wealth in this country upwards, the global financial crisis of 2008, stagnant or declining wages for all their working lives. In other words, they have been served a massive shit-sandwich in the name of american exceptionalism and all that associated bullshit for the past twenty years. To make matters worse, if that is possible, the militarization of police throughout this country which began in earnest during 1990s has made them even less accountable and far more willing to harass and abuse white people than they used to in the past.

To make another long story short, majority of those under 40 are far more likely to take the side of a black guy murdered by police than their parents generation. It does not help that the police no longer have popular legitimacy among the younger age groups as they are now seen as as occupying force elusively protecting the interest of hyper-parasitic plutocrats. While this sor of discontent had been openly brewing since 2008, a series of events in past few months have pushed things into overdrive. The small-scale riots you are seeing right now all over this country are just the beginning of an interesting period on the history of this country- assuming there is a functional one left by the time this phase is over. And yes.. that particular outcome is much more likely than most people are willing to admit.

The thing is.. the very public lynching of George Floyd was the perfect spark which set fire to a lot of dry tinder and fuel that had been accumulating (at an increasingly accelerating rate) for past few years. Most dumb conventional thinkers pay too much attention to the spark but ignore the tinder and fuel- at their own peril. These idiots think that all these riots will be self-limiting or follow patterns from the past- such as those from the late 1960s. Here is my prediction.. they won’t follow previous patterns and here is why. The late 1960s or any other period in american history after 1938 did not have prolonged 20% + unemployment. Nor were the unemployment rates so peculiarly distributed by age. If you think that close to 50% unemployment + severe underemployment rates for those under 40-45 won’t cause more and larger social problems in a country without an effective social safety net, you are delusional.

And no.. the economy is not going to come back to “normal” within a few months. In fact, it is much more likely to get worse before it can get better. Problem is that most of those under a certain age do not have the financial resources to stay afloat till then without a job that pays the same as before. It is no coincidence that the rioting started close to the time (almost two months into COVID-19 shutdown) when most people under 40 would start running out of money and credit to maintain their previous lifestyles and in many cases afford the essentials. If you think whatever happened all over this country on this weekend was bad.. just wait a few more weeks. Also the type of rioting, violence and civil disturbances you have see untill now are just a teaser trailer of what might occur within next 2-3 months.

To make matters worse, if that is still possible, the elites from both political parties in this country are out of touch with reality. These dumbfucks appear to think that all of this unpleasantness will just go away if they double down or pretend that these protests are only about race and policing. We are already seeing idiots on both side of approved political spectrum pretend that these riots were caused by “foreign interference” and “out of state professional agitators” etc. By basing their next actions on such delusional thinking, they are going to choose paths of action which will further inflame the situation. I, for one, do not find this surprising- since almost every single empire in its terminal phase is ruled by elites who have lost touch with reality and hence fail to appreciate the real-life limitations of their rapidly declining power.

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?

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

May 14, 2020 7 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?

Economic Fallout of COVID-19 Shutdown will Dominate 2020 Elections

May 3, 2020 17 comments

As many of you know, I have consistently held the opinion that social and economic fallout from overreaction to this pandemic is going to be far worse and consequential than the final death toll. In case you need a refresher, here are a few links (link 1, link 2, link 3). While yet another post about this general topic might seem tediously repetitive, it is my opinion that even supposedly non-corporate media-types are too fixated on the deaths of 81-year-olds in nursing homes to notice the absolutely unprecedented socio-economic damage and long-term consequences of this shutdown on many western countries. And yes.. the negative effects of this shutdown will be far bigger in western countries and wannabes such as India than their East-Asian counterparts.

1] Many serological surveys in areas with high rates of deaths due to COVID-19 have consistently shown that the number of people who were infected by this virus (and developed antibodies to it) but did not develop symptoms sufficient to seek medical attention is about 10-50 times higher than number who tested positive for the virus with PCR-based tests. Note that PCR-based tests can only detect active infection (in all patients) or post-infectious viral shedding (in a small minority). In other words, asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections account for the vast majority of cases. To make a long story short, serological surveys from even the worst hit areas with an older population suggest an Infection Fatality Rate (IFR) of less than 0.5%.

Even in areas of northern Italy that are full of old retirees and nursing homes, the chance of an infection leading to death is less than 1 in 200. Now I am sure that some of you are going to tell me that the present generation of serological tests have high error rates etc. And this is in spite of most of you never having performed a serological test let alone have an understanding of the factors which lead to false positive and false negative results in those tests. Once again, to make a long story short, the tests used in most of these surveys were independently validated by the researchers who used them and almost every single one had false positive rates below 1%. To put it another way, while some of the tests could be better, the vast majority were good enough to detect rates of seropositivity over 2%.

In many heavily affected areas, these surveys show rates of seropositivity in the 10-15%, 20-30% and even 50% range. Moreover, the geographical distribution of seropositivity rates in each survey tracks the death rate in those areas. But what does a discussion of seropostivity trends and extrapolated IFR contribute to a post on how the socio-economic fallout of this pandemic will dominate 2020 elections. Well.. let me spell it out for you. An infection, however contagious, with an IFR of less than 0.5% and most likely closer to 0.2% is not much worse than a bad strain of Influenza. Since the end of WW2, we had at least 4-5 Influenza pandemics with similar or slightly higher IFR rates. While some of these pandemics necessitated shutting down schools etc for a few weeks etc, none resulted in a generalized economic shutdown of the kind we are seeing today.

2] Given that the 2020 elections are in early November, which is about six months from today, you can be certain that general experience and many more serological surveys with even better tests will reveal an IFR of around 0.2% (1 death per 500 infections). Since this is no worse for most of the population (below 80 years) than an especially bad Influenza season, people who have been ruined and impoverished through the loss of their jobs and businesses will start asking some very inconvenient questions about the “official response” to this pandemic. Was a general shutdown really necessary? Given the mild presentation and low infectivity of this disease in children and young adults, was the closure of schools and universities really necessary?

Weren’t highly targeted actions meant to protect the most vulnerable (65+ and chronically ill) the better option- especially since we knew, even early on, that the disease caused the vast majority of fatalities in those groups? Given that this virus can easily spread in aerosols beyond 2 meters, how was this whole “social distancing” bullshit any different from post 9/11 security theater in airports. How was the decision to close “non-essential” retail and restaurants a good idea, when studies show that most transmissions occur in private residences, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, aircraft carriers and other unusually crowded and enclosed areas. And the questions will keep get more problematic..

Why did so many elected officials not have a well-thought out (if somewhat unemotional) plan to reopen the economy? Even today, politicians from states such as NY and CA to TX and GA do not have a coherent and well-thought of plan for definitively reopening the economy- the key word being ‘definitively’. Do these elected dumbfucks think that pausing the economy for 12-18 months is possible? This question becomes especially important when it becomes obvious that the IFR is about 0.2% and there is a very clear way to identify those with the worst outcomes? Do these dummies have a plan to successfully develop, mass produce and mass vaccinate hundreds of millions? Given how badly they have bumbled thus far, why would you believe them? Why would you trust people whose poor decision-making skills have already ruined your life?

3] Talking about those who have suffered due to incompetent leaders making poor decisions.. how can all these unemployed people afford to keep on paying rents, mortgages, car payments, health insurance payments, university fees etc. While it might be tempting to point out that the Trump administration has been especially incompetent and stingy at delivering cash payments to average people- even countries which have done a much better job have not been able to make average people whole again. Small business in this country face a similar problem, because most of the trillions in government aid has gone to large companies and multinationals. Long story short, even if the economy all over this country was opened tomorrow, there would tens of millions who would be unemployed and many millions whose small businesses had failed for no fault of theirs. Do we have the political will to implement a decent social safety net?

Democrats, such as that corrupt dago from NY and that neoliberal from CA, are now positioning themselves as the new ‘resistance’ against Trump. They keep on mumbling random bullshit, which they don’t understand, such as “science based plans” for reopening economy etc. Are you fucking serious? Have these democrat dumbfucks even performed a back-of-envelope reckoning of the number (and percentage) of newly unemployed people and failed business in their state? Are they stupid enough to imagine that people won’t blame them for destroying their livelihoods? Then again the democratic party was stupid enough to nominate HRC in 2016 and that dementia patient.. Joe Biden.. in 2020. So, I guess it is possible. Also note how establishment democrats such as that hag with bad plastic surgery.. Nancy Pelosi.. and her compatriots have pretty much disappeared from the public arena. It doesn’t help that these losers haven’t come up with anything beyond a few “means tested” and very inadequate programs to help those affected by biggest financial crisis since the great depression.

Yes.. you read that right. The COVID-19 pandemic, specifically its aftermath, is the biggest financial crisis since the great depression of the early 1930s. The GFC of 2008 now looks almost quaint compared to how bad things have gotten so far, and we are nowhere near the end of this one. And you something else.. when such a large scale disaster or crisis strikes any country, affected people always look for scapegoats. The last time we had an election with over 20% unemployment in this country was in 1932, about 88 years ago- and we know how that went. Heck, even a now minor one like the one in 2008 made many people vote for a black guy who sounded good on TV than anyone remotely connected to that mess. Some partisan democrats (MikeCA) might think that this crisis will translate into a victory for his cult. I wouldn’t be so sure.. because in this crisis, democrats have visibly fucked up at least as much (if not more) than their republican counterparts- and it shows.

Establishment types in the democratic party seem to believe (almost as a matter of faith) that Trump’s fuckups will somehow magically hand them the presidency in 2020. However, as I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, there is more than enough blame to go around, and this will be very apparent by early November. At that time, many tens of millions of impoverished and angry people will want to find and lynch a scapegoat.. any scapegoat. Chances are that Trump’s rhetoric of “opening the economy for business” might sound far better to them than “lets keep it all closed (or close to that) until some undefined date in the future”. This outcome is especially likely once it becomes obvious that the IFR is somewhere between 0.2-0.5% and even lower (0.1%) in working-age population. In any case, the economic fallout of the response to this pandemic is going to totally overshadow the number of deaths from it by November 2020.

What do you think? Comments?