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Posts Tagged ‘pandemic’

YT Clips about Problems with Current Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

March 28, 2020 27 comments

Here are a couple of interesting YouTube clips about the absolute inadequacy, and highly magical thinking underlying, current official responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first clip, Kim Iversen, correctly makes the case that the virus in question is already so well distributed in global human population that it is impossible to contain it without an effective vaccine- which won’t be available for at least a few months or a year. Her point is that you just cannot shutdown entire countries without very serious, and far worse, collateral damage to the lives of everybody else and the economy. It seems she got a lot of flack from virtue-displaying dumbfucks aka modern western nosy leftists aka proto-SJWs for pointing out the obvious.

Clip #1: Is THIS Really Our Strategy?

The second clip is about whether we should do a cost-benefit analysis for measures to control this pandemic, especially given its rather low mortality (at the population level). She correctly points out the hospitals and doctors who spend all their time on trying to help COVID-19 patients are doing so by neglecting others with much worse illness- from heart attacks and strokes to cancers. She also points out that short of shutting down the world economy till we develop a vaccine is a really bad idea with even infinitely worse consequences. Similarly the bullshit idea known as “social distancing” does not help in the long term- and, in fact, might make acquisition of herd immunity much harder. Some of you might like it, but she is correct. FYI- one of my degrees is in Microbiology and a lot of the stuff pushed by so called “experts” about controlling this pandemic has always sounded like a lot of wishful aka magical thinking to me.

Clip # 2: Plan B For #COVEXIT

What do you think? Comments?

USA Will Likely Suffer the Most Damage from Coronavirus Pandemic: 2

March 18, 2020 22 comments

In my previous post, I wrote about how structural characteristics of the american economy and long-standing institutional decay will likely result in USA suffering the maximum damage from the Coronavirus pandemic. In it, I also promised to talk about other related issues which make USA especially vulnerable to the direct and indirect damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the lack of a usable social safety net, staffing of nursing homes and elder care in general by precariat workers, ideological unwillingness of government to directly workers for lost earnings especially if they are temporary and part-time, the risk of shortages of medicines, chemicals, electronic stuff etc caused by temporary disruption of supply chains in China. So let us dive right in by starting with the issue of a social safety net, or more precisely its lack, in USA.

1] Even the most delusional ‘murican would agree that the social safety net in this country is very meager compared to what exists in other developed countries. While most west-European countries once had similar attitudes towards social safety nets, things changed a lot after WW2. There is a reason why the average European after 1945 decided that working under conditions similar to those found in USA today was unacceptable. And let us be honest about something, the European rich were (and are) not better human beings than their American counterparts. They just had to go along with what the majority in those countries wanted after WW2, or risk losing it all. However, since the USA experienced a long-boom in the aftermath of WW2 (1945-1975) most of its workers never experienced the socio-economic pressures which led to creation of the modern welfare state in European countries.

To make a long story short, socialism never took root in post-WW2 USA because the median american worker in the first three to four decades did not live through prolonged bad times. And this is also why all this current talk of socialism in USA only began after the majority experienced a full decade of stagnation and decline in aftermath of 2008 global financial crisis. So what does all of this portend for the public reaction to the fallout of this ongoing crisis. Well.. let me put it this way. Unemployment rates of over 20% (maybe even north of 30%), even if short-lived, are unworkable in a system without a decent social safety net and where the median person cannot afford to miss even a single paycheck because they have less than 500 dollars in the bank. Things will get very ugly in this country if the government cannot drop a couple of grand of ‘helicopter money‘ per household within the next two-three weeks.

2] To Trump’s credit, he is clever enough to see that this problem and seems to have embraced the idea of ‘helicopter money’. As I have mentioned many times in the past, He may not be a genius (to out it mildly) but the guy is pretty street-smart and is very ideologically flexible when he feels the need to save his behind. Mark my words, he will even channel FDR if necessary to keep the angry mob way from him. Ironically, it is loser establishment democrats such as Pelosi, Schumer etc who are talking about fiscal restraint, “deficits” and “means testing”. To be quite blunt- if Trump is successful with getting the ‘helicopter money’ thing done, along with massive stimulus for especially affected sectors of economy, democrats can forget winning anything let alone the presidency in 2020. Also, let me remind you that Obama did nothing along those lines in 2009 or 2010. And that is why he barely scraped by to win in 2012.

It does not help that between trying to nominate a used-car salesman with dementia (Joe Biden) as their candidate and shouting about Russia, Putin and Ukraine for over three years, they have not done anything big to actually convince potential new voters to vote for them in 2020. Their so-called “victory in the 2018 mid-terms was only possible because Trump was stupid enough to try repealing ‘Obamacare’ without replacing it with a better system. And in case you didn’t notice it, he has learned from that mistake. In my opinion, what happens in USA in the next few months depends on whether Trump can deliver somewhere between 2-4 k to most american households by mid April- at the latest. If he can do that + properly bailout major sectors hit by indirect effects of this pandemic- he will win in 2020. If not, he will be reviled for a long time.

3] Regardless of what he does within next 2-3 weeks, the american economy will enter a steep recession with economic contraction of somewhere between 15-20% in next few months. And no.. these are not the feverish dreams of somebody who wants to see USA fall, but conservative figures floated by people working in supposedly “respectable” banking institutions. I would not be surprised if the economic contraction (and unemployment rate) reached 30% for almost a year. This is great depression territory and much more deeper as well systemic than the GFC of 2008. You know something else, mass unemployment in a country with a functional social safety net at that time was a very important factor for the rise of Hitler to power. And not just him, since almost every strongman of the 1920s-30s (from Mussolini and Franco to many others in East-European countries came to power in the aftermath of mass unemployment and disillusionment with existing institutions and the status quo.

Since we are already close to a thousand words, I will write about the other issues raised in this post in a subsequent part of this unintentional series.

What do you think? Comments?

USA Will Likely Suffer the Most Damage from Coronavirus Pandemic: 1

March 14, 2020 45 comments

Some of you will remember that I have previously written four previous posts (link 1, link 2, link 3 and link 4) on the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak. Consider this post as the next part of that unofficial series. And yes.. there is a specific reason why I am not making it into an official series, yet. The situation is still evolving and could take a number of highly consequential turns. For example, it is possible that one or more of presidential candidates (Trump, Biden, Sanders) might catch COVID-19 and pass away by election day. Imagine the impact on political scene if Dementia Joe, who also has a long-standing cardiac arrhythmia (atrial fibrillation), dies within the next month. So let us now talk about the potential impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on USA- which I predict will suffer the most damage (direct and indirect) of any country.

1] It is, now, almost a given that there will be an economic recession in this country within the next three months. Sure.. Trump’s fucking up things will make it worse, but it would have been pretty bad even if a semi-competent loser such as Obummer was in office. One cannot just shut down or reduce the activity of so many businesses sectors (airlines, hotels, other tourism related business, restaurants, shops etc) without causing a serious economic downturn. Unlike during previous eras, most jobs in this country are now in the service sector. Did I mention that these jobs offer low job security and poor pay? To make a long story short, most people in the service sector and other business dependent on it are not going to get paid soon- which is a problem since over 60% of people in this country don’t have enough savings to cover their next month’s rent or mortgage payment. And it gets worse.

2] As many of you know, the so-called ‘gig economy’ which flourishes by exploiting ‘independent contractors’ has become a fixture of life in many larger cities over past decade. While these “jobs” are often not the only source of income for those who perform them, they often provide the extra money necessary for many people to “participate in the consumer economy”. So even if ‘Uber’ guy also drives for a regular Taxicab company, any reduction in his expected income from rise-sharing services is going to fuck with his ability to pay bills on time, let alone keep spending on stuff he would normally buy. But the numbers in the ‘gig economy’ pales in comparison to those employed as ‘independent contractors’ by large companies. These ‘contractors’ are often employed by businesses who themselves are dependent on contracts from large companies such as Google, FakeBook, Amazon, Walmart and yes.. even your local hospital, university, school etc.

3] Some democrat cultists (MikeCA?) will try to tell you that the Obummer administration would have done an infinitely better job than the Trump administration. But it is that really true? While the Obummer administration did face some pandemics such as the influenza pandemic of 2009, there is no way to accurately predict how they would have would responded to such a pandemic. See.. COVID-19, unlike Ebola or MERS, is far easier to spread. While it is likely that the Obummer administration would have behaved more professionally, it is unlikely this would have somehow translated into better policy. If you don’t believe me, just look at how that administration handled the foreclosure crisis in 2009-20210 or how it kept pushing outsourcing and globalization even when it was obvious that those policies were screwing over their voter bases. So ya.. there is no definitive evidence that a Obummer administration would have done screwed up any less- even if they would have acted more “professionally” while doing so.

4] Let us now talk about how the defects inherent in the american “healthcare” system, default neoliberal ideology among both political parties and Trump’s obsession with the stock market will fuck things up- even more than they have to be. For starters, consider the issue of testing. Ask yourself a simple question- how can countries such as South Korea and Canada quickly test a pretty high number of people for COVID-19? Well.. the simple answer is that healthcare in both those countries (and every developed country other than USA) is treated as a public good which is highly regulated by the government to make it available (rather than merely “accessible”) to all their people. In contrast, the “healthcare” system is a bureaucratic nightmare full of multiple powerful lobbies whose sole purpose is to extract the maximum amount of money for the least amount of actual healthcare. This intentional design choice makes the system almost incapable of responding or adapting to new challenges and pressures.

Then there is the issue of how people within the system work, or don’t work. See.. in all other developed countries, physicians and other people actually involved in running the system have considerable freedom to make decisions on the fly if conventional approaches don’t seem to be working. For example, in both South Korea and Canada, insurance companies have no role whatsoever in approving tests, treatments in hospital etc. Also the vast majority of hospitals in those countries are not run to make a profit. Consequently, they put the welfare of patients above considerations such as whether some test or medication will get reimbursed. That is why countries such as South Korea were able to put up scores of convenient testing facilities so quickly. However this is not the case in USA even today, and Medicare for all is still considered a pipe-dream by “centrists” such as MikeCA. Moving on to governing ideology..

5] Every developed country other than USA has far more competent governmental bureaucracies because their politicians and populace understand their necessity. However, in this country corporate-funded politicians a good percentage of their brainless subjects are more than happy to go along with the bullshit about governmental bureaucracies being inefficient and “bad”. Guess what.. once you assume that and defund government bureaucracies you will end up with hollow shells of once well-known institutions such as the NTSB and CDC. And this is how you end up with disasters such as the Boeing 737-Max fiasco and, now, the COVID-19 outbreak spiraling out of control in USA. While shills such as MikeCA would like to blame all of this on evil republicans, let me remind you that all the cutting and slashing of governmental bureaucracies which occurred from 1980 to today was largely supported by a bipartisan “consensus”.

Since this post is already above a thousand words, I will leave discussion about other issues such as the lack of a social safety net in this country, the staffing of nursing homes and elder care by precariat workers, unwillingness of government to directly compensate temporary and part-time workers, risk of widespread shortages of products such as medicines, chemicals, electronic stuff etc caused by temporary disruption of supply chains in China, to another post or a new series.

What do you think? Comments?