What we should be asking our government leaders concerning the Coronavirus.
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The other day I was watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Shawn Hannity, switching back and forth between the two, trying to get a basic understanding of what is actually going on concerning the Coronavirus and how my family and I should be responding.
- On Hannity he was claiming how the main-stream media was fear mongering and how the Democrats were politicizing the spending package, and that a cure or treatment was just around the corner.
- On Maddow, she was claiming how New York was going to suffer immensely. How the greatest city the world has ever known is so completely unprepared for this pandemic — that the coast guard hospital ships and baseball stadiums were nowhere near enough to house the sick, there are nowhere near enough beds, ventilators, masks — that we will be all lucky if we somehow survive.
The truth of course, as always is somewhere in the murky and blurry middle. But how can we know what the truth is?
I’ve always believed a closer approximation of the truth is found by asking fundamental questions. Then we seek to answer these basic questions based on doing some basic research. Just to preface: I’m not an expert, but I’m good at research and I’m very good at coming up with great questions. Still, I think this might be useful because how we can actually understand things better is by asking the right questions.
So these are my questions:
Question One (concerning the death rate):
If the death rate for healthy adults is well less than 1% why are we taking such extreme measures (risking obliterating our economy and currency) for the majority of Americans?
What I mean by this question: According to the BBC, if you contract the Coronavirus and you are healthy and under the age of 40, you have statistically almost zero chance of dying.
If you are between 40 and 60 and you suffer from diabetes, lung problems or cardiovascular problems, your risk of death get into the 10% range. That’s if you contract the virus and you are basically unhealthy.
So again, my first question is when it’s clear that healthy Americans will not die from this? Why not instead put all our effort into protecting vulnerable Americans with preexisting conditions?
Despite all of the measures taken in the last two weeks, we cannot protect this part of the population because we do not have enough tests to see who has the virus.
What we see happening in places like Italy, Spain and New York is a result of the incredibly effective manner that CoVID-19 spreads without many carriers ever knowing they even have the virus. The people who are suffering in these places and those who will continue to overwhelm the ICUs and medical establishments are those who contracted the virus when we were caught off-guard. Certainly, the death toll will be enormous. But it wouldn’t have happened if the testing were available. It’s still virtually impossible to have a test taken in New York, which is why the current “lock down” is necessary.
So my question can only be applied hopefully in April when the coronavirus testing is available to more Americans. But what I’m essentially asking about, is what the longer term plan is especially when examining this in the context of the greater economy?
Question Two: (concerning the economy)
According to the WSJ we could lose 24% of our total GDP in 2020 output if we continue with mass quarantine.
Let’s put that number into real terms: The housing market collapse of 2008, offers a window into what terrible economic conditions looks like. Now multiply that by two to see what we might be heading for. Houses foreclosed; cars repossessed; multiply our current homeless population by at least two or three; the opioid epidemic would likely see a resurgence; crime would likely sound more appealing to the lowest on the socioeconomic ladder; extreme job scarcity– our economy would be heading for a disaster. That is basically the path we are heading on if we decide the best thing is to mandate mass quarantine.
So my question is this:
Would it really be worth risking our entire economy where we could jump to a 20% unemployment rate — to improve the odds for our most vulnerable? Why not instead do everything we can to protect them? And let the healthy go back to work?
For example: Let’s say everyone who is healthy in their 20s,30s,40s and 50s contracts Coronavirus. Lets just say everyone gets it. When healthy people get Coronavirus it begins to look like a bad flu. In my research the answer to this essential question is being worked on by John Hopkins University as we speak. And it’s looking like the actual death rate has likely been far exaggerated because there are far more people who have had the virus and gotten over it, with mild symptoms than they previously estimated.
For example, I’m lucky to be in very good health because a couple of years ago I decided I didn’t want to be fat and sick. So I run almost every morning. I eat pretty well. And what prompted this was my getting seasonal asthma every year. And I was noticing it was getting worse and worse each year. So what if Coronavirus is here to stay? What if superbugs are the new norm? Then wouldn’t it be better we put money into helping everyone to become healthier than to wipe out our economy to save the unhealthy?
Why not instead protect the most vulnerable Americans by offering them quarantine?
Then once 80% or 90% of everyone has had the virus, they get a special designation so that they are safe to visit our elderly and those who are vulnerable. Because like the flu, once someone has had COVID-19 that person gains the antibodies and immunity and is no longer contagious. And it looks like the studies are still being conducted regarding this scenario. It seems to me that it is going to be virtually impossible to stop this virus without destroying our economy.
What do you suppose is going to happen if the Federal Government spends $4 trillion on an aid package? Then needs to spend another $4 trillion, then possibly another?
What happens when any government spends so much money that people lose confidence in their government and their currency? Inflation, of course.
The U.S. our government “borrows money” by selling U.S. savings bonds. When the government needs to generate a lot of cash out of thin air they simply increase the rate of return on savings bonds until they get buyers.
If they need to keep increasing the rate of return on savings bonds, we pay it back through inflation and our taxes. And if we never pay, then our kids and grandkids will be on the hook, consequently, the money we might have invested in the stock market, savings accounts, or in our 401(k)s will become less valuable.
The government’s “generosity” isn’t generous.
When the government says they are going to spend $4 trillion or $8 trillion or even $12 trillion to help you, they aren’t helping you, they are giving away a huge chunk of the value of our currency to try to plug a hole in a sinking ship. That’s operating under the assumption that the ship “our economy” is sinking. Inflation is then a reality.
And you and I are paying for it. Home prices will increase, so a home that used to be $200K, will soon be $400K. Cars that were once $20K are now $40K. The government subsidizes cheap food so you don’t feel it in food costs so much as you do in bigger-ticket items like cars and homes. And what have we already seen happen to the prices of homes in markets like Utah recently? Steep price increase. This isn’t just because we have a great economy, it is also due to inflation.
So what is the answer?
I’m not an expert. I’m not going to pretend I have the answers. However, I am an avid student of American history, and through my studies, I find that the greatest answer to every problem our country has faced in the past, has been to unleash the power of the free market and the power of the goodness of Americans to be generous and to help their neighbors.
The government in America has never been the answer to our prayers. It’s our neighbors, our friends, our family and our communities that need to come first. We should protect the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable and the weak — we do not need the federal government to protect us.
And after we close down our businesses, until we have enough tests to get a handle on this, we can take care of our own and we can solve this problem on our own. We don’t need the government to “save us” by devaluing our currency and causing massive unemployment through government over-reaction could easily usher in a complete federal government control over our economy.
In Utah we have already dramatically increased our capacity for testing. We can now test 1,500 people per day. And as more people are tested we will start getting more accurate numbers as to how many people have it. It’s actually looking good considering that they are testing so many more people now and the numbers are becoming more clear and accurate.
What was scary about this was what we saw happen in Italy, which justifies the response. We don’t want to see all of our vulnerable die, so these protective measures are necessary in the short term. However, they are not justified in the long term, we need a much better long-term solution that doesn’t destroy our economy.
Support Our Local Restaurants And Bars
This is turning out to be an extremely difficult time for Utah’s hundreds of excellent restaurants and bars. If they need to remain closed beyond April 1st the employees and business owners will suffer losses that could be extremely difficult to recover from.
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