Thoughts on the Pandemic
Based upon recent CDC data it looks like the pandemic is coming to an end in the United States. Government bureaucrats got to run wild in shutting the economy and the educational system down and costing some 40 million Americans their jobs. Most of this was of questionable legality, but when does a good bureaucrat let the truth interfere with their desire? Warmer weather and ultraviolet radiation as summer nears in the northern hemisphere has worked its magic as it has for time immemorial. The thoughts that I want to present here are on what has made America great; its prosperity, its opportunity and its unique position in the world today as it has been for more than two centuries and how it can lead again should a real pandemic occur.
First a little reality check, some hard data from the Center for Disease Control presented with all the splendor of the Microsoft Business Intelligence tools something only the free market can provide. If you visit the website you can use these tools for yourself or just take it for granted that the data I present here is correct because it is what the government has been using to upend the lives of tens of millions of Americans. There is a superb graphical presentation that I present a summary below. You can find it for yourself it is titled Provisional Covid Death Counts.
There chart above shows that COVID-19 exploded during the third week in March and peaked at the end of April, typical behavior for a viral infection communicated by touch or close aerosol projection (sneezing nearby). It is clear that by the end of May it was winding down. Government bureaucrats will claim their dramatic action saved lived thousands of lives, but this is an unprovable assertion, a category that certainly covers many other government proclamations. The mendacity of government claims is not the issue here but what the data tells us about the tens of millions of students that have been thrown out of school and had their educations upended for an unknown period of time, not to mention the 40 million Americans that lost their livelihoods. The blue line at the bottom of the graph is a telling story and that is students (age group 0-24) were never dying in any significant number. Even students that take a longer time like doctors, lawyers and PhD graduates in the darker blue line (age group 25-34) are still not dying off in large numbers, nor are professionals in the age where most have children the orange line (age 35-44). The truth is we do not see many working Americans, that is those younger than sixty-five dying without co-morbidities like alcoholism, smoking, drug abuse etc. etc. What we do see is that deaths were mainly in the aged, specifically at ages where it is impossible not to have co-morbidities. No one age 85 is healthy, they may be alive, dying slower than most, but not healthy.
I asked a friend of mine that was a Cardiac Surgeon once how he could tell the expected outcome of the surgery while it was in process. He said: “It is simple when I cut into the breastbone and it is firm, I know it will be a successful outcome. When I work on farmers from Columbia, they always have firm chests.” He performed many surgeries in Columbia Tennessee, a large farming community about an hour south of Nashville. The moral of this story is work if you want to be healthy. Some people have genetic co-morbidities but many younger than retirement age put them on themselves with bad behavior.
What made America great to begin with? It was individual liberty, the minimal state and freedom of economic behavior as long as it is between consensual adults and the businesses they owned. It was a reification of the Protestant tradition that was brought to this country by the Pilgrims fleeing religious and economic persecution in the old world. I do not ascribe it to faith in God per se, but the behaviors that their faith required: hard work, thrift, education, self-sacrifice in the present drove their success. This what an Austrian Economist would call low time preference of money. Save today for a better tomorrow. The capital forming behavior seeking profits is what has driven American success along with the low time preference. The Protestant’s believed in sacrifice in this physical life for a spiritual reward afterwards. Individual liberty in the form of creativity couple with a free market provides everything. This is what the bureaucrats have destroyed without deep thought or legality. The economy is not a light switch to be turned on and off as desired. It does not work that way. The only person in government that was able to get in front of linear press TV cameras that understands this is President Donald Trump and for this he was repeatedly dogged and excoriated for.
Non-Austrian economists demanded and got a nearly blank check book to fix the mess they made, a fresh nine trillion dollars of printed money pushing the national debt above 100% of one years Gross Domestic Product, a serious warning event not many seemed to heed. When you print money all you really do is punish the future when that money must be re-paid. Government’s are the ultimate addicts, they have high time preference of money and just like heroin addicts they want their fix today, but they do not have to pay the money back. We do through our taxes in the future and our increased prices in our present. The bureaucrats are starting to demand another round of record-breaking orgy of money printing and I do not here a single TV economist saying this is a bad idea, but it is.
What will save America? Only one thing hard work and as the economy opens the faster, we all get to work the better off we will all be. It is not without co-incidence that when I see the mobs of thousands of angry protesters in the streets, the majority look like they are college age. They are rightly protesting police brutality which has run wild since former President George W. Bush empowered them with military grade equipment and a forgiving legal system that continues to allow it. If the students were in school and the economy was open at full capacity, then there would not have been the violence and looting because people would be busy at other things of lower time preference. The protests would be relegated to the ‘professional protesters’ you can always find at one or other establishments of the linear press. It is not the legal system that is going to punish the murderers of George Floyd. It is the free market via the millions of video recording system in the hands of everyone that owns a smartphone that presented incontrovertible evidence of this crime. For once the courts cannot look away. The hundreds of thousands of cases of reported police sexual abuse of women somehow always seems to occur off camera, but that is another story and other protests.
I turned 65 last year so now I inexorably drift into the age group where life’s biochemical problems come and stay. A human being is an incredibly complicated biochemical machine but alas all machines break down and sooner or later co-morbidities arise. I believe in the Protestant work ethic and the free market. I also believe it is the only thing that will save us. Keep everyone at work. Vaccines may very well make this disease a thing of the past. However, it is clear to this author that the closing of schools and the economy was not worth the price paid. If a million people get sick that means that there were 327 million other Americans that did not. The economy and the school systems handle something like this every year it is called the common cold. Old people get sick and die that is the way things are. It will be that way forever in this life unless the free market comes up with something to prevent this. Who knows what a prosperous future of peace and capitalism will bring? Should that occur pandemics will become a thing of the past, but in this present, I would hope should another pandemic arise we keep the engine of prosperity going and keep the bureaucrats in their holes. This is the nature of self-sacrifice, the old should die if it spares the young! That is also nature’s way. This pandemic was never killing the young as the data clearly shows, the economy should never have been closed nor should have the schools. QED.
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