Sunday, February 28, 2021

How to Beat the Permanent Covidocracy

Michael Fumento Michael Fumento  – February 25, 2021 @ American Institute for Economic Research

 https://www.aier.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/escape-800x508.jpg

Many in government and public health would like the Covidocracy to continue indefinitely, perhaps forever. And they would probably be encouraged by a survey showing that “nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans plan to continue to wear masks in public, four out of five (80%) will still avoid crowds and 90% plan to keep up frequent handwashing and sanitizer use after COVID-19.”

Granted, that’s nonsense. Respondents are telling pollsters what they think are the “right” or “responsible” answers,” as when during the energy crisis pollsters added the check or trick question, “Have you installed a thermidor in your car to improve mileage?” Most respondents answered yes. Actually “thermidor” is either a way of cooking lobster or “a moderate counterrevolutionary stage following an extremist stage of a revolution.” Um, with people, not lobsters…

Here we know respondents are fudging from the “look around you” factor. Even now if you look at a crowd of Americans in a place where masks aren’t required, it’s doubtful you’ll find three-fourths wearing masks and you yourself almost certainly don’t wash your hands or use sanitizer as often as you did, say, 10 months ago. We’re all suffering from pandemic fatigue and as time goes on, as more of the population is vaccinated, and as more drugs are discovered to lessen severity and mortality these numbers will further decline.

Still, it is important that people are so cowed that they believe they should lie to anonymous pollsters and engage in virtue signaling (whether at Tom Cruise decibel level or lower) and theater. And we know that even now the media and public health community are actually ramping up their efforts, insisting on first two masks and then three masks, then four layers of masks. Which would mean that if both the sender and receiver followed protocol, there would be eight layers of masks. Where does it stop? Even razor manufacturers quit at five blades. And never mind that none of these masks can stop aerosolized virus that are so tiny it would be like slapping one chain link fence atop another to keep out a mosquito.

The “masks are magic” purveyors also claim that masking and anti-social distancing have dramatically reduced flu transmission.

Indeed, consider one advocate of the permanent Covidocracy, the chief quality and patient safety officer at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center who conducted the aforementioned self-serving poll.

“Masks and physical distancing are still our best weapons for limiting spread and, now that we have a vaccine, will make those precautions even more effective and will drive new cases way down if we stay the course,” said Dr. Iahn Gonsenhauser. (With a name like that, if he’s not an authority who is?) Further, “Flu cases and hospitalizations are way down compared to recent years,” he said. “A lot of that is likely because precautions like masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene are working to prevent the flu” and “I think a lot of people realize what we’ve learned from COVID-19 can be applied more generally to keep our population healthy.”

Hmm… so even though we had two diseases that spread in the same way, one was dramatically decreasing (at least allegedly) because of certain measures while the other was sharply increasing? There’s a lot more to the Great Flu Disappearance than we’re being told.)

But it’s hard to deny the cruel logic that if you keep visitors at long care health facilities at least six feet away from visitors from October until March and add in 8 layers of mask between them, while you will increase the rates of depression and presumably what’s popularly called “broken heart” mortality from stress, you will also presumably reduce transmission of flu and other airborne pathogens. And people like the good Dr. Gonsenhauser, or for that matter Dr. Anthony Fauci and all the other media darlings suffer from tunnel vision that’s about a pinhole wide.

They don’t care about economic impacts, including those that cause health problems such as malnutrition and therefore are associated with the myriad pathogens that prey on the weak. It’s just Covid-19, Covid-19, and Covid-19. (Or flu, when convenient.) They also receive their training from and are locked in a feedback loop with people who, frankly, have the totalitarian mindset that people cannot be trusted to make their own decisions whether economic or health and we need an iron hand, even if wrapped in a velvet surgical glove, to make them do what’s best for them. No, it’s not a coincidence that the current WHO head is a Marxist and presumably his predecessor was a member of the Chinese Communist Party. Commies are attracted to public health.

Even applying the libertarian dictum that “your freedom ends where my nose begins” can be used to argue, “What right have you to do anything to send your virus into my olfactory system?” So it’s not enough to say “If you’re worried, stay masked, stay at home, wear a plastic bag over your damned face, but leave me alone!” 

Some ignorami also claim mask-wearing is part of “Asian culture” and can just as well become part of that in the West. No, as I have personally seen and others have written, actually in just some Asian countries those who believe themselves infected with an airborne pathogen often wear a mask out of politeness, not fear of others or government mandates. They never wore them as shields, except outside in heavy air pollution common to some Asian cities. Nor did they engage in anti-social distancing. Indeed, massive overcrowding in the big cities means their “comfort zones” regarding other people have traditionally been much smaller than what you find in the West. If you’ve ever seen professional “subway” packers in Japan, you would know that. Sardines get more breathing room.

So, how can you reason with people besieged with post-apocalyptic horror stories from the media, trusted public health agencies, and power-hungry politicians? Well, being the eternal optimist I am I’d say right now you really can’t. During a mass hysteria (mass psychogenic illness), just as horses sometimes run into the flames of a barn fire, people don’t think very clearly. That’s. Why. It’s. Called. Hysteria.

But yes, the alleged infections and deaths are indeed plummeting, the vaccine programs in many countries are indeed underway, and we keep hearing about new (albeit mostly untested) treatments that could reduce mortality.

Maybe very soon will be the time to start appealing to the masses using the same formula we use for other causes of death and illness or injury. That means choosing between one of the two major Covid-19 shibboleths. Either, “All lives matter” or “Even if it saves just one life.” And since it’s impossible to apply the second, we must apply the first. We must make hard choices because we cannot extend all lives indefinitely. As it happens, with novel coronavirus being essentially a disease of the old and infirmed (Yes, the media scour the world for exceptions and sometimes invent them) it can be rather easier here than with other causes of death and illness or injury.

Consider the 55 mile-per-hour speed limit I discussed in my last article here. First adapted as a fuel-saving measure and when fuel was no longer scarce kept on as a safety measure, it was maintained as long as Newton’s Law of Inertia allowed but eventually gave way to 65 mph and then to reason, returning the setting of speed limits to the states. Yet there is some evidence that the national speed limit saved some lives even if not in the direct manner you might expect.

Problem is, that being the case, why stop at 65 or 55? Cut the 55 in half and you would definitely see a reduction in highway carnage. And mind, highway death victims are demographically almost opposite of Covid-19 ones. They cut across the age and health spectrum, rather than picking out the oldest and most infirm.

Incidentally, an alternative would be to demand that even the cheapest new cars sold have all the safety devices available in even the most expensive cars. After all, remember Ford’s infamous Pinto calculation? The response is that safety is a scarce commodity with a price tag. Automatic braking found on some luxury cars could well put the price of that new Hyundai you’re eying out of reach. Then you will keep driving an older car that doesn’t even have the safety mechanisms of the new Hyundai.

But historically we have made our peace with certain activities that can be dangerous and in modern times turned not to extreme measures but reasonable ones. Hence alcohol is truly a monster drug in terms of damage to yourself through disease and accidents, damage to others through accidents, and a wonderful way to end marriages and other relationships. But prohibition in the U.S. didn’t work. It doesn’t really work in Muslim countries, being selectively enforced against the poor and disenfranchised. (The same is true of homosexual acts; ahem!)

Likewise that nicotine rush from tobacco can be wonderful, but if you smoke or chew long enough you’re almost bound to suffer disease. So in the U.S. we have used a moderate approach of taxes, warnings (admittedly probably worthless), and such to tremendously reduce the number of smokers and chewers.

Health economists are hardly the only ones who place a value on premature years of lost life (YLL) although many of them have shown the tremendous net damage that lockdowns have caused, especially when (again) Covid-19 tends to reap those already near death while the negative impact of the lockdowns appears to slam hardest the youngest who statistically had many years of life ahead of them.

The problem with all this is that, well, unfortunately, it’s too damned reasonable. It doesn’t lend itself to clickbait or accolades. Spouting reason doesn’t make you America’s highest paid government employee (Fauci got that position by warning AIDS could be transmissible through casual contact) or get you million-dollar awards from Israel. America and the world are not yet ready for reasonable. Despite the declines in alleged infections and deaths, vaccine rollouts, and continued progress in finding possible treatments for Covid-19, the pandemic panic remains at high pitch. Until there’s some restoration of reason, we’re shooting BBs at a bull elephant. And as Charles MacKay observed in his 1852 classic Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, people “go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.”

Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento is a lawyer, author, and journalist who has been writing on epidemic hysterias for 35 years.

Get notified of new articles from Michael Fumento and AIER.
 
His Website is www.fumento.com. and below are some pandemic pieces he's recently published.
 

Energy and Environmental News

February 22, 2021 by John Droz, Jr.

Welcome to the latest issue of our Energy & Environmental Newsletter. (For all 2020 Newsletters, go here. For all 2021 Newsletters, go here.)

COVID-19: Therapy —

COVID-19: Prevention —

COVID-19: Models & Data —

COVID-19 and NY Gov Cuomo —

Greed Energy Economics —

Wind Energy and Texas —

Wind Energy: Offshore —

Wind Energy: Other —

Solar Energy —

Nuclear Energy —

Fossil Fuel Energy —

Misc Energy —

Manmade Global Warming: Some Deceptions 

Manmade Global Warming: Misc —

US Elections:

US Politics and Socialism —

Religion Related —

Education Related —

Science and Misc Matters —

Note 1: It’s recommended to read the Newsletter on your computer, not your phone, as some documents (e.g. PDFs) are much easier to read on a large computer screen…  Common fonts, etc. have been used to minimize display issues.

Note 2: To accommodate numerous requests received about prior articles, we’ve put together detailed archives — where you can search by year, or over the ten+ years of the Newsletter. For a detailed background about the Newsletter, please read this.

Note 3: See this extensive list of reasonable books on climate change that complements the Newsletter. As a parallel effort, there is also a list of some good books related to industrial wind energy. Both topics are also extensively covered on our WiseEnergy.org website.

Note 4: If you'd like to join the 10,000+ worldwide readers and get your own free copy of this periodic Newsletter, simply send John an email saying that.

Note 5: John is not an attorney or a physician, so no material appearing in any of the Newsletters (or the WiseEnergy.org website) should be construed as giving legal or medical advice. His recommendation has always been: consult a competent, licensed attorney when you are involved with legal issues, and consult a competent physician regarding medical issues.

Copyright © 2021; Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (see WiseEnergy.org)

 

The Never-Ending Economic Tragedy of Argentina

February 22, 2021 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty

What nation serves as the most powerful example of how statism can wreck an economy and impoverish people?

Those are all good choices, but perhaps Argentina is the best example (or should we say worst example?).

 

If you go back 100 years, Argentina was one of the world’s richest nations. And, as recently as the late 1940s, it still ranked in the top 10 for per-capita economic output.

But then the nation veered to the left. Whether you call it Peronism or democratic socialism, there was a huge increase in the size and scope of government.

As you might expect, the results were terrible. Argentina since then has been the world’s worst-performing economy.

But things can always get worse.

In an article for National Review, Antonella Marty points out that President Fernandez is doing his part to continue the awful pattern of statism-generated crises in Argentina.


…it was already challenging for Argentines to maintain businesses and overcome the endless regulations and bureaucratic hurdles that comprise everyday life…the government of Alberto Fernández and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has made matters worse… In brief: …The Argentine economy has been in recession since 2018. …Argentina ranks 126th in the World Bank’s Doing Business index, between Paraguay and Iran. It takes about five months to open a business in Argentina. …Argentina has public debt approaching 90 percent of GDP. …Argentina has one of the highest inflation rates in the world: 36.6 percent over the past year. Every month, wages steadily decline, and every 10 or 12 years, like clockwork, the Argentine peso crashes, diminishing household savings. …Argentine debt still trades at a steep discount, because investors rightfully recognize the dim prospects for a government that limits the creation of wealth through aggressive taxation, price controls, currency regulation, and skyrocketing levels of public spending. Argentina still does not realize the problem that has trapped us in a cycle of repeated crises for decades: the government. …The “solutions” invoked by left-wing Peronists — the progeny of the populist 20th-century president Juan Perón — always involve increased state intervention in the economy. Alberto Fernández has done nothing different. …As always, Argentina cannot solve the problem of big government with more government.

Perhaps the worst policy under Fernandez is the new wealth tax.

In an article for the Washington Post, Diego Laje and Anthony Faiola look at Argentina’s embrace of this destructive levy.


At least as far back as the 1940s, …class conflict has lingered just below the surface of this chronically indebted South American state. To dig itself out of a gaping fiscal hole made worse by the pandemic, Argentina is issuing a clarion call now echoing around the globe: Make the rich pay. …So why not, proponents argue, foist the cost of the epic global recession caused by the pandemic onto those who can most afford it? …Argentina, saddled with crippling debt exacerbated by the pandemic, adopted a one-time special levy on the rich in December, demanding up to 3.5 percent of the total net worth of citizens who hold at least $3.4 million of assets. …Argentina is turning to its wealthiest citizens after having lost the faith of foreign investors, and with little other means to plug financial holes. …fearful Argentines hoarded U.S. dollars, and the government, as it so often has in the past, turned to the printing press to make ends meet. Now Argentina is seeking another major bailout from the IMF… In recent months, Walmart, Latam Airlines, Uber Eats, Norwegian Airlines and Nike have reduced operations in Argentina or left the country. …Argentina crashed from its place at the top of the global wealth chain long ago, in a succession of economic crises, dictatorships and bruising political battles between the ruralistas and the Peronistas. 

The reporters don’t make the obvious connection between Peronist policies and the economy’s decline, but at least readers learn that Argentina hasn’t been doing well.

And the authors deserve credit for acknowledging that there are serious concerns about how wealth taxes can undermine prosperity.

But wealth taxes are notoriously tricky to get right, and they have a history of deeply negative side effects that can seriously undermine their intent. In France, for instance, a long-standing wealth tax, repealed in 2018, was blamed for an increase in tax dodging and the flight of thousands of the country’s richest citizens. …A decade ago, 12 of the world’s most-developed countries had wealth taxes on the books. The number has fallen to three.

I’m tempted to say the big takeaway from today’s column is that wealth taxes are a bad idea.

That’s true, of course, but the bigger lesson we should absorb is that a rich nation can become a poor nation.

Simply stated, if a government imposes enough bad policies – as has been the case in Argentina – then it’s just a matter of time before it declines relative to nations with sensible policies.

Perhaps there’s a lesson there for Joe Biden?

P.S. I sometimes fantasize that Argentina can experience a Chilean-style economic revitalization, but that seems very unlikely since even supposedly right-wing politicians pursue statist policies.

P.P.S. Though there is a small sliver of libertarianism in Argentina.

 

Predicting and planning for the next polar vortex?

We say we can predict and plan for climate chaos 50 years out, but not an imminent vortex? 

Duggan Flanakin

Americans know a lot about planning for hurricanes, and about voluntary and mandatory evacuations. They also know that some hurricanes bring major damage to urban and rural areas, and that sometimes (Katrina comes to mind) people’s failure to heed calls to “get outta Dodge” can have disastrous results.

The National Weather Service website explains, whenever a tropical storm forms in the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific [or central North Pacific], the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center issues tropical cyclone advisories at least every six hours. Once a hurricane watch or warning is issued, the advisories come every three hours. 

When evacuation orders are issued, there are always a few who opt to “ride out the storm,” for fun and excitement, or fearing the theft of their property more than their possible loss of life. Even then, rescue teams risk their lives in dangerous weather to save those losing their crazy gambles with storms.

On January 11, National Geographic warned, “The polar vortex is coming – raising the odds for intense winter weather,” caused by a sudden major rise in temperatures in the stratosphere above Siberia. This polar vortex “could mean frigid winter weather pummeling the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and the mid-latitude regions of Europe.” Not a word about intense cold in the American southwest.

On January 28, NOAA’s Climate.gov website announced, “The POLAR VORTEX is coming!!!!!” NOAA explained that the impetus for this extremely rare event was a “sudden stratospheric warming” [SSW] that occurred on January 5. Such an event happens about six times per decade, NOAA says. 

NOAA acknowledged that parts of Europe had already seen very cold weather in the north and stormy weather in the south, but gave no specific warning that disaster was imminent in any specific parts of the United States. 

Shortly thereafter, meteorologist Joe Bastardi predicted in his Twitter feed that “Texas is going to be tested on so many levels” by the coming storm. He acknowledged that NOAA’s own forecasting model prompted comparisons to the disastrous 1899 polar vortex incident that dropped temperatures below zero in every U.S. state. 

On February 3, Jennifer Gray at CNN announced, “It’s about to get so cold that boiling water will flash freeze, frostbite could occur within 30 minutes, and it will become a shock to the system for even those who are used to the toughest winters.” She went on to say “the coldest air of the season will be diving south, not leaving anyone out. Every single state in the U.S. – including Hawaii – will reach below freezing temperatures on Monday morning” [February 8]. 

The next day, Austin’s KXAN-TV issued its own “First Warning: Extended Arctic blast coming to Texas.” Emmy-winning meteorologist David Yeomans noted that his actual first warning had come a month earlier – the day the SSW event had occurred.

Yeomans said the cold front would likely slam into Texas by February 9, “cooling us off dramatically by the middle of next week.” While “this pattern may last for an extended amount of time,” Yeomans predicted just “4 to 5 days where local temperatures will remain in the 30s and 40s into Valentine’s Day weekend.” He concluded that, while “some precipitation appears possible … it is too soon for specifics on this Arctic outbreak and potential winter storm.” 

But he did not foresee the impending disaster; nor did most others in the field. And yet actual lowest temperatures in Austin reached 9o F (-13 C) – the lowest in 32 years and just the fifth single-digit low in a century. Not until Valentine’s Day did the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) declare an “energy emergency alert three” that mandated rolling outages. 

Texans were clearly not prepared by their federal, state or local governments, or even their local news media outlets, let alone ERCOT, for the magnitude of this polar storm – or for the devastation it could and did cause. People get a warning to prepare prior to hurricanes. But this time there was no urgent demand that people lay in food, turn off or otherwise secure water pipes against a deep freeze, expect water cutoffs, plan for lengthy power and heating outages, and be ready for horrific driving conditions.

Lone Star State public officials are getting slammed for their lack of foresight. But Texans are not alone in this disaster. Over 100,000 Oregonians went all week without electric power days after a snow and ice storm swept through that region. Portland General Electric (PGE) spokesperson Dale Goodman, noted that over 2,000 power lines were still down two days after the storm. “These are the most dangerous conditions we’ve ever seen in the history of PGE,” he lamented. 

This is after PGE had worked tirelessly to restore power for over half a million other customers who’d been affected by the polar storm. As in Texas and elsewhere, people there died from carbon monoxide poisoning, food spoiled, and many of the 200,000 Oregon customers who lost service were told they may not get their Internet back for weeks. Oregon is much smaller than Texas, with fewer people and colder weather. Portland’s average February temperature is 10o F cooler than Austin’s.

In the aftermath of this massive storm – which also caused major power outages in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia – there will be plenty of time to evaluate where forecasts went wrong, assess blame, and determine what damages can and cannot be recovered. Job one right now, however, should be to get people back into their homes, their jobs, their hospitals and their lives. (One Austin hospital lost power and water.) Blame-throwing only gets in the way of human rescue.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for an investigation of ERCOT, acknowledging that the power grid curators have been “anything but reliable” over the previous 48 hours. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather,” he added. “This is unacceptable.” Well, DUH! But they aren’t the only guilty parties. 

Worst of all, the nightmare is far from over. The damages are widespread, and it will be some time before anyone can calculate the actual costs – and the avoidable costs – of this supposedly rare event. Will Texas shrug its shoulders and simply say, “This can’t possibly happen again.” Will Oregonians? Will the entire nation, which will suffer the effects of this loss of energy production and economic vitality in Texas?

Any investigation must begin with the fact that hardly anyone paid attention to warnings that this storm could have major impacts. Perhaps big winter storms need names, like hurricanes do, so that they stand out and can compete with partisan political bickering. Maybe we need a thorough review of all disaster preparedness, including spring floods, summer fires, and summer-autumn hurricanes and tropical storms. We certainly need better prediction, prevention and preparation – including thinning overgrown forests and clearing out dead, diseased and intensely flammable trees.

Will the American people get this kind of response from their elected officials – or from those charged with direct oversight of our land, water and infrastructure, and increasingly our lives and livelihoods? Or will we spend the next two, four or ten years bickering over trivial matters, like a modern Nero fiddling as our nation falls apart and becomes even easier pickings for Mother Nature and predator nations? 

We’ve spent billions on wind turbines and solar panels that were useless when people most needed electricity, instead of on winterizing baseload power generation. We’ve spent billions on “climate crisis” models and fear-mongering – but can’t seem to get winter storm forecasts and warnings right. Too many are paying with their lives. When will we get it right? 

Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org)