URLs du Jour

2020-03-28

[Amazon Link]

  • At the Josiah Bartlett Center, the question is asked: How many New England governors really issued "stay home" orders? And answered:

    Here’s a surprise. In New England, only the Republican governors of New Hampshire and Vermont have issued COVID-19 executive orders that direct all individuals to stay home unless otherwise allowed to go out.

    JBC goes on to note that New Hampshire's "order" has piles of exceptions. As noted yesterday, including florists.


  • In his column, Jonah Goldberg says Pandemics Are a Terrible Time for a Frivolous Spending Spree. And he's right!

    During the debate over the economic rescue package last week, House Majority Whip James Clyburn said this crisis offers a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our vision.” The House version of the bill was full of gratuitous nonessentials such as regulations for forced diversity hiring. (The bill included 32 instance of the word “diversity.”) The final version has $25 million in funding for the Kennedy Center.

    If you want to convince normal Americans to take a crisis seriously, you have a moral obligation to act as if you take it seriously too. Using it as an opportunity to get things you couldn’t successfully argue for before the crisis tells people you’re not as serious as you expect them to be. And that is a surefire way to sow precisely the sort of partisan distrust you decry.

    As with past crises, Jonah notes, "a lot of the stuff progressives propose to fight it are things they want to do anyway."

    Also see: the Patriot Act, way back when.


  • At National Review, David Harsanyi has shocking news: Political Media Are Failing America.

    Here are some of the public figures and institutions that Americans hold in higher esteem than the media according to Gallup:

    • Hospitals
    • Their child’s school and daycare centers
    • State governments
    • Their employer
    • CDC and NIH
    • Mike Pence
    • Donald Trump
    • Congress

    Only one institution that Gallup asked about, the media, had negative approval rating — sitting 19 points behind its archenemy Donald Trump. And there are likely many other people and places that the public has more trust in than journalists.

    I'll go against the grain somewhat and opine that my local TV station and the Wall Street Journal have been pretty good. But I haven't bothered with CNN, MSNBC, Fox, ABC, …


  • At Reason, Paul Detrick: The Coronavirus Testing Debacle Stems From Decades of Bad FDA Policy. One example:

    Take the case of Alex Greninger, a doctor and researcher at the University of Washington, who, according to a report in GQ, submitted his application to create a coronavirus test via email. Then he learned that he also needed to submit a paper copy, and then another version burned to a compact disk or loaded onto a drive and delivered to the FDA's Maryland headquarters.

    After he complied, the FDA did not approve his test right away, according to a report in ProPublica. They asked him to make sure his test didn't cross-diagnose with SARS and MERS, other coronaviruses which hadn't been seen in the U.S. in years. His test was finally certified on February 29, at which point the fatal outbreak in his home state of Washington was already underway. 

    As the crisis worsened and the testing shortage drew headlines, the FDA simplified the process. But then on March 20, it shut down efforts to rapidly make available at-home testing kits on the grounds that they were unvetted and could be fraudulent.

    As they say, the country's in the very best of hands.


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for Matt Simon: Coronavirus threatens medical cannabis program, endangers patients. Specifically, those who use it to alleviate pain, manage nausea from chemotherapy, etc.

    Patients living in neighboring states are much more fortunate in this regard than those in New Hampshire. Vermont, Massachusetts, and Maine all allow dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis to patients, and they also allow individuals to grow their own plants at home.

    Sadly, patients in New Hampshire do not have either of those alternatives. Here, patients’ only in-state option is to drive or send a designated caregiver to one of five dispensary locations. And home cultivation, which is now legal for adults in all three neighboring states, remains a felony for patients in the “Live Free or Die” state.

    How about it, Governor Sununu? As long as you're issuing decrees…

URLs du Jour

2020-03-27

  • The Club For Growth emits its 2019 Scorecards for last year's votes by Senators and Congresscritters.

    Club for Growth’s annual Congressional Scorecard tracks how members of Congress vote on economic legislation. Each year the Club for Growth issues Key Vote Alerts urging Representatives and Senators to vote in favor of economic policies that strengthen our nation’s economy and against legislation that would raise taxes, increase harmful regulations, and grow our already massive government. At the end of the year, the Club for Growth Foundation conducts a study of how members of Congress voted on key issues, including the Club’s Key Vote Alerts, and ascribes a score.

    The CfG has taken on a more partisan cast, unfortunately. Despite their claim to track "economic legislation", it seems they put the Trump impeachment votes on the scoreboard. Whether you think impeachment was a good idea or not, it's hard to cast it as an economic vote.

    And, since both NH senators and my congresscritter are Democrats, they got lousy scores.


  • So my Governor, Chris Sununu, stepped up his Covid-19 game, issuing a "stay-at-home order" for the Granite State. You can Read The Whole PDF here. It's pretty porous. I'm still allowed to walk my dog, for example. Anywhere I want, except Hampton Beach is off limits, social distancing guidelines must be obeyed, etc. At Inside Sources, Michael Graham has some fun asking us to Meet New Hampshire's 'Essential' Workers.

    Who’s ‘essential?’ Doctors and nurses certainly are, and first responders, too. Grocery stores have to stay open and vital supplies must be trucked across America’s highways.

    And then, of course, there are the florists.

    When New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced his state was going on stay-at-home lockdown, he issued a list of ‘essential’ jobs and services exempted from the no-go order. Among them: “Workers supporting…florists, and farm stands.” Is a bouquet of roses and a loaf of farm-fresh bread an ‘essential’ service? It is in New Hampshire.

    Not to mention a freshly dry-cleaned shirt.

    I'm slightly inconvenienced by the closure of the UNH Library, my primary source for "serious" non-fiction. (The Portsmouth Public Library, my primary source for everything else, closed back on 3/16.)

    I'll live. I hope.


  • Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the latest nonsense, namely Washington’s Counterproductive Attack on Stock Buybacks.

    Back in 2013, I joked that “you get bipartisanship when the Stupid Party and the Evil Party both agree on something.”

    That generally means bad outcomes, with the TARP bailout being a prime illustration.

    We now have another example since many Republicans and Democrats want to restrict – or even ban – companies from buying shares from owners (i.e., company shareholders).

    If you're weak on what stock buybacks are, Dan has links to more information, mostly describing the awfulness resulting from politicians substituting their own judgment for that of business owners and managers.


  • At National Review, Kevin D. Williamson accurately skewers pundits and pols who see dead people market failure everywhere. Coronavirus Face-Mask Shortage: Failure of Planning, Not Economics. (Current headline: 'More Cowbell'.)

    For Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other comrades in the socialist vanguard of the Democratic Party, the coronavirus epidemic proves that the world needs socialism. For admirers of Western European universal health-care systems, the outbreak proves the need for the United States to build a Western European universal health-care system. (Like Italy’s?) For Joe Biden, the plague proves that the world needs Joe Biden. It is pretty easy to imagine Joe Biden demanding “More cowbell!” but that is what every political opportunist is saying right now. Like climate change or that infinitely plastic thing known as “national security,” the coronavirus epidemic is a policy palimpsest that political entrepreneurs will be writing over forever, or at least until something more convenient comes along. We know how that story goes, because we have heard it so many times before: Al-Qaeda flies airplanes into a building and Arianna Huffington gets to tell you what kind of car to drive.

    Kevin has a good rundown of the actual producers of facemasks and what they've been up to.


  • At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf detects Two Kinds of Pandemic Failures. Current headline: "The Government Is Failing by Doing Too Little, and Too Much". Is it too much to ask for Goldilocks Government—just right?

    The United States is performing more poorly than it should in the present crisis, even apart from the actions and rhetoric of President Trump, for at least two distinct reasons: underinvestment in public-health infrastructure and unduly onerous government regulations.

    That first category of error has received far more attention. To cite one example of many: the Bush administration noted in its “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza,” released in 2005, that if an infectious disease spread across the nation, federal officials planned “to distribute medical countermeasures ... from the Strategic National Stockpile and other distribution centers to federal, state and local authorities.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the Strategic National Stockpile shipped out roughly 100 million N95 masks to protect doctors and nurses during the 2009 swine-flu epidemic, prompting a task force to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to replenish the supply.

    I'm pretty libertarian, but maintaining public health in the face of pandemic is pretty high up on even my short list of "Valid Government Functions". But even less libertarian folks should wonder: if the government is so bad at this, why should we expect them to do better on more complex and subtle tasks?

URLs du Jour

2020-03-26

  • It's not all bad. Some things have become more obvious. Like, as Eric Boehm points out at Reason, Most Politicians Are Disingenuous Opportunists. The Coronavirus Outbreak Only Makes That More Obvious. Trump, of course. Sen. Richard Burr (R–N.C.) fer sure. But also:

    With millions of Americans out of work and the country facing the prospect of a recession unlike any in recorded history, Congress got to work on a stimulus package that was supposed to tide workers over until the virus passed and the economy reopened. Partisan disagreement sank a Senate coronavirus bailout bill on Monday, so Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) rode to the rescue with a $2.5 trillion spending plan that included such pandemic essentials as $35 million in funding for a performing arts center in Washington, D.C., new rules requiring more diversity on corporate boards, and new emissions requirements for airplanes.

    Pelosi withdrew that proposal on Tuesday afternoon. But the $2 trillion spending bill that appears ready to pass the Senate on Wednesday contains a few questionable provisions of its own, like codifying regulations that limit arbitration agreements, a huge giveaway to trial lawyers.

    Yup, can't wait to be stimulated. I only hope Netflix keeps sending us DVDs.


  • It's late Thursday afternoon as I type, so I'd better point you to The Tuesday from Kevin D. Williamson. And it's mostly not about Covid-19.

    Here is some news that may not exactly rock conservative circles: Several versions of the Toyota Prius hybrid automobile have been discontinued, and there are rumors that Toyota is considering the discontinuation of the model as a whole. Prius sales have been in decline for some time — down by 23 percent in 2018 — and the 2020 facelift may not be enough to revive the O.G. mass-market hybrid, first sold in 1997.

    The Prius is one of those cultural totems — right up there with Birkenstocks, organic kale, and yoga classes — that conservatives associate with a certain especially obnoxious brand of well-heeled consumerist progressivism. In Texas, where I live, you don’t need a “Beto for Senate” bumper sticker on your Prius: “Prius” may as well be Latin for “Beto for Senate.” (The hardcore true believers in my very lefty neighborhood still have “Beto for Senate” signs in their yards, not “Beto for President” signs. These political hipsters were into Beto before he went mainstream.) You can recite the litany of abuse: “Prius-drivin’, soy-latte-drinkin’, Sanders-votin’ wastes of space.”

    I share the contempt for Robert Francis O’Rourke. But the Prius is a work of genius, a genuine landmark, and, almost inevitably, a victim of its own success: The Prius has been so successful that its hybrid technology has been mainstreamed. The Prius C will be replaced by an updated version of the . . . Toyota Corolla, a car that has been with us since Lyndon Johnson was in the White House. There are hybrid models up and down the lineups of Toyota and Honda and other economy-minded marques, but also available from makers ranging from Jaguar to BMW to Porsche, which offered a monster hybrid supercar at a price of just under $1 million as well as hybrid versions of many of its less exotic vehicles. A great many things are up in the air right now for American businesses, but Ford is even planning to introduce a hybrid version of the F-150 — the anti-Prius — using those electric motors to increase its torque and towing capacity.

    And there's more, so get on over there. Prius, we hardly knew ye.


  • Back to the Coronavirus: At Commentary, Christine Rosen notes: Public Anxiety over COVID-19 Will Increase Without Straight Talk, brought to us via the Google LFOD News Alert:

    As state and local governments enforce “shelter in place” edicts and President Donald Trump publicly mulls how long people should halt all non-essential activities, it is worth revisiting what we know about authority, responsibility, and obedience in times of crisis. Are we the country of “Live Free or Die” and “Don’t Tread on Me,” or are we able to temporarily suspend essential liberties to accommodate restrictions on our behavior for the common good?

    False choice, Christine. (And how do suspend an essential liberty, anyway?) Everything beyond the first two paragaphs is paywalled, and … eh, that's OK. If someone looks, let me know how it goes.


  • Sensible Sally Satel wonders at the Dispatch: Amid Coronavirus, What Are the Risks to Vapers?

    Does coronavirus present an incremental risk to people who vape? The notion is by no means irrational. While the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains vastly fewer toxins and carcinogens than cigarette smoke and those present exist at much lower levels, vapor is not comparable to fresh air. 

    However, early media coverage seems to be trending toward the kind of distortion that we saw with the vaping “epidemic” last fall. At that time, the frightening rash of lung disease and deaths were not due to commercial nicotine vaping products, as was alleged for months, but rather to contaminated THC.

    Consider the headlines now. “Doctors Say Vaping Could Make Coronavirus Worse for Young People,” warned a headline in the New York Post last weekend. A Morning Joe health column written by two physicians echoed the threat, “Vaping: One of the Best Ways to Trash Your Lungs and Maybe Die if you Catch Coronavirus.” Even the surgeon general weighed in on the Today Show on Monday, saying that, “we don’t know if [vaping] is the only cause” among younger people who are stricken with COVID-19.

    Sally recommends Snus, if you must.

URLs du Jour

2020-03-25

  • Brendan O'Neil looks at The luxury of apocalypticism at Spiked Online:

    People’s refusal to panic has been a great source of frustration for the establishment in recent years. ‘The planet is burning’, they lie, in relation to climate change, and yet we do not weep or wail or even pay very much attention. ‘I want you to panic’, instructs the newest mouthpiece of green apocalypticism, Greta Thunberg, and yet most of us refuse to do so. A No Deal Brexit would unleash economic mayhem, racist pogroms and even a pandemic of super-gonorrhoea, they squealed, incessantly, like millenarian preachers balking at the imminent arrival of the lightning bolt of final judgement, and yet we didn’t flinch. We went to work. We went home. We still supported Brexit.

    Our skittish elites have been so baffled, infuriated in fact, by our calm response to their hysterical warnings that they have invented pathologies to explain our unacceptable behaviour. The therapeutic language of ‘denialism’ is used to explain the masses’ refusal to fret over climate change. Environmentalists write articles on ‘the psychology of climate-change denial’, on ‘the self-deception and mass denial’ coursing through this society that refuses to flatter or engage with the hysteria of the eco-elites. Likewise, the refusal of voters to succumb to the dire, hollow warnings of the ferociously anti-Brexit wing of the establishment was interpreted by self-styled experts as a psychological disorder. ‘[This is] people taking action for essentially psychological reasons, irrespective of the economic cost’, said one professor.

    Unfortunately for me, the local elite is … Mrs. Salad, who's pretty freaked out. And is not particularly happy with my refusal to panic.


  • Kevin D. Williamson, writing at National Review is a born editor, and is not enamored of one current cliché. Coronavirus Response: ‘Is The Cure Worse than the Disease’ Question Unanswerable. (NRPlus article)

    Jonah Goldberg wrote a book arguing that we live in part under a “tyranny of clichés,” and one of the most shopworn of clichés — “The cure is worse than the disease” — is at the moment at the forefront of our public discourse. Millions of lives and untold trillions in wealth and income may be saved — or lost — as the result of public policies shaped by that cliché.

    In the matter of the coronavirus epidemic and our response to it, the question “Is the cure worse than the disease?” is almost useless, because it asks us to judge one discrete thing we know against a half-dozen critical things we do not know.

    I refer you back to yesterday's post with a link to the distinction between risk and uncertainty.


  • Some site maintenance is resurrecting old articles at the Law & Liberty site, and here's one from about a month ago, from James C. Capretta: Market-Driven Health Care Is Worth the Effort

    The alternative to Medicare for All is a market-driven health system, but, at the moment, it has few champions. Republicans in Congress and officials in the Trump administration will fight “socialized medicine” in its many forms, but they show little appetite for advancing policies that would move decisively in a less governmental direction.

    Their reticence, though regrettable, is understandable. An unavoidable lesson from other high-income countries is that voters like government-run health care. Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson, fresh off of securing a substantial majority in the U.K’s December election, has stated that his number one priority is securing more funding for the National Health Service (NHS). Voters see personal autonomy and responsibility as non-negotiable on most matters, but when it comes to their health needs, they want others—mainly their physicians—to make the majority of decisions for them, and the government to take care of the bills.

    I get the psychology, believe me. Nobody wants to "need" medical care that they can't afford. Better to imagine that, whatever ills befall, the government (or "insurance") will provide appropriate care, no questions asked.


  • At the Federalist, Chrissy Clark looks at recent history: Hypocritical Media Downplays Wuhan Virus For Weeks, Then Critiques Fox News For Shifting 'Rhetoric'.

    Mainstream media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Vox, have criticized Fox News for allegedly promulgating lies about the severity of the widespread Wuhan virus. But their critiques land with a thud, as these same outlets also played a role in in downplaying the crisis.

    On Monday’s edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” host Tucker Carlson showcased the mainstream media’s inability to hold themselves accountable for initially pushing a relaxed narrative about the coronavirus in late January and early February.

    Chrissy accumulates evidence from Vox, CNN, the NYT, and the WaPo to bolster her contention. It's pretty damning.

    Was there a major media outlet, politician, or health organization that got this precisely right? Finger-pointing is easy, why be selective?


  • And Power Line notes the evolution of the online NYT headlines for the same article: Our Garbage Media in One Story. No excerpt, just check it out.


  • And our local freaks at Free Keene caused the knelling of our Google LFOD News Alert. They're upset about our Gov: As Governor Bans Assembling Over Ten People, Nobody to Lead Gathering at NH State House on April 1st at 2pm! ("Nobody" in this case refers to an actual person that's going by that monicker.)

    On his official campaign blog, ElectNobody.com, Nobody announced the civil disobedience event and reminded people where the state’s supposed motto came from: “Live free or die; death is not the worst of evils.” – General John Stark. Before last week, New Hampshire was not a free state, but now all illusions of freedom have been completely wiped away and it’s become all-out tyranny. Something must be done. It’s time to stand up for the freedom to assemble.

    Well, fine. I'll be here. Let me know how that works out.

URLs du Jour

2020-03-24

[Amazon Link]

  • Probably-paywalled commentary from Allison Schrager in the WSJ: Risk, Uncertainty and Coronavirus.

    The government response to the coronavirus pandemic has seemed chaotic—underreaction one minute, piling on restrictions the next. It has left many wondering whether anyone is weighing the trade-offs. Do heavy-handed measures carry the benefits to justify the considerable costs? The uncomfortable answer: We don’t know.

    The novel coronavirus appears at first to be a problem of risk management. It is a dangerous disease that threatens the lives of our neighbors and loved ones. Our response—increased social distancing, shutting down businesses—is aimed at reducing that risk. But the problem isn’t risk so much as uncertainty.

    The difference is important. Risk is a measurable quantity and can be managed. Uncertainty means you just don't know enough about the situation.

    The distinction is lost on politicians.


  • I respect the argument Sally Satel makes at National Review: Trump's ‘China Virus’ Coronavirus Phrase -- Needlessly Antagonistic.

    But over the last few weeks, politicians and the media have taken heat for missteps in terminology, particularly since Trump seemed most strongly to insist upon calling it the “Chinese virus” in the wake of China’s “putting out information, which was false, that our military gave [the virus] to them,” as he put it.

    The remedy is easy, critics say: Just call it coronavirus. They’re right. In fact, the profession has been trying to take identity out of diagnosis for a long time. Calling it the Chinese virus goes against a humanizing trend.

    Pissing people off isn't going to get us back to normal any faster. Obvs. Ms. Satel goes through a lot of examples, among them the move away from (for example) calling a patient "schizophrenic", and toward calling him “someone with schizophrenia.”

    Fine. But it seems like another example of the "euphemism treadmill". It will only be a short while before we're looking for even gentler language to designate a problem.


  • Virginia Postrel proposes something sensible: Coronavirus Testing Should Be Random, Not Celebrity-First.

    When something is in short supply, getting it can depend on who you know. That’s true of the coronavirus test, with an added twist.

    A striking number of rich and famous people, from basketball star Kevin Durant to Senator Rand Paul, have tested positive for Covid-19 without showing symptoms of the disease, let alone being hospitalized. That’s led to charges of unfair access. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio criticized Durant’s team, the Brooklyn Nets, for testing its players. “An entire NBA team should NOT get tested for COVID-19 while there are critically ill patients waiting to be tested,” he said on Twitter. “Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick.”

    Virginia has a long history of reasonableness. Must have been that stint as Reason editor.


  • Unexpected announcement from Robert Tracinski at the Bulwark: We're All Libertarians Now.

    In a moment of crisis, people like to assert a sense of control, no matter how illusory, by reverting to well-worn habits. In the case of COVID-19, that means using it as a vessel for whatever political hobbyhorses they had before the pandemic. So it’s no surprise to see the headline, “There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic.” By “libertarians,” the author means advocates of small government and individual liberty.

    This talking point has since been taken up by others in a more technically accurate form: there are no libertarians in a pandemic. The idea is that when a crisis hits, everyone suddenly realizes how much they need Big Government.

    This is a bizarre argument to make about a virus that got a foothold partly because of the corrupt and tyrannical policies of a communist government in China. The outbreak is currently at its worst in Italy, where socialized medicine has not turned out to be a panacea. And it was allowed to get out of control in America because the feds imposed an incompetent government monopoly on COVID-19 testing, blocking the use of better and faster tests developed by private companies.

    Agreed. And finally:


  • I can't help but chuckle at a Tweet from Rand Simberg:

    I went to Walmart for their 6am Senior Hour this morning. I'm pretty sure everyone was wearing pants. Although I'm not sure I would have noticed if someone wasn't.

URLs du Jour

2020-03-23

  • At Reason, Nick Gillespie may be on to something: We Will Regret Not Taking the Economic Effects of Mass Quarantine More Seriously.

    It won't be popular to call attention to the possiblity that such actions might be an overreaction. But it's a serious point, even if that sentiment has no hopes of carrying the day. The federal government botched the early response to coronavirus, so why should we expect it to get its act together now? Whenever we are finally clear of this pandemic, we will need to study our response to understand what we did right and what we did wrong. With a virtually complete halt of the American economy about to begin, we should enter this phase with full awareness that it wasn't the only choice available to us.

    On Friday in The New York Times, David L. Katz of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center outlined in no uncertain terms what is known about the effects of coronavirus and its likely spread among older and sickly Americans. He pointed out that the death rate on the Diamond Princess cruise ship—"that insular and uniformly exposed population"—is roughly 1 percent. Similar or smaller numbers are observed in countries such as China, Taiwain, Singapore, and South Korea, where the rate of new infections is declining, signaling that infection is at least temporarily under control. As a medical professional, Katz in no way scants public health concerns. But he is also

    deeply concerned that the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life—schools and businesses closed, gatherings banned—will be long lasting and calamitous, possibly graver than the direct toll of the virus itself. The stock market will bounce back in time, but many businesses never will. The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result will be public health scourges of the first order.

    I'm no epidemiologist, but I know what panic looks like, and I know that it rarely … oh, heck, never … results in good rational decisions.

    We'll muddle through. We always do. But my guess is that the next few years will be much rougher than they should have been, and the "lessons learned" will be minimal, because it will be in nobody's partisan interest to look back in honesty about how foolish everyone is behaving.


  • At Power Line (a few days ago), John Hinderaker offered the results of what must have been a pretty fierce competition: The Day’s Dumbest Comment….

    comes from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who issued an order yesterday shutting down all “non-essential” businesses in the state. Of course, pretty much all businesses are essential to those who own them and work for them. But that isn’t what Cuomo meant:

    “I want to be able to say to the people of New York — I did everything we could do,” Cuomo said. “And if everything we do saves just one life, I’ll be happy.”

    This is profoundly stupid. When you are dealing with the lives of millions of people, everything you do–or don’t do–has consequences. When you drive thousands of businesses into bankruptcy, people die. When you unemploy millions of people, some of them die. When tens of millions live in more straitened circumstances, some of them die. There is robust social science research on this point. Shutting down New York’s “nonessential” businesses will kill. How many, we will never know. So Cuomo won’t have to take responsibility for his ill-advised action. And, of course, millions of lives will be blighted even when no one dies.

    One can only hope that the politicians will be held accountable, but if history is any guide, they will not be.


  • David Harsanyi is another lonely voice of sanity: Coronavirus Pandemic Doesn’t Discredit Small-Government Conservatism.

    There are no libertarians during a pandemic, they tell me. Everyone is a Keynesian these days, apparently. It’s not just socialism that leads to shortages and empty shelves, fans of socialism point out. (They neglect to mention that, unlike the grocery shelves in socialistic nations, ours will be restocked as soon as the worst passes — and probably sooner.)

    Yet the coronavirus crisis has only strengthened my belief in limited-government conservatism — classical liberalism, libertarianism, whatever you want to call it. Years of government spending and expanding regulation have done nothing to make us safer during this emergency; in fact, our profligate spending during years of prosperity has probably constrained our ability to borrow now.

    Yes, unforeseen existential threats to America sometimes require extraordinary temporary measures that would normally be considered terrible policy. Asking most of the United States to self-quarantine during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic makes some sense, but asking 350 million people to self-quarantine when there’s no unique health risk would be ruinous, not to mention utterly insane. Perhaps sending Americans $1000 government-stimulus checks, instituting temporary sick- and family-leave pay as an emergency measure to keep families afloat, and bailing out our hardest-hit industries makes some sense, too, but not all ideas are equally beneficial in all situations.

    This pandemic also shows us that government does far too much of what it shouldn’t, and is far too incompetent at doing what it should.

    As noted above, neither Republicans nor Democrats are in any mood to make that point. That would make it difficult to maintain the narrative that they are saviors of America


  • Steven Landsburg wonders: Is It A Crime to Stop the Economy? He hosts a small essay by Romans Pancs:

    It is a crime against humanity for governments to stop a capitalist economy. It is a crime against those whom the economic recession will hit the hardest: those employed in the informal sector, those working hourly customer service jobs (e.g., cleaners, hairdressers, masseurs, music teachers, and waiters), the young, the old who may not have the luxury of another year on the planet to sit out this year (and then the subsequent recession) instead of living. It is a crime against those (e.g., teachers and cinema ushers) whose jobs will be replaced by technology a little faster than they had been preparing for. It is a crime against the old in whose name the society that they spent decades building is being dismantled, and in whose name the children and the grandchildren they spent lifetimes nourishing are subjected to discretionary deprivation. Most importantly, it is a crime against the values of Western democracies: commitment to freedoms, which transcend national borders, and commitment to economic prosperity as a solution to the many ills that had been plaguing civilisations for millennia.

    Pancs makes a provocative and subtle argument. I fear he's right.


  • Ah, but let's look at a stupid argument that has nothing to do with the Kung Flu. Wired hosts one from Gilad Edelman: Why Don’t We Just Ban Targeted Advertising?

    Let’s pretend it really happened. Imagine Congress passed a law tomorrow morning that banned companies from doing any ad microtargeting whatsoever. Close your eyes and picture what life would be like if the leading business model of the internet were banished from existence. How would things be different?

    Many of the changes would be subtle. You could buy a pair of shoes on Amazon without Reebok ads following you for months. Perhaps you’d see some listings that you didn’t see before, for jobs or real estate. That’s especially likely if you’re African-American, or a woman, or a member of another disadvantaged group. You might come to understand that microtargeting had supercharged advertisers’ ability to discriminate, even when they weren't trying to.

    Gilad is pretty cavalier about trashing the business models of a host of companies simply because he doesn't like seeing Reebok ads.


Last Modified 2020-03-23 2:50 PM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2020-03-22 Update

[Amazon Link]

I hear you wondering: is that your faithful blogger who posed for the cover photo of the Amazon Product du Jour?

Why, yes. Yes, that's me. Fake background, though.

Well, according to the oddsmakers, we're really down to two likely winning candidates, no more or less: President Bone Spurs and Wheezy Joe. Last week's long-shot betting flirtation with Hillary and VP Pence has subsided to put them below our 2% inclusion threshold… but not that far below.

Note that the bettors have essentially made the Trump/Biden race a coin-flip. Trump is still the landside phony-hit winner, though, with a 3-to-1 advantage:

Candidate WinProb Change
Since
3/15
Phony
Results
Change
Since
3/15
Donald Trump 47.0% -0.6% 1,530,000 -50,000
Joe Biden 46.0% +2.0% 469,000 +6,000

Warning: Google result counts are bogus.

  • P. J. O'Rourke looks at the field in the latest issue of American Consequences, and he writes as if Bernie still has a shot. But I think he's talking about our fair country, when he titles his article Old Enough To Know Better.

    In fact, the entire 2020 presidential campaign has turned into a remake of Grumpy Old Men. And when that 1993 movie was released, Jack Lemmon (at 68) and Walter Matthau (at 73) were younger than any of the three front-running presidential candidates will be on Election Day.

    Being a grumpy old man myself, I guess I should be… whatchamacallit… word’s on the tip of my tongue… Huh? What’s that? Speak up, goldurnit! And where are my dang bifocals?… Oh… I’m wearing them… Anyway, as I was saying… What was I saying?

    We might as well just go ahead and call 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue “The White Home” – A National Assisted Living Facility.

    Trump is much too old and far too big for his britches to be hanging around the political playground making up nasty nicknames and teasing the wimpy kids. One of these days, his big fat old ego is going to get stuck in the slide, bend the monkey bars, or break the swing set seat.

    Joe Biden is a zombie from the policy cemetery of the Carter era, with a stump performance like Election Night of the Living Dead.

    And Bernie Sanders is the decrepit grouch who should be sitting on a park bench in Boca Raton, grouching about his grandchildren voting for Bernie Sanders.

    All too true. Allow me a bonus excerpt. Even though we've gone past worrying about the Elizabeth Warren Menace, P.J. quotes an exchange our governor, Chris Sununu, had with WBZ radio guy Dan Rea:

    Dan Rea: “Governor, it looks like Elizabeth Warren is getting a real beating in New Hampshire. What did she do wrong?”

    Gov. Sununu: “She campaigned here.”

    Dan Rae: “And…”

    Gov. Sununu: “People got to know her.”


  • I usually take Politifact fact-checking with … not a grain of salt, but a couple of these:

    [giant halite cubes]

    But they seem to have Our Epidemiologist-in-Chief dead to rights with his recent claim about the pandemic. Trump on March 17:

    Q: "Some people did note that your tone seemed more somber yesterday. […] Was there a shift in tone?

    DJT: I didn't think -- I mean, I have seen that, where people actually liked it. But I didn't feel different. I've always known this is a -- this is a real -- this is a pandemic. I've felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic. All you had to do is look at other countries. I think now it's in almost 120 countries all over the world.

    Trump on January 22:

    JOE KERNEN: --are there worries about a pandemic at this point?

    PRESIDENT TRUMP: No. Not at all. And-- we’re-- we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s—going to be just fine.

    Politifact gives Trump a deserved "Pants on Fire" rating. But in fairness:

    • How seriously can you take Trump's claim that he "felt" it was a pandemic "long before it was called a pandemic"?
    • I'm not sure—even now—he has a firm handle on what a pandemic is.
    • The WHO didn't call Covid-19 a pandemic until March 11. So we're gonna bust Trump's chops about not calling it a pandemic on January 22?

    But, yeah, Trump's a notorious bullshitter on this, as he is on every other topic.


  • Atlantic staff writer Adam Serwer points his shaky finger of blame: Donald Trump’s Cult of Personality Did This. "This" being, … well, whatever this is, I guess.

    Trump and the conservative media apparatus have had the predictable impact of persuading audiences not to take health officials’ warnings seriously, viewing them as just another liberal “hoax.” One pastor in Arkansas told The Washington Post that “half of his church is ready to lick the floor, to prove there’s no actual virus,” adding that “in your more politically conservative regions, closing is not interpreted as caring for you. It’s interpreted as liberalism, or buying into the hype.”

    Conservatives have argued that it is the mainstream media’s fault for being so relentlessly negative about the president. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tweeted that “one of the dangerous consequences of having a totally dishonest left wing news media was that most Americans discounted their hysteria as phony.” Gingrich’s attempted indictment of the mainstream press is a backhanded acknowledgment that the conservative media do not conceive of their job as informing the public.

    Well, that's overblown. Are Trump and "conservative media" to blame for death tolls in Italy and Iran?


  • TruthDig contributor Bill Blum looked back on last week's Biden-Sanders debate, and came to a glum (for him) conclusion: Like It or Not, Donald Trump Won the Biden-Sanders Debate.

    More importantly, neither landed much of a blow against Donald Trump, who will square off against one of them in November. That failure made Trump the big winner of the night, and a major failure it was, especially because the candidates were served a softball question on the all-consuming issue of the coronavirus by CNN’s Jake Tapper at the outset of the debate, inviting each to appraise Trump’s handling of the crisis and to tell us what they would do differently as president.

    Biden, who has never been a good debater, answered that we are “in a war” with the virus and that he would provide funding for temporary hospitals to meet “the surge” in our medical needs, even calling out the military to help build the makeshift facilities. He invoked, as is his wont, the experience of the Obama administration in dealing with public-health emergencies as models that he would follow in his own administration. But like the gaffe-prone speaker he is, he referred to the Obama administration’s handling of the “N1H1” flu when he meant to say “H1N1,” and to the “coronavirus” before correcting himself and saying, “Ebola.”

    Sanders, who is generally a good debater, got off to a strong start, remarking, “The first thing we’ve got to do is to shut this president up right now because he is undermining the scientists and the doctors who are trying to help the American people. It is unacceptable for him to be blabbering with unfactual [sic] information that is confusing the general public.” But he then went on to discuss how he would handle the “Ebola” outbreak with universal single-payer health care before correcting himself to reference the coronavirus.

    TruthDig, of course, is usually the number one hit in our phony query for Wheezy Joe: Joe Biden Is a Fraud, Plain and Simple.


  • The Church Militant also tries to boost Joe's phony numbers: Phony Catholic Joe Biden Locks Nomination.

    Biden's record on abortion is rated 0% by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) indicating the highest pro-abortion rating. His record includes

    • Voting NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP
    • Voting NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion
    • Voting YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines
    • Voting NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortion
    • Voting YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives
    • Voting NO on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions
    • Voting YES on banning partial birth abortions
    • Voting NO on banning human cloning

    Biden and other prominent Catholics politicians including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and former Secretary of State John Kerry have rationalized their wildly radical abortion positions by adopting an "I accept Church rule personally, but not in public life" perch.

    That's a phony stance I would guess politicians take on non-abortion issues too, but I'd guess that abortion is the most common.


  • And in the running for the Libertarian Party nod is one Vermin Supreme, who gave us a phony hit with his tweet.

    I'm not sure the everyone-gets-a-pony plank will fly with the big-L Libertarians.


Last Modified 2020-03-22 11:21 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2020-03-21

[Amazon Link]

  • Jonah Goldberg's G-File this week is titled The Moral Heroism of Our Coronavirus Response.

    The simple fact is that this country is doing something morally heroic. I hate metaphorical war rhetoric, but we’re taking the “millions for defense, not one penny for tribute” approach to this.

    It may not work. It may not last. It may not make the most sense economically. But we’re doing it anyway. And that is something that should be appreciated not just for the “We’re all in it together” platitudes but as a rebuttal to the slanderous way many Americans describe this country.

    He may have a point there. I also enjoyed this:

    It’s sort of like Star Trek. In the show(s) the captain and the top officers go on all the dangerous away missions while the vast crew stays behind to be props and walk through the hallways like the cast of West Wing. I’ve long joked that if Gene Roddenberry wrote the story of World War II, FDR and Ike would parachute behind enemy lines to take out Hitler and Himmler all by themselves. 

    I'd watch that show too.


  • And at the WaPo, George F. Will has some good news for us. Or maybe just you: You are not a teetering contraption.

    “Worrying,” wrote Lewis Thomas, “is the most natural and spontaneous of all human functions.” Thomas — physician, philosopher, essayist, administrator (dean of the Yale and New York University medical schools, head of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) — thought we worry too much about our health, as though a human being is “a teetering, fallible contraption, always needing watching and patching, always on the verge of flapping to pieces.”

    So at this worrisome moment, fill your idle hands with Bill Bryson’s 2019 book, “The Body: A Guide for Occupants.” It will fill your mind with reasons for believing that you are not flimsy, even though “we are just a collection of inert components.” Including seven billion billion billion (7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) atoms, not one of which cares a fig about you. In the time it took to read this far into this sentence, your busy body manufactured 1 million red blood cells that will surge through you every 50 seconds — 150,000 times (a hundred or so miles) before, in about four months, they die and are replaced for the greater good, meaning: for you.

    Mr. Will is 78 years young, and I'm probably more worried about him than he is himself.


  • Back to Jonah at the Dispatch, where he notes that China Is Waging a Very Effective Propaganda War.

    If there’s one thing worth knowing about China—in terms of geopolitics and American national security at least—it’s that its rulers are almost as afraid of the people as the people are afraid of them.

    Think about it. Why would a government place secret cameras everywhere? Censor any criticism of the government? Mount massive propaganda campaigns to defend the infallibility of the ruling Communist Party?

    If the people were all in for their form of government and their way of life, this wouldn’t be necessary.

    “In 2013 the party issued a list of seven topics that could no longer be discussed with students: universal values, a free press, civil society, civic rights, the party’s past ‘mistakes,’ corruption and an independent judiciary,” veteran China correspondent Isabel Hilton wrote in The Economist in 2018. “This speaks of fear rather than confidence.”

    Want insight into what powerful people are most afraid of? Find out what you can't say around them.


  • Via Rand Simberg, an interesting point from David Zaruk, writing at Science 2.0: Coronavirus Shows Our Reliance On The 'Precautionary Principle' Has Ruined Our Ability To Manage Risk.

    With locusts ravaging East Africa and a coronavirus plague shutting down Western economies, maybe it is time to go back and see how the precautionary principle has fared as the (only) risk management tool in our policy toolkit. With a population naively assuming they were living risk-free lives having been reassured how their personal safety was managed by others, the coming crisis is going to hit hard.

    Whatever happened to personal risk management, accountability and autonomy? Populations that have lost an understanding of risks are now incapable of dealing with simple hazard reduction measures. COVID-19 has taught us that two decades of precautionist-driven risk aversion has left an untrusting public without the capacity to protect themselves. Times of mass panic as we’re seeing today are not ideal periods to re-teach simple risk management skills, but perhaps once the outrage has passed and the bodies have been removed, a bit of risk reality education will be welcomed.

    We've been told for decades that we didn't have to worry about taking precautions ourselves, because it was government's job to decide what level of risk was acceptable. See where that's got us.


  • And we noticed last year the semi-coherent writings of one Jim Baer, an occasional op-ed columnist for the Concord Monitor. The Google LFOD alert let us know about his latest "thoughts" on Politics, pandemics and the New Hampshire way.

    In the past, I registered my opinion in the Monitor about the foolishness of replacing the old motto on our New Hampshire vehicle registration plates from “Scenic New Hampshire” to the cavalier “Live Free or Die.” In lieu of the morbidity rates of the COVID-19 virus, it may be wise to return “Scenic New Hampshire” on our plates. Most people do not feel the need to be reminded about dying.

    Cavalier, huh? What's more cavalier than dumping a motto because it might remind people of things they'd prefer not to be reminded of?

    'Twas a mere six months ago when Baer referred scornfully to "the 'Live Free or Die' crowd" in one of his columns. His attitude to the motto might be most charitably described as "mixed". Or, less charitably, "hoplessly confused."

URLs du Jour

2020-03-20

  • I must admit dismay at Gal Gadot's 'Imagine' cover. Going to the New York Post:

    Just call her Blunder Woman.

    Gal Gadot’s attempt to cheer up coronavirus isolationists with a celeb-studded cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine” backfired after Twitter users wondered why they couldn’t send money instead.

    Some are evolution denialists, some think the Earth is flat. I, for one, refuse to believe the evidence in front of my own eyes that Ms Gadot is an airhead.

    Because, whoa, that smile.


  • Thomas McArdle at Issues & Insights notes another feature of the utopia envisioned by progressives: Mass Transit, The Pandemic Petri Dish. Bottom line:

    Just as the notorious public housing projects built for the poor in American cities as the wave of the future in the middle of the last century ended up being breeding grounds for violent crime and economic despair, the same approach of treating commuting human beings as cattle to be managed by their bureaucrat betters in authority above them is now proliferating a deadly imported pathogen that will transport death to the masses.

    The author goes through a lot of history and current affairs. Worthwhile reading.


  • And, as Randal O'Toole notes at Cato, it's not as if We Weren't Warned.

    We were warned. After September 11, 2001, historian Stephen Ambrose told us what to do.

    “One of the first things you learn in the Army is that, when you and your fellow soldiers are within range of enemy artillery, rifle fire, or bombs, don’t bunch up,” wrote Ambrose in the Wall Street Journal. Now that the U.S. was under attack from terrorists, Ambrose urged the nation as a whole to learn the same lesson: “don’t bunch up.” “In this age of electronic revolution,” he noted, “it is no longer necessary to pack so many people and office into such small space as lower Manhattan.”

    Ambrose’s advice was ignored. Manhattan’s population has grown by 100,000 people since 2001. Fitting this number of people on a 23‐​square‐​mile island is only possible because of transit systems that force people to pack themselves into buses and railcars.

    Maybe. Although Singapore seems to be doing OK, despite being densely populated.

  • At Econlib, Pierre Lemieux notes that what we're seeing is Government Failure on a Grand Scale.

    Any person or organization can make mistakes, including governmental organizations and the state itself. And, as the popular saying goes, it’s easy to criticize. The problem, however, is that governmental mistakes have much worse consequences than any individual error. It appears that the US government, just like the Chinese government, totally botched the initial response to the coronavirus epidemic, albeit in different ways.

    It is now admitted that the repeated failure of the federal government to provide testing kits or (due to stifling regulations) let private laboratories manufacture them has played a major role in the skyrocketing of infections and deaths in America. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports (“America Needed Coronavirus Tests. The Government Failed,” March 19, 2010):

    While the virus was quietly spreading within the U.S., the CDC had told state and local officials its “testing capacity is more than adequate to meet current testing demands,” according to a Feb. 26 agency email viewed by The Wall Street Journal, part of a cache of agency communications reviewed by the Journal that sheds light on the early response. …

    CDC officials botched an initial test kit developed in an agency lab, retracting many tests. They resisted calls from state officials and medical providers to broaden testing, and health officials failed to coordinate with outside companies to ensure needed test-kit supplies, such as nasal swabs and chemical reagents, would be available, according to suppliers and health officials.

    As we noted Dr. Fauci saying yesterday: it's nobody's fault. It never is, when it's government's fault, it's a massive enterprise evading responsibility for misfeasance.


  • Virginia Postrel says Coronavirus Should Mean Higher Pay for Health Aides, But Won't. Here's an interesting bit:

    To boost productivity more significantly, potentially improving both care and wages, start-ups are experimenting with artificial intelligence. An intriguing example is Cherry Home, which markets an unobtrusive monitoring system that distinguishes normal behavior patterns from abnormal ones, including falls, restless sleep or signs of confusion. When something looks off, the system alerts a monitoring center, which contacts caregivers, family members or emergency services as needed. The system has a privacy mode that displays stick figures rather than images of people, and it can communicate with someone in distress without requiring them to press a button. In theory, such systems could allow individuals to stay in their homes without having aides or family members present all the time.

    Welcome to our future, where our caregivers will be robots. I probably won't mind; even today, Alexa can usually make me laugh a few times a week.


URLs du Jour

2020-03-19

I think it's all Covid-related today, sorry.

  • At the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein asks a question I've been asking too: When and how does this coronavirus crisis end?

    That’s the question on the top of everybody’s mind. It’s what governments at all levels are struggling to get a handle on. It’s what schools and parents are trying to come to grips with. It’s what sports leagues and airlines and restaurants and hotels need to know. It’s what Wall Street investors and political pundits are all trying to figure out.

    But the truth is, nobody knows when exactly this all ends.

    I hope by July. I (literally) have reservations.


  • A Corner post from Kevin D. Williamson, I'm just gonna show you the whole thing:

    In Slate, infectious disease specialist Kent Sepkowitz writes:

    In early March, Trump told Sean Hannity that, despite million [sic] of cases and thousands of deaths, the Obama administration “didn’t do anything about” H1N1. On Friday, he tweeted that the Obama response had been “was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now.” And again on Sunday he tweeted, “The USA was never set up for this, just look at the catastrophe of the H1N1 Swine Flu (Biden in charge, 17,000 people lost, very late response time).” It’s become a talking point for his supporters online and off.

    Set aside, for the moment, the question of the truth of these claims. The real question for Trump, who presents himself as a hard-charging business executive, is this: Did we hire you to sit around and kvetch on Twitter about the mistakes of your predecessor, or did we hire you to fix them?

    Emphasis added.


  • John Tamny points out what should be obvious at AIER: If You Bail Out Everyone, You Bail Out No One. It's in response to Kevin Warsh's (a former Federal Reserve Governor) suggestion to “create a new facility that could lend to companies hit by the economic shutdown.”

    The shutdown aspect of the lapse of reason we’re all suffering from politicians and those in their employ rates constant mention in consideration of conservative calls for a “new facility” to bolster businesses whacked by political ineptitude. Those businesses, and those in the employ of those businesses, would normally fund government outlays but for one problem: politicians are in the process of shutting down the economy for weeks, and perhaps even months.

    It’s seemingly been glossed over by Warsh and other conservatives that government spending is just another word for private sector spending orchestrated by politicians. All wealth is created in the private sector only for government to politicize spending of this private sector wealth creation to the tune of $4 to $5 trillion per year. The growth once again already happened, hence the ability of Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell et al to spend.

    It's almost that classic statist slight-of-hand, where (1) the government takes a lot of your money; (2) gives some of it back; (3) tries to convince you it's done you a great favor.

    Bad enough, but the problem in this case is step one: where you gonna get the money when the economy is in shutdown mode?


  • Cato's Jeffrey A. Singer points a finger: Coronavirus testing delays caused by red tape, bureaucracy and scorn for private companies.

    The Food and Drug Administration requires an onerous approval process to bring any test to market. Once the FDA granted "emergency use authorization" to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to distribute and conduct the coronavirus test that it had developed, the CDC took control of distributing and administering tests while the private sector and foreign-developed tests were kept out of the process during the crucial weeks between when the virus was first identified in December and when it started rapidly spreading among the American public. The obstacles to private-sector action are only now being lifted.

    "Emergency use authorization" is a scaled-down approval process that requires fewer criteria to be met to speed a test or treatment to market when time is of the essence. But even a more streamlined process didn't allow tests developed abroad and distributed by the World Health Organization to make the grade. According to White House officials, the WHO test was meant for research purposes and didn't meet American quality control standards amid concern about incorrect results. Yet other countries have been using the test, suggesting our federal government let the prefect be the enemy of the good.

    Neither major political party can turn this into a partisan issue, so it won't become the major scandal it deserves to be.


  • At National Review, Michael Tanner makes another libertarian point: Big Government Has Hurt Our Ability to Deal with This Crisis.

    The government’s most obvious failure so far has been the slowness of testing. The Trump administration’s failure to recognize the urgency of the situation was undoubtedly a contributing factor. But a bigger issue was red tape, bureaucracy, and over-caution on the part of regulatory agencies. Notably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insisted on creating its own diagnostic kit, rather than adopt those already available from other sources, such as the World Health Organization, which had made kits available to more than 60 countries.

    Making matters worse, the CDC botched its first attempt at a test kit. In response, some laboratories tried to take matters into their own hands and create their own kits, only to be blocked by the FDA, which insisted that laboratories first obtain an Emergency Use Authorization, which added more delays. Those delays allowed the virus to circulate undetected for weeks and certainly contributed to its spread.

    Now that testing is finally coming online, the biggest concern is a lack of hospital beds and other equipment such as ventilators. Here again, big government has been part of the problem. For example, 35 states have restrictive certificate-of-need laws that allow existing hospitals and other health providers to block new construction or the purchase of equipment by new and competing providers. Designed to deliberately reduce capacity and reduce competition, these laws have helped lead to a shortage of capacity to handle the expected surge in coronavirus cases.

    NIH spokesmodel Anthony Fauci has been quick to point his finger of blame… nowhere at all.

    "It was a complicated series of multiple things that conflated that just, you know, went the wrong way. One of them was a technical glitch that slowed things down in the beginning. Nobody’s fault. There wasn’t any bad guys there. It just happened," Fauci said.

    Nothing must be allowed to get in the way of the narrative: (1) the State's job is to protect us all, and (2) it's "nobody's fault" when it fails to do that.


  • And while the "democratic" socialists keep wanting us to become West Denmark, a different country, #2 in economic freedom, is pointing a different path, as described by Howard Husock at City Journal: As It Confronts COVID-19, U.S. Should Revisit How It Attracts and Retains Governmental Talent.

    Singapore has something to teach the world about the importance of a well-functioning, high-capacity, creative, and trusted government in times of crisis. The coronavirus could have easily overwhelmed the wealthy island city-state, but even as it received infected travelers directly from Wuhan, Singapore effectively tracked and isolated cases—limiting the early total to just 226, with zero deaths. In effect, Singapore quickly instituted the panoply of measures that other countries, including the U.S., appear to have discovered slowly. As its Ministry of Health website demonstrates, the country tested Wuhan arrivals, instituted travel bans, tracked the infected, and, finally, located all their contacts. In addition, Singapore canceled all sporting events and other public gatherings. The public-health response was based on studying and learning from less successful experiences with the SARS and H1N1 outbreaks in 2002 and 2009.

    Singapore’s success owes at least something to its governmental approach. The city-state pays its cabinet ministers and civil servants high salaries, inspiring them to build careers in public service. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earns more than $2 million a year—the highest among world leaders—while cabinet ministers earn more than $1 million. As Lee puts it: “ministers should also be paid properly in order that Singapore can have honest, competent leadership over the long term.”

    I should hasten to point out that on broader measures of freedom, Singapore scores less well. But it's doing a better job of … y'know … keeping its citizens alive than many other countries.


Last Modified 2020-03-19 8:47 AM EDT