Covid 19 Shutdown Politics
Advocates of quickly ending the shutdowns are in the news. Mostly, because one of them is President. Like most Americans, I think reopening soon would be a mistake (and remember I am in Italy where the shut down is severe compared to any State in the USA). I’m just going to assume that reopening by May 1 is a bad idea and try to understand who advocates it and why they do.
First the vast majority of Americans do not support reopening soon. There was the poll with 81% suppoert for a national lockdown. Also here is a poll which shows 10% believe gatherings of 10 or more will be safe by May 1. Interestingly the article reporting the poll is illustrated with a photo of an anti-lockdown demonstration. The silent majority is not photogenic.
So who and why
1. Wishful thinkers. The shut down is painful. It would be nice for it not to be necessary, so some people decide it is not necessary.
2. One of them is named Trump: I don’t pretend to understand him, but I think this is mostly infantile wishful thinking. He wishes there were no lockdown and no epidemic, so he believes it is possible. I am fairly sure this is also true of a majority of the small minority who thinks gatherings of 10 or more will be safe soon or in another 40 days.
3. Trump followers. I am sure that there would be even fewer advocates of reopening soon and no or very few demonstrations if Trump were’t against lockdowns. There are clearly many Americans who believe what he says and follow him blindly. I count the Fox News editorial staff among them. Fox follows Trump as he zigs and zags, and tens of millions of Americans follow Fox.
I am sure this is most of it, but I would like to go on.
4. rural vs urban. The epidemic has mostly hit large cities so far. There is clearly the sense among some people in rural areas that the problem is someone else’s problem and that policy is set by and for city and suburb dwellers. This isn’t even egoistic — if there were no Covid 19 in rural areas social distancing in the countryside would help no one. It is, however, foolish. The virus spreads quickly. This could be April’s version of the old belief that Covid 19 was China’s problem.
5. White vs non White. Always an issue. Anglo white Americans have suffered much less so far (as always) and some of them don’t care about non whites and don’t fully understand (or accept) that the virus isn’t racist. Here again, the division into us and them isn’t hostile and selfish. The argument is just that we are separated from them, so our social distancing can’t help them. However, focusing on the differences between people is racist even if the races don’t have conflicting interests.
6. Can work from home vs can’t work from home. Here I might have guessed that people (like me) who can work from home support the shutdown and people who are unemployed because of it oppose it. I think the pattern is the opposite (among the few thousand people shouting at demonstrations I haven’t heard of one complaining about being unemployed). I can rationalise this opposite pattern too. My guess is that no matter what Governors say, people who can work from home will. So they don’t expect to pay the costs of reopening. And some (a small minority) are horribly selfish
7. Rentiers. That goes double for people who don’t have to leave home to work, because they don’t have to work, because they live on capital income. I am sure that in the USA almost all such people engage in work like activities, but they don’t have to. Among the work from home or don’t really need to work at all I count Charles Koch and Lloyd Blankfein. Two people who don’t have much else in common who have stressed the high cost of shutdowns and advocated (extremely or moderately) relaxing the shutdown.
If someone’s interaction with the USA is principally through the stock market and he is depraved, he might even suggest people have a duty to die for the Dow. Extremely rich people may be confident that they can isolate themselves, so extremely selfish risk people may emulate Prospero in the Masque of the Red Death (a story they ought to read).
I think it is absolutely clear that this is an important part of the reopen movement. Trump is obsessed by the Dow Jones Index. Charles Koch is quite possibly not so super rich now that the Price of WTI Petroleum went negative. One hint that this is about the interests of the super rich is that Steve Moore is an outspoken advocate of reopening. Also Americans For Prosperity, Freedom Works, and the Club for Growth. References to the Dow are common.
The largest of the many small protests is known to involve astroturf (fake grass roots) it was organized partly by a De Vos funded group.
8. Grifters have to grift. Some of the astroturfers aren’t super rich, but they are trying. Extremist provacateurs have to provoke to raise money.
9. Libertarian ideology. The shut down is the most extreme regulation I have ever witnessed. People who believe in laissez faire must oppose the shut down. I believe that this is a very minor component of the cause of the opposition (while being a huge component of the signge)
But another problem is that a tiny minority is getting a huge amount of attention, because they are loud, colorful and telegenic. This post is part of that problem.
It all stems from the basic fact that The Dumpster® is an incoherent, inarticulate, incompetent, incontinent, morbidly obese, narcissistic sociopath who loves chaos.
Davebarnes, you are being way to kind.
Too not to. Sorry
Some people have not had it become personal, yet.
“Too not to. Sorry”
Too, not to.
Brought to You by the Committee to Save the Comma from Abuse
A Governor or President might not be able to understand exponentials, so they could listen to: their minister, Fox News, right-wing tv/radio nuts, or they could listen to the scientists who are experts in such matters.
Trump does pretty well running a Reality TV show; not so well at the reality/leadership thing; now it appears that he doesn’t/can’t do either of these.
His disciples seem to think the Pro-wrestling and Trump are both real. They are going to be devastated when they catch on.
Anglo American kids have suffered for less???? Oh please. They have been 50% of all deaths.
For Trump it’s all about his reelection prospects. He knows many are going to blame him for inadequate response to the surfacing of the virus.
Is “kids” a typo? CDC report shows 20 deaths in the under 25 age group out of 17,229 total deaths.
(Pardon the excessive precision, but that is how it is reported.)
A resource that I think is useful to gauge how states are progressing in COVID cases, and which ones look like reasonable candidates for probing how to re-engage in some livelihoods: https://rt.live/ . This gives you a good visual representation of the rate of change of new cases, state by state.
Ohio and Georgia do not look like two good candidates to gently probe how to put some people back to work and see what the safety tradeoff is. Montana, yea maybe so.
A question of some relevance is: what is the purpose of flattening the curve. The initial purpose is to avoid a flood of cases that overwhelms medical capabilities. A secondary purpose is to help some people avoid ever getting infected – though this is a harder and much longer term task. Also there is the secondary purpose of delaying some cases so progress can be made on treatments and vaccines and knowledge – this might range from a good argument for weeks to gain information to 18 months hoping for a vaccine ( but can the West absorb and bounce back from an 18 month depression ? ). We still don’t know how many total exposures there have been, which complicates any evaluations greatly, but it seems reasonable to guess that is in the range of 2 to 10 times the tested confirmed infected rate, but not 1 x and probably not as much as 25x times. EG see Josh Marshall’s counterpoint ( NY total fatalities of .11 to .16% of NYC population ) to the Santa Clara testing result ( maybe as much as 100 times the test-confirmed exposure rate, but with questions about the test’s error rate and methodology ).
I think 20 million out of work merit some weighing of safety vs livelihood and some consideration of what is free choice vs what is a state mandate, in a world of rational choices not made for political purposes.
I wonder if the Trump GOP is just taking the available bet on reopening the economy over deaths, now that hydroxychloroquine can’t get him reelected. If the answer to that is at least ambiguous and plays well in the right states, there seems to be some gambling angle to try that bet vs a lost cause.
Minority Free choice should not impinge upon the majority right to a safe and healthy environment. The minority in Michigan is not so much concerned about going back to work which more than likely would violate an acceptable distance from one another, this is about being able to boat, migrate to other parts of the state with little or no COVUD 19 from the hotspots in the state, or going the store for nonessential items which did not eliminate beer or liquor. This is not the flu so to speak and we still do not have a handle on the size of the contagion because the fat ass in the WH has logistically (a field I have extreme expertise in) failed to provide the means to do so as to protect his political viability at the expense of the lives of this nation.
Hydroxychloroquine was not the killer of the virus, it was the gateway to the cells allowing the other drug (zinc ions, ZPak, AZT, etc.) entry and inhibit COVID. The body fights it off then. It must be applied early on in the process. It is pretty interesting how it works.
I believe that it is too simplistic to ask if it is too early to reopen business in some areas of the United States.
We should ask what objective goal or goals should be met before we begin to reopen.
1. There is no known cure for Covid-19 and immunizations will not be available any time soon. Some percentage of those infected will die, some percentage will survive after dramatic medical measures are taken, but probably most will never have had any medical treatment. No one seems to understand why that happens. We are told that old age, or preexisting lung or heart issues, or obesity are risk factors for death. And there may be yet unnoticed risk factors.
This disease has been cutting a swath thru the US population and it is still unstoppable.
I date the beginning of our ‘social distancing’ to 16 March 2020. Five days later on 21 March the daily percentage of increase of Covid-19 cases rose to about 65%. The daily increase of cases has been decreasing and it has been hovering at about 5% since 13 April. The increase was about 3.5% yesterday.
How much lower can the current version of ‘social distancing’ drive down the daily increases? In my opinion, probably not much at all. There are just too many cases scattered across the country to believe that the infected will not infect another 3.5%.
2. The current version of ‘social distancing’ has come at a high cost to the economy at the national, state, and local levels. And government revenues are severely impacted. And it has come at tremendous costs to much of the working class population. Taken together those costs can not be continued forever and probably not much longer.
The idealists will say the we should do anything possible to reduce the number of new cases and deaths because human life is paramount.
But as a nation we accept over 35,000 deaths a year from automobile accidents! And individually, some Americans do street drugs, smoke tobacco products, fail to exercise, become obese, or work at jobs that are generally recognized as dangerous.
Obviously human life is not really paramount. There has always been and probably always will be, some tipping point in the decision making.
I do not claim to know what that tipping point will be but it will come. The idealistic assumptions will be set aside.
What objective goal should be met before we reopen business in some areas of the United States? If we do a partial reopen what rate of increase in cases should cause another shutdown?
I think those really are the questions. Plainly as I believe they will find out in Georgia you can throw open everything without adequate testing and I think some of the restaurant and tavern owners will find business way down if clientele do not feel safe. Obviously essential business has never shut down and some business is changing in how it is conducted—working from home, curbside pick up of groceries and liquor. I just do not see how you can throw open movie theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants, taverns, massage parlors, barber shops, beauty parlors etc unless there is sufficient testing and tracing that people do not feel afraid AND do not get us right back to NYC, New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago in a month. And they really have to do something about nursing homes. Finally, does anyone think we can go back to sports with fans and schools as we knew them this year—2020?
It looks from here like the open – don’t open divide is pretty much along party or at least “political” lines. my bias is to not-open. but some things i would like to hear from someone who can convince me he knows what he is talking about”
what is the reality of “economy can’t recover”? I think that is nonsense. As soon as it is “safe” the economy will recover and make up for all the lost time.
what is the realistic (not political) prospect of opening gradually where it is reasonably safe (with reasonable precautions) and reasonably necessary… according to a generous assessment of “necessary.:?
I imagine that those people who can’t go back to work could receive ordinary unemployment checks, paid for by the people who can go back to work. this might be a fairly big hit on “working” people, but not one that will cripple them. And it is one they should accept instead of “demanding ” someone else” pay for them.
unless it is possible for the government to borrow or just print money until it is over. i am not an economist, but i suspect that as long as “essential” work is getting done, printing money for a limited period would not be the economic catastrophe it is rumored to be.
the “open beaches” thing looked unwise to me… but i would guess that as long as people maintain reasonable social distancing it would not be dangerous. on the other hand I have seen people behave in ways that are NOT reasonable or considerate, and perhaps even a “little bit” of opening would lead to a renewal of exponentially increasing cases and deaths.
I hope you are not serious.
Once upon a time the American working class accumulated some savings. For the last 20 years the American working class has only accumulated more and more Total Household Debt. Now that is at record high levels.
The news media reports that they live paycheck to paycheck and would have to borrow money to cover a $400 emergency expenditure.
Summary for a worker earning $12 dollars an hour
40 — Hours per week ——— 4.3 Weeks per month
$12 –Hourly pay————-$2,064 Pay per Month
$480 Pay per week———–$310 Back of envelope deductions (Likely low)
———————————–$1,754 Net monthly pay which is now $0
$1,200 —Federal stimulus check
$-554.40 Deficit for the unemployed worker for the last month
It probably takes 2 income earners to manage household expenses with 2 children. And even at that they are probably only one or two paychecks away from total disaster. Remember, they have saved nothing!
If what I read is true then filing for unemployment has been one long delay after another. (How much anxiety and anger has built up over those delays.) And unemployment checks never replace all of the lost income.
If the employee was earning more money then he will be in an even deeper hole. His expenses are higher and he has not been saving anything either.
How long can the food banks keep supplying food for the unemployed? How long can landlords defer rent payments already due? How long before autos used to get to work are repossessed? How long before the custodial parent has the other parent arrested for nonpayment of support? How much economic destruction can one individual take and continue as though nothing had happened?
The crime rate is likely to go up as time goes on. We have already seen Americans on the street protesting. Next comes riots and looting.
Some companies will never reopen, without the cashflow the company’s assets were used to cover the expenses of the owner and his family.
By my reckoning payrolls have already been sharply reduced for over a month. State and local government receipts are down. Those entities can not run deficits. Budgets will have to be reexamined and expenditures reduced. Services will be cut, and that is going to hurt real people.
This is not a game, this lockdown is messing with people’s lives.
Do as you wish and the economy would reopen to many consumers with little or no money to spend on discretionary purchases. They would spend months repaying money borrowed just to get by. And there would have already been hell to pay during your extended closure.
I assume your last is addressed to me. you really should make that clear.
I am serious. please note i said i’d like to hear about my comments from someone who could convince me they know what they are talking about.
so i’ve heard from you. you say my “unemployment benefits” need to be higher. I am fine with that. But your arithmetic does not convince me.
The rest of your comment appears to be an extended rant that does not appear to consider that all of these objections can be dealt with without just throwing open the economy and virus-sphere, and it’s not entirely clear that opening the economy will in fact solve any of the problems you outline.
Sure, I get it. Keeping a large economy on lockdown for 3 or 4 months instead of one and a half is inconsequential.
Don’t worry, be happy! LOL
35000 dead in a year from car wrecks. 42000 plus in just over a month from Covid 19 and rising.
Yes, we’re learning what happens when the system set up to be used by society for securing people from the risks of life and living is not organic to the tasked charged.
The virus, like all viruses has to run through all of human kind before we are safe. That happens naturally or via vaccine. We’re going to find it will be by natural process. Thus, we can only currently manage the rate at which it completes the journey so as not to over whelm our ability to save people.
We need to get real about the length of time it will take to get to safety. Swallow hard and print the money. If we make the policy changes so that our inorganic system for securing one from the risks of life and living assure such happens the next time, then the printed money should not become a problem for the nation’s financial condition.
With that, nature will be piling on as we enter the fire season, flooding, hurricanes. Lets hope we don’t get a 2nd new virus as we deal with this latest addition to our viral family.
Actually Jim, you don’t get it at all. You read a few of the words I wrote, saw red, and stopped thinking entirely.
I, perhaps alone among “progressives,” recognize that people have to work, if not to get money, to make and do the things the rest of us need to survive. I was just asking people who might know something how some ideas i had would work in the real world,
Trouble for me is I start talking about ideas to fix a problem, and hit everyones little red button. That’s why nothing ever gets fixed.
thanks. i am not completely sure i understand how”printed” money would work. It doesn’t seem too unlikely that it would not cause inflation as it would be used to pay people for essential work, who would be taxed on their income to pay unemployment “benefits” to people who can’t find “safe” work, who would in turn by the product of the people who are working. I would think that the tax/benefit ratio could be adjusted so demand does not exceed supply. I would also suppose that those who are working would be “allowed” to keep more money than are the benefits to those who are not working (which still need to be high enough to live on)…. out of something like economic “justice,” and because, i suppose, not working has huge benefits in “time” to find pleasures in life that don’t involve mo’money. I do recognize this is highly hypothetical, but I’m not sure the same logic shouldn’t work for normal times…normal that is when the virus is no longer a factor but global pollution is.
“buy” not “by”
We have been nuts for decades, but never before has the country been able to observe the sausage factory up close in real time. Maybe the survivors will learn something this time, but I won’t hold my breath. At age 71 then my time for learning something may be near its end.
I remember the time Congressman Preston Books broke his cane beating Senator Charles Sumner half to death on the Senate floor for having called the slave-owning South a whore. His admirers sent him new canes, and newspapers all over the South called him a hero. Not exactly sausage making, but definitely a sign of the limitations of human intelligence and their failure to learn what “I will have mercy and not sacrifice” means.
Which would make me quite a bit older than you. And while there are variations in how people age (rather small variations at the end of the day) I can say that despite growing difficulties I am still learning important things I missed in school.
That doesn’t mean I expect “people” to learn much. They are, after all, forever young.
Stay with us.