Apocryphally there is an ancient Chinese curse that says “May you live in interesting times”. The idea is that it’s a curse (thus bad for you), and that the bad thing that is happening is that everything around you is uncertain, in turmoil, rapidly changing, and otherwise so off-balancing that one must pay close attention to avoid a fall into danger.
Well, April of 2020 is definitely interesting times. Reality is that much of commerce is shut down due to shelter-in-place orders by government. There is zero chance that many of people will be unhurt.
A few questions that surround the COVID-19 pandemic are:
- Is it a real danger, or exaggerated for particular gain?
- Is it both?
- If it’s exaggerated for particular gain, what are those gains?
- What evidence contradicts the real danger argument?
The first question, “Is it real?” Well, yes, 23,000+ dead in Italy seems like an obvious problem. Spain and France death totals are climbing, and New York City is up to 14,000+ dead. But is that more than the normal count of dead who expire during flu season? And here we have uncertain / in turmoil data.
Certainly, I don’t want my mom to die; and she is in her early 80’s. If the influenza virus, or the COVID-19 virus were to kill her, and I didn’t do all I could to reduce it’s spread, I would feel remorse.
But if the flu kills one half of a million people every year: is the 2020 death-by-influenza-like-virus count really going to be all that greater than the 2019 count? That count could be lower, actually; which would be due to the shut down of commerce.
But the second second part of the first question is perhaps re-written as “Is the declared pandemic due to COVID-19 exaggerated for particular gain?”
It’s not obvious to me that the the answer is no. I would like to be able to say that “The declared pandemic due to COVID-19 is not exaggerated by the media and government bureaucrats who use the media for manipulation.” I do not think that’s true, though.
The second question, “Is it both?” I’m inclined to say yes.
The third question, “If it’s exaggerated for particular gain, what are those gains?” Well wow, there are a lot.
- Old school mass media is dying; good riddance. But the Oh-My-God-A-Pandemic!!! keeps the mass media on life support for a little bit longer.
- There is a bureaucratic axiom: Never let a good crisis go to waste. Certainly this pandemic has given bureaucratic bullies ample opportunity to exert additional authority.
- Social / technological progress: companies which would never before have considered a remote workforce are implementing it. And the air is cleaner for it.
- A majority of old school mass media is still butt-hurt that Donald Trump got elected President. He’s going to win again, unless something can be created to discredit him. A ruined economy might do the trick.
- Other topics that the mass media should be focusing on go by the wayside while the Oh-My-God-A-Pandemic!!! story stays top center. By the way, Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself.
- Joe Biden is running for President, which is an automatic loss unless the plan is to use him as a false front. If the plan is that Joe will die / be medically retired shortly after election, then the selection of Vice President becomes crucial. I’ve heard Kamala Harris floated as the candidate. I think it would be very difficult to find a candidate with worse “insider” attributes. She is a protege of Willie Brown, and Willie Brown’s picture ought to be in the dictionary next to the phrase Corrupt Politician. The point is: it’s to the Democratic National Committee’s benefit for people to not be looking at their candidate for VP too closely or for very long. The more time spent looking at their candidate, the more time to find something wrong. If they had a good candidate, we would have seen it by now.
- Senators saw the pandemic coming, and profited: Richard Burr, Kelly Loeffler, Dianne Feinstein, and Jim Inhofe. These people should be prosecuted and jailed.
- The EARN-IT Act, designed to break privacy of all Internet users.
- The Hong Kong protests, as people there want independence from communist China, and Hong Kong is a bright jewel of capitalism. Just how much force should governments use against their citizens?
- Brexit / no- Brexit – the saga of a government doing stupid things continues.
- Equifax breach. Not only did they fuck up their data security, they made a profit off it. And government prosecuted no-one (really).
- A local issue for me is the California High Speed Rail debacle; $77 billion of waste and no politician with the integrity to kill it. $2,000 per man, woman, and child in California (tax dollars) right into the shitter. Stop it!
- The point of all the above sub-bullet points is that government at the grand scale is often incompetent or malevolent (perhaps accidentally, but not always), and if we weren’t looking at the pandemic, the media couldn’t help but look at government. But the mass media likes government; it holds their leash, and they provide content to wrap the ads around.
- Government spending: every politician loves to be the hero, spending your money to rescue somebody from a problem. A pandemic is a wonderful excuse to spend money with little or no oversight. All these government workers working from home: you didn’t expect them to use their personal cell phones, did you? And from a legal discovery point of view: you don’t want personal and government business mixed on the same device. That wasn’t a concern when their contact phone number was the office phone number; but now we need call-back numbers and they sure as heck should not be the personal home phone number of the case worker. Other spending opportunities: schools with Chromebooks, Zoom teleconferencing, webcams, SAAS in The Cloud. All of these are excuses to buy stuff we could have done without (and kept expenses lower) but; now is a great excuse to spend, spend, spend. We’re stimulating the economy!
- Congressional spending: the funding bills had all sorts of pork / unrelated administrative bullshit attached. Many of the ideas would never have flown, had they been reviewed on their own merits alone. Never let a good crisis go to waste.
- Putting people in their place, by removing the government service of the public school system. Some of you did not appreciate what a little rat-asshole your little angel is, until the little angel was sent home to live with you for a couple months. You should fix your kid. Fixing your kid has always been your job; never the teacher’s. Long term, it would be best for your kid, too. Sending your kid home to you confronts the issue in a way your kid’s teacher (or even school district) never could.
- Conditioning people to be even more dependent on government services. If you understand that every dollar the government spends comes out of your wallet, you’d rather they spend less. But if the government bails you out, you are the welfare recipient now. It will be that much more difficult for you to complain about excessive government spending when you were one of the recipients. Hypocrisy much? No – you have more integrity than that; unless (pandemix).
- Unifying disaster: the pandemic. It’s no secret that there has been an increasing divide between people who earn their self-worth, and people who feel entitled. This divide became wider during the Donald Trump versus Hilary Clinton presidential campaign. The pandemic resets expectations. Trivial childishness is seen for what it is. What about the barber, shut down, who can no longer feed his family of four? That’s important.
The fourth question is “What evidence contradicts the real danger argument?”
I think another way of asking this is “If this danger is so real, what orders are examples of actual safety, and what orders are bullshit to make the bureaucrats feel powerful?” The orders are Shelter In Place also known as Stay Home and Keep Socially Distant.
I see the value in keeping everyone separate. If the transmission process is an infected person exhales, and a non-infected person inhales (which is the typical infection path for influenza-like viruses), then Shelter In Place / Stay Home and Keep Socially Distant makes a lot of sense. And in the first week, a ton of people did it.
We’re putting up with the destruction of commerce for the little guy because it’s all about keeping people from an early death. Right?
And then a week later, the ice cream shops were suddenly essential services and open for take-out. What the hell?
I’m still getting junk mail. A printer at the junk mail printer could be coughing all sorts of germs all over the crap that gets delivered to me. What is so essential about me getting sales crap to tell me to buy shit I don’t need, and which is obviously immediately going into the trash.
Are the politicians going to barbers / hair dressers? Is a barber / hair dresser suddenly an essential service when it’s a bureaucrat who needs a hair cut?
Let’s cut to the chase: is looking good an essential service?
Are politicians and/or bureaucrats to be excused from breaking Shelter In Place / Stay Home and Keep Socially Distant if they get that essential service of looking good? Because it’s all about keeping people looking good on TV, right?
Your grandparent or parent or cousin may have died, and you are prevented from going to the funeral because a large gathering of people might increase the pandemic; but Gavin Newsom needs to look good, right? He needs to be able to go onsite for the television appearance, because his speech means more, if the background is out in public, right? You have to Shelter In Place, but the governor, well he’s not a peon that ought to follow the peon rules.
Which makes me wonder about the validity of the rules at all.
Perhaps the rules are good, and good decent people are doing Shelter In Place. Maybe it’s only the politicians and bureaucrats holding press conferences who aren’t many weeks past that last haircut who are the hypocrites. But nothing about that causes me to gain respect for them. And if I don’t respect them, then I do question their motives.
May you live in interesting times, indeed.