The Coronavirus Killed the Progressive Left

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  Yes trolling, but trolling with the truth.  Here are scattered excerpts:

— The egalitarianism of the progressive left also will seem like a faint memory. Elites are most likely to support wealth redistribution when they feel comfortable themselves, and indeed well-off coastal elites in California and the Northeast are a backbone of the progressive movement. But when these people feel threatened in their lives or occupations, or when the futures of their children suddenly seem less secure, redistribution will not be such a compelling ideal…

— The case for mass transit also will seem weaker, because subways and buses will be associated with the fear of Covid-19 transmission. In a similar fashion, the forces of NIMBY will become stronger, relative to those of YIMBY, because people secure in their isolated suburban homes will feel less stressed than those in densely packed urban apartment buildings.

— There is likely to be much more government intervention in some parts of the health-care sector, but it will focus on scarce hospital beds and ventilators, and enforce nasty triage, rather than being a benevolent move toward universal coverage. If anything, it will drive home the message that supply constraints are binding and America can’t have everything — hardly the traditional progressive message.

— — The climate change movement is likely to be another victim. How much have you heard about Greta Thunberg lately? Concern over the climate will seem like another luxury from safer and more normal times. In addition, the course of anti-Covid-19 efforts may not prove propitious for the climate change movement. If the fight against Covid-19 suddenly improves (perhaps a vaccine working very quickly?), Americans may come to expect the same in the fight against climate change.

There is much more at the link, of course some of you will hate it.  And of course Sanders and Warren did not exactly dominate voter sentiment, and that was largely pre-Covid.



In Ireland, the crisis has led to calls for more solidarity "we are all in it together", not more right-wing policies. However, it is true that the current caretaker Govt seems to be doing an ok job, and the left-wing opposition have not been vocal.

The crisis has given US voters the chance to look at government by greedhead idiots, and they don’t like what they see. Hopefully they will look for other options, including centrist idiots on the ballot. If we are fortunate, more left wing idiots will also gain a platform.

In what world is national solidarity not a right-wing policy?

Cuba? North Korea? Iran (unless you think a theocracy is always right wing)? Mexico (depending on your opinion concerning social democrats as right wing)? Ireland?

What's the point of voting for Bernie Sanders when Republicans are giving everybody free money, bailouts, and big government programs? The coronavirus gave Republicans an appetite for socialism.

Keynesian intervention ≠ socialism. But it is true that the uniform opposition on the right to government spending through the Obama years has been revealed to be a matter of pure partisan politics. This was evident even before the coronavirus outbreak.

The Republicans are more nationalist and more socialist. You know what that means.

Because as it is right now, the Republicans seem to have positioned themselves to take advantage of a large number of deaths of older people, after decrying all the fearmongering.

Ready, fire, aim, or something like that. Along with the Napoleon quote that you may ask me for anything you like except time.

Yes both parties love the big government, and the socialism.. The Democrats way more so than Republicans, as there are many within the Republican party, who are classically liberal, and want to pull the party back to Lincoln, an Coolidge. They do battle with the establishment types.

If people were smart though, and it is definitely 100% still in the hands of us all.. Walk away from both parties, and move closer to politicians who ACTUALLY respect our constitution, freedom, common sense, prosperity, and the individual, meaning, you know what is best for you.

And yes we need to get back into the free market, aka Capitalism 100%. It is the only economic system, though not perfect, but is more in line with freedom, and prosperity.. Socialism is not, never has been, never will be, wasn't designed to be. We are not Capitalist, and haven't been for about 100 years now.. The more we have moved away from it, and our constitution, the harder things have become. We are a mixed economy, and the mixed economy has failed.

But unfortunately, most Americans are economically illiterate, and aren't interested in freedom, common sense, prosperity, or the individual.. Most only care about, being taken care of, and other tribal crap, so I think we are going to see some seriously dark times, and well deserved too.

Depends on whether one characterizes old-age entitlements as part of the "Progressive Left". I would say no because Social Security is not really woke, although it was a creation of the 1930s-style Left.

What does that have to do with coronavirus? Our extreme social distancing is perhaps our most extreme effort yet to benefit seniors at the expense of the general population and economy, especially the young, who are least susceptible to COVID-19's effects. As far as I know, no one has suggested that we pay for the stimulus package or any other coronavirus response costs from reductions in Social Security benefits once the crisis is over and, let's be honest, no one will ever seriously consider such measures or even consider considering such measures.

In fact, social distancing has not even been characterized, as far as I know, as a transfer from the young to the elderly. Rather, helping the elderly has become "serving the greater good", while concerns about impact on the broader economy and the daily life of the general population has become "selfish". (It remains to be seen, admittedly, whether attitudes will change once social distancing transitions from a tolerable 2-4 weeks --- "it's like an extended Christmas vacation" --- to beyond 1-2 months, when effects become more noticeable and start to compound.)

In that sense, coronavirus does seem to have killed the Woke Left, which favors symbolic, expressive measures whose purpose is loudly proclaimed (banning plastic straws and bags, for example). Old-age entitlements are the opposite: the policies provide actual, real benefits to seniors and impose actual costs on the young but the generational transfer aspects are scrupulously minimized rhetorically. Savvy seniors outwitting the naive young --- that seems to be a consistent theme, both pre and post corona crisis.

Re; absence of talk of cutting social security, if we ever get a new pandemic that kills children, I suggest MR readers suggest killing the primary education budget for those that survive and sending them up some chimneys instead.

Regarding bilking the old that survive out of their retirement savings, I'd imagine that "Martin Shkreli is evil for price gouging medications, but we're good despite using Cov19 as a pre-text to bail-in retirement savings into our bank accounts for use on avocado toast purchases" is probably too much even for the "Progressive Left".

"killing the primary education budget"

Well, we've already closed down the schools for the present pandemic in which children are believed to be least susceptible, so your hypothetical has already happened. We are indeed paying for the pandemic, in part, by cutting education.

They've closed to prevent transmission, not as some sort of means to "claw back" money that is spent on protecting kids, as would be the analogy with your social security example.

To be honest, on this tangent, the education shutdown is probably the least concerning bit. College education is mostly signalling, kids mostly forget most of their education as adults, later starters in primary education do better, etc.

Everyone is doing their part to protect seniors from the virus. The kids are giving up their education. Workers are giving up their jobs. Businesses are closing down and donating goods. Sporting events are cancelled, and everyone is giving up their daily life. The question is whether seniors should also do their part too by contributing some portion of their Social Security checks. It makes no sense to say that, because kids are already contributing to the effort, there will be no "claw back" of what they already contributed so that seniors shouldn't have to contribute either.

Of course, giving up some part of their Social Security will be tough on seniors. But, social distancing has been tough on everyone. Retirees aren't being held back from work or school. They weren't going to work anyways and have long finished their education.

Didn’t read the article but from the excerpt here this seems like incredibly sloppy and fantastical thinking.
Just on that one comment that elites make concessions when they feel very secure in their position. When has that been the case? Th e biggest concessions in US history came in t he 1930s is that when elites felt very secure? The whole thing sounds like typical Tyler Cowen bullshit. I guess he needs to submit something for his Bloomberg due dates

Also we saw European solidarity in action. When Italy asked for help with medical supplies, Germany and France said no and closed their borders.
Ursula Van Der Leyden said “ we’re all Italians” and that was that: no action.
The Chinese are the only ones helping the Italians.
Open borders for migrants, not for Italians

China actually sold Italy those supplies.

They sent a substantial medical team along with supplies to Italy. Perhaps it was out of guilt, but let’s not question the motives

Not true:

I draw the opposite conclusion. Everyone's a socialist in a pandemic. We've seen even GOP elected officials advocate for universal income payments, rent and foreclosure and student loan bill freezes, massive government regulation of small business, bailouts, etc.

I've seen a lot of this as well. Suddenly a stimulus package and highly interventionist Federal Reserve doesn't seem so bad to Republicans, and this would be the stimulus package to end them all at about 1 trillion USD$. I haven't followed too closely but Democrats seem to be scratching their heads to try and find arguments against it just because they have to reflexively oppose Trump. Very confusing times for us all.

This isn't inconsistent. This is an emergency, this is when stimulus and financial support for everyone and their mother makes sense.

This is not pretending income inequality is an evil in and of itself and wanting to impose top down redistribution to 'solve' it.

This is the impact of having vast income inequality: schools close down for a few days and half the population can’t work; the service industry closes down and within days a huge number of people are in fear of losing their homes and have trouble affording food. If we had a system where half of Americans weren’t a week away from financial ruin, we wouldn’t need to send $1k to every American. If we had universal healthcare, they wouldn’t have to worry about having just lost their insurance coverage.

Inequality is evil and has made this pandemic into the economic disaster that it is. The fact that the Senate Republicans are proposing a large scale, top down redistribution effort goes a long way toward showing that.


Now we know how much money it takes to turn a Republican into a socialist. About $1000.

It surely helps that Trump is running for re-election and is basic enough to realize that if people cannot afford groceries or rent because of the virus, Republicans would be totally f*cked on Election Day. And since Trump is the leader of the conservative movement, and trusted in a way no one else is among conservatives, they are willing to follow his lead.

I trust the token conservative teacher at my kid's high school to lead the conservative movement more than I do Donald Trump. Actually, I'd trust the dog catcher if he were a conservative.

With the lone exception of Romney, there is not a single member of the conservative movement currently in Congress who feels that Trump is not the apotheosis of the conservative movement.

You are mistaken. In fact you couldn’t be more mistaken. Trump is no apotheosis. He’s an imperfect vessel. He only had to be marginally better than the dislikeable Hillary in 2016, and he was.

Don't forget paid sick leave. Decades long evil socialism, now makes perfect sense.

Yes it makes sense in the context of a pandemic.

It doesn't make sense in the context of a normal, free, functioning economy.

When will we get one of those?

We need universal paid sick time because most people can’t afford the gap in income sick time causes. Such a great, functioning economy.

"Everyone's a socialist in a p̶a̶n̶d̶e̶m̶i̶c̶ crisis."

See WW2. Hitler and Tojo weren't defeated by the free market. People look to each other and their government's in times of crisis. I'm willing to bet that socialism does work. But, only in a crisis when everyone "is in this together" fighting for a common cause. During normal day to day life free markets and decentralization work much better.

Absolutely everyone is a socialist in a pandemic. But ONLY in a pandemic!

And this, too, shall pass.

Well I think I disagree with you on most of what you wrote here. Climate may actually do better given how many people are under orders not to go to work.

The US will make many more ventilators and open new hospitals and beds and quickly. We are not idiots. There will be a supply constraint but that supply is going to increase rapidly. And we aren't going to care about what it costs or how much the deficit increases or anything like that until we get past this.

Yeah I think you are wrong and that we are better and more capable than you are imagining. God knows I hope I'm right.

We can manufacture more ventilators, but it takes a long time to train and educate doctors and nurses. Where will we get more of those? Will Trump’s administration recruit them from abroad?

Yes the highly skilled and educated doctors and nurses are in limited supply. But there are also a lot of them that might specialize in one area or another that may be able to delay some of that work for an emergency like this. And even someone like me could probably be a nurse's assistant fairly quickly. But I have a terrible bedside manner and don't much like sick people so hopefully it won't come to that. Although that might not be much different from some doctors I've had.

So, here is what is going on with the USNS Comfort, which Trump has dispatched to NYC.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that a Navy hospital ship intended to help New York hospitals dealing with a rapidly expanding load of coronavirus cases will not be ready for weeks.

Earlier Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said President Donald Trump agreed to send the USNS Comfort hospital ship to help with coronavirus cases, expected to surge in the next 45 days.

"The Comfort is currently in for maintenance in Norfolk, so they are going to expedite the maintenance if they can and prepare it," explained Jonathan Hoffman, assistant defense secretary for public affairs. "That's not a days issue, that is a weeks issue. So it's gonna be a little while," he added.

Let's look at the themes of the other side as well.

The efforts to privatize the VA will be dead.

We have a need for surge capacity in the healthcare system. Healthcare systems reduce costs by running tight, having all the beds full, and getting their supplies just in time.

Well, what better place to have extra beds, extra ventilators, etc. than in the VA system. If we have another healthcare crisis, it will be critical to have surge capacity, but, the private sector has no incentive to maintain it.

Another Dead Cat: Corporate Tax Cuts

Ballooning deficits that benefitted multi-nationals, no increase in US investment, and corporate bailouts will make further tax deductions hazardous for re-election.

Energy subsidies for the Oil Industry: We will have competition between energy sectors for subsidy. Will it be shale, offshore drilling v. alternative energy. Young voters will answer that question if it is framed correctly.

Cuts to healthcare and reorganization of Medicaid to have work requirements: Unlikely with high unemployment.

Still waiting for TrumpCare, so will be unable to comment, but when people get scared about access to healthcare and there is no plan--good luck.

The VA system is nearly useless. Its the carer of last resort for veterans who can't afford better. Its also running at max capacity *under normal conditions* - with secret waiting lists to get on the waiting list.

You know when people joke about 'universal healthcare being composed of 'the people who run the DMV'? That's the real-world VA today.

Yeah, that’s why when VA hospitals are located near medical colleges the Profs work at the VA.

If you are a medical student you would also be taken rotations through them for your training.

Unfortunately, the tax cuts and energy subsidies are just being renamed ‘bailouts’ and increased. Half of the trillion dollar proposal in the Senate is going to businesses; and a large portion of that to large corporations. The Republicans will use any and every excuse to shovel money from the citizens to the corporations. They started using this pandemic long before they thought about helping the healthcare industry cope with the patient surge or helping those that just lost their entire income. In fact, they still haven’t proposed anything to help the surge in patients and their $1200 check to citizens is pretty poorly focused on those in need.

The only thing I learned from this jumbled mess of a comment is that:

Bill is not a veteran
Bill’s kids are not veterans
Bill’s friends are not veterans

Wrong in so many ways but I do not wish to share anything with you.

Skeptical, Have you ever served in the military, I have.
Have you ever worked with hospitals who tell you the local VA has just as good a care as theirs.

I like to know your experience. Post below.

I was kidnapped and made an indentured servant of the State. People called me lieutenant for 15 months.

I wonder why you feel proud to have been or to have relatives in slavery.

Oh my god you anarchy-libertarians are such babies.

So that is what we have become.

The Coronavirus really killed the Libertarian movement. The virus exposed what a joke Libertarianism truly is.

1. Libertarianism has ZERO answers for viruses. In a Libertarian society, there is no such thing as a quarantine. Everyone gets affected, everyone dies.

2. The Libertarian theory of Price Gouging is flawed. Libertarians have a blind spot for defending price gouging. Unfortunately for them, this crisis exposed how price is a zero value added activity, in fact its negative value added. The Price gougers drove throughout the state buying up all of the toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Hoarding it. Then selling it online for 10-20x the price. There was enough supplies that everyone could have had essentials like Toilet Paper and Hand Sanitizer. Instead, these vultures are gobbling up all of the "surplus" value while the consumers are getting negative value by paying 10x for goods they paid regular price for a month ago.

3. Libertarianism has no answers on how to deal with a financial crisis induced by a virus. All of the Libertarian pundits are still arguing that bailouts, stimulus, etc. are not needed at this time. If they got their way, the whole economy and financial system would collapse all in the name of PURITY.

Hopefully the masses will recognize now that Libertarianism is not the answer.


People don't like government until they need it.

In a Libertarian model, we presume informed actors acting individually and arriving at a optimal solution.

First assumption--informed individuals. Ha Ha Ha I've read enough comments to know better

Second, That individuals will arrive independently at the optimal solution...Ha Ha Ha...I read people here talking about how THEY can walk around and not get sick, not thinking of others....well, how do you get a voluntary damp on community spread if people don't want to close their bar.

Finally, government does collect expertise...they hire epidemiologists, doctors, etc. that are in a better position to analyze and collect data than the general populace...or at least on this website. Government is just a division of labor for the analysis of problems affecting us all. And, if they do a bad job, just kick them out.

That is not to say we should not rely on markets. We should. We should always use markets as much we can. But, sometimes there is a place for government too.

If we're not smart enough to be informed ourselves, then where do the people in government get informed enough to know who is informed enough to be listened to?

Sounds like turtles all the way down to me.

This is the wordier version of : Libertarianism? Then move to Somalia!!!

Checkmate dudes!

Agreed, I remember watching a talk Scott Sumner gave and he said something like "the libertarian policy on space would be to get ride of NASA". Well, I guess the libertarian policy on public health would be to abolish the FDA, NIH, CDC and medical licenses for good measure. If president Ayn Rand were in charge right now about 10K people would be dead, sick, or ripped off from the 30 different scam medicines the free market would be determining the value of. I'm sure eventually word of mouth(Twitter being so trustworthy) and the countless malpractice lawsuits in civil courts would help us find the cure.

This is the wrong time to be singing the praises of the FDA and CDC. The lack-of-testing fiasco they engendered will probably lead to your proverbial 10K unnecessary deaths.

NASA either. Ever hear of SpaceX and Blue Origin? Kicking NASA's butt.

Where were they in the 50s?

Rand was a socialist.

@Gregory - wrong. What will you say when, as seems to be the case, China new cases start edging up? When it's clear only herd immunity when 60% of the earth's population gets Covid-19 will the SARS-CoV-2 virus go away? Then you'll have to concede Dr. Hansen and the libertarians were de facto right. Sad but true. Of course I hope I'm wrong, but virologists are saying you cannot cure Covid-19 by quarantine, even 14 day quarantines. Let's hope they are wrong.

Bonus trivia: Covid-19 virus was quite possibly man made. I did a post on this that got banned at another site (not Sumner's either) but here's a more mainstream post on this topic.
(Zooming In with Simone Gao) @3:44 mark onwards, very compelling circumstantial evidence.

Thinking that Zooming In with Simone Gao is a mainstream source makes you look gullible stupid. I know you're neither, so you're lapsing in some way here. It looks like a political website designed to get GOP votes in 2020. Notice how they link the government of Canada in an attempt to create an non-partisan look.

Ray, if a substantial number of your comments are not getting deleted, then you are a useless pseudonymous commenter.

For the record maybe I am way more informed than you or Simone Gao.

maybe not, but no bats or monkeys have been blamed on my watch.

Simone Gao works for NDTV which is owned and operated by the Falun Gong. If you aren't familiar they have been persecuted by the Chinese government which is sad but unfortunately they are cult-y like Scientology.

Pandemics kill naive libertarianism, but they prove the value of real libertarianism.

The most underrated insight of the greatest libertarian of them all, Hayek, is that a free society requires of us a sort of schizophrenia. He was speaking more specifically about a "schizophrenia" in which we treated our family one way and market relationships another way.

HIs point, though, is much, much deeper. In truth, a free society, like any society, treats its existential wars and pandemics one way (as more-or-less socialistic, tribalist affairs), and its non-emergency affairs another way (as the domain of liberty). This is one of the best arguments against war: It eventually requires us to forfeit liberty in the name of war, because you can't have both forever. The same is true of pandemics. If we were struck by a series of pandemics, one after the next, liberty would be in serious trouble: It's hard for even a libertarian to fault the governor of California for ordering his clampdown in the name of protecting life, and this would be only more true if this virus were more deadly.

I suspect that this is why liberty, science, and industrialism walk hand in hand: Science and industry, both of which are facilitated by liberty, beat back nature and create cushion for liberty in the process. It would be a terrible mistake to conclude from this that the liberty behind the science and industry that will pull us is somehow negated by temporary, minor infringements of it.

The financial fallout is a separate matter. At a minimum, though, it's helpful to remember that the resources for bailouts ultimately come from free enterprise.

"Libertarianism has ZERO answers for viruses."

On the contrary. Libertarianism has a lot of answers which suddenly many lefties agree with -- get rid of regulatory obstacles to approving testing and drugs and new production lines for ventilators and masks, etc. Get rid of licensing laws that prevent medical professionals from working in other states. Get rid of 'certificate of need' laws that require state permission to add new hospital capacity, which has left the U.S. with a relatively low number of beds per capita. The main reason the U.S. is ill-prepared for this crisis is that it's healthcare sector is highly bureaucratic, expensive, and slow-moving due to a dense thicket of regulations (similar to the reason that it costs something like 5 times as much to build a mile of subway in New York as it does in Paris). The biggest failure of the U.S. response was that A) the FDA and CDC screwed up their tests and B) they wouldn't let anybody else create and use their own tests. The failures of the U.S.'s centralized regulatory state have never been more apparent than in this crisis.

The biggest failure was Trump and the Republicans spending about two months doing nothing to prepare for this domestically, claiming it was nothing and would just go away on its own.

But no government, no government of any shade did anything positive quickly! Gee, if only there were a pattern here.... .

Not correct, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan seem to have acted appropriately. After a slow start, South Korea also seems to have gotten the situation under control.

To be fair, Luca, the orange dingbat — though still better than Hillary — was busy dealing with a specious attack: impeachment.

As noted by Trump by himself on Feb. 28 - ""One of my people came up to me and said, 'Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.‘ That did not work out too well.“

Trump told his supporters. "They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. … They tried anything. … And this is their new hoax.“ Yep, the problem was trying to remove a president who is perfect - read the transcript, not the fake news.

Closing travel to China was said to be a distraction from impeachment. Trump was doing fine, the media were clueless.

"The biggest failure of the U.S. response was that A) the FDA and CDC screwed up their tests and B) they wouldn't let anybody else create and use their own tests. The failures of the U.S.'s centralized regulatory state have never been more apparent than in this crisis."

And that is systematic. It's about protecting the federal bureaucrat rather than the public. Even in the US, things might be a tad more efficient than that at the state level. Maybe.

Yet other countries with governments occupying a bigger role in the health care sector were able to prepare themselves.

Maybe the U.S. has uniquely incompetent civil servants in charge but the more likely answer is that it just has stupider politicians and appointees in charge, starting with the current administration. Lots of key mid-level positions in government agencies have either been left unfilled or else filled by hacks and fundraisers.

"Yet other countries with governments occupying a bigger role in the health care sector were able to prepare themselves."

But really only East Asian countries whose governments and populations had recent experience with SARS. European countries with socialized medicine have generally fared poorly. The one exception seems to be Germany, which was ahead of the curve on testing.

The key problem in the U.S. was a lack of testing capacity. We probably had community transmission some weeks before the outbreak was obvious but nobody knew it because the CDC was pig-headedly refusing to allow testing. This kind of thing was THE unforgivable, critical failure because early testing would have allowed tracking and tracing to work AND given government officials and the general public the head's up that the virus was already propagating here.

Yes, it does seem, at every turn, he has inherited quite a few hacks and fundraisers.

It is certainly bad for the version of Libertarianism that is espoused by people who are often really rather in favour of large states, and simply want them to be relentlessly pro-business and anti-worker. "State capacity Libertarianism" seems like such people simply being honest with themselves ("Actually existing Libertarianism").

And we could end there. But for the sake of philosophical argument (even if it's rather irrelevant in terms of actual politics), let's pit a "Genuine Libertarianism" against those problems:

On 1) Quarantine: The sort of Libertarianism - or Classical Liberalism - that is "neither picks my pocket nor breaks my back", i.e. that accepts a "Night Watchman State", simply deals with quarantine as a police action against those that "break my back" and criminalizes and ghettoizes the infected. Effective quarantine. Not pretty, but quarantine is not pretty.

On 2) "price gouging": Libertarianism has never taken the stance that profiteering and arbitrage can't be a net negative for welfare in the short term, just that the longer term responses of a light touch on it generally engender more benefits. The response to "toilet paper hoarding and gouging", should it happen, is to give rise to new solutions which in the longer term are better solution than simply fixing prices. Rather Panglossian perhaps, but not implausible.

On 3) "Collapse under sudden Year Zero implementation of a Libertarian economy": Indeed the economy would collapse, as it currently is, under a sudden shock Libertarianisation, all the expectations of bailouts on which the existing is built pulled away. No surprise there. Genuine Libertarians who want to actually implement their system would argue that their system should be built in gradual phase, not simply imposed in a shock doctrine at once. A system built from base up with zero expectation of bailouts probably wouldn't need them.

(Now, again, this true Libertarianism is almost certainly impossible. To reiterate, it fails because almost no one identifies with it, with those who identify with it usually simply pro-business cosmopolitans. Even if that were even not the case, it likely would be defeated by the inaccuracy of the tabula rasa view of humanity. For all that it can answer, human capital often matters more than freedom and they have absolutely no permitted trick in their playbook to maintain "human capital" when freedom to move would erode it. Adjusting for those constraints? I would guess a Libertarian society would be tougher and rougher and more dynamic and creative than we are, and they'd probably be both richer and "win" against "us", probably systematically and probably always. But you'll never get around those major constraints, so it doesn't matter.)

Talk about non-sequitur...

It is amazing how people manage to start from an obviously disastrous, utter failure of the State and end up with a pompous attack to Libertarianism.


However, US libertarians are a cultish lot, intolerant of even discussion of the canon, much like the Stalinists were! I have come across such distasteful fellows, and they have left me flabbergasted.

Classical liberalism should have more appeal. It contains room for the government to do good, so long as doing good by anybody else is not prohibited.

Well, if so, feel free to shoot the messengers, but please, cherish the message. Be proud of your agency.

"1. Libertarianism has ZERO answers for viruses. In a Libertarian society, there is no such thing as a quarantine. Everyone gets affected, everyone dies."

Well said, person who has no freaking idea what libertarianism is or how it would deal with quarantine.

And, of course, you're saying libertarianism is dead because it can't handle emergencies like this - yet a massively centrally-controlled government with, literal, life-and-death power couldn't either. Or are we doing 'count the hits and ignore the misses' statistics here?

Another thing, let's stipulate (for the sake of argument) that libertarianism isn't a good political philosophy for a lifeboat. OK. So, when we're in a lifeboat, we should try some of that good old fascism you prefer. I can get behind that even as a hardcore libertarian. I don't like it, but I can see how it might be a better short-term survival strategy.

But the other 99% of the time - when we're not in a state of emergency - that fascism might be necessary 1% doesn't justify its continuous hold.

Do not fight the collectivists. Just piss on their shiny desks.

So how do the Trump plans for money printing, means tested or not, fit into this thesis?

How about millions of people potentially going for unemployment benefits? I guess they will be happy to realize they have the freedom to choose their healthcare plan?

The poor will be walled off, like in Brazil. And what you missed is your nym is satire, not realistic.

Well you missed that the story was fabricated, for one.

He’s not being sued at all.

The progressive left was never a real force, coronavirus or not. Biden turned the election around in South Carolina before most people were paying attention to coronavirus. The important thing to realize is that the Democratic Party is not a movement like the Republican Party is, but a collection of interest groups, which is extremely diverse in race, class, education, etc. (even for all the talk of non-college whites moving to the Republican Party, they are still the largest demographic in the Democratic Party). Thus, the Democratic Party does not and will never have nearly as much ideological cohesion as the Republican Party. The thing that unites the Democratic Party is not a particular ideology, but fear of being oppressed under Republican rule--and different elements of the Democratic coalition will be oppressed in different ways. Thus, polls show that the top priority for Democratic voters is beating Trump, not advancing any particular ideological agenda. For a period of time, it looked like Sanders might have been the person best positioned to unify Democrats and beat Trump, and so people supported him even if they didn't agree with his ideology. Then, after South Carolina, it became clear that Biden was the candidate who could get the most support from different wings of the Democratic Party, so people supported him, and many did so enthusiastically.

The Republican party has become the party of the South. Unfortunately, they absorbed some of that history as well. The urban South will change some states, slowly, towards more moderate and inclusive politics.

I was hoping that this was an economics website, but most of it is about politics and political projections.

Heh. Now that Biden has won, the Democratic establishment wants everyone to forget that he got there by adopting almost all of the Sanders agenda. Hence this false narrative of ideological diversity, which Trump presumably will pound away at in the general election simply by playing Biden's own words back to him.

What parts of Sanders’ agenda did Biden adopt? He never supported Medicare for All, the centerpiece of Sanders’ campaign. Biden and Sanders had quite a lot of substantive disagreements in their most recent one-on-one debate.

When you make predictions you should chart their accuracy, both for yourself and your readers. Then ideally you would examine where and why you went wrong, or if you were right because of sound reasoning or luck. But you might of course lose money and more important to you, attention, in the mean time if you're repeatedly incorrect.

Grand assumptions are being made without the reasoning being explained.

Yes, but TC is pretty accurate, as am I. Let's look at my track record here: 1) called Trump the 'new Andrew Jackson' and shortly thereafter he put Jacksons portrait in the Oval Office 2) I called BrExit 3) I called Trump's upset election 4) I called the Trump stock rally and predicted it would end badly 5) I called, by private email, [redacted for privacy reasons] and was proved right 6) I called the Covid-19 crisis would crash the stock market--back in January (I was out before the crash, but my 1% family would not sell for capital gains reasons, however they have so much money losing a million or three is not a big deal) 7) I am calling Covid-19 coverup in China (fake numbers on new cases) 8) I am calling that 'extreme social distancing' will be a bust and Dr. Hansen's / Ben Cole's 'herd immunity' will have to be tried, sadly, de facto 9) I'm calling that SARS-CoV-2 is man made (see post and link upstream) 10) I called the trade war and predicted it would not do much harm.
I'm 100% accurate on all past predictions and I hope I'm wrong on my future predictions.

OK on 1, 2, 3, 4. 5 we'll never know, OK on 6, 7, 8, no on 9 (there is now dispositive evidence that the virus was transmitted from animals), we don't know on 10.

I call that your next post will reassure us your family is still in the top 1% and you will also mention your hot girlfriend who is half your age.

1- They will argue that you should be able to buy the right not to be quarantined and that reflects the cost of externalities to others.
2- They will argue that they supply a vital market maker function in times of relative scarcity
3- They will argue that every lobbyist is asking for a bailout whether they need it or not, and most funds will be wasted.

replying to Gregory’s post , sorry

And yet there is a $750 billion package of help, a basic income (cash handout), federal student loan freeze, include health-care affordability measures, forbearance on federal loans, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, assistance for small businesses and emergency child care,

The progressive left will muddle on, despite some nationalized healthcare systems getting exposed for their serious lack of preparedness or efficiency. This virus can been a blessing for right wing nationalists, especially ones who aren't committed to laissez-faire. During this time some governments have shut down their borders to everybody and anybody. The inevitability of globalism was never really so inevitable. People will notice that if a government wants to, it can protect its borders. Overall, this virus will make people more xenophobic, protectionist, and skeptical about the free movement of people, at least in the short term. That could all easily play into Trump's favor in his reelection campaign.

Regarding laissez-faire, Trump is seriously preparing to throw down a 1 trillion stimulus package with 1-2K paychecks for large numbers of people while our national debt and deficits are already huge. So much for his promise to cut the debt. But, he was always sort of a big government Republican. Only a few goofball libertarians that don't really matter and establishment conservatives are aghast. Most everyday Republicans and centrists aren't actually against some social spending, as long as you don't promise it to non-citizens or just one group as is the case with reparations. Practically no one holds ultra free market views in practice, including Tyler and Alex. The radical center has arrived.

Corona did not kill progressivism but liberalism, in all it's modern forms. From no borders left liberalism to don't tread on me right liberalism ("libertarianism"). In a globalized crowded world it makes less sense to let the individual or the markets figure it all out.

@JSK - well said. pre-WWI England issues killed off the Liberal party in the UK; "The Strange Death of Liberal England" by Rodney Dangerfield comes to mind.

"The Strange Death of Liberal England" by Rodney Dangerfield

He doesn’t get enough respect for that book.

I can't wait until we have a discussion on how we should allocate ventilators --decide who lives and who dies--based on the market, an individuals wealth, etc.

@Bill- are you really young? You haven't yet figured out the rich get their way? Since it seems you're kind of a visual media guy, try and remember that scene in the "Titanic" where the rich guy bribes a ship officer to dress as a woman and get on a life boat. Life is like that.

I am ageless
I am timeless
I am always hopeful
Often disappointed.

Do you really think it is possible that some selfless group could be found that could allocate ventilators to those with the maximal social utility - and that 90% of them would not be the ultra-wealthy sick and their hangers-on?

Please, tell me a place in the history of the world where money and power didn't buy a place at the head of the line - not even in the communist nations.

You mean how every politician right now can get tested immediately whereas the general public can't. Oh wait that's the free markets fault lol.

The average politician is a millionaire. Even a socialist like Sanders.

If you believe they are getting preferential treatment because of their wealth as opposed to their political status, I don't know what to tell you. Millionaires are a dime-a-dozen, test kits early on were not.

Nah, but it's certainly a knock against a certain faction within. A world in crisis no longer has any use for those who specialize in lofty rhetoric about revolution. People don't want a revolution, they want to get back to normalcy, and COVID19 has provided enough perspective that people now consider normalcy to be an attractive state.

I am not scaredy pooh yet. Give the vaccine developers another year, they are clever. 256 deaths, 11,000 cases in the USA is still a minor pandemic, of the flu variety. Ask me in three months, I might be eating crow then.

@Matt Young - look at NY state numbers, they've gone exponential. So if quarantine does not work, and so far it's not worked outside of China (if you believe China), then you'll be eating crow (infected, and about 60% will be infected say models), or, if like me, in the rural countryside with lots of money to buy whatever I need and hire labor to keep away the riff-raff from the infected big cities, one of the 40% of the uninfected people. So herd immunity will protect you (if you get infected) or me (if I'm the 40% that doesn't get infected but still benefits from herd immunity). That's how this crisis will pan out. Good luck.

Eh, I don't hate it so much as think, while you have some factual points, you really do not understand progressives.

A lot of your blind spots on display lately.

The progressive left doesn't die. It rears its head anywhere prosperity brings plentiful resources and few existential threats, where people can lose their survival instinct without losing their lives, where they no longer have to work to secure the means of their own existence.

The bat soup fever simply caused the pendulum to swing, nothing keeps it from swinging back. The question, as always, is whether patriots across the West have the fortitude to expel the leftists and their pets before it swings too far.

Free trade and outsourcing were hit bigly. Even our protectorate Taiwan has been selfish - saving an order of magnitude per capita or more masks for themselves.

Taiwan and other East Asian nations claim a mask shortage - despite having the bulk of world N95 and surgical mask productive capacity. Even the 23 million nation of Taiwan makes more masks than the US. The reason they claim a shortage is that their goal is to flood nearly every man, woman and child with a continual mask supply - not just health care professionals. To be clear I agree with the East Asian mask consensus and *not* with the CDC/WHO consensus that only Health-Care Professionals need them, but that is besides the point because our Health Care Professionals do not even have enough.

China and Taiwan have banned exports. We can expect China to do this - but Taiwan is supposed to be our friend and we have helped them for decades - to the point of risking war with China - to keep them independent. Yesterday Taiwan not-so-generously proposed to start supplying us with 100,000 per week. This is 1/700th or 0.14% of their production of 70 Million per week. Forget about their claimed mask shortages - we must remember that is only because they are attempting to nearly blanket every single person in their country of 23 Million with continuous masks. That is their right to try and is probably wise, but given our robust and necessary protection of their independent existence, why are we not firmly asking - arm twisting behind the scenes if you will - to get them to supply more like 1 million per day? We could pay dearly for them - almost no price is too high - so Taiwan can save face. Our health care professionals in a nation of 320 million should come before every man woman and child in Taiwan getting one. American lives are at stake.

@Scott A. Novak - good rant but I hope you realize that even before Covid-19, masks were and are fashion accessories in Asia. I know since I live there part of the year. My hot gf has several ones, some humorous and cute (anime), some scary (skeleton shape), colorful, etc. People love face masks in Asian, which explains Taiwan demand.

Ok but Taiwan upped production 3-5 fold in the past 3 months. I seriously doubt that is because they became an even greater fashion accessory.

China has never banned exports:

Why would they ban exports? They are probably desperate to make money right now and they have a lot of extra capacity now that their own outbreak is under control. Lots of my Chinese friends are getting mask shipments from their families in China.

Yes, China Banned exports. "The World Needs Masks. China Makes Them — But Has Been Hoarding Them". New York Times …. this was 6 days ago Zaua.

Your country's inability to manufacture masks does not make other nations villains. Consider how things came to this point and you will have the beginnings of a solution.

I half agree with you. They are not the villain - if I knew we asked firmly and they refused then I would consider them the villain. I doubt our inept leadership did this - our defense industrial complex probably values the money we make selling them things to run the risk of making them the tiniest bit mad - we know the defence industrial complex far outweights our Health Care Professionals safety.

It seems you imply that the weakening of the Progressive Left will necessarily result in a strengthening of the Reactionary Right. I think you are right, the quantity of collectivism would remain the same, only nastier and less hypocritical.

Perhaps, though, a new equilibrium might result to have a silver lining for individualism. Who knows? Inside the US more competition among the States, that with time will rebalance the relationship between the central government and the States, the most important of the original “check and balances”, and today reduced to a parody. Or, in the developing world, the strangling of international aid and remittances will convince desperate politicians to give freedom a chance in order to attract foreign investment. Maybe in Europe the final nail on the coffin of the EU, that most asphyxiating and liberticide of institutions. Possibly, a part of the orphans of the Progressive Left, looking for a decent ideology, will rediscover the real liberalism.

Whatever. The situation is now so depressing that I would welcome a reshuffle. Let’s just hope the world will avoid to be dealt a set of cards like that given in the first half of the last century.

And people didn’t believe me when I said Tyler trolls his readers at least one post a week. Finding that post is one of my favorite games to play here. The other is trying to find the name he’s posting comments with as well. Well played sir.

Always wondered where do corporate bailouts/welfare checks fit in the spectrum? Maybe Boeing should have been more responsible by not buying lattes and eating avocado toast everyday?

Dubious. The one area where people may become more right-wing is border security: being lackadaisical about who gets in to the country will make much less sense even to liberals. On the other hand,

"The case for mass transit also will seem weaker" -- On the other hand, the concept of being walking distance from a supermarket, convenience store, or pharmacy never sounded better. Public transportation of some sort will be harder to argue against if we see cases of people who cannot do their shopping for essentials because they cannot drive or their car broke down and there is no one available to fix it.

"more government intervention in some parts of the health-care sector": Indeed, and the whole concept of medical care as a private good is going to look more and more silly. Any serious proposal for government intervention in the health care sector has always involved tough choices about where to allocate resources.

"The climate change movement is likely to be another victim": Dubious. Crises always radicalize people in areas not directly connected to the underlying crisis. People may look back and see that the same people who were mocking the scare over coronavirus and calling it a "hoax" are also likely to be climate change skeptics. On the other hand, liberal internationalist people and institutions have generally been warning about coronavirus specifically and pandemics more generally as a long-term threat to stability. If the latter group is raised in status and the former lowered in status, people's thinking may shift. Much like 9/11, people find themselves in a real scenario that seemed before like it would only happen in movies. That opens people's eyes up to the idea of big risks and government's role in mitigating them.

"On the other hand, the concept of being walking distance from a supermarket, convenience store, or pharmacy never sounded better."

That only works if you're willing to pay higher prices. More, smaller, stores means more overhead (property tax/rent/utilities/more staff). One day, when Amazon's automated store tech is rolling out nationwide, we can maybe get there.

Or by outlawing cars. Because without something to lower those costs, if you have that private transport, you're going to drive 10 miles to the mega-lo-mart because it'll cut $50 off your weekly grocery bill.

"walking distance from a supermarket...." doesn't make sense here. Increase density will take a hit, not the other way around. Personal transportation will benefit from this.

Reaction to the Wuhan flu will probably be way out of proportion to the actual damage inflicted. At this time there's said to be 14,000 cases in the country. That isn't a sell-out for a New Jersey Devils hockey game. Two orders of magnitude greater than attendance at a Joe Biden rally. And that's not counting deaths. Things are going to need to get a lot worse in a hurry to justify all the hand-wringing and government mandates. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2017 based on the 83,564 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. In 2017, diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 270,702 certificates. Heart disease caused 635,260 deaths. Where's the panic?

I wonder how you will spin this in a couple of weeks. Why do Republicans have such a hard time with statistics and understanding concepts such as exponential curves?

Part of the problem here is with the media, that focuses on the number of cases and not the growth rate. But welcome to the world of exponential growth.

One week ago, it was 1,700 and the CDC says it is now 17,000 not, 14,000. So it increased 10-fold in just 7 days. That's an awful trend and is poor even by the standards of some of the hardest hit countries. A month from now, there will be millions of cases and tens of thousands of people dying or needing intensive care if people like you had your way.

+10 to Tyler. He called out his own troll. Quick learner, that Cowen.

I’m not so sure. For a large minority their likely experience will be significant economic hardship. No government program is going to replace income for everybody impacted. When people start thinking, “I got screwed in 2008 after the financial crisis, I barely recovered, and now I got screwed after coronavirus,” it could drive many toward the extreme left.

I’m not predicting that the extreme left would reach overall support, but could see it winning a 2024 democratic primary and being viable in some general election scenarios.

The extreme Left that supported the government programs and demands that lead to the 2008 crisis? The centralized government control that lead to the delay in pushing out testing for the current emergency?

Yeah, sadly, you're right - people will probably lean even further left despite these obvious and continuing big government failures.

Trump is the virus that killed off moderate Republicans and they were the ones who crossed the aisle to vote in Biden.

Why are people talking about how this current pandemic will change how we do things as a society?

SARS, MRSA, Swine flu, hell even Spanish flu only had short-term changes and only in a few places.

Once this is over, it'll be back to business as usual. We're not all of a sudden all going to the telecommuting, people aren't going to stop eating bats, mass transit systems aren't going to be scrapped, etc.

I'll go out on a limb and boldly predict that people are in fact going to stop eating bats.

Not in China.

Culture is sticky.

I see your sticky culture, and raise you a do as President Xi says or else.

The virus almost certainly did not jump from bats to humans. It most likely passed through pigs, just like SARS and most other viruses that make the leap from animals to people. Maybe Corona (and regular flu) will encourage wide spread adoption of Muslim or Jewish dietary restrictions. God told us not too eat swine for a reason.

The best evidence is that SARS traveling from bat, to civet cat to human. Good luck enforcing Muslim or Jewish dietary restrictions on the Chinese!

Just closing down the markets where these animals are kept and otherwise minimizing unnatural contact between humans and wildlife would be enough.

What evidence is there that pigs are disproportionately responsible for disease in humans? MERS came from camels, cholera (I think) from crustaceans in India, flu from poultry, HIV from chimpanzees (probably through the practice of butchering and eating them), etc.

Any analysis appears premature until:
Proof of place of origin, cause, and relevant facts from ground zero day one. This may never happen which could be more revealing.
How the problem is solved.
What countries are best able to implement solutions.
Study of country by country responses, death rates, illness rates, recovery rates.
Results of economic measures taken.
What lessons millennials and others take away -
Does seeing cooperation and domino like action by states and local authorities (and countries) make everything less political?
Does experiencing the disintegration of the educational system, even if for a brief time, start students thinking?
Are colleges proving to be the most unjust actors in this crisis?
What will happen to all the petty social justice issues?
Which opposition candidate has not damned the private sector?
Are demonstrations and anti movements still attractive?
Any complaints being registered about make up of government, medical, industry crisis teams?
Is the public picturing each of the Democratic candidates who stood on a debate platform months ago as preferred leaders?

Like to add: will politicians start to vilify big tech again? In my country Netflix and Youtube calms the teleworking masses. Our leaders who wanted to break them up yesterday are begging them today to keep the streams open.

I don't know how it will realign things, but what it has done is expose the utter vacuousness of both extremes. On one extreme you have a harpy blathering on about how racist it is to call it a chinese virus, on the other extreme you have senators cashing in when they get briefed on what looks like a rather ugly situation. Now we find that transgender surgery is elective, a word that every Canadian knows. And we find out that young people are stupid. Golly gee. I was wondering how the corporate media was going to screw this up, and here we are. And as a Canadian I both thank you and apologise for taking David Frum out of our midst.

So not much difference, just a bit of the raw edges blunted. Reality tends to do that.

What I would hope to see, but probably won't, is a general sense that a bit set aside, both personally and business and government wise is a good idea. That globalization is a great idea taken in moderation. That regulatory strangling of the economy is a real issue and that there would be some consensus to sort it out.

Is this the same Dr. Cowen who a few days ago sang kumbaya about new forms of volunteerism that can emerge from this pandemic?

So many of the victims in the U.S. who have been profiled have been obese or overweight. I'm hoping that the normalization of obesity -- something associated with the left, though the left and right are equally fat -- goes away.

Hospitals need to be able to favor healthy-size people over the obese when deciding who gets a hospital bed, insurance companies need to be able to charge the obese more, and people with medical conditions that can be treated by weight loss--like 80% of obese type 2 diabetics--should not be offered other treatments. (Why not chose the free, natural one that's also the most effective?)

Obese men tend to be conservatives, obese women tend to be left wing. Both groups are also more likely to be self pitying victims and gravitate to ideologies that reinforce their sense of grievance.

lol, obesity is of course most prevalent in the disengaged political center.

Obesity is most prevalent in the poor, most definitely left leaning. Saying that, no group is unscathed.

Relatively poor people just aren't that interested in politics. I suppose you could say that to the degree that they're interested they're leftish, but they're not exactly partisans.

The public health elf is coming off the shelf, no longer heeding voices urging stealth.

You've been very hysterical and plain stupid about Covid-19 dangers, with your predictions of up to 40% population infected and over million American deaths and waves through the summer. You don't know or talk about evolutionary theory and natural selection, and private incentives such as social distancing, and lack of understanding of how viruses attenuate and also break down as temperatures increase. So I am going t ask you the following question:

What should your punishment be when it turns out we have about 1,000 or less total US deaths (and less than 30,000 worldwide) when the virus dies out?

"What should your punishment be when it turns out we have about 1,000 or less total US deaths (and less than 30,000 worldwide) when the virus dies out?"

If the U.S. keeps the number of cases below 100,000 -- which it has a chance of doing if strict public health measures are followed immediately and nationwide -- we won't need to find out.

It is unknown to what extent warmer weather will make a difference and hot countries are now seeing their cases start to double every few days. In the absence of closed workplaces or flexible work-from-home arrangements, "private incentives" for social distancing wouldn't matter as people cannot choose to not go into work.

Evolution and natural selection are not relevant. Polio and cholera had worse fatality rates and were not contained until treatment and vaccines became available. Also, the fact that asymptomatic people can infect others and that it is contagious for about two weeks mean there is no strong cause for optimism on this front.

The optimistic case is instead that it will turn out that people can avoid infection by avoiding events, shaking lots of hands, and crowded places. That would allow most workplaces, public transportation and travel to resume.

And what should yours be when both thresholds you cited are exceeded before the end of this current month?

For posterity: the threshold of 1000 US deaths was exceeded on March 25 and the threshold of 30,000 deaths worldwide was exceeded today (March 28).

By the way, evolution and natural selection work in both directions. The virus could become less deadly over time but it could also evolve to have a longer incubation period. Hopefully, there is vaccine before that happens.

Also, I remember the days 11 years ago when conservatives, moderates and Obama Democrats afraid of the first two groups were saying in the aftermath of the financial crisis that a $1 trillion stimulus was crazy talk. Now, it is mainstream. I don't see the effects of this crisis raising the status of small government, low spending advocates.

Did we just collapse the global economy and financial systems to save some elderly smokers?

And Tyler Cowen is chortled that this will teach snooty coastal liberals a lesson?

I hate to break it to you, but Tyler is closer to a snooty coastal liberal than not.

To save the *Boomers*. Again. And again. They are truly the most coddled generation.

Gee, thanks for the saving. My portfolio is down 30%, and my chance of dying (which was always 100% in the long run), has declined microscopically in the short run. Do you think this is a good trade?

How old are you Larry? CFR for 70 to 79 is 8% and for 80+ is 15%. Those aren't microscopic odds. Get this. The numbers are even higher if you smoke or have an existing condition. California predicts a 56% infection rate so take those previous numbers and divide by 2. That's your chance of death.

Benjamin, I haven't noticed the world economy collapsing. Maybe you are confusing "world economy" with "stockmarket prices"? While things are looking grim for the hospitality industry here, I know I'm still pretending to work just as hard as I ever did.

A significant percentage of hospitalizations and ICU admissions are concentrated among younger people. See here: It is pretty easy to find articles about previously healthy, in-shape adults in their 30s and 40s who are now on oxygen or ventilators.

Yes, deaths might be rare in that age group but that is under the assumption we have capacity to treat everyone who needs treatment. The evidence is that plenty of young people with no pre-existing conditions will need treatment if the virus continues to spread and so we need a health system capable of coping with the needs of the population.

More precise data from several days ago: according to the CDC, among all infected people whose age is known, 710 were between 20 and 44 years old and, of those, about 100 had to be hospitalized. That's a hospitalization rate of 14%. For those still making specious flu comparisons, when was the last time the flu had such a high rate of complications among young people?

The response right now is the difference between people who need hospital care actually being treated in a hospital and being treated in a tent in a home depot parking lot with chronic equipment and staff shortages.

Again, US testing rates mean this is meaningless comment. Hospitalization rate, like death rate, is meaningless if the denominator is hopelessly inaccurate are over correlated with the numerator.

The real argument here is between flu at 0.1% vs cov19 at anywhere from 0.8% upwards, not the strawman cov19 = flu.

Of course we have imperfect data, which means any implication of the original comment -- that the measures being taken benefit predominantly "elderly smokers" -- is not supported by adequate evidence. The evidence we do have so far makes it irresponsible to imply that young people without pre-existing conditions or a history of smoking are safe.

It's irresponsible to argue on thin data that they are in danger.

Greta Thunberg has gone quiet for the time being, along with many other activists of every cause and stripe, because it's impossible to run a public awareness campaign when the public's attention span is very much otherwise distracted. But she will be pleased at the likely demise of the cruise industry and routine air travel.

One other cause may get a boost in the long run, one that Greta shares with Joaquin Phoenix. COVID-19 (and SARS and Ebola) happened because regional cultures ate exotic animals, but flu happens because of mainstream global consumption of ordinary animal products (pork and chicken and ducks and eggs).

Seasonal flu kills around a quarter-million to a half-million people worldwide every year, with a few million cases of severe illness. And in bad years like 1957, 1968 and especially 1918 it kills a lot more.

If we yell at the Chinese to stop eating bats and pangolins, we'll also have to address the root causes of flu. Because the next killer global pandemic might not be a new virus at all, but an old one just like in 1918, jumping species and mutating yet again.

Along with the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup, and the stock market.

This is just in bad taste Tyler. I'd expect better from you than superficial dunking at a time like this.

Screw them. They've been trying to kill the West all along. They ought to be happy that ribbing from academics is all they're getting for their treason.

Tyler's piece kind of works, totalling point losses here and there.

But to restate some ideas from comments above in a different way, that may not be the Big Takeaway from all this. Especially by the young.

We had a blurred centrism in the Bush and Obama years (for all the shouting) which left enough people unsatisfied that they tried a crazed populism-authoritarian-oligarchy. The kind of government where Jared Kushner is point man on everything. Because he's a billionaire, with the right family connections. That clearly doesn't work either. In fact it is a pretty epic fail.

So we're likely to try a third thing.

Andrew Yang for the win? Whatever it is, it has to be more technocratic than this. Hopefully with fewer family connections. The government in which "presidential daughter" is not a free pass to everything, including the apocalypse.

We’ll replace President’s doofus son in law with President’s crack addict son. New boss, same as the old boss....

Was it Kushner that directed the FDA to ban testing? Was it Kushner that directed the CDC to threaten Dr Helen Chu? Was it Kushner that pushed the CDC to request no border controls until this week!!? Kushner led the CDC to stockpile less than 24 hours worth of masks?

Where does the $12 billion go? $60 billion since 2015 and no masks or ventilators? No wargaming a mass pandemic? Wtf are we paying these people for?

Yes throw the bums out. Great. Let’s do that. It’ll make anonymous feel better at least.

But more importantly let’s find out who made these idiotic decisions and potentially plunged us into Great Depression 2: Pandemic Boogaloo. And they aren’t at the Whitehouse. They’re at the CDC and FDA.

The blurred centrism of Obama? He was the most leftist president ever elected. His sole contribution of this is to double down on the partisanship in all the federal agencies which contributed to the CDC's poor response. Maybe when all of this fades Trump will have the political power to strip all of the agencies of the hyper partisan people there and let the 'deep state' get back to a point where they'd at least be embarrassed to be as political as they are.

The hit to the US economy and attendant hit to the US dollar will finally usher in the Multiplex World Order (see: Amitav Acharya). The US will no longer need/be able to/be invited to administer "world order", which will equate to reduced spending on military adventurism, propping up states, foreign aid, etc. Pressure from increased prices for certain goods in the US will be dampened by top-down restraints on mass consumerism and bottom-up retreat from mass-consumerism, the latter driven by generational change and growing awareness of human impact on the ecology. People will eat and become healthier, thereby driving down the cost of healthcare. Cheaper healthcare (regardless of who pays) will drive up use, but this will also create demand for more community-based and family-based health services. The terminal sites for care will not be hospitals and GP offices, but many more community clinics, where staff will be qualified to do routine check-ups, and diagnose whether any patient requires more intensive treatment (i.e. prescriptions, CT scans, a trip to the ER, etc.). Training and credentialing for work within this community-based health system will be faster and cheaper than currently is for any health professional. A new class of mental healthcare professional will emerge, a retail psychiatrist if you will. Not able to write prescriptions, but able to handle the plurality (perhaps even a majority) of mental healthcare patients who really just need someone to talk to. We'll toss out the embedded growth hypotheses that underly expectations for quarterly earnings, GDP growth, and generational "progress". We'll move into a slow, steady 1-1.5% GDP growth paradigm. We will engage in a new form of "civic federalism, in which states and localities become centers of justice, solidarity and far-sighted democratic problem-solving" (Archon Fung). It'll be a lot like...Norway. BERNIE FOR THE WIN!

Also we may discover an insatiable appetite for a new breed of flying pig, which will bring us full-circle to what got us into this mess in the first place.

I'm terrible at predicting how people will react but I have a question: when strong indicators of a problem or fragility exist, will people learn that we can't always wait for "proof" before we prepare? like climate change?
The exact problem with Ioannidis' article: he is right that we don't have nearly enough data, but wrong that we have to wait to take very strong measures.

You are welcome to take all the strong measures you want.

What are you going to ditch first, air travel, HVAC, electricity, or meat?

The pandemic is likely to lead to a resurgence of faith in technocrats and professionalism ( hence the uptick in interest in Herbert Hoover). The populist wing of conservatism, whether in the US, UK, Serbia, Turkey, or Indonesia has been exposed as dilettantes - unprepared, incompetent and dishonest. Too credulous in conspiracy theories to take effective action. Technocratic East Asian countries have had the best response. The leaders who appear most competent in Europe are people like Kurz and Macron. Center right pragmatists. Kurz has shown how easy it is for centrist conservatives to coopt the populist immigration arguments, and how quickly populists are exposed as having nothing else of substance once you do that. So expect a general global move to the right on immigration and move to the left on social benefits for citizens.

On climate change - since the „corona virus is just flu“ people tend to be the same as the „climate change is a hoax“ primitive thinkers, actual scientists are likely to have more influence in the future on how we deal with global warming rather than less. Less Greta but also less Trumpian nonsense.

Ha ha! You so FUUUUUN ny! Me laugh you long time!

I exceeded my monthly free limit. Anything in there about purging the feminists from our universities and affirmative action programs? The idea of reparations should die too.

The progressive Left has won- seen yesterday's announcement by the UK Chancellor?
And Greta will win also:
- the virus is showing the world can take dramatic action in the face of a global threat
- fossil fuel economics being destroyed and Saudi and Russian current accounts with it
- we could find that lives saved by absence of pollution are greater than lives lost to the virus

I have read opinion pieces saying that in the wake of COVID the following ideologies will be dead:
communism, neo-liberalism, europeism, populism, nationalism, globalism, free market libertarianism, progressivism.
Other articles of course point out to the same becoming stronger.

I think it's just too soon to say. Probably all the former will evolve.

What about vegetarianism? Once a progressive notion, in those parts of the world where it was new to people. It's not been in fashion for some time.

OMG! Pure Bullshit Post!

The most obvious structural trend or outcome of covid-19-related self-quarantining is the inevitable pop in the birthrate nine months from now. Will it be as big as the post-WWII Baby Boom?

Political provocations or, in your words, trolling demonstrates bad taste and judgement, esp. right now. (FWIW, you're not the only person I've suggested this to.) Take care.

Wouldn’t this be the time to promote UBI?

COVID hysteria, prudent or not relative to other recent diseases, is causing US and global economies crashing because of fears for the fragile lamest generation, at least their 401ks, if they actually had them, are tanking also. Surprised not to see more generational conflict out in the open or in the MSM given the panic buying of arms and ammunition.

Curious to see a cost-benefit analysis on the deleterious effects of the potential over-reaction with school/work/transport closures causing a potential heavy recession or worse vs. subsidizing a few years of potential health benefits to already net takers of social security/Medicare, etc.

1) The below average masses will likely take to the idea of redistribution ever more strongly. When you consider that many coastal progressives feel below average, especially as they compare themselves to the conspicuous wealthy celebrities who dominate social media attention and the envied members of their community, many of the coastal affluent may support redistribution from the rich without realizing just how far above the national average they are. Few feel themselves to be the rich, much less rich enough to be expected to pay for redistribution themselves.

2) Transit has always been about wanting others to take transit, not many wanting to take it themselves. This may continue to be true even though progressives continue to avoid it themselves. This policy isn't as strongly motivated by a personal fear since it is the working class who are being forced into transit, no so much the affluent progressive.

3) It will drive home the message that the current system is not perfect. It doesn't matter that a rational expectation of a nationalized healthcare system would have no better results than what we see in Italy, progressives compare the current system to their *imagined* government system of perfect foresight, boundless wisdom, and ideal outcomes, not comparing it to a realistic expectation of a nationalized health system. As such the answer will always be more government control, even to problems directly caused by government itself.

4) I don't foresee this changing. While it drops from attention for the moment as the favorite "the end is nigh" rhetoric, it will return when pandemic is no longer the existential threat to gossip about. When this settles down it will be right back to endless virtue signalling and pretending to care about the environment, but not actually making any significant changes for it.

I wouldn't say kill them. There was nothing alive to be killed. By which I mean some ideas on how to tackle the pandemic. Progressive left boiled down to: something has to change in face of the crisis.

I literally just had the same discussion few days ago with families and friends.

Covid19 did deliver a heavy blow to the progressive left, but it also gave liberalism (both econ and social) a grave wound. MMT now jingles the key of the kingdom, and socialism writes the law!

If anything, I think populism (whatever it may be) is likely to come out on top. Despite media's best effort to promote/push the narrative now that Trump downplayed the severity of the situation and that his responses were largely inadequate, the majority of "normal" Americans approve his policies per recent polls.

It is kinda unreal how Trump is actually able to fulfill many of his 2016 promises (border control, supply chain, etc) as "solutions" to the pandemic. Many of us, myself included, thought they were just campaign lies to trick his supporters.

In the aftermath, the progressive crowd that love critical race theories and other oppression based beliefs will find the public a lot less sympathetic to their distorted view of reality.

My health care friend who had to put up with all the progressive policies in recent years said it the best the other night : "The solution to the rampant sjw bs was all along right in front of us."

I should add, another friend mentioned this:

"With the college lectures move online, many of their insane woke ideas will be recorded and leaked. The general public will finally see what the loving progressive left have been preaching for the last decade.

Parents will realize just how racist and sexist the woke lecturers are, and how much they've bastardized these words for their own benefits. Sane people will soon refer critical race theories and gender/queer theories by their true names: black supremacy and misandry."

Sure enough, it's already starting as per campus reform. Perhaps the reckoning is at hand.

I have a question about inter generational conflict. If indeed finality from coronavirus jumps after a certain age, eg 65, then interests of younger economically active population are not aligned. Older population has little skin in the game for environment, but a lot of skin in coronavirus defeat. What do you think.

Comments for this post are closed