Tuesday assorted links


"but given the chance Democrats gut those programs to fund utopian schemes in social engineering, redistribution, and subsidy payouts to traditional political clients."

I thought he was writing about Republicans for a second.

Nice catch. I liked Munger's piece but also felt like he took Republicans' too seriously as fiscal conservatives. Sure, they cut taxes and sometimes cut spending in particular areas, but they don't cut spending that much and are also engaged in social engineering, redistribution, and subsidy payouts.

A portion of the right-wing engages in cheap talk about cutting entitlement spending but most Republicans, including President Trump himself, know this is a political loser and will not pursue it when push comes to shove.

Republican "traditional political clients" are now retirees and defense contractors. Anyone pretending a higher principle is involved is just being childish.

4. here is when sumbody should call sweden and tell them about the netherlands

Before anyone writes or says something about Sweden, maybe they should look up some data instead of repeating outdated talking points.


One of the interesting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is how many people fail to understand that what was written just days ago quickly becomes outdated and wrong.

Viral math.

That is news in the modern day, much of what you see in the traditional media wasn't even true in the first place.

Heh. No one's taking the troll's bait, so he's talking to himself.

It is darkly amusing how often we find stories are incorrect in the modern day. Report something as true for weeks or months, then we find out it was almost entirely fabricated or key portions were left out.

Grey Lady isn't exactly wrong there.

@Grey Lady Down
It used to be worse but we were not able to verify and find out that it was wrong.

Similarly I'm curious to see what happens in Germany. It's been been contrasted with the catastrophe unfolding in Italy. But the number of deaths for the past few days in Germany have been tracking not far behind those from Italy just 20 days behind:


That is when the curve really when up with Italy, but hopefully Germany starts bending away from that.

Yeah, or someone like you, on the internet, could just say nothing and be grateful there's an alternative approach to compare long term, post fact rather than rooting for us to fail. Shame on you.

Shame on your own self
There is new data that should be considered. That is not the same as rooting for failure

Data needs a context and as we all know, almost every single data point on this issue is presented on a rushed basis, without any peer review and proper analysis and just ends up fueling the sort of comment you fired off, and should have abstained from. There's no need "to call Sweden" and tell us about Netherlands.

To give some context then, in the case of Sweden, and something which very few people outside of Sweden understand, there is no real need for a complete lockdown and draconian measures. If the authorities recommend something, anything really, the overwhelming majority of Swedes will follow those orders. It's a cultural and historical situation that our relationship to state and government is very different to that of most countries. The primary relationship in Sweden is that between individual and state - not between individuals (as in family). That's a whole discussion in itself, but it does allow for other scenarios to be implemented (at least presently) than for example in Italy, Spain or France that have historically had tumultuous relations to it's citizens.

So no, it's not just a case of viral (and mostly inaccurate) maths. It's also a case of social stability and trust.

Germany may be seeing a flattening at this point after a lockdown. Of course Germans are just as chaotic as Italians when it comes to following government recommendations.

Or possibly, just possibly, after the cases start piling up, the only way to deal with the effects is a lockdown before even 5% of the population gets infected.

It will be interesting to see whether the large immigrant population that Sweden has recently imported will share that culture of compliance and intolerance of dissent. If a perception develops that young and otherwise healthy immigrants are infecting older Swedes, that social cohesion will be tested.

in the context of a viral epidemic
swedens case curve is upsloping
now would be the right time to start using proven and replicable public health measures instead of telling other people what they can and cannot say

you sed
" almost every single data point on this issue is presented on a rushed basis, without any peer review and proper analysis..."

that statement is not even remotely true

4. In actual fact, the Netherlands did not pursue developing herd immunity with controlled exposure in any way. Rutte floated the idea after the Netherlands had started social distancing and closed the schools, etc. This was at about the same time Boris Johnson was making the same noises. Rutte didn't backtrack, because he'd never actually lead the country in that direction, but he did almost immediately increase social distancing measures, and the rate of spread has peaked.

The biggest issue in the Netherlands is not that an idiotic herd immunity plan was put in place - it wasn't. It's that the Dutch are very proud of their "we never panic" attitude, and so early on as the virus spread elsewhere, anyone calling for precautions to be taken (for example, at Carnival) were shouted down as panic mongers. Rutte also claimed that the Netherlands had more than ample testing capacity to handle extensive testing. In fact, in a short time the policy had to be adopted (as elsewhere) of only testing the very ill (specifically difficulty breathing and a high fever). It's been like a slow motion train wreck, not because there was anything Hansonian in the approach here, but because like many places it wasn't taken seriously.

@KevinK - thanks for that backstory, as I thought the Netherlands were indeed a sort of natural experiment for herding that was working out based on their numbers.

No not at all. However, it should be noted that Netherlands has a much more liberal quarantaine policy than Spain, Italy, France or Portugal.

Indeed, people can go out for walks or exercise as much as they want, many shops are open, with policies to restrict number of customers inside and safeguards for personnel. Weekly open air markets are still allowed, also with distancing measures. So far we don’t seem to be doing worse than Belgium or France. Mortality seems higher, but that may well be because many cases are being postponed for three weeks by uselessly making them suffer mechanical ventilation. Cf. Switserland

That should say “many cases are *not* being postponed here”. So mortality compared to other countries may even out over the next few weeks.

Darkly amusing that the Dutch approach is described as "pragmatic" even though it's not working.

@#3 - Twitter thread against Dr. Tedros A of WHO is factually untrue for the first sentence below; apparently he is a doctor of sorts (MSci/PhD in infectious disease of all things) from the Uni of London. Just a non-practicing, unlicensed doctor. Not that I like him, he seems shady an clearly a puppet of China. He also has accusations of incompetence and corruption (see the thread).


You should know that he is the first non-doctor (he is Dr for Ph.D.) Director-General of WHO. This all happened for his loyalty to China being health minister Ethiopia.

Wikipedia: Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (born 3 March 1965) is an Ethiopian politician and academic who has been Director-General of the World Health Organization since 2017. After the fall of Mengistu Haile Mariam, Tedros returned to university to pursue a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Immunology of Infectious Diseases from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine[4] at the University of London. He subsequently received a PhD in community health from the University of Nottingham in 2000, for research investigating the effects of dams on the transmission of malaria in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.

A PhD in community does not mean you can get licensed to practice medicine. You would need to complete a full med school program.

4. "a major problem with the herd immunity approach is that the disease has killed or made seriously ill a number of people under 60, some of whom had no serious underlying health conditions. "

Good. Can we now bury this stupid idea for now? True herd immunity comes through vaccination. This imposter snake oil is plain greed masquerading as learned helplessness. Neither of which is defensible when the biological imperative now is to survive.

This is the case with vaccination as well. And that is a risk we are happy to take.

Dosage is an important but neglected variable in the discussions so far. Hope we learn more about it in the case of COVID-19 soon.

This seems to be particularly an issue with health care workers. We really need to monitor these people and get them out as soon as infected. You can't ramp up production of health care workers so easily.

@Mr. Biggins - "True herd immunity comes through vaccination." - I agree with you, but there's another way of head immunity, not 'true' but close enough, and that's: Variolation or inoculation was the method first used to immunize an individual against smallpox (Variola) with material taken from a patient or a recently variolated individual, in the hope that a mild, but protective, infection would result. However, variolation has the advantage that a smaller dose of virus is introduced into a person, and exposing a person to full blown Covid-19 is not true variolation either.

A counter-example is the European-caused holocaust of the Native American population. NA's didn't have herd immunity, while the whites did. And *not* because they were being vaccinated before boarding the Santa Maria and the Mayflower.

Calling that a holocaust is effectively Holocaust denial.

Between a holocaust and the event named the Holocaust.

Better luck next time playing on the Godwin boundary.

(7) A summary of Australia's fiscal stimulus:

1. Cash payments to pensioners.
2. Doubling of dole payments to unemployed for 6 months.
3. $465 US paid to businesses per worker to maintain employment.
4. $12,400 to $62,000 US subsidy to every business with employees.
5. Government pays half wages of apprentices and trainees for 9 months.
6. Accelerated depreciation.
7. Policies to maintain access to cheap capital.
8. Banks allowing housing and business loans to be deferred for 6 months.
9. Temporarily harder to foreclose on businesses.
10. No residential evictions for 6 months.

Feel free to copy and paste as desired for you own countries.

Mostly a good list, except for:
1. Why would pensioners be affected? Their income should remain stable.
10. Just going to be widely abused. In the US, many landlords are working class too.

The idea is that if you give pensioners extra money ($930 US across 2 payments). as low income earners they will be more likely to spend it than workers who are likely to save a larger portion of stimulus money given to them.

Yes, there is potential for abuse, but here the rent money you owe will generally follow you around until you either pay up or declare bankruptcy.

Oh, and I should have mentioned businesses will be getting $465 US per week for each employee they have.

Further information has come to light -- only businesses that are 30% down from last year will apparently be getting the $465 US "job keeper" payments. That makes a little more sense, as it seemed like a big give away to the parts of the economy that are doing well.

Among countries that have had better responses to the virus, one common factor besides being East Asian is that they've had growth miracles in recent memory. Countries in catch-up growth are used to taking on (publicly and privately) investments that are both inefficient and have high return that still work out at the end of the day. They can recognize this as a rare investment opportunity: an investment in something like masks plausibly pays several times its return on investment in a matter of months (how many investment opportunities can offer something so good?). Countries at the steady state care a lot about efficiency but are used to trying to make their spending counter-cyclical. Hence the trillions spent on bailouts compared to the bargaining over billions with companies producing equipment.

#10: tends to support large, undetected infection rates. It's obviously that any multiples of the confirmed cases would be unlikely to register much on a sample of people taking their temperature.

https://www.pekintimes.com/news/20200127/illinois-is-sickest-state-in-nation - flu like symptoms have been higher all over the US, than normal, back in Feb: "All over, people are sicker than usual, according to Kinsa. Nationally, the rate is 6.69 percent, compared to 3.86 percent this time last year and 4.34 percent for a typical season."

3. So I guess it's acceptable in this post for us to say that the CCP co-opted the WHO and that the CCP has been an all around bad actor which deserves the lion's share of the blame for this pandemic.

That is where the evidence is pointing.

Has Bernie Sanders commented on the Swedish experiment ( or rather the unblinded control arm)?

Hypothesis 1: they are more libertarian than Bernie!s supporters believe?
Hypothesis 2: they are more progressive and are seeking to restructure their demographics to align with a more multicultural vision

anybody else notice how the swedish experiment methodology is similar to the Tuskegee experiment methodology

3 is massive and deserves a clean, sharable summary. If China worked activly to let the virus spread, this would be an act of economic warfare or worse.

Well, didn't trump promote virus spread across borders of the 50 sovereign states for two months while talking down threat of virus while touting the best economy ever based on lots of travel and large crowds?

How far and wide did the Superbowl spread virus?

#4's article must have been written by someone who doesn't understand both Germany and Netherlands. Germany's health care system is just miles ahead of the dutch health care system (and all other EU countries). That's should be the main explanatory variable for the relatively higher number of COVID deaths in Netherlands.

Indeed. From the stats of around 2012-2014 (latest I've seen), Germany was a leader in per capita critical care beds, while the Netherlands was around the 40th percentile, which was about 60% the per capita rate across the border. And starting this weekend, when acute care beds were 100% occupied in the Netherlands, they started sending some patients to hospitals in Germany.

Carrying over Tyler's higher-lower status discussion, I would nominate WHO's health care system rankings for lower in status. Kind of makes you wonder about PISA.

If you trust the numbers, Germany is in a league of their own. 68,000 cases (#5 in the world) says they have been proactive. A paltry 682 deaths so far, way less than any other comparable sized country, even less than small neighbor Belgium, suggests they didn't dawdle.

15,824 recovered patients. Germany is spitting 'em out about 12 days after they are identified, like BMWs or something.

Active cases in Germany yesterday increased by... 57.

When all is said and done, I predict Germany's record will stand against any of the Asians.

I’ll take that bet. $20 to the charity of the winner’s choice?

They will do substantially worse than South Korea, Taiwan, or Singapore.

You must be looking at old data, or other data. Germany appears to have over a thousand new active cases today. More worrying is the increase in the number of serious/critical patients, which now lies at just under 2,000. It's CFR, which was initially encouraging, now exceeds 1%.

It's already nowhere near as good a record as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong. Not even Australia, which seems to be doing particularly well.


I'm talking about yesterday, during which Germany had 4,450 "new" cases, 104 deaths, and 4,289 recoveries. Net new cases: 57.

Germany is gonna come out of the first wave with a substantial army of the immune. Almost like they have been running pandemic preparedness drills for the past year on weekends while the rest of us were watching Netflix.

Nobody is close to being out of the woods. Final grades won't be issued for several months yet at least. Stay tuned.

What strikes me as extremely odd is how the UK can have 381 deaths in one day when it only had approximately 160 serious/critical coronavirus patients. Weird.

Germany will likely do better than most large European countries, but how long do we have to wait for the other shoe to drop in places like Japan and South Korea before we conclude that there is no other shoe?

A whole model of confirmed deaths lagging by X weeks hospitalizations, which lag X weeks confirmed cases, just doesn't make sense. It's clearly the cases that deaths are emerging from a pool of undocumented infections etc.

Whether we still have an IFR approaching 1%, once this is all said and done (once infection is accounted for, once lag of death to infection is factored out, once other conditions and likelihood of death factored in) or not, and any substantial excess death by the end of the year, I increasingly feel is a fools game.

1. Expanded government arose in response to the expanded power of private interests during the first gilded age: expanded government was viewed as a check on private interests. This assumed that government would promote the public interest not private interests. The conflict has been and continues to be whose interests are to be promoted by government, the public interest or private interests. All the rest is just noise. Of course, the rising concentration of wealth has tipped the balance in favor of private interests. But the private interests are clever, accepting a modest redistributist role for government (social security, Medicare, etc.) as the price to maximize political power and control over the functions of government that might inhibit private interests (highly progressive tax policy, environmental regulation, etc.) or that preserve wealth (i.e., rising or at least stable asset prices). Some SCLs wish to disrupt the bargain, not by a government that promotes the public interest (indeed, in many cases just the opposite), but by a government that is freed from that part of the bargain that reflects the patina of a government that promotes the public interest and provides an illusion of legitimacy. My view is that as long as we have a high level of wealth inequality, we will have a high level of political inequality and a government that responds to the demands of private interests not a government that promotes the public interest. This will require a Faustian bargain, similar to the current bargain or a demagogue who appeals to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people while promoting private interests.

Who cares?? USA rent seeking and all plus high income inequality has much higher median incomes than France, Germany, Spain, UK, or Italy.

All Of those countries have far more egalitarian governments and more regulation. They are all massively poorer than the US.

The US also has a population around 330 million. Once again-American capitalism is a miraculous achievement soars and all....

According to this:


Norway, Sweden, and Denmark have larger median incomes than the US and yet they have more egalitarian governments and more regulation. I don't think there's a simple cause and effect for these things.

And Switzerland has a higher median income than all of those countries except for Norway.....do you really think it’s valid to compare Nordic welfare countries with populations 1/4 the size of Florida??

Those income figures are not adjusted for local price levels.

Adjusted for purchasing power parity, the US is way richer than either Denmark or Sweden ($67k per capita vs. $55k per capita)

Norway is richer but the secret to its success – having a lot of oil and a tiny population – is hard to replicate.

Actually, cancel that. I was quoting GDP per capita while you were discussing median income. My apologies.

You get to retail to the bottom half of US income workers while I'll take the bottom half of French and German income workers.

That is a solid trade, having lived in Germany and spent extensive time in France, poverty over in Europe is stark.

I’d rather be in the top 4/5th’s of income earners in the US than any country. And if I was in the bottom 1/5 I’d prefer some Western European nations over the US.....

I agree 100%...as long as I am the sole and final arbiter of what constitutes "public interest". Otherwise, I deny that the term "public interest" has any useful and logically consistent precise definition. The "public" is diverse, the more diverse its interests are (from anarchists to communists) the less there can be consensus on what is a "public" good. Most people use the term actually mean "good and moral" and private interest as "inherently evil". There are few people who behave in ways that are contrary to their own self-interest. And fewer still of those people in positions of power or authority. Get over it.

#11. Another way to easily contribute to science is via the DETECT-study, which leverages heart rate data (via FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin Watch, ...) additionally beside selfreports to track viral spread (Scripps Research Institute, Eric Topol et al.). Changes in Heartrate can be observed before fever onset [1].

[1] Harnessing wearable device data to improve state-level real-time surveillance of influenza-like illness in the USA (Radin et al., 2020)

10 was both good and hopeful.

It could be that people were bad at "distancing" because that had a fuzzy definition, but "lockdown," or "shelter in place" are much more clear.

The LA freeway signs now say "stay home." Up from "wash hands."

Yes, I was going to comment on #10. It still remains to be seen how accurate these crowd-sources Kinsa thermometer data readings are, but these early results are promising.

It's also a good example of how individual tests results with relatively huge rates of false positives and false negatives can still be useful at the population level.

I presume that when we want to look at more fine-grained data, e.g. looking at specific neighborhoods in New York City, we'd still need data from actual medical tests, because the Kinsa data would be both too approximate and suffer from small sample sizes.

I admit I am kind of looking forward to the hyperventilating social shaming/comply-or-die! posts that will ensue on NextDoor even when they tell us to get on our knees.

You actually just said you don't want to do something that saves lives because "you're not the boss of me?"

And where did "knees" even come into it?

People are dying at a terrible rate in NYC, but New Yorkers still gather in crowds to watch the USNS Comfort come in. People can ignore even the clearest of messages.

Maybe they think staying home is just "virtue signaling?"

It is the society we have made.

For weeks we heard that the disease was going to hit Trump supporters the hardest, since they supposedly wouldn't comply with social distancing and other restrictions. Now that that didn't happen and the disease is blowing up in New York, anonymous is trying to suggest that New Yorkers are actually secret Trump supporters.

That is a really poor reading.

When I invoke "virtue signaling" I am not just going after Trump supporters. I am going after every supposed personal responsibility conservative who actually shat on personal responsibility as signaling.

And sure, I can tie that to Trump.

He had to bang a pornstar and then make an legal payoff to shut her up, because anything else would have been a virtue signaling!

That’s not what virtue signaling means. You know this, and are trolling and derailing for the lulz.

Can we not.

#3 The US could divert a bit of the political and diplomatic effort going to support the Saudi regime and its war in Yemen and the Israeli government's policy of allowing settlers in the Occupied Territories, to playing real politic at the UN to build "state capacity."

Wondered when someone would get around to flogging Israel.

#7 Amazing! A paper from the SL Fed giving the outcome of a macroeconomic model that does not include monetary policy. I dare say the results would not be the same if it included a Fed policy of NGDPL targeting?

12. On past administration not rebuilding stockpiles...

Trump and the GOP were demanding spending cuts to reduce the deficit while obama was president.

Since Trump became president, they have been saying the spending, deficit, and debt haven't been growing fast enough, but they have not been focusing on building capital, whether universal high speed Internet, needed for remote work, education, and medical, or big emergency inventories, or more and better hospitals everywhere.

If COVID-19 hits rural Red America, it won't be ventilators that are lacking, but doctors and nurses who had to leave because of no hospitals and clinics because no one could pay.

I wouldn't even bother putting blame on Obama or Trump for the stockpiles. It's obvious that the stockpiles aren't enough. 52 million masks means nothing during a pandemic. Taiwan alone produces 10 million masks a day and that should tell you what the real solution is. Domestic production. Stock (stockpile) without flow (production) is a precarious situation like what unemployed Americans face now with stock (savings) running low with no flow (income).

+1, good answer

This is probably the most likely-sounding mask-related comment I've read.

These cuts?:
Here are the cuts requested by the Obama-Biden administration for the CDC

FY 2013: $569 million
FY 2014: $270 million
FY 2015: $414 million
FY 2017: $251 million
Some of the cuts sought by Obama and Biden "specifically took aim at the CDC's preparedness initiatives." The Wall Street Journal reported in 2012 that "President Obama’s 2012 budget calls for paring some of that spending. Funding for a public health emergency preparedness program run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was cut by about $72 million below fiscal 2010 levels in the budget proposal."


That was to mulp, but it was a tiny part of #12. The rest is a good read.

White House budget proposals are nonsense, and have been DOA for decades. They're only useful insofar as providing fodder for opponents.

The CDC budget went up every year under both Obama and Trump, and Bush, and...

Actual fake news .

"White House budget proposals are nonsense"
they are an indicator of the white houses priorities

Ok here's a nutty idea for the economy. This is not practical at this point but thought experiment. Would it be possible to put literally everything except food on pause? No salary paid, no utilities due, no rent due, no mortgage due. All dates in all contracts are rewritten as though the period of coronavirus was a time warp that never existed. Only food and a list of bare minimal essentials may be traded. Give essential workers $3k, but other than that even they don't get paid, they have no expenses now anyway.

"Ok here's a nutty idea for the economy. "

Agreed, that's a nutty idea.

To my friends on the right: The “starve the beast” tactic has forced cuts more or less across the board, rather than making hard choices and advancing principled arguments about cutting entire programs and eliminating the illegitimate functions that government should have never been involved in in the first place. Limited government does not mean crippled government; it means a gimlet-eyed focus on the relatively few domains where government action is useful, and then ruthlessly pruning all the other branches.

Ha ha ha. Now try and get that prescription through any legislature wherein any chamber is controlled by the Democratic Party. Or any legislature in which a disruptive crew of vacuous careerists in the Republican caucus is large enough that their defections prevent the main body of the Republican caucus from accomplishing anything. Which is to say in any legislature.

Why is it unsurprising he holds Republicans responsible for political dysfunction? Because, as always, when a soi-disant libertarian is speaking, character strings like 'my friends on the right' are humbug.

The Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act from the 1980s (and later versions) was premised on the idea that politicians would be forced to cut the budget intelligently rather than accept across-the-board cuts, but that didn't work, so what magic formula does Munger have to make it work now?

#8 The survey of economists was poorly framed. The issue is what trajectory of which policies are best, not status quo-nothing as is implied by giving binary choices.

#1. Oh! Munger has realized that the nightwatchman State has to be able to pay the nightwatchmen and presumably ensure that they are actually nightwatching! But how do we allocate nightwatchmen between houses of the rich and the poor, city and rural? Do we use progressive consumption taxes to raise the revenues to pay the nightwatchmen? I do not see how we could decide these questions outside of the framework of welfare economics which would imply that some of the nightwatchmen would need to be levying Pigou taxes and a lot more.

In viral time, 'Tuesday's' links might as well be Monday's considering the time stamp of March 31, 2020 at 2:24 am .

"The virus has spread more widely among the 250,000 residents of Heinsberg – a district in North Rhine-Westphalia bordering the Netherlands – than anywhere else in Germany, with 1,281 confirmed infections and 34 deaths. More than 550 people have recovered from the illness so far. The advance of the virus in Heinsberg, nicknamed “Germany’s Wuhan” after the Chinese city where the global pandemic emerged, is between two to two and a half weeks ahead of the rest of the country.

Over the coming weeks the district will be used by leading virologists and a team of 40 medical students as a sort of laboratory for studying the virus. The “Covid-19 case cluster study”, launched on Tuesday morning, will follow 1,000 people who have been chosen because they are representative of the German population as a whole. .... The scientists will go into 500 households, as well as kindergartens and hospitals, to study how the infection is spread. They will look at every aspect ofeveryday life, from the extent to which children pass it on to adults, how it is spread within families – from mobile phones to door handles, to cups and TV remote controls – to whether pets can spread it, and whether it is transferred via certain types of food. “If there are ways of preventing the illness from spreading in our environment, we want to know what they are, with the goal of finding out how we can freely move about in the environment together,” Streeck said.

“On the basis of our findings we’ll be able to make recommendations, which politicians can use to guide their decision-making,” Streeck said. “It could be that the measures currently in place are fine, and we say: ‘Don’t reduce them.’ But I don’t expect that, I expect the opposite, that we will be able to come up with a range of proposals as to how the curfews can be reduced.”

By testing the immunity to Covid-19 of the study’s participants, the scientists will also be able to establish what the estimated number of undetected cases might be nationwide. The first results are expected to be made public next week, though the entire gathering of evidence will take several weeks and its analysis is likely to be carried out over months and years.


Informative prior_approval is best prior_approval

Re #4, it should probably be pointed out that the Dutch and Swedish approaches were not intended to have an outcome with fewer overall deaths than the complete lock down approach, at least not in the short term. The theory is that it is done with fewer severe adverse consequences to the economy, and with lower potential for repeats of rapid rises in deaths, as is, I suspect, expected when the draconian lock down restrictions adopted in other places is lifted, necessitating a re-imposition of severe restrictions with their attendant further ruinous economic consequences.

+1, good point. We'll have to see how the approach fared after this is all said and done.

#5...I'm still waiting for an answer about liability insurance for all these technologies and drugs people, rightly, would like to be expedited, possibly because so much of the discussion concerning this crisis is above my head. Insurance is a basic question.

I haven’t seen anything that attempts to unravel or determine how unique the Kinsa population is. Who is getting those thermometers? My initial hypothesis is that mapping data on people buying these thermometers is selecting very, very strongly for people who are hyper-concerned about their health, and more specifically hyper-concerned about getting ‘sick’, so much so that they track their daily temperature. So those people might be much more likely to hole up in their homes during a period when there is a widely publicized public health crisis. Maybe not, but it’s worth examining.

Here is their “technical appendix”


Perhaps an epidemiologist could take a look. At first blush it doesn’t seem dispositive either way, but perhaps reviewing their sources would produce more helpful information.

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-03-comprehensive-covid-hospitalisation-death-countries.html -

"First comprehensive estimates from mainland China of the proportion of people with COVID-19 who required hospitalisation, and latest death rate estimates ... The death rate from confirmed COVID-19 cases is estimated at 1.38%, while the overall death rate, which includes unconfirmed cases, is estimated at 0.66%; these rates are slightly lower than some estimates for COVID-19 to date, which had not adjusted for undiagnosed cases or for the number of people in each age group of a population".

Those vary from "0.0016% in 0 to 9-year-olds to 7.8% for people aged 80 and above".

Adjusted over the US age demographics, total mortality comes out at 0.93%. (For China 0.66% - different age demographics.)

But if they are wrong and there is not only one mildly symptomatic/asymptomatic case for every confirmed case, but more like 1:3, it could be half that, or less.

A question for those of us who are "out of sync" with our age cohort (ie, had kids very young or very old, or changed careers and are climbing the ladder all over again in 40s or 50s.) Is this purely biological? Or related to some convergence of environmental factors that those of us with non-standard life histories may not experience, or experience at a different time? Case in point, the stereotypical male with a midlife crisis is in middle management, realizes "this is my life", and has jerky teenagers at home on top of it. Someone who became an attorney at 40 and had first kids at 45 might have a very different life experience.

# 4 Is this observation based on data?

3/18 to 3/21 rate 3/21 to 3/25 rate 3/25 to 3/30 rate
Netherlands 27.00% 22.50% 14.10%
Sweden 13.00% 13.50% 10.00%
These are average rates of increase over three three periods.
Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/world/mapping-spread-new-coronavirus/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most

On SCL, has anyone read S Pinker's 2018 book Enlightenment Now? I would say this is a pretty good exposition of SCL even though it was published before Cowen popularised the term. Pinker is truly deferential to capitalism and markets, even throwing in references to Mises, but he also notes that the government has played a big role in the vast improvements we have seen since the Industrial Revolution and in particular over the last century.

And what I find truly remarkable about the book is its ability to find allies in people not usually associated with libertarianism. For example, Richard Dawkins has been heard many times referring to himself as a left-liberal, and yet he cannot stop praising this book. His endorsement of the book appears on the back cover and he's always tweeting about it. Bill Gates, too, calls it "My new favourite book of all time".

If we want to people to coalesce around SCL, I think this book could be the Kool Aid we need to get non-libertarians to drink.


2) No mention of their methodology? Are they tracking consumption patterns and linking this to happiness? What if middle age is when people begin thinking long term and drop current consumption in favor of longer-term savings goals? I don't directly link that to "unhappiness".

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