Lockdown socialism will collapse

Under Lockdown Socialism:

–you can stay in your residence, but paying rent or paying your mortgage is optional.

–you can obtain groceries and shop on line, but having a job is optional.

–other people work at farms, factories, and distribution services to make sure that you have food on the table, but you can sit at home waiting for a vaccine.

–people still work in nursing homes that have lost so many patients that they no longer have enough revenue to make payroll.

–professors and teachers are paid even though schools are shut down.

–police protect your property even though they are at risk for catching the virus and criminals are being set free.

–state and local governments will continue paying employees even though sales tax revenue has collapsed.

–if you own a small business, you don’t need revenue, because the government will keep sending checks.

–if you own shares in an airline, a bank, or other fragile corporations, don’t worry, the Treasury will work something out.

This might not be sustainable.

That is from Arnold Kling.  Too many of our elites are a little shy about pushing this message out there.


Do those same elites actually think people are ordering food online, without having jobs?

When I first talked about food banks here, they were reporting a 40% increase, but now we're at 100% increase relative to previous demand.


Explain that, if you actually "got it" better. Kling says "it sounds as if they prefer" and then names something outlandish, "you can obtain groceries and shop on line, but having a job is optional."

What _good_ (yes, in a utilitarian sense) does that fantasy do, as food banks take on an unprecedented burden?

Rich, buddy. Do you think anyone reading that thinks you got the argument, and made a good answer to it?

No one has ever thought that about Rich. Not even Rich.

Rich needs to spend time less time being an internet keyboard warrior and more time looking tough with his COVIDiot buddies at the state capitol.


Are you are retarded?

–state and local governments will continue paying employees even though sales tax revenue has collapsed.

Not so fast. The esteemed governor of New Jersey, Phil “I’m from outta state” Murphy sez he may have to stop paying state workers because the piggy bank is emptying. He’s looking for some fast cash from Uncle Fed.

Opening soon.

For McConnell and the Republican Senate majority, this is a feature, not a fault. State and local governments do not have the debt capacity that the Federal government has and the eagerness of McConnell and Co. to not aid state and local governments is precisely to create pain for the governors of the states hid hardest, mostly Democratic. McConnell never stops playing politics, even in the worst crisis of his career.

Yes, he would be wise to stop all this political hanky-panky and emulate that paragon of statesmanship, Nancy Pelosi. Or maybe the august Charles Schumer.

Ha! +1

Getting help from the flyover Trump supporting hicks. My, how the tables have turned haha. I'm enjoying watching this from afar in my nice, Covid free Midwestern town.

Nancy Pelosi won't authorize the purchase of oil for the strategic reserve even though the price is negative.

Can you answer why she would not do so?

If the price is negative, they should offer it free plus pay the Govt to take it, shouldn't they?

The median now laid off worker makes more money on unemployment than he did working

Two points:

1) The poverty of a nation is never actually determined by the median.

2) You haven't actually shown your math on that claim about the median.

So, is this a troll, or the best you can do?

The poverty of a nation's people obviously is.

Really? I think "quintiles" are often used because medians fall short.

But even quintiles are statistical shorthand for what you really want, which is distributions.

Are you sure you know what a median and a quintile is?

Anyways, for the math, let’s use the cheapest state for unemployment benefits, Florida.

You get state of Florida $250 plus federal top off of $600-so that’s $850 a week for 26 weeks. That figure produces a half year salary of $22k which comes to $44k for a full year.

The median American worker makes 31k a year. So the new welfare act, by the most conservative standards pays people about 30 percent more than the median American worker....

It’s quite a generous bit of socialism by the Republicans. I’d say it’s the most extraordinary act of Government welfare in the history of civilization, even if it is only temporary.

I think a quintile would have been a better basis for that conjecture:

The median income within the bottom quintile in 2016 was $12,943.

But I'm not sure how we proceed from there even in theory. We can't expect that a $13K earner has the qualification for a $44K benefit. We don't know the distribution of wage income and transfers. Nor do we have an easy way to model the displacement of wage income by unemployment benefits.

Frankly I think the better form of attack on "government money" is to target unequal distribution. What you should say is that it's giving too much to some, and not enough to others. Too much, because you can show perverse incentives for some sub-groups, and not enough, because you can show hardship in others.

Stingy states like Florida have waived all requirements.

So the 16k a year, bottom quintile guy is gonna get the 26 weeks of 850 a week.

This really isn’t that difficult......

It is overwhelmingly a level of welfare beyond what people in the middle to bottom of the income distribution normally would make.

Theory and practice, Terry. I will try to find info specifically on part-time workers, but before we do, a report from Florida (April 17):

For weeks, thousands of Floridians have grown more frustrated with the constant errors of the state’s unemployment system.

Complaints are common, most pointing to a website that’s not functioning and call centers that can’t be reached.

Now, on to qualifying:

You must have a minimum amount of wages earned in what is called the "base period," which is the first 12 months of the past 15 months from when you filed your claim


Freelancers, self-employed, contractors, 1099 workers, "gig economy" workers such as Uber drivers are examples of those who will not qualify for Florida state benefits, but will qualify for federal benefits.

Five days ago:

The inefficiencies have been baked into Florida’s system for years. The state was one of only 11 that did not tap into some of the $7 billion in federal money available after the recession to modernize its unemployment insurance program. That program, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, would have widened the safety net in the state for vulnerable groups including low-wage workers and part-time workers, two large segments of Florida’s large tourism industry, in particular.

(I can't do graphs here, but a barbell distribution and a normal distribution can have the same ... ah Khan has me covered.)

You're not this bad at math. For god's sake, you said you were an engineer.

Since the $600 is a flat amount, it's obviously going to be weighted to be more generous towards lower earnings. The median is about where it tips as far as unemployment benefits go.

To use Kevin Drum's CA example:

Previous income : $24,000
Unempl income : $43,212

Previous income : $30,000
Unempl income : $46,228

Previous income : $40,000
Unempl income : $51,220

In the words of Joe Biden, 'come on man'.

What is your source for those numbers, and how do they relate to the distribution of real-life outcomes?

For a $15/hour worker, you normally earn $600/week. If you don't work, you get $600 federal plus ~$300 state, or $900/week (depending on state). Plus, you don't pay taxes on benefits. It's even better for part time workers.

In other words, those at the bottom of the earnings ladder are making 50-100% more on unemployment with zero hours of work, versus working 40 hours a week.

Which would you pick?


According to an engineer I know living in Alabama who earns 60,000 dollars a year, Alabama unemployment is 125 dollars a week in their case. Maybe someone else living in Alabama can say whether that is accurate. That engineer also seemed completely unaware of any federal benefits, but if anyone has an actual link how that works, it might be of some interest to pass on.

The extra $600 per week is paid through the typical state system. States have been phasing it in, and not all have started paying it for administrative / IT reasons. As of April 15, 32 states were reportedly paying the extra $600 - https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/15/600-states-paying-federal-unemployment-aid/5142042002/

However, once the extra $600 is paid, it will be paid retroactive to as early as March 29 - https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/07/politics/unemployment-benefits-cares-act-covid-pandemic/index.html .

I don't know how that $15/hr (40 hr week) hypothetical relates to the reality of the bottom quintile, where we know there are more marginally attached and part time workers.

maybe as an engineer I am extremely conscious the difference between theory and practice.

And I look at those photos at my link as the reality I have to understand.

Bottom quintile workers earn far less than the median.

It is 30 to 60 percent more income at every rung of the income distribution as you move down from the median.

Yes, this was my understanding ;-)

I'm quite libertarian, but this situation has become too much to listen to garbage from people like "anonymous". We need a way to ignore Tyler.

Why do I feel like the libertarians haven't laid a glove on me?

Is ad hominem really all you've got?

For what it's worth, I think a "reasonable" person could be concerned about public and private balance sheets, while recognizing that needs, possibly great needs, are left unmet. At the same time.

(You seem to be saying that increased demand at food banks cannot be happening in practice, because you have a theory.)

Except that that $600 dollars is only payable for four months, so no, those annual incomes are wrong.

And if the program is extended?

Unless and until that happens it's pointless to cite it as any sort of factor in anything.

Ok, then:

Per month
Previous income : $2,000
Unempl income : $3,601

Previous income : $2,500
Unempl income : $3,852

Previous income : $3,333
Unempl income : $4,268

There's a strong incentive to stay unemployed until the benefits run out. A lot of people are going to take a substantial pay cut when they have to go back to work.

If you're called back to work and refuse to go, or hired fr a new job ad turn it down, you will not be eligible for benefits. Sure, some people will cheat, but if caught (and the probability of that is fairly high) they will owe the illegitimate benefits they collected back. I saw this happen to a family member back in 2009.

“Because we can”

“Like it or not”

Ruin has come whether we like it or not
Sit at home or labor with fraught

The men of means all sit in doors
Pointing at peasants mopping their floors

Go about or settle down in your spot
Ruin has come whether we like it or not.

There are those that say we must go or burst they sit at home while others bear the worst

Whether sitting or going the germ is wrought
Ruin has come whether we like it or not

How long can this go from towers they say
Until our mistakes the others shalt pay

Open or close it won’t change our lot
Ruin has come whether we like it or not

The time is come to eat me must trot
Ruin has come whether we like it or not

Let it rip or not
Ruin has come whether we like it or not

Enjoy your crap sanwhich for lunch today. I am washing mine down with some vodka.

Trump authoritarianism will collapse
Come the November Revolution!!

Professors are paid
Whether or not students learn
Are in school
Or at home.
It's called tenure.

oh well if there's a word for it, it must be sustainable

Until the colleges start closing altogether.

1. Education is just signalling anyway. So closing schools for a while is not going to cause a collapse of the value from education (since it reduces the signalling effort people can put into it symmetrically). In poorer countries the asymmetry in internet access might damage the signal value of education.

2. Over 80% of GDP has not been directly affected by the pandemic, restaurants, hotels, gyms and other services that tend to be most affected consist of 9% of GDP.

At many schools and universities, they are not shut down; they have gone online. This may not be as good as live, but it is far from being "shut down." Arnold should have known better than to include this on his list, although I do not know anything about "Bill," who is probably too poorly informed to understand this and just spouts drivel.

K-12 is faltering through this. Schools with established online systems or adult students are surely doing better.

Barkley, I know that colleges are going online, but apparently you do not have sense of humor but do have tenure. When people talk of socialism and its job protection, and ignore their own circumstances of a permanent secure job, I will point it out to Kling and Tyler.

And, Barkley you made one other mistake: my ;poem refers to students as at school or at home. Maybe you didn't see that or connect the dots but it was not a reasoned or fair comment to say that I did not know about it and was poorly informed.

That reflect poorly on you. Shame on you.

The "it" refers to online learning.

Hey, snap to, "virtue signalling" has only been used as parody or sarcasm for some time now.

That's not true. There are all sorts of circumstances for which a tenured faculty member can be fired. "Not doing your job" is at the top of the list.

That Kling cannot travel to a country like Austria, Denmark, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany .......

Or maybe that Atlantic article by Packer is appropriate here too - www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261/

I'm not sure I understand the point of this post. is Arnold Kling seriously suggesting that there is a group of people that think the current situation is a viable and long-term solution such that it deserves a name and recognition as a formalized political movement?

Its like he's trying to create some kind of political strawman (Lockdown Socialism) that he can attack (i.e., that the reason people are afraid of lifting lockdowns is because they enjoy these points).

this post is like "grandma's facebook" level ridiculousness. It reads like those internet memes where "In my day, we played alll day outside, and now the snowflakes play video games. In my day we didn't wear helmets, we just played all day and no one got hurt. IN my day we just drank water from the garden hose and no one died...."

I don't know anyone in the world that is seriously thinking lockdowns, and in turn, lockdown socialism, is a thing worth pursuing.

I think he's suggesting that there is a group of people who think the current situation can be stretched out for a significantly longer period (months rather than weeks) with little risk of lasting economic damage and, therefore, that the main danger lies in loosening the shutdown rules too soon rather than too late.

Thanks for the clarification. I feel like the collective conversation after this weekend is devolving into political-ization of this event. That we are turning away from what rational study and good science can tell us, and move towards arguing political strawmen back and forth like we used to during other election years.

And this exchange is a perfect example of why I took issue with the prior MR post about succinctness of economics and how it fits the blog/twitter medium. Rather than Kling explaining what he means (what time period of shutdown is he objecting to, and why), he simply publishes a straw and meaningless post and a bunch of people respond in equally meaningless ways. I agree with you, Joe. And, this blog, which has always been on the boundary between providing value and wasting my time, has taken a turn for the worse.

I resemble that remark.

I don't disagree, but I would also say that there has been a sub-optimal amount of "rational study and good science" supplied over the past few months. Because we don't have relatively confident estimates of the risks involved in most common interactions, there are widely varying responses. I mean, I think what Michigan is doing is obviously stupid, but it'd be nice to have some evidence to point to.

We need:
1. What is the risk of getting it from touching something someone else has breathed on. Do I have to wipe off my amazon boxes and groceries?
2. What is the risk transmission at various levels of contact?
- Person shopping at the same store? Within what amount of time?
- Person checking me out, waiting on my table?
- Person in front of / next to me / on the other side of me in/outside of a building for X amount of time? Think of this as the guy behind you at a movie or ball game, a person you have a meeting with, or a person who works on the other side of the office or warehouse?
3. Now, how much can we reduce those risks by wearing masks, reducing interaction frequency, more cleaning, etc?

“Grandmas level Facebook” haha I literally can’t stop laughing

Joe, You are correct

Buzzwords like socialism, and straw man arguments.
They emotionally incite
But do not illuminate
Unless, like you Joe,
You put a match to the
Straw man with your comment.

AOC said she won’t vote for PPP extension unless it has permanent monthly payments to individuals ala the Trump 1200.

But yeah, the entire prog wing of Dems is a strawman.

Your comment is a good example of the propaganda technique of "Whataboutism"

"Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent's position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument.[1][2][3] It is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda.[4][5][6" From Wiki

AOC and her fans are a pretty small caucus. Not enough of them t block action. Also, Pelosi had been quite effective at keeping the Democratic cats herded together.

Absolutely, the Kling post takes an interesting topic (what are the economic and social consequences of the diverse levels of lockdown that states and countries are putting into place) that a lot of people are writing about, and summarizes it in a particular dumb way.

Ezekiel Emanuel just said that lockdown needs to continue for 12-18 months, and he's running public health policy for the Biden campaign. I can understand wanting to run away from such a view because it's likely a political and economic disaster, but calling it a strawman seems disingenuous.

-when emanuel et al called for 12-18 months to indefinite lockdown was when we knew the demos were getting silly/panicky.
-all the ad hominem attacks from the mediamemezombies on the tv doctors media personalities last week obscured the fact that the media
couldn/t address the tradeoffs of long-term/indefinite shutdown and still oppose everthing the president says/does

But just like Trump can't force a state to open their economy, Biden couldn't force them to close either, right? Or am I missing something?

a lotta economy is controlled by the state
a lotta economy is controlled by the federal government
biden is a supermodel for a viral superspreader &
he did tell cornpop whats what

No, Kling is not creating a strawman. I think the post might have been prompted by a commenter on his blog that suggested staying in lockdown until a vaccine was available. (That's 12-18 months in the optimistic case btw.) The commenter's idea was that "non-essential" workers (people outside of healthcare, grocery supply chain, police, etc.) could stay home until herd immunity or a vaccine was established. I would say lots of people seem to adopt that view when the topic is "re-opening" the economy.

If you think this is a strawman, then you must implicitly accept that we must go back to work, i.e., "open the economy", even when there is non-negligible risk of infection because herd immunity hasn't yet been established nor has a vaccine been developed. If so, then fine. On the other hand, if you believe there is a path where significant portions of the workforce can shelter at home until society has been inoculated by herd immunity or a vaccine, then "Lockdown Socialism" is indeed an apt term for that.

(I'm excluding the lucky case where we will soon achieve herd immunity due to lots of heretofore undiscovered asymptomatics. The question is what are our choices in the absence of such luck. Kling's point is that Lockdown Socialism does not appear to be a realistic option.)

It's not a strawman. There are people with a cargo-cult understanding of the economy who truly believe the current situation is sustainable indefinitely.

They don't see helicopter money as an emergency stopgap. Rather, it's seen as proof that you can run an economy this way and take care of everyone but evil elites simply chose not to.

“American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food," Sanders said. "That's a good thing. In other countries people don't line up for food. The rich get the food, and the poor starve to death."

Have to agree the this is a total straw man argument. At this point is there anyone taking this seriously who doesnt understand that there are trade offs? Just because you come down on a side of the trade offs that is different than someone else doesnt mean that you think there are no downsides to your choice.


The past month has been the Left's dream come true.

As Karl Marx said: From each according to his abilities, to each a raw bat sandwich.

Aren't you happy your homeys Trump and McConnell made those dreams a reality? Fastest bailouts ever!

Why should that bother Trump or McConnell? The point of high political office in this country is not what it once was. Is is now about the perqs, the enormous income and bennies, the personal ego-stroking. Office is sought for the personal rewards it promises; it is the American equivalent of royalty... as long as you can get re-elected nothing else matters.

Or their worst nightmare. No more money to give out after this is over. Just loads more debt combined with depressed tax receipts.

At least in Europe the "left" is up in arms about lockdowns, especially in countries like Austria where the right is directing the lockdown. Just goes to show how much policy preference is based on tribal identity.

In any case, I would argue the lockdown is more the paleoright ideal realized - every child is now home schooled, rampant consumerism has been stopped, the family is once again the central organizing social unit, we are sacrificing our personal freedom for the good of the Volk, and everyone is cooking at home and baking bread. Rod Dreher must be loving every minute of this.

Re: every child is now home schooled,

In most cases the schooling is being done online by teachers, not by parents. Not quite what is usually meant by "homeschooled".

Yes, let’s trollishly use socialism as an epithet for something no one that can be convinced touts as socialism. That’ll work and move things forward.

For someone calling out twitterati for not constructively engaging with the content of your posts signalboosting this is rather hypocritical.

Isn't the heart of socialism getting something for nothing?

I am not at all a socialist, but I do know that "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" was Marx's original formulation.

The socialist dream was that everyone would work diligently for the commonweal.

"Free stuff" is just sloth.

Free Stuff is the current DNC talking point.

I am not a Democrat either, but I think "jobs" is not an uncommon word in their rhetoric.

For some reason they do prefer green ones to purple ones!

-5 for lying

You're easily in the top decile of partisanship in the US and your stances would be 100% predictable by looking at Democrat Party polling. You're also a single party voter.

You're functionally a hardcore partisan Democrat. Lying is bad, mkay

"from each"

I'm reminded now of an amusing quote, I think by PJ O'Rourke. It was something like "it didn't work out that way .. except in East Germany, because nobody has invented a political system that can stop Germans from working."

No, the heart of socialism is communal ownership of the means of production. If you want to argue against that, fine go ahead. But don't argue against propagandist strawmen.

A politburo is not a community!

I would say the “communal” aspect of socialism begins to break away once you scale past the level of the kibutz.

No -- it is a form of socialist thinking. That way of thinking includes the idea that in the short-to-medium term, it's not necessary (or permitted) for most people to earn their own living because the government can borrow and spend virtually unlimited sums to provide for them. So my state government established a default of 'forbidden unless demonstrably essential' rather than 'permitted unless demonstrably unsafe'. Ordinary economic activity is seen as unnecessary, trivial and possibly even unseemly (e.g. how could anybody even think of playing golf while people are suffering!). Limited exercise to maintain the health of the population is grudgingly allowed, but skylarking of any kind is not. And in some states, neighbors are even encouraged to report on neighbors (Stasi style) when they see violations.

This socialist way of thinking is also highly paternalistic -- individuals cannot (and will not) be trusted to use the available information, make their own assessments of the level of danger in their own communities, or determine their own levels vulnerability and tolerance for risk. And our de-facto socialized medicine is a major factor. The idea is that because government has determined that nobody will be turned away at the emergency room, therefore government assumes the right to impose whatever restrictions on everyone's activities and freedom of movement it sees fit.

The claim that "That way of thinking includes the idea that in the short-to-medium term, it's not necessary (or permitted) for most people to earn their own living because the government can borrow and spend virtually unlimited sums to provide for them." Is simply false.
The Socialist ideal is that people are more fairly paid for their work than in a capitalist system, and that the government tries to ensure that everyone has a job to work at.
BTW, I am not a Socialist. And neither is Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders has never encountered a socialist dictatorship he didn’t like. Come on.

No. The socialist idea is government owns means of production. Which essentially means that if you want to do anything for other people in exchange for something, you are not free to do that; you have to ask.
Essentially, if the government bans contagious situations - fine. If the government gets in to the business of 'what is essential', that is socialism.

Socialism refers to the ownership of means of production. What you are referring to is the welfare state which is not a question of production but one of distribution. The welfare state cares not whether your system is largely capitalism nor socialism. You can have a paternalistic/nanny state under either regime. You can also have a welfare state that is not particularly paternalistic or you can have a paternalistic capitalist state. These arrangements are all orthogonal.

Bernie Sanders and some others on the left in the U.S. insist that they ARE socialists and that socialism need not require government ownership of businesses but only strong government control and oversight. I'm willing to take Sanders et al at their word that they are socialists.

And this flavor of socialism inevitably leads to nannyism that restricts individual choices. So, do you think you'd like to volunteer at a California winery for fun and maybe to learn about how wine is made? Nope, sorry, not any more. Want to work as a free-lance writer in California? Good luck with that. Socialism (even the California lite variety) and nannyism are just not orthogonal.

This was very well-stated, Slocum.

Maybe the post is silly, but would it not be more disquieting if absolutely nobody had some silly thoughts in this direction?

What better way to make people feel they were living in a "simulation" than to blithely order them to pause for months, but not to worry, because their lives and work had so little meaning, and were only permitted because we weren't on a war footing - be assured that the government can and always could handle services better*; while also letting people know in detail which of their priorities were indefensible - you may be in the park exercising, but not sunbathing!; and all once and future arguments about the scope of government are wholly moot.

And don't forget to wear your magic mask, lest we pin a white rose on you. Remember the heroes. True, a lot of them work in nursing homes, and before this they were the very people that, abetted by not-infrequent reports in the media, you used to worry were mistreating Grandma, but let's face it, that was mostly born out of your own guilt for not taking Grandma into your home, and women's deep-seated need to complain. If you do have your aged mother or father in your own home, well - that's fine, but it doesn't qualify you for hero status, because heroes are necessarily in public service roles. And nursing homes must suffer no decline in status or importance.

This may end soon enough, but how much more likely it now seems that it will recur, and seem concomitantly less extraordinary next time? Or if Trump should be re-elected, maybe it will be thought necessary to do this for flu season. Or to redress other ills that can't be seen through a microscope ...

Released prisoners are unsurprisingly committing new crimes, sometimes multiply, while kids are bicycling in masks! (The most meddlesome folks on NextDoor, the ones who can be counted on at other times to lecture people about how they manage their pets, have seen to that. Meanwhile, those selfsame people are posting about ... where can I safely get my dog's nails trimmed? And how important it is to keep their favorite restaurants afloat by purchasing expensive takeout every day, or GoFundMe'ing this or that. I keep waiting for someone to reply, hey, having lost my job, or suffered a diminution of my income, I actually can't afford to help out with that, I have to retrench. I think there's a sense that the only thing we in this zip code stand to lose, is some of our favorite dishes, prepared just so.)

The unexamined life may not be worth living, but when it's the government - at any level - doing the examining - the result is just quixotic and absurd and uneven.

*Except for school ... if it turns out your kid got smarter away from school, well, I expect there's no virus on earth powerful enough to keep the government from putting them back in the classroom.

Well said, but didn't you mean white feathers? The only white rose folks that come to mind for me were awesome.

You comments about nursing homes are interesting. I have older relatives (in their early 80s but still quite healthy and living in their own home) who have been kicking around the idea moving into one of those fancy 'continuum of care' places. I'm pretty sure they're very glad that they didn't do it. And now -- just who is going to be willing to buy into those places until it's clear that the virus is gone for good?

I think there's a sense that the only thing we in this zip code stand to lose, is some of our favorite dishes, prepared just so.

Ha! Do you live in my neighborhood?

Yes, aaargh, feathers* of course, I'm very stupid plus I slept strangely late too, making me wonder if I might have the coronavirus, and hoping it won't hurt too much. That part about not being able to get your breath sounds awful to me since, as already admitted elsewhere, I am not even handling well the breathing in a homemade mask. [Also, if this is semi-permanent with the masks, we need MIE: automatic eyeglasses defoggers.]

Yes, I live in your neighborhood, if where you live it's chiefly the fundemic (masked and distanced, of course, in day after day of gorgeous weather).

*I saw a movie about Hans and Sophie Scholl, not having heard about them before that.

The idea that anyone wouldn’t have to work in a socialist paradise clearly demonstrates that you are using a very different meaning for ‘socialism’ from the historical one.

Harvard University, already supported by a massive $41 billion endowment, is getting nearly $9 million in taxpayer aid from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the U.S. Department of Education announced.

Contain the virus. Eliminate it. Practice Vigilance. In Australia we've contained it and we are in the process of eliminating it. As a result of this good news, business is picking up. While the hospitality industry is obviously still suffering, people are spending again. In a month restrictions can be relaxed. Tourism will still suffer. We might be stuck going back and forth to New Zealand for a while. But such is life. It's much better than the alternative.

In life you make hard choices. "lockdown socialism" or pandemic free for all. South Korea recently had their election and President Moon and the Democratic Party was re-elected in a landslide. His numbers were in the dumps prior to COVID but he more than made up for it by taking charge of the pandemic like a boss. Lucky for him the people of South Korea desire competency in their leaders and gladly vote for it. Moon will now spend his political capital on more income redistribution. Maybe it's better to keep Kling in the dark on that one.


Getting the impression that the reality that only the State can rescue us in a Global pandemic is worrying some people.

Getting the impression that the reality that a global pandemic will take a half million people is not a truth the Great and Powerful Oz cares for you to contemplate.

Yeah, I think everyone realizes an indefinite shutdown is unsustainable. The problem is some people want to have a stricter shutdown (a la hammer-and-dance) so that we can reduce and not just plateau the number of new cases as seen in China and Europe and therefore get out of the shutdown more quickly, while others want to get rid of the shutdown and accept that we are getting to some form of herd immunity. Both of these options are in my view much better than a shutdown that continues for many months. But if some people and states act to bring about the first outcome (which I am still leaning towards though not strongly because it may be too late) and others act to bring about the second, we end up with the plateau that we’re seeing now and thus potentially face the prospect of an indefinite shutdown.

I think the reason for the extended shutdowns is the above dynamic, not because there are many people who actively prefer this situation. Almost everyone is being hurt in their own way—even people who are economically fine and can comfortably work at home may have family members who are sick or stranded abroad (as I do) and feel severe anxiety for both them and for the long-term economic ramifications (such as potential stagflation when money-printing meets de-globalization) that will ultimately threaten almost everyone.

No shit Sherlock.

This strikes me as similar to the passenger in the vehicle that has just plummeted off a cliff pointing out that things will not end well. Clearly accurate, but how valuable?

This is a cartoon version of some socialist strawman. This site is becoming absurd.

Agreed. This post is so bad I think it might have ruined my morning.

Goo! You need to actually think through the policies you are supporting.

This is the worst public policy mistake, perhaps, ever. The value being destroyed for minimal gain is staggering.

Do the VSL calculation yourself. It isn't hard. Do it correctly.

You thinking that a cost-benefit analysis of the shutdowns "isn't hard" proves you haven't thought much through yourself and are sticking with what your worldview tells you must be correct.

Exhibit 1: it is impossible at this point (and maybe ever) to infer the number of lives saved by the lockdown, lacking any credible well-controlled counterfactual

Exhibit 2: an honest assessment of the uncertainty involved in the critical parameters necessary reveals we still don't know much at all. Ifr "could be anywhere between 0.1% and 8.6%" https://www.nber.org/papers/w27023.pdf

Do you even pay attention to the prog wing of your party?

It's not clear to whom Kling is addressing his point; a point well taken if it's that the cost of the coronavirus is being disproportionately borne by the working class (who continue to work at great risk in essental businesses). If Kling had directed his comment to the PPP loan program, I would wholeheartedly agree that it is poorly designed, with the bulk of the benefits likely going to the small business owners not the small business employees. Indeed, like the settlement from the Deepwater Horizon disaster ten years ago today, causation (that the disaster caused a loss of income) is irrelevant in determining the amount of payment one receives. Many small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) are not "small" in terms of the revenues they generate, a thriving medical practice for example. And many small businesses continue to thrive (again, many medical practices for example). Many small businesses that have been crushed by the pandemic will never receive a PPP loan, including the independent restaurants Cowen prefers. Kling needs a finer aim, using a rifle rather than a shotgun.

If Kling had directed his comment to the PPP loan program

He has broadly critiqued Congress' response programs.

>causation (that the disaster caused a loss of income) is irrelevant in determining the amount of payment one receives.

I'd argue that would be counterproductive in PPP. "Determining causation" would take weeks/months/years (between documentation and initial review/ALJ training/rulemaking/appeals), which is exactly what we didn't want to happen.

>any small businesses that have been crushed by the pandemic will never receive a PPP loan

So, your solution is to delay the funds even longer?

Hasn't been a word in the popular media about what all this has done to billiard parlors or billiards in general. Even coin-op tables in bars are gathering dust. This might be the death knell for the game since it would take some time for players to get their stroke back. At the same time the country is being plastered by the BS of the NFL draft, most of whom will never play in a professional game.

1) Schools and Universities shut down, but teachers, professors and many researchers are still working full time. The same is true for many of the examples cited. People who can are working from home. People who can't are not on vacation, but suffering because their small company, restaurant, service cannot operate and they are facing certain ruin.

2) I live in Germany, so I am probably biased. But I see it as a good thing that we (the state) is taking on debt in order to minimize the damage done to markets and market actors. This will allow trade to be brought back to the pre-pandemic regime as quickly as possible, once we have somehow figure out how to live with COVID-19 and co.

You cannot re-start capitalism from scorched earth. I am very happy that my taxes are being used to send checks to the stores in the city I live. I want to keep alive that bookstore around the corner, the restaurant that I and my family love, the guy that comes to install electric appliances.

I know I am not in the majority with these opinions. It might look like I don't like capitalism. But the opposite is true. We need to send checks to save capitalism.

In US most unis have gone online. They are not shut down. Some lower level schools have also done this, although it is harder to manage.

And, it's going to take at least a year to get a vaccine. At least.

I don't think anyone seriously believes that everyone can sit around in their houses for a year without catestrophic and irreversible impacts on the economy.

While it will take time to be certain, the Coronavirus might be eliminated outside of hospitals and people in isolation in the state I'm in. Why not do that? Where did the idea that you have to shut everything down until a vaccine is developed come from? While it is possible to imagine a disease that makes that the wise course, it's not this one.

And an effective vaccine is no sure shot. We could just be waiting for Godot -- ohhhh

And then someone from another state visits and starts a new outbreak ....

That's why we're going to eliminate the virus in all of Australia. Until then, we have road blocks controlling access to the state. If you try to walk it, you may die. It would take 7 road blocks. But it could be more depending on how they decided to do it.

To be a bit more clear, it's going to be hard to suppress it to the point that it stays eliminated outside of hospitals and people in isolation without maintaining the restrictions until there is a vaccine. Partly because it's very contagious, and partly because states are not sufficiently isolated that they can control people carrying the virus from entering.

it's worth giving it a try though... see how much you can lift restrictions before there's another outbreak.

'it's going to be hard to suppress it to the point that it stays eliminated'

Seems like the South Koreans have less faith in that perspective than you. Accepting that public health authorities will need to remain vigilant to contain disease outbreaks was considered utterly normal throughout much of the 20th century. To be honest, it is still considered utterly normal in veterinary medicine, where a number of quite problematic diseases are found in a variety of places. That international traveling Americans might be treated with the same perspective as African cattle in the near future is ironic in a sense.

Hazel's perspective is confusing to me.

Containing or at least suppressing diseases using NPI's has been done for centuries if not millennia.

Yeah, that's what they did with SARS - that only works when you know who has it and can isolate them. What we're doing right now is we have no idea who has it, and no way to find out, so we're essentially telling EVERYONE to self-isolate. Not sustainable.

Australia had 13 new cases yesterday. We are closing in on the point where we will identify everyone who has it or has been exposed to it. Then we enter the vigilance phase where we ensure it doesn't take off in the general population again.

We're way past the point where we can effectively contain this in the United States. There's 767,000 cases. South Korea stopped it before it grew much beyond a single church group. Unfortunately, due to the incompetence of the US CDC/FDA/President this thing is basically all over the country and we have no idea who has it and not enough test capacity to find out. They're still telling people who have mild symptoms not to bother going to the hospital. So we can't do test, isolate, and trace. There are all sorts of people who are asymptomatic out there spreading it around and we have no idea who they are and no way to find out.
And no single state can act like SK and test or isolate every single person entering the state - there are not border checkpoints on interstate highways.

Test, trace, and isolate isn't necessary to contain the virus. Simply reducing the virus's ability to spread will do the job. Testing shines once the infection rate is low and enables the virus to be eliminated from the general population much faster than just social distancing.

"Where did the idea that you have to shut everything down until a vaccine is developed come from?"

The chief public health adviser of the Democratic candidate for president.

Well, we know who is getting his 'knowledge' from Fox News.

Go find his quote. Please note he nowhere says we have to stay on lockdown until a vaccine is found. He says we will not have a return to normalcy until a vaccine is developed. Is this really a shocking statement? Even with herd immunity (a long way off) those awaiting in high risk groups are not going to be living normal lives.

I've found his quote - https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2020/04/07/ezekiel_emanuel_us_must_stay_locked_down_for_12-18_months_until_theres_a_vaccine.html

Here are a couple lines of it:

"We cannot return to normal until there's a vaccine. Conferences, concerts, sporting events, religious services, dinner in a restaurant, none of that will resume until we find a vaccine, a treatment, or a cure."

It's fair, in context, to think that part of what's he saying is that we won't have anybody eating in a restaurant or attending an in-person religious service until we have a vaccine (or highly effective treatment).

That would allow *some* loosening from where most areas are now, but it sounds pretty damn close to a full lockdown.

Which is strange, but there really seems to be no middle ground in some many of these American discussions.

South Korea did the hard work early on, and is now well prepared to look to the longer term. The Germans did considerably more hard work, and they are fairly well positioned to also look at the longer term.

The U.S. wasted weeks and weeks, and after that failure, is coming apart at the seams instead of buckling down to do the hard work that the Italians, Spanish, French, and British face. None of those nations are examples of a good response, but none of them have simply thrown up their hands and say these problems are beyond us.

It took a generation for Americans to stop believing their myths, and the result is not pretty to see, from outside or inside.

Surely there is a tipping point somewhere, where the disease has spread far enough that there is no point in attempting to isolate test and trace every person who has had it - which is what South Korea did. If you're basically telling 100% of the population to act like they have it and self-isolate, I would say we are past that point. We don't even have serotological tests to determine who has already had it so they can go back to work. It's basically, at this point, quarantine everyone until we have enough testing capacity ot test all 300 million people so we can find out who has been exposed.

> The U.S. wasted weeks and weeks

First you have to consider how poorly NYC did in all this. The link below is a picture of NYC versus the rest of the country in terms of confirmed cases. Yes, density matters. But there is far more happening in NYC that just density. NY state is the worst entity in the US and EU by far: 933 deaths per million. Belgium is the worst EU member at 503. Italy is 391, Spain is 446. France is 302.

NY is just bad beyond belief. And all that badness is centered right smack in NYC. You'll see this in the graph below from last Friday's presentation by Dr. Birx.

Compared to the EU overall, the US (total pop 3331M) is looking at 123 deaths per million. The collective EU (total pop 440M, UK not part of this) is looking at 190 deaths per million. If you take out NY, the US is at 72 deaths per million. An absolutely stellar number. Take out Spain, a country 2X larger than NY and the worst large performer in EU and you are looking at EU deaths of 158/million.

So, in short, you might criticize the US. But compared to the EU, the US absolutely rocked it.

Now, you might say "But what about Germany! They did it right!" OK, Germany is 84M population and 55 deaths per million.

If you took TX-FLA-CA you'd have a population of 87M and death rate of 28 per million.

Those three states rival the size of Germany and absolutely crush Germany in terms of performance.

1) https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EV9sT9EWoAA_3zj?format=png&name=900x900

Finally, ask yourself this: With the stats so clear to see, there is no debate that NY state and NYC are the worst performing collections of people in the free word. Just abysmal beyond words.

And yet, like clockwork, NYT, Rolling Stone, CNN, and on and on, all decide Cuomo was the leader we needed. The man who kept the schools and subways opened for weeks beyond where they should have been kept open.

The overwhelming consensus by the intelligentsia is that Cuomo was the best world leader in all of this. Bar none. Hands down! The NYT went on to explain that Cuomo was slow to close the schools because the cared "too much" about what parents would do.

There has never been a bigger example of mass incompetence sugar coated like we've seen with Cuomo. You want to talk about blood on hands....

Cuomo's pushing his luck, though -- a little of him goes a long way (especially here in upstate NY). California's Newsom will have the next at-bat to establish some national momentum.

One factor in Cuomo's favor is that deBlasio, his longtime bitter rival, is such a clod.

You are talking logic to prior_approval. He's a troll. He bashes the US at every opportunity. You make good point, but he never admit the other side has made a good point. He just trolls along somewhere else.

This blog holds the magical belief that prize money makes medicine fall from the sky faster.

It's more interesting than that.

Go back and ask: Why did the person(s) who funded this venture do so?

It may surprise you.

Ask yourself: What did the person gain who gave.

It may surprise you what are or can be motivations when it is unlikely that the marginal dollar means all that much. The marginal dollar is only spent on a winner, not on those who did not win. Now, ask yourself: Who gained the information? Are there agreements that the judges or benefactors cannot use the information for their own investments? Are they obligated not to disclose information they acquired as judges or reviewers.

Curious minds would like to know.

Caveat emptor.

The vaccine will have to pass through trials to win. And the “prize” won’t be 1/1,000 of the profit from being the first viable vaccine to market having passed phase 3 trials. So I doubt it’s a grand conspiracy.

Prior nailed it, it’s about branding.

I don't think the contest was limited to vaccines but could be any product.
I point this out because government sponsored contests (we call them grant applications) would have reviewers or judges be subject to conflict of interest or non-disclosure obligations.

This is a really bad straw man article. No one actually thinks that way. Sorry to see Tyler promoting it.

1/ Most of what was listed is not 'socialism'. And this is using the American colloquial definition of the term.
2/ Nobody believes the current arrangement is sustainable.
3/ "if you own shares in an airline, a bank, or other fragile corporations, don’t worry, the Treasury will work something out." You don't need a pandemic for this to happen.
4/ I like a good distraction from "yet another epidemiology" post but unfortunately this didn't qualify as good.

Is this not exactly what TC has been pushing?

Quarantine is an economic catastrophe and sorry that people may die but there's no alternative to an economically active society.

"Readers of the print edition of the Boston Globe encountered a grim reminder of the staggering toll of the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday. Sixteen pages of the April 19 edition of the Globe were devoted to death notices." I'm reminded of the casualties of the Great Recession: each Saturday the local paper included an insert of the foreclosure notices, the length of the insert exceeding the length of the paper.

One person's catastrophe is another person's salvation: the insert of foreclosure notices saved the local paper from catastrophe. I fear the paper will not survive the pandemic long enough to be saved by the foreclosure notices caused by the pandemic.

Context matters. That's 2x normal.

More context : Massachusetts has lost 1,700 people from COVID *from inception*. During a week Massachusetts normally loses 1300.

You are fake news. Stop it.

As tensions continue to boil over amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has placed large swaths of the nation at a standstill, a small group of health care workers blocked hundreds of protestors in Denver on Sunday afternoon, resulting in a dramatic showdown.

Which is odd, because Denver hospitals are way under utilized right now and were never stretched. The purpose of the lock-down to was flatten the curve and ensure the hospitals weren't overwhelmed. Mission accomplished. Now there must be a discussion on re-starting while ensuring that hospitals stay under utilized. The health care industry is getting hammered by this. Hospitals not dealing in front-line therapies for the virus are closed and are laying people off. People are missing chemo, hip replacements, etc.

The only thing I can figure from this counter protest is that the counter protesters hate Trump and they know the protesters like Trump

Facebook report:
I'm starting to see glimmers of dissatisfaction with the lockdowns among my mostly liberal-progressive friends.
One or two questioning whether people should denigrate the protestors so much. Another couple saying that Trump is going to manipulate shit so he can "take credit" for reopening the economy. And then a couple more going "this is starting to suck".

Sure, but isn’t the purpose of “lockdown socialism” a stopgap that isn’t meant to be sustained in the long term? This is just stating something that’s obviously built in to people’s thinking.

Timing is everything, including the timing of the second wave of the pandemic. If Trump opens the economy too soon, the second wave will hit about election time. Wouldn't Trump be better off waiting until the end of summer to re-open the economy? What's worse for his re-election chances: a devastated economy or millions of dead bodies lying in the street?

"if you own a small business, you don’t need revenue, because the government will keep sending checks."

Small businesses have been complaining that they aren't getting their checks so no Kling doesn't quite get that right. Go to any small business forums online and you will see them all complain about Pot Belly Sandwich Ship and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse getting their "small business" benefits while the big banks, Chase and Wells Fargo in particular, seem to favor their bigger customers even delaying those who filed earlier. And then the money for PPP ran out.


Cowen's post is a Straussian reading of Kling's thought.

For those unfamiliar, "Straussian" refers to a viewpoint that is so stupid and absurd that no thoughtful person can take seriously, so it is inserted between the lines of something that appears superficially coherent. Only the initiates, the truly stupid, will see the underlying text and embrace it.

A great novel take on the Ro for covid-19 by Kevin Systrom, cofounder of Instagram (one who you may argue that understands tracking and data like few others)


You are not reading other posts....

"Anne Frank spent 2 years hiding in an attic and we've been home for just over a month with Netflix, food delivery & video games and there are people risking viral death by storming state capital buildings & screaming, 'Open Fuddruckers!'" he tweeted on Saturday.

—Patton Oswalt

It’s getting really difficult to find anything on this blog that’s worth reading anymore. Too much trash like this to wade through these days.

Like being a native american invaded by Europeans.

I like Arnold's work and I get where he is going with this, but he whiffs on at least one these: "Professors and teachers are paid even though schools are shut down." Believe you me--my health policy class for MPH students is still happening, with just as much time spent teaching, prep work, and grading as ever. Maybe even more.

Thanks for posting this Tyler.

We need to *somehow* get the population to understand what is going on and how we're all suffering mass hysteria.

Under Libertarian Bodybag Capitalism:

–your children will be evicted from their homes because their main breadwinner died from coughing up pink slime.

–you must choose between risking death on your family by going to work or seeing your family starve.

–because everybody thought it was just the flu, they ran out of healthy workers at farms, factories, and distribution services. beef and pork shortages follow.

–people no longer work in nursing homes because all their patients died.

–police fail to protect your property because too many of them got sick and people with no government assistance during a crisis tend to commit more crimes.

–state and local governments will shut down from losing their taxpayers. A disproportionate of those dead were the asset-rich elderly. Estate tax cuts were particularly painful.

–if your small business fails from pandemic-induced revenue fall, then that's tough shit for you.

–if you own shares in an airline, a bank, or other fragile corporations, don’t worry, the Treasury will work something out. Everybody else is out high and dry.

This might not be sustainable.

Great. But like most emanations of wisdom, too late.

Seriously. Has no one anywhere done the slightest bit of thinking this stuff through before it happened?


This is describing a situation that can be fixed. Who has started fixing this, where, and how?


Got this in my email this morning. Someone has done the work of figuring out how to help, just a matter of doing it.

#3 or 4 on my list of things that I hope change after coronavirus (come on, we all have such a list, it's human nature).

I noticed one of the new-house builds in the neighborhood has the unusual distinction of being without *any* operable windows (out of curiosity I confirmed this with the crew); in fairness, that deficit would go unnoticed for years by most of my neighbors. But an acquaintance of mine whose greater TV-news-watching had taught her that the atmosphere itself was permeated with ronies, when the subject came up, said the answer was not "fresh" air but more HVAC, more filtration, novel methods of ventilation.

I remember a teacher reading aloud from an unbelievably boring (to a child) book called "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch" with the windows of our portable classroom open, the light breeze coming in, and my head dropping until my cheek was resting on the cool desktop.

Operable windows now!

Can we get past the wringing of hands stage please?

This is weird. I get his point. But it's a weird presentation of it, especially on a blog that was worried about the politicization of the pandemic response.

Also, it ignores the very reasonable argument that a lack of federal government competence (should we say "state-capacity libertarianism"?) helped create the "Lockdown Socialism" as governors implemented lockdowns to avoid becoming like northern Italy realizing that they were really on their own and flying blind. On the other hand, if the federal government had followed more in South Korea's path, or Taiwan's, or Germany's, etc., I think many governors would have held off on closing things down when they did.

"...police protect your property even though they are at risk for catching the virus...." is not proper English. In English, one says, "...police protect your property even though they are at risk of catching the virus...."

Long time reader, first time commenter, and I'm sure I be blasted for this, but...as they say on the internet "hold my beer."
Why is Tyler signal boosting this? I'm not saying Kling is wrong, but he's not really providing any thoughtful alternatives, and he's putting out at least one piece of misinformation (teachers, both in public and private schools are indeed still teaching, maybe not to all of their students, but as a public school technology employee, I have never seem more online education activity than I have in the last month). It seems to me that this is just a form of shaming - something along the lines of "anyone who supports a measured, planned, slow reopening of the economy is really a lazy socialist." If it's not, then why use such a loaded term like socialism? Perhaps, I'm being sensitive, but I certainly find it ironic that bloggers like Kling who have the luxury of continuing to work safely from home are the ones offering intellectual support for potentially prematurely ending state and local shelter in place orders under the auspices of fighting "socialism." I guess the alternative is to just let the virus determine the "winners and losers" (to use a phrase I've heard Tyler use quite a few time), except this time many of the losers will be dead, maimed, and/or economically devastated; but hey, that's the market for you, right? I'm also willing to be that Kling (and possibly Tyler too) will be some of the first economists to start talking about austerity and fiscal restraint as the recovery unfolds. Hopefully, I'll lose that bet, but according to Kling (and by signal boosting proxy, Tyler too), the money I owe both of them will be worth more as toilet paper than as a store of value. Man, I should have invested in crypto...

“ Perhaps, I'm being sensitive, but I certainly find it ironic that bloggers like Kling who have the luxury of continuing to work safely from home are the ones offering intellectual support for potentially prematurely ending state and local shelter in place orders under the auspices of fighting "socialism."”

You’re complaint is the same one Mr Cowen and Mr Kling are discussing. They are simply trying to show that there are costs to a lockdown, and the burden of those costs are falling in those that Socialism is supposed to help. Many of the privileged “elite” are sitting comfortably in their homes with their deliveries still showing up, while they Twitter away wondering why the unemployed masses won’t just eat cake instead of maggoty bread.

“ except this time many of the losers will be dead, maimed, and/or economically devastated;”

That’s exactly what Mr Kling is saying. If you’re going to advocate for a longer lockdown, you better be able to live with the consequences because it isn’t just COVID that can kill you.

Ah, but for those with capital...sitting at home collecting coupons on assets the Fed will not let significantly depreciate...is perfectly sustainable. Some people are loving "socialism" right now.

As a non-American, I'm astounded at the panic and hysteria and sheer lack of courage going on there.

In the rest of the world, we accept that this is an exceptional, once in a lifetime event that requires an exceptional response. Some form of lockdown is required for 2-3 months, then some gradual changes in how we deal with it over the next while.

It hurts everyone. It's going to hurt for some time. Everyone has to make sacrifices. But if you knuckle down, do your bit for society, help where you can around you, we'll get through the next month or two (it's been a month for most people already). Then we'll have to knuckle down some more to rebuild and re-organize.

The rest of the world can actually get this done without all the yelling and finger-pointing and hysteria and lack of resolve we witness daily from the US. Who would have thought the most powerful nation on earth would react the worst to a previously unimaginable crisis? The home of the brave?!

As a person of non-American origin - I am saying - wait for a few days and the yelling, screaming, back-stabbing, and finger-pointing will begin.

Question - For a few days means how many ?
Answer - In India May 4th.

I am waiting for the saviors of the worthless to begin yelling, screaming first. When I say saviors of the worthless - I mean - e.g. communists, progressives, leftists etc.

As a non-American myself, I am happy to see that the American people is discussing and contesting this policy and has a sane political debate while in many other countries (such as mine, which I love, France), people are following and approving a stupid and authoritarian policy like sheeps.
And that makes me proud to work in America.

It is becoming clearer that "state capacity libertarianism" means, roughly, that Libertarianism didn't turn out to be the Invisible Hand of behavior modification that would make Tyler's inner child feel justified, so he's getting on board with just telling people to they ain't living right.

Doesn't matter if we're talking positive or negative, liberty is all about who has it.

If like to see less energy spent on polemical ranting and more on pushing for testing, tracing, and isolating

Lockdown socialism also means they are giving oil away in America.

No, really, you will get paid if you have anywhere to put a few hundred thousand barrels of pure American fracked oil.

Of course, the current reality isn't sustainable. Great insight (sarcasm).

If someone is going to define a regime and give it a politically-tinged name like "Lockdown Socialism" it is intellectually dishonest to provide an incomplete definition. So I will help the original author out.

The original author forgot to include these important descriptions:
- you can have family you love, but can't visit them
- you can have friends and family you care for, but they die because of a virus and you can't visit to say goodbye
- you can desire to work, but risk your family's health just by working
- you have life plans, but need to put them completely on hold
- you can get a job offer, but see it revoked suddenly

His implication is that people don't want to go back to work when they can get money for free. I am pretty confident that almost all people would prefer living in a pre-lockdown world rather than 'Lockdown Socialism' once you add these extra descriptors.

If someone cherry-picks the data and hides factors that undermine their position - is that not intellectual dishonesty? Shame...

I mean, we seem to have become a society that values capital more than we value labor(ers), so why wouldn't the elite think they can just wait this out while the rest of us work?

Basically this situation boils down to the actually essential workers, people who take out the trash and clean your floors, grow your food and serve it to you, becoming much more obvious. The longer this goes on the more a radical reevaluation of our social order is in the cards.

For everyone insisting, “No one actually believes the lockdowns are sustainable long term, that’s a straw man,” would you agree that the current elite consensus is that “lockdowns must continue until testing is ramped up from 150,000 a day to several million a day?” If so, then the real disagreement is just over whether testing can be ramped up in however many months one defines as the long term.

This proving that the term socialism has been rendered meaningless by the endless assault of intellectually nihilist wingnuts.

Another victim of Gowdin's Law: the Commie Corallary.

OK let's play devil's advocate:

Why not? Fact of the matter is while a huge amount of work has withdrawn from the economy, the demands placed on the economy have gone down quite a bit.

Food production and distribution is very important and we overlook too easily the people who do it. They are a subset of the labor force and even here our demands have decreased. Food we buy and cook at home is less labor intensive than food that is made for us on the go.

Our homes robbed by people released from jail? What are they going to rob? Money? You can't spend it anywhere unless it's on food. TVs? Hahahah, it's not 1990 anymore Kling. TV's are cheap and kids don't even watch the big TV you brought, they will ignore it and look at programs on their phone screens. Police have a lot to do because everyone else does a lot. When everyone else does less, police have less to do. 90% less driving means 95% less accidents. Everyone at home means burglaries are almost impossible (no one is at work, leaving aside the question of what are you going to steal?).

- OK all the nursing homes are going to be empty because this virus is going to kill everyone that's old? Well then the people who work at nursing homes will be out of a job and won't need to spend money on gas getting to work, lunch at the workplace cafeteria, etc. etc.

"if you own shares in an airline, a bank, or other fragile corporations, don’t worry, the Treasury will work something out."

So we are going to tell people grandma has to die for the economy and they are going to....err....go out and fly the family to Disney world? Kling seems to think the shutdown is just something people decided to do one day to annoy him. Between safety and not people will choose safety and will remain unimpressed with pleas to consume for the sake of consumption.

Of course beyond a few months destruction will start to set in, but in the long run it could be creative destruction. People will re-evaluate whether it really makes sense to commute to work, if 90% of office buildings are necessary, if schools need to operate with classrooms and buildings. We may pull back on many types of consumption and push forward with new consumptions (home hobbies, gardening etc.) but the new consumption may not be all that labor intensive. The economy will have to reconfigure to changing tastes and lifestyles but that's always happening.

Theory here is rather basic. The first concept in many economics textbooks (which means the first thing often forgotten) is the concept of the production possibilities frontier. On the frontier, which is usually depicted as a 2-D curve even though in reality it is many dimensional, an economy cannot enjoy more of one product without decreasing some other product. Not making that trade off would be a basket of consumption outside the frontier, outside what the economy can deliver.

A corollary to this is that any pull back in consumption is by definition less malignant. When you consume less of anything, you by definition increase your ability to make other consumption choices. In other words the economy right now is in extreme saving mode. It is actually preserving the economy and its resources. That's a very natural response to getting sick.

1) We are not in extreme saving mode. It's the opposite. We are borrowing trillions to finance current consumption. Unemployment is climbing by millions a week. Quitting your job and paying with a credit card is .... the exact opposite of saving.

2) The supply curve shifted left, bigly. We cannot print our way out of this indefinitely.

3) This isn't creative destruction. Lucrative patterns of trade and specialization are being set on fire and destroyed permanently

4) This isn't redirection of consumption, this is a massive loss of wealth and income for millions and millions of Americans and businesses

5) You're mixing up the production possibilities frontier with the microeconomics concept of consumption vs leisure. What happens when there's a massive loss in income and wealth? In the hypothetical world of an 18 month lockdown you won't get a permanent shift in increased leisure, you'll get a semi-permanent shift in poverty and homelessness.

Lockdowns might be necessary now, but they are absolutely not sustainable for 18 months

+1. It seems amazing to me on an Economics blog, how many people don't understand that you have to work and produce things to have an economy. The US government just prints money. Without the means to raise money via taxation, the money is just paper.

Simpler version, is that if you don't work you don't eat. A country that doesn't work doesn't eat.

Yes maybe 10-15% of our work is to eat. Next.

Fiat money exists because it's accepted as payment for taxes instead of bales of hay, eggs or gold nuggets. It's supposed to represent the value of some asset. Currently one US dollar represents maybe 60% of a gallon of regular gasoline, 11 large eggs, the bill of a replica Chicago White Sox cap or 2 Patsy Cline songs on a nickelodeon. All of these relationships are subject to change but at any point in time their value can be expressed in dollars. The enpixelation of more dollars, dollars that don't represent the value of assets, make every other existing dollar worth less, as the Zimbabwe folks discovered when their currency wasn't accepted by the people who printed it.

This theory doesn't seem to hold together. The US did not become Zimbabwe after 2008 despite lots of money printing. It misses the desire to hold cash as a value in itself.

If the Fed prints a $100T bill and gives it to me and I start spending it like mad, you get Zimbabwe because demand for goods and services goes beyond what the economy could produce. The value of dollars indeed goes down.

If people desire $10T dollars to buy and sell things and $5T to hold as balances for various reasons (precautionary, speculative, etc.), then the Fed can increase money from $10T to $15T with no change in value. In fact if they don't then the value of money will go up as the desire to hold cash will compete with the desire for money for transactions (aka deflation).

Re: Quitting your job and paying with a credit card is .... the exact opposite of saving.

How many people are quitting their jobs rather than being laid off? Do bear in mind that people who quit voluntarily, outside of extremely limited circumstances, are not eligible for unemployment.

1. Reduction of consumption = savings. You're confusing fiat money and debt with the real economy. In other words, you're blinded by the scorekeeping system. Like asking how can a football team make a lot of touchdown..."where will the points come from?"

2. The supply curve shifted bigly? What goods have zoomed up in price? Oil? Hmmmm

3. Lucrative patterns of trade set on fire? How do you set a pattern of trade on fire? That is an empty concept. If people named Stan sell bagels to people named Alice, you can't set that on fire. You could set the bagel making machine on fire, you can set the person making or person buying on fire. The idea that A sells to B? Naaa

4. Well a reduction of consumption would decrease wealth. If I simply decided to make coffee at home for a year and not hit Starbucks, the value of Starbucks goes down. If everyone does that, it goes down a lot. Curious, you know financial planners love to do the "if you gave up your Starbucks for X number of days you'd have Y in the bank account at the end of each week/month/year.

5. " In the hypothetical world of an 18 month lockdown you won't get a permanent shift in increased leisure, you'll get a semi-permanent shift in poverty and homelessness." Seems kind of backwards. If I am worried about my home, going to Starbucks every day leaves me with less resources to preserve it, not more. A pull back in consumption preserves resources by definition.

Boonton, I'm not going to teach an undergraduate intro to macro class in the comments section. I'm going to keep this relatively brief, as one of the highlights of this quarantastrophe is that my usual weekly Monday/Thursday flight schedule is on hold.

1) No. Reduction of consumption is not savings. Reduction of consumption relative to production is savings. I'm not confusing anything. You don't seem to understand what money is. You don't seem to understand what debt is. I have no idea what point about football you're trying to make. But, you're wrong. Take an economy that produces 100 Boonton comments and saves 10 Boonton comments. Consumption of Boonton comments is 90. Now let's say this terrible economy contracts by 50%. Now it's producing 50 Boonton comments and consuming 50 Boonton comments. What happened to savings? You don't seem to understand what depreciation, production, savings, investment, or .... really anything about economics is at all.

2) You're reasoning from a price change, ugh. Both curves shifted left. Are you arguing that the supply curve is unchanged? Because that's so far from true and if 22 million unemployed workers doesn't make that obvious .....

3) I'm not going to teach you the theory of patterns of trade and specialization. If you believe in a friction-less transaction cost free world then you're living in a fantasy land already. From your example: now assume everyone is bankrupt and demand for bagels has cratered to zero. What happens to bagel makers? What happens to the capital invested in bagel companies and bagel making physical capital? What happens to their bank? Their landlord?

4) A reduction in consumption..what? I have no idea what you're trying to say about Starbucks. I'm sure it made sense to you at the time.

5) Consumption does not exist in a vacuum. You're assuming production stays constant and consumption goes down, necessitating an increase in savings.

This is exactly what is not happening . Production is cratering. If the economy produces 100 and saves 5 and Time=0, and in Time=1 produces 70, this does not necessitate an increase in savings .

0/10, this isn't even wrong in an informed sense. It's wrong in every sense.

+1 to Skeptical

(and -100 to Boonton)

#1 Well we reduced consumption and we reduced production. Which did we do more? Well if production went down faster than consumption we'd have inflation, and the 1970's type of inflation that only gets worse when more money is printed. Hmmmm check oil prices recently?

#2 Because we run our income support program thru unemployment. Are the 22M workers being shot in the street tomorrow? Tomorrow if the toilet paper factory says it needs 50 more people to run the machines @ $15/hr there won't be applications?

#3 Did someone steal the bagel making machine? Physical capital is still there and if people want what it makes it can be plugged in, if they don't sell it for scrap. Have you ever watched the businesses that come and go in strip malls and little shops? What's their half life? Transactions are not frictionless but small retail has a pretty efficient system of taking apart businesses and bringing them back.

#4. I'll give you an easier example. Suppose we just don't want to go to Disneyland. Disneyland's value would be destroyed. After all, its value comes from the cash flow it generates...no one wants to go no more cash flow. Are we not allowed to reduce our consumption then?

"5) Consumption does not exist in a vacuum. You're assuming production stays constant and consumption goes down, necessitating an increase in savings."

This is non-market based nonesense. Savings cannot simply be consumption less than production. If people decided to consume less, production would fall to match consumption. If everyone decided to boycott Disneyland, Disneyland wouldn't stay open running empty rides (production) and economists wouldn't be happy that all in the sudden savings has jumped up in the economy.

"This is exactly what is not happening . Production is cratering. If the economy produces 100 and saves 5 and Time=0, and in Time=1 produces 70, this does not necessitate an increase in savings ."

In other words if people don't go to Disneyland and Disneyland keeps running the rides empty that's production 100 in time period 2, no decrease. If they shut down that's production of 70. You're literally declaring the first option proper savings and the second cratering production.

I do see a point in your post. Some choices on the production possibilities frontier *must* be exercised. If you decide not to have bagels for a month, not much changes other than flour and oil is freed up for other possible uses. If you decide not to have them for a year, the bagel machine may start to rust and cannot simply be turned on to the previous production level. The production possibilities curve would shrink to encircle the consumption we choose.

That is why we all can have iPhones, Playstations, cars but ask for a $0.95 N95 mask for everyone in the country in a week and the system seizes up.

But this assumes consumption would shift back in a day. It wasn't built up to that level in a day . If people go back to buying bagels, they will do so gradually if they don't then their savings goes up, unless/until they find something else they would rather consume instead.

"You're reasoning from a price change, ugh. Both curves shifted left"

OK Oil has gone negative. But I suppose that is perfectly consistent with a net supply shock.

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
“Man’s gotta make a livin’.” “Dying ain’t much of a living, boy.

Food for thought:
Skeptical raised this in response to me:
5) You're mixing up the production possibilities frontier with the microeconomics concept of consumption vs leisure. What happens when there's a massive loss in income and wealth? In the hypothetical world of an 18 month lockdown you won't get a permanent shift in increased leisure, you'll get a semi-permanent shift in poverty and homelessness.

So let me toss out this hypothetical. Suppose 3 months and lockdown can end. But suppose those of us who worked from home decide we will just keep working from home, we're used to it and we like it and our bosses have gotten used to it too. Companies realize the 1000 person office building they've been maintaining for workers now only requires 100. We decide we like not going out. We take up some hobbies that change our consumption but they are things like reading or doing backyard gardens. This opens up some new jobs supplying those things but they aren't very labor intensive. We don't go to concerts or sporting events but we're willing to watch them on TV. We buy stuff online now and then but except for hoarders most of us aren't filling our house up with junk so this is limited.

Sure there's some going out. We still go to the grocery store. Every now and then something at home breaks and we replace it. We still have our cars but we're just putting very few miles on them. There are people with jobs that must be done outside the home. They never experience a traffic jam again. They too share this aesthetic and when their day is done they too go home more often than not and consume a lot less than they used too.

Gov't could declare the virus beat, the miracle drug cures all new cases and magic 3-D printing machine has created a perfect vaccine allowing in record time. But parents lobby schools to keep the online classes. The maintenance people says someone left the water running and the school building needs a lot of work anyway to clean it up. There's a shrug, it's worked for 3 months why not continue? Maybe classes are live but only 1 day per week.

So this is a massive change in preferences and lifestyle but certainly not impossible it seems. Yet the only economic analysis capable is 'massive destruction of wealth'? If the economies wealth depends upon me consuming lots of stuff each weekend, then it seems the economy should pay me a fee. Perhaps we need a negative consumption tax rather than the positive one right leaning economists advocate.

It seems economies should adjust to the way we want to live rather than us adapting our life to a system. If the only answer to this is "it can't be done like that, the system will crack"....well it sounds like the guy defending the system is more of a socialist than anyone else. "What comrade! You don't want to make left footed shoes, you want to open a coffee shop! Impossible, the 5 year plan calls for a million right shoes and a million left. If we let you do this people will live without one shoe! The world will burn!"

Destruction of whose wealth anyway? Seems to me the vast majority of purchases were made on credit.

Yeah, in my experience the people who preach the loudest about the unrivaled glories of the capitalist economy for unleashing creativity etc are the some ones screeching the loudest that the system cannot adapt to so much as a butterfly's wings worth of change.

True, but my piece is actually rather pro-capitalist. I'm pointing out the defenders here are being rather shrill and like over protective parents are underestimating the system they love.

There was even once a time when it was okay to believe that a democratic nation might be able to blend restraint on excesses while still tapping into the profit motive. As I recall, profits were motivated even back then.

City of Los Angeles just announced 30 free testing centers if you think you have virus symptoms. I do not know what sort of screening or study will result.

$7 trillion on pointless wars in the Middle East but some people get flustered about direct financial assistance to economically dislocated citizens during a pandemic.

First of all, let's deal with the blatant lie.

Colleges are not shut down. I know. I teach at one. I know a lot of people at others. Every single one of us has been tasked to complete this semester online. I meet my class as often as I did before, but I work even more hours trying to translate an online lesson into some semblance of a laboratory experience. If that's the level of Arnold Kling's honesty, he's an asshat.

Second, this is not socialism. This is what happens when you try to simultaneously contain the spread of a disease, prevent people from dying on a large scale, and avoid the total collapse of the economy. Even Arnold Goddamn Kling knows it is not a permanent state of affairs.

But let's note a few things about Lockdown Capitalism. (1) If you're sick and you're middle class or lower, screw you. Go away and die. (2) My right to be free outweighs your right to not die so don't stop me from wandering around freely and getting as close as I want to whomever I want. (3) And if you're rich? You can buy your health, right? Oh wait! All those people you pissed on in step 1 work for you and the virus won't check your bank account before leaping across.

Arnold Kling can kiss my taint.

Ultimately, a virus could care less about the social and institutional arrangements of humans. whatever it might be, except to say that it's goin' with the flow.

Too many of our elites are a little shy about pushing this message out there.

"Our" elites? Is Tyler really claiming he is not one of the elites?

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