Sentences to ponder, Mencius Moldbug coronavirus edition

“Anyone repeating lines like “the Trump administration has failed” is spreading an Orwellian lie. There is no “Trump administration.” There is an elected showman and his cronies, fronting for an unaccountable permanent government. The celebrities are neither in charge of the bureaucrats, nor deserve to be. Anyone can be excused for thinking either team is worse than the other. No one can be excused for confusing the two.”

That is from Mencius Moldbug, on the coronavirus, interesting throughout, though some of it quite off base I think.


Every once in a while you might think about sharing leftist thinkers and not just reactionaries and alt-right adjacent folks when you want to post out of the ordinary. Or is the fishhook theory real with you?

I'm sure having repugnant beliefs makes people "underrated", which is more important than "correct" or "good", or at least Cowen's lines of questioning say so.

Good observation

Moldbug is nutty, but he saw this coming. The public health establishment and bureaucracy did not.

Credit where credit is due for sure.

Because there is a shortage of leftist blatherers? Or are we to believe that TC's highlighting commentary by a leftist will somehow make you appreciate that leftist more rather than less?

He links to the NYT multiple times a day.

Mencius, like anyone eager for a seismic takeover, sees this as his chance for la révolution. He will have to fight all the other reactionaries and the communists and the race nationalists to win.

No, you don't get it. La révolution is coming whether anybody—least of all Mencius—yearns for it or not. We cannot actually afford to be this stupid, not forever.

There's nothing about the essay that is reactionary or alt-rigjt other than the brand name. Perhaps you ought to read it rather than prefix it with labels.

Trigger warning: Non-PC observations pending. Put on your adult diapers.

Government incompetence? Trump?

There were about 1 million people apprehended in 2019 trying to illegally cross the US border from Mexico. No one knows how many succeeded in crossing the border and were not apprehended. My guess is people do run the gauntlet unless the batting average is .500 or better.

So, about 3,000 people a day enter the US on land, while the airports now are closed to international travel. Evidently, global travel bans are an accepted tool against COVID-19.

Many people are chiding the US government for being unprepared for a pandemic, and clumsy in response. (BTW, the US stock market hit an al-time high Feb. 19. Who saw this coming? All those smart guys on Wall Street?)

Fair enough, let's bash the government.

But is having a de facto open border part of that woeful lack of preparedness?

Tyler Cowen has more or less suggested in the past that enforcement of immigration laws is not that big of a deal. I am too polite to mention certain EconLog types.

Is Trump’s Wall a necessity in a globalized economy with new cold viruses afoot?

The next time a duck farmer in India sneezes…do we do this all again?

If global pandemics are a once every five years event...whither globalism? How about economic lockdowns every 10 years? Do the benefits of globalism outweigh the costs?

Do de facto open borders for people make sense?

If global pandemics are a once every five years event
This one is like the 1918 flu and we have had one in between. That makes it, maybe every 50 years. Should we write policy based on a novel virus every 50 years? Certainly, there are a lot of generic prep like field hospitals and ventilators. Dunno what the rest of the concerns are, take them up with mother nature.

COVID-19 is nothing like the 1918 flu.

The 1918 flu caused over 50M deaths. This has caused, so far, 65k.

The 1918 flu had an IFR of greater than 3%. COVID-19 has an IFR between 0.1-0.9.

The Spanish flu was quite lethal to the young. COVID-19 is mostly lethal to the old.

Global pandemics may be rare, but they may become less rare with globalization, For obvious reasons.

And with various viralology labs around the planet, who knows if a virus will be artificially introduced or not?

Besides that sometimes a hurricane hits in one year and then another hurricane hits the next year even though that would be a statistical anomaly.

So, the question remains, do we shut down the economy again in 5 years due to another virus?

The problem with Trump’s approach, if you believe in restricting immigration, is that it is all for show. As Mencius correctly points out Trump is a celebrity playing at being a right wing populist. He doesn’t accomplish much other than feathering his own nest. A literal wall is simply a stupid and ineffective idea and was designed primarily to trigger libs. ICE seems to be following directions to be punitive and generate headlines, again to trigger the libs and keep the political fundraising going, rather than crackdown on US employers, without which there would be no demand for illegals. I

Only US are decent human beings! The others can't be considered proper opponents. They are illegitimate and so are their voters. Me and my friends instead have such a shiny, guilt-free past.

The US is playing out a grand experiment of how far you can take polarization without going into full bore civil war.

TC may dismiss people as not very serious, but on a variation of the economist joke, you can't assume away those people. Actually, they'll build up to high enough numbers to overwhelm you at the polls or with guns outside your gated Elysium.

From the article:
We thought we had the best government in the world.
Not so.
Each of us knows our government is mostly chaos, but we all have our special interest and we are willing to pretend to protect those priors.
"For the essential step of tracking, testing and isolating needed to control and eradicate the virus"
He wants status quo ante, impossible.

Plan B is the one we are following, we will accept the virus, it will become part of our system. This author is eight weeks too late, and likely there was never a moment when the USA could return to status quo ante.

That article has some interesting points, but you picked one of the dumbest quotes from it. Anybody who thinks a bureaucracy is running in the background, doing its own thing while the Trump Show plays on TV, fundamentally misunderstands both the operation of bureaucracy in general and the operations of the Federal government in particular. The executive has a ton of power to influence the machinery of a big organization and make it work better or worse, but it requires a lot of effort and a lot of competence along different axes simultaneously--staffing and oversight, but also things like messaging ("do the front-line employees at the very bottom of the ladder know what the goal is and how important it is despite the fact that they will never meet any of the principles?").

If the machinery is running badly, it is an indictment of the people who are managing it incompetently. To put it metaphorically, the Federal bureaucracy is like a battleship or an aircraft carrier. It is incredibly, unthinkably powerful, but stuff onboard breaks all the time, and people onboard screw up, and it maneuvers slowly, so all that power is only available in the moment when you need it if you spent every day and hour last month and last year making sure that stuff got fixed and people got managed and you were thinking ahead and positioning the thing where it was going to be needed in advance of the crisis. If the officers didn't do that stuff, it's not like the boat will just suddenly sink, but it's capability will be sharply reduced in the moment of need.

There is no "unaccountable permanent government." There is no quasi-magical Deep State. It's an organization like anything else. If it has lousy leadership it will perform badly.

The system is set up so the senators are middle managers. Each of the senate committees is supposed to manage budgets of the particular programs. They fail miserably at it, and the executive cannot overcome the incompetence.

Congress members do not function as middle managers of the federal agencies. They set policy, broadly, through legislation. The president and his appointees implement policy; they are the managers.

Budget politics is separate from bureaucratic politics. Moreover, the Senate does not alone control the budget process; the House has equal say.

Research Civil Service hiring and termination rules, try to find out many federal employees are permanent lifers, how many terminated each year, how many are actually working. One example, read about the 944 CDC employees who sued the Agency for discrimination

Try to find out how many discrimination actions have been filed against each agency, settlement amounts, how much agency effort and funds are devoted to employee complaints.

Which party controlled Congress and the Presidency from 2017 to the end of 2018? Elected officials -- particularly if they have the same agenda -- can wield substantial power over the bureaucracy. People can be fired with cause, laws can be amended, agencies can be restructured or abolished entirely, budgets can be cut, key people can be denied promotions, etc.

This just comes to making excuses for poor leadership and management. Or lack of any coherent governing philosophy within the party in charge.

Try a few moments of research on the civil service, You have no clue, Absolutely no clue.

Research the firing of the Intelligence IG. Try to find how many effective, principled, competent leaders in government this administration has fired for purely political reasons.


I get what you are trying to say and I don't think that the elected leaders have no influence on what goes on. But being on the inside of New York State government, I see first hand people dragging their feet and/or trying to avoid implementing things that Andy wants done. It is one of the reasons that Andy tries to centralize everything in Albany so that people can't do that to him. That has its own set of problems (people refusing to do obvious things because they are waiting for direction from Albany being one of them). Bottom line, Elected Officals can get their way if they focus hard but the agencies certainly have a mind of their own if nobody is looking. And even if people are looking, they can slow walk things in ways the executive can't really do anything about.

Who's Andy? Is that Cuomo, the incompetent who let NYC metastasize into a contagion instead of doing what Newsom did and quarantine ASAP? That stooge knows nothing about exponential numbers, and I even heard him say he wants the quarantine to end early! What a dope. I'm glad I don't live in that state.

My point was that you don't have to be a full on deep state conspiracy theorist to know that the bureaucracy is not very responsive to the executive's desires when it does not feel those desires are in the bureaucracy's best interests. This is true regardless of the political party that is in power. Andy Cuomo understand this very well and has spent years (longer then Trump has been in power) remaking and centralizing things in New York state government to try to make sure what he wants to get done actually gets done (everything for IT to purchasing functions is being centralized in Albany with terrible results from an effectiveness standpoint).

That certainly can be true but how, specifically, did Donald Trump try to influence a particular bureaucracy and how did a munity overrule his decision?

The U.S. has an astounding 4,000 political appointees serving in the federal government who can wield substantial influence, again, if they are competent managers and under the supervision of competent executive leadership. Trump has, in fact, failed to fill many positions -- especially positions that serve mid-level operational roles in the agencies -- so it is rich for his defenders to bitch and complain about the President's lack of influence in the bureaucracy.

A well-functioning executive branch has all sorts of ways it can reshape the bureaucracy from the appointment of middle managers, to budgets, various carrots and sticks appointees can offer for obedience, and the like. Having the cooperation of Congress makes the President even more powerful as entire divisions or agencies can be merged, restructured or abolished. Look at how the FBI and immigration bureaucracy were shaken up after 9/11, for instance.

4,000 appointees. 2 million government workers.

So one person who actually works for the administration for every 500 who do not.

And the political appointees have very little ability to fire the civil servants, which greatly limits their ability to make civil servants follow administration policy.

That doesn't mean presidents have no influence on how federal agencies behave, but it's limited.

Exactly. The failure here is largely in the White House. The US government is a lumbering and disconnected bureaucracy and most of the time we WANT it that way, for safety's sake. Changes are to be made by voting, deliberation and legislation. But this same reality requires the head of the executive branch to be forward thinking, to be on the lookout, and to provide the temporary coordination to be on top of emergencies. Instead this President dismantled the NSC task force created to do just this and he did not make sure that something was put in its place. We don't need a "temporary dictator", we just need a competent chief executive.

The bureaucracy (I won't make you call it the Deep State if you don't want to, but let's not pretend it changes anything) has been in an open rebellion against Orange Man from the get-go, cheerled by the seditious media and the think-tank class. It would not surprise me in the slightest if (as proven in the media) they were actively rooting to make this worse simply to spite Him.

The problem is not the leadership, the problem is (as stated in the essay) that our form of government is fundamentally incapable of managing this sort of crisis. It wouldn't be capable if we followed the letter of the Constitution today and it's not capable with a bureaucracy designed to funnel money to an existing power structure composed entirely of peacetime generals (some literally). It could have been handled with a high-trust society that viewed itself as a nation with a common goal, but that's pretty much the opposite of what we have now.

Excuses for incompetence.

Remember, "Trump is a hugely successful businessman (he's not) who knows how to get things done."

But suddenly that's not so.

Anyone, including TC, who makes excuses for Trump here, is a cultist.

Jared is in charge now, SL, so you can sit back, relax and know that those evil Deep Staters who just want to hurt the Orange Man and do bad things to society are gonna be handled ASAP.

This is Trump after his negative Covid-19 test on YouTube

"And it is neither the Republican politicians nor the Democratic civil servants who are to blame. It is both red and blue teams. It is not that one side of the government has failed. The whole machine has failed."

It has failed, but not because of this false equivalence.

Literally going into this, Elizabeth Warren lost, including at this site and with our hosts, because she had plans. The plans were solutionist, but a tad "too socialist."

And so we stuck, through the false start of impeachment, with the guy whose "plan" was to call her Pocahontas and call it a day.

Yes, America failed, but let's not pretend that failure was not the goal for too many people.

We have succeeded in drowning the baby in the bathtub.

Said straight up, pandemic preparation was "too socialist."

Pandemic preparation was opposite day. The socialist perspective, according to Obamacare, was to go to ER room when you have a disease. The socialism worked as planned, the ER rooms spread the disease.
You, personally never advocated a pandemic preparation when you were an Obamacare expert on national medicine. Neither did Nancy, Schumer, Bernie or Joe. If I remember, the nurses union said fine, come on down and we will treat you. And I do not remember any MD speaking up about hospitals spreading the pandemics, not one MD spoke up in the whole Obamacare debate. Yet hospital infection spread is a medical specialty all unto itself.

I know I did. I remember talking about Obamacare for its public health component.

People came back at me with the idea that personal health was not "usually" a public health issue.

I tried searching but there are too many zillion Obamacare comments in the archives.

You do not count, you are some anonymous homeless fool. (Smiley).

But there was a lot of talk about congestion in the ER room, that was closely monitored, for economics and pandemics.

Completely incoherent. Health care workers (who are socialists) are to blame because they made good on their training to treat the sick? And socialist Obamacare is to blame because it...helps people afford the healthcare when they have Covid-19? Got it, got it.

Wait, you are blaming Trump’s Pocahontas remark for sinking a hectoring serial liar who convinced hundreds of thousands of Primary voters of her lack of principles by tacking left, then to the middle, then to the left, then further left to confront Bernie? She couldn’t win Mass. Among women. Progressive women.

Ffs draft Cuomo.

Trump's base don't love him in spite of him being an asshole, they love him because he is an asshole.

And in case you missed it, which I think you did, the point is Trump never answers plan for plan.

He answers plans with childish taunts, and you love it.

Maybe he can think of a nickname for the virus and defeat it that way.

OMG, I forgot. He did, right?

He called it "the Chinese virus" to drive it from our shores.

I'd suggest opening google maps, typeing in w-u-h-a-n, hitting enter and seeing what shows up. It is in China, and from what we know so far, that is where it started.

Don't let your ignorance bother you. The Health Minister in Canada called a journalist who asked about the accuracy of Chinese numbers on the infection a conspiracy monger. That level of silliness seems to characterize the Canadian Federal government response to this thing.

Take that, virus!

Warren lost because she is the quintessence of racism (*) in a country where racism is, though awfully high as compared to most other western countries, only shared by a minority.

(*) Who else among major politicians shows their genetic analysis to show to the world the quality of her blood?

Of course you invite me into the weeds.

The Elizabeth Warren of 4 years ago was an extremely competent, data-driven administrator. Just who you would want here.

I haven't seen that Elizabeth Warren in a long time. Certainly not the past six months.

I'll go away for a while. If someone wants a challenge, try to answer the actual question:

How does drowning the government in the bathtub, or even just sequestering funds across all departments, address serious issues like pandemics?

Surprised there aren't more non-state capacity libertarians ("classic" libertarians?) thinking of non-government based solutions for solving pandemics. There are some half-hearted impractical solutions centered around pandemic insurance, but the best so far, courtesy of MR, is to let it rip and pre-state nationwide triage guidelines for hospitalization/oxygen/ventilator. Then everyone can adjust based on their own risk tolerance how much economic activity to engage in. Backyard mask making and ventilator production can happen from intrepid garage entrepreneurs.

The equilibrium for that state though is enough people voluntarily staying home or at home sick that you're simply unable to restart the economy due to labour shortage and insufficient AD.

Either way you're still out one quarter or more of top line activity.

Me, been doing it for weeks:

1) Home triage, not ER room is what docs want. Do not come to the hospital until your show respiratory distress. Treat the symptoms like a cold, call the doc, do not visit.
2) Congestion pricing, otherwise known as price gouging. Price gouging reduces congestion in stores, slows the spread
3) Bet he covid trials. Attempt to become a millionaire by pre-ordering dosages from the covid trials. This will speed up treatment definition.

1. Plenty of people are doing this courtesy of widespread PR by HMOs and hospitals. We're seeing a drop off of regular non-respiratory ER visits as people decide that their "emergency" actually isn't worth an ER visit where they could get sick.
2. Please elaborate. You want congestion pricing of what exactly? I assume it's admissions for COVID-19 treatment. Would you rather discriminate on price or triage based on likelihood of survival?
3. You run the risk of what happened with classic SARS. The disease fizzled out and demand dropped off a cliff for therapeutics and vaccination. Lots of companies never recouped what they invested to fight the disease so much that they're resistant to being drafted or changing from pipeline development to combat the latest epidemic.

Granted, fizzling out is less likely for SARS2, but you need to bet not just right but also on the earliest one. Bill Gates is rich enough to fund what he thinks are the 7 most likely vaccine candidates. How about you?

Would you bet on remdesivir or Moderna's vaccine?

We don't have to choose. Remdesivir is in clinical trials and allowed for compassionate use. I think mRNA vaccines have only been used in animal models so far but are promising. We need to try them out.
I don't think Hydroxychloroquine does much. Didier Raoult is at best a sloppy scientist and at worst an obfuscator and a fraud.
The Germans are trying out VPM1002 , an improved version of the BCG TB vaccine. They're in phase 1

I’ve been listening to this podcast of virologists. They’ve been doing the podcast every week for 12 years! Very informative.
The mRNA phase 1trials started last week. They also interviewed the lead on a remdisavir trial and while he wouldn’t say it, you could tell he thought it is unlikely to help people with severe disease, more likely to help with moderate symptoms.

I respond.'
The congestion problem in the ER was well known and a major bottleneck, it is fact.
The price gouging prevents huge crowds at Walmart jamming for toilet paper.
The over investment in covid trials is just fines, let their be few winners and many losers, it is irrelevant.

I don't recall Sen. Pocahontas emphasizing her "plans" for dealing with a pandemic. Despite being a bad candidate with sliding poll numbers, the fawning media who, like you, believe that she is some sort of policy wonk, gave her a disproportionate amount of time in all 3 of the February debates and yet nary a word was spoken about her "plans" for dealing with the CCP-Coronavirus. And no, Medicare for all with no--and then finally a sketchy--funding mechanism does not constitute pandemic planning.

January 28th.

As I said, Medicare for all, which is part of her plan, does not count, let alone fighting climate change. Nor is the left's favorite "plan": dumping more money on federal agencies and creating more bureaucrats. Of course this was little more than an attempt to score a political point for one news cycle, which quickly faded as she gave more attention to more "serious" issues like Bernie and Bloomberg's treatment of women.

I still haven't heard a good answer to my question. Or my sub-question.

The question is, if you're drowning government in a bathtub, and sequestering across the board, who is increasing funds for real problems like pandemics?

My sub-question was, if you are going to somehow do pandemic preparation (state capacity libertarian style) without a national health care system, who is going to do your last mile of delivery?

If you aren't doing last mile to everyone, in practice, your solution is at least partially "let it rip."

That is a last mile in the medical system, not a national health care system. You oulled the old apple to oranges on us.

Maybe you like Trump's plan instead, go on TV and say "take chloroquine, what have you got to lose?"

Like all those uninsured millions just have some rattling in their pocket.

(As he did again, just a little while ago.)


The key word 'amid'. What was her pandemic plan 'prior to'?

"And so we stuck, through the false start of impeachment, with the guy whose "plan" was to call her Pocahontas and call it a day."

It was a good plan; too bad he didn't get to use it. Not even MA wanted that dog.

Inaction is often as bad as action. The Gov. of Georgia, for example, pretending to have just learned that the virus can spread by asymptomatic people late last week is an example possibly of idiocy but at least equally as likely the corrupt incentives of this regime. The Governor knows no matter how many of his voters he kills, he is more likely with being rewarded up the ladder with an appointment from Trump if he hues to the party line rather than doing his job first.

He is responding exactly as his incentives dictate. As for the whole political apparatus, I think it's functioning as we would expect.

It's the job of the administration to publicize its actions and successes, even if they're just window dressing. They have an incentive to downplay a disaster, and when it appears unavoidable, pivot and spin that they did a good job preventing "millions of deaths".

It's also their political opponents' job to hamstring the response to create an economic crisis that they can then leverage to win power in the next election. I'm actually disappointed that the Democrats caved so early during the stimulus negotiations. If they had a wily Mitch McConnell equivalent on their side, they'd tactfully obstruct in order to slow the recovery and take credit after they win.

If the equivalence were not false, you're right they would have.

In response to Rick: How would politicians make it through an election year without donor class campaign contributions? Why would Congress or Trump delay a $500 billion campaign contribution stimulus?

Thank God the democrats never put the party first.

For all the talk of federalism, it is interesting how being an at will employee of Donald Trump is considered a promotion compared to leading the executive branch of a state. One reason is probably the opportunities for post-employment fame and fortune (book deals, Fox News contracts, lobbying gigs, Board appointments, etc) are much higher with a high-ranking federal appointment.

You’re so right Tyler. There is no Mussolini administration. Just cowardly Italian soldiers too lazy to fight for our beloved Duce.

The head of the CDC was appointed by Obama.

The head of the HHS was appointed by Trump. And Trump didn't listen to him.

To paraphrase Pauli, "...not only is it not right, its not even wrong"

Just as we read about Rome burning as the deranged Nero fiddled some two thousand years ago so Trump's psychopathic display of ineptitude as a leader and as a man will carry forward in the recorded history of this nation for thousands of years. We will survive in spite of him and will not forget.

The moldybug writer has never seen an actual failed state up close

You've always had a weakness for the specious. One of many things that vitiates the value of what you have to say.

I remember when Hillary made her infamous "deplorables" comment back in 2016. I considered myself alt-right in response to it. We were all alt-right at that time.

This piece by Mencius Moldbug has made clear that the alt-right. neo-reaction, neo-feudalism, or whatever these guys want to call themselves today, are so far off the deep end they are nothing more than mentally ill hacks pretending to be anything but.

Anyone who wanted "neo-feudalism" at any point during the last 200 or 300 years was already obviously a mentally ill hack.

Sad to say that so many think a solution looks like "we need a better Fuehrer". We need Fuehrung!

Having reread the piece, it seems to me that Mencius Moldbug is quite afraid of this virus and wants a fuehrer to protect him from it.

This is really quite laughable considering that a few short months ago all of the anti-Trump people were decrying him for being the "next Hitler" and the fact this virus is pure chickenshit. Yeah, I think this virus is chickenshit. If you want to read about a REAL plague (one that would really kill guys like Mencius Moldbug) I suggest you get a copy of the John Ringo novel.

Tyler, a quick search of the site indicates that you haven't reviewed "The Fifth Risk" by Michael Lewis. That would be a much better use of your time and attention compared to whatever this is.

Rather than promoting an alt-right blogger, how about posting something from, say, a political scientist who specializes in the presidency and bureaucratic politics?

But I get it -- economists love to pretend that political scientists, or any other social scientists, don't exist.

I think I already know what that sort of guy will be saying. We've only heard it a couple of million times already.

Take some time off Prof. Cowen. Stop blogging for awhile at least.

Probably the best comment I have EVER seen on MR. And I've been here ten years.

But no -- all he wants is the attention and the clicks. He will say literally anything to get attention and clicks. It is horribly, tragically sad.

I should have been more clear, I apologize.

Tyler and Alex are the absolute Poster Children of people who were driven completely insane by the fact that Hillary Clinton choked away the most-winnable election in the history of Earth. These two people are now demented and useless, and willing to say anything to promote the idea that Orange Man Bad. It doesn't even matter that they contradict themselves daily, or hourly.

Day 1: Trump is an idiot!! The USA does not have enough masks!!!
Day 2: Trump is an idiot!! The USA will not ship masks to Canada!!!

Don't worry. These idiot posters are valuable; just bet against everything they say.

And don't worry Ty and Al: I can copy and paste this post all day.

It is indeed interesting. For example, the part where he would have the Fed automatically turn all shares into cash and take ownership of the entire stock market. Then once the virus is beaten there's a giant 'IPO' where I guess the Fed will sell the shares back. Very interesting but what is that actually going to accomplish? He says it 'resets' capitalism but to me it just seems like it's forcing some 401K's to be in cash for a few months then back to shares.

"Once the virus is beaten ..."

But then somebody somewhere will have diarrhea, or the seasonal flu will make its appearance ...

It does amaze me how blinding ideology is. The people whose ideology is not flexible enough to handle a pandemic are stuck unable to relate to this as anything other than some previously known disease. File this under "just the flu fallacy". Of course nature doesn't play nice. There is no law of biology that says a novel virus is limited by what previous viruses have done.

Oh, I haven't the slightest what this virus is going to do, whether it will trouble us more than does the flu, ultimately: I was merely speculating on the government's nationalization of Wall Street, per Moldbug's big scheme, and the unlikelihood of its ever being handed back, while that was coupled with "all being well" and the America we find ourselves in.

What can you say? Tyler is one useless, adorable motherfucker.

He's a Hillary voter, adrift for for three years. He banked on Russian collusion, and died. He banked on impeachment, and died. Now he has thrown everything into Bat Flu.... only to find out that the Dems are the enemy. I cannot imagine the pure horror of being Tyler Cowen.

Daily at every press conference, Trump parades a display of inadequacy the like the world has never seen before.

To deny this very obvious fact is to diminish the reputation of every commentator who does so.

"Who can look at anything any more...a door handle, a cardboard carton, a bag of vegetables...without imagining it swarming with those unseeable, undead, unliving blobs...waiting to fasten themselves on to our lungs?... Who among us is not a quack epidemiologist, virologist, statistician and prophet? Which scientist or doctor is not secretly praying for a miracle? Which priest is not...secretly, at least...submitting to science? The virus has...struck hardest, thus far, in the richest, most powerful nations of the world, bringing the engine of capitalism to a juddering halt... The mandarins who are managing this pandemic are fond of speaking of war... But if it really were a war, then who would be better prepared than the US? If it were not masks and gloves that its frontline soldiers needed, but guns, smart bombs...fighter jets and nuclear bombs, would there be a shortage?... The tragedy is immediate, real, epic and unfolding before our eyes. But it isn’t new. It is the wreckage of a train that has been careening down the track for years... What is this thing that has happened to us? It’s a virus, yes. In and of itself it holds no moral brief. But it is definitely more than a virus... It has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to 'normality', trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it."

From the article:

"We thought we had the best government in the world. It is quite a shock to find we have the worst — outside the Third World, of course."

There are a number of problems with this. First, the United States does not have *a* government. Specifically, it has a federal government and thousands of others, each with specific powers, exclusive, shared and residual. Too little attention is given to this, particularly now when all attention (for reasons of both ignorance and politics) is focused on the federal government and a highly controversial president. But, the precedent has been set, largely due to partisan politics---the president now has the exclusive responsibility for the outcomes of any natural disaster.

Second, Moldbug makes a fundamental and important error in suggesting, if not stating expressly, that the worth of "a government" or, shall we better say, "a system of government", should be measured only by one criteria--its "effectiveness" in responding to a very severe but relatively rare phenomenon. This is a result of our collective inability to focus on only one issue at a time (I'm looking at you MSM and you bloggers whose sense of "relevance" and self-worth depend on being in the spotlight) which results in successive waves of national (and now international) hysteria.

For the first time in my relatively long life I'm undergoing a sense of despair for the future and particulary for the younger generation. This virus will pass, likely in my view, but certainly hopefully, taking far fewer victims than the dire projections. My greater fear is the long-term consequences of *our* short-sighted responses to it. If the future means that our (i.e., mainly your) economic prospects are destroyed, we fear or are even prohibited socal interactions with others, we are denied basic civil liberties and cede power to authoritarian governments, then we are giving up living because we are afraid of dying.

Last year in the United States 2,813, 503 people died of all causes. One day I will be among them. I hope we don't let our reaction to this crisis prevent you the liberties and the prospects of living the life that I have been privileged to have until now. The "worth" of any government is not merely in having authoritarian powers assumed to be needed to address a temporary crisis. To me, the "worth" is a government that strikes an appropriate balance, to quote that famous document, needed to "establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity".

But the interesting part of this article was the economic proposal... The culture war bits everyone is focusing are boring at best.

A hundred comments about the politics and two that mention the important point: if it's not perfect, it's illegal. Still.

Moderna delivered trial vaccine on Feb 25. Another 20 credible candidates were ready in the next two weeks. We could complete testing of all of them by early May and, assuming at least one is safe and effective, begin mass inoculations shortly after that.

We probably won't have a proven vaccine for another year because NIH/FDA still won't suspend regulations.

+1. I always find Moldbug interesting but rarely convincing.

But here there is a real takeaway: get war-time serious about vaccine testing. If it's worth spending trillions on amelioration, it's worth risks to cure.

"The Fed can reset it by closing the whole market out for cash.
In this reset, the Fed monetizes all financial assets — trading them for new dollars at the last quoted price. If you had stocks or bonds, you sold them all to the Fed.


Once the virus is beaten, the whole economy goes public again and is again priced by the public, in essentially a giant IPO."

I stopped reading at that point. This guy is as ignorant about economics as that Indian guy is about biomedical research (the one Tyler is touting, who thinks the solution is to redirect research to broad-spectrum anti-virals).

“Some of it is quite off base I think”
Lol. I want to post this but I also want to signal some non-specific disapproval so I don’t get in trouble.

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