Stopping time plus hazard pay?

You’ve previously publicized the clever solution to the Corona-crisis of “stopping time.”  As others have pointed out, a drawback is that we can’t stop time for everyone.  In particular, we need essential services to continue.

Separately, there is a significant case for hazard pay.  In principle we could let the market sort this out.  But in practice, we don’t want to spend the next month getting to the equilibrium with health care workers.

The current round of government interventions entail mounting distortions.

So perhaps a more efficient solution to all of this would be:
–stop time, but
–government sends everyone checks that can be used for food and gas and directly pays for essential services (public safety, medical, utilities)

The net effect is hazard pay for essential workers—they continue to draw income, but their rent/mortgage/loan/utility obligations are frozen just like everyone else’s.

As a ballpark cost: if 25% of the economy is essential, this is about $400B/month.

Expensive, but much cheaper than alternatives.

That is from an email from Philip Bond, University of Washington.


How none of these suggestions actually involve implementing a more than century old idea to keep companies like Boeing or GM running.

From wikipedia, covering the idea from several countries - "Short-time working or short time is a situation or system in which civilian employees agree to or are forced to accept a reduction in working time and pay. The term can refer to short-term, recession-related programs operating in several European countries in which companies have entered into an agreement to avoid laying off any of their employees by instead reducing the working hours of all or most of their employees, with the government making up some of the employees' lost income. Employees who undergo training programs during their extra time off can often maintain their former incomes."

Delta Air Lines has reduced ground employee pay by 25% and reduced hours worked accordingly.

In German, that is called Kurzarbeit.

My understanding is that in Europe nations are paying companies to keep people on payroll. They still have their jobs, they just sit at home.

In my humble estimation, we are destroying the economy in order to save it.

Lockdowns are a dead end, as we will still have a naive population and a novel cold virus at the end of any particular lockdown. Call it the "public health sector's Vietnam."

Hysteria and denial are not public policy. Covid 19 will claim victims, though perhaps not as many as the worst-case scenarios.

Voluntary sequestration of old people may make sense, as might paid volunteers to receive natural inoculation.

I do not wish to add to hysteria. But the economic ramifications, and then the socio-economic ramifications of a lockdown economy are catastrophic.

"My understanding is that in Europe nations are paying companies to keep people on payroll."

That's socialism. If you teach the next generation they can get paid to do nothing then Western civilization will be eradicated. This destroys the spirit of innovation and risk-taking that is the lifeblood of our world. Don't destroy capitalism while pretending to save it. Hand up not hand outs.

In Germany, that is actually the Second Reich, as the concept of Kurzarbeit comes from the Kaiser Wilhelm time, and was based on ensuring that vital industries for the expansion of Imperial Germany were protected from economic vagaries.

Presumably this would be the same bunch that came up with state-provided old-age pensions?

Bismarck was too clever by half.

True American, socialism is a matter of ownership and control. I think it would be more correct to say that the redistribution you are referring to is social insurance.

The virus is not a market event. It has nothing to do with the viability or efficiency of any given business or individual worker. As such we can employ extraordinary measures and not be concerned about market distortions since the market has already been distorted, in some cases destroyed, by a force outside it. Paying people not to work, besides have beneficial social (epidemological) consequences is similar to relief aid to the victims of war or disaster.

"But the economic ramifications, and then the socio-economic ramifications of a lockdown economy are catastrophic."

So is the moronic idea of letting a virus with significant mortality and even higher morbidity (everyone is talking about deaths but nobody is talking about how many people - including young people - will be disabled for life after infection) purge through the population.

The endgame should be complete eradication. Since immunity will not be permanent (but only a year or 2), there is simply no other way that doesn't destroy civilization.

Indeed, but what I take issue with here is "significant mortality and even higher morbidity". Covid-19 is certainly non-trivial but doesn't warrant "complete eradication" on a global scale. Particularly not so in countries with low social safety nets or in countries where an extremely high number of health issues causing higher mortality and morbidity. Probably leaves us with a couple of countries in the likes of Iceland.

(Destroy civilization!? You're trolling right... Even the Black Death didn't destroy "civilization")

Yes, the black death did not destroy the agricultural civilization of its time.

Our technological civlization cannot continue to exist if covid is not put under control.

Look, Alex and Tyler are more than ignorant and hysterical enough (Sanders will kill the American economy, and the FDA kills Americans).

There is absolutely no way that covid will cause the end of technological civilization. Instead, we will just return to the normal conditions of the 1940s, where people died from a number of diseases at a rate we have grown unaccustomed to in the following 3/4 century.

Nobody is actually stupid enough to believe such idiocy, leading one to wonder what (paid?) agenda you are trying to get people to follow.

1940s weren't an era of technological, service oriented civilization and the infectious diseases running through the population at the time did not kill 2% of it every 2 years.

So, yes, this virus will kill technological civilization if left unchecked.

John, or should I say Ivan。。。。。

At least if you are looking at Russia or Poland, countries which even today are not really noted for being part of technological civilization like Japan or Germany.

Can you point to an epidemiologist who thinks eradication is possible? How many viral diseases have humans eradicated? Only one I can think of is small pox and that took a very long time.

We eradicated SARS, it appears. By using straightforward and well tested public health concepts.

And by being lucky - SARS was considerably less contagious, and considerably more deadly, so there was no discussion about who cares about the costs of preventing a SARS outbreak. As a sad note, the death toll in just NY yesterday at 630 was close to the global death total from SARS at 774.

Isn't our current coronavirus arguably a re-emergence, though less deadly and more contagious, of SARS, ie, SARS-CoV-2? From my reading, it was already debatable whether SARS was merely contained rather than eradicated.

But even if we grant that there are TWO contagious diseases that have been eradicated, that's not the basis for a strong argument for faith that we can eradicate Covid 19.

Eradication is possible after a vaccine.
There hasn't been a single disease yet that is as dangerous as this one (yes, 2% mortality + no long-lasting immunity in a connected world is far more dangerous than 30% mortality + lifelong immunity that smallpox had in a non-connected, agricultural world).

So it'll have to be a first. It's either eradication or goodbye to civilization as we know it.

Absolutely no one without an (strategic?) idiotic agenda is stupid enough to write "There hasn't been a single disease yet that is as dangerous as this one."

Maybe our far right white friend is back, after taking some time off to enjoy the start of springtime in the Slavic world. Providing a hint of amusing sunshine in an otherwise gloomy world.

You're a moron and I'm right.
The fact that you are too afraid to even post under a constistent commenter's name is evidence enough of your intellectual inferiority.

Another evidence of that is the fact you don't realize that a disease with a high mortality rate that can only strike you once is less dangerous that another with lower mortality that is a constant source of epidemics.

Go hide under a rock, moron.

But really, wouldn't it be even better to say you are a moron and you are wrong?

So touchy so early after again gracing us with your presence shows that somebody probably had a meeting with their supervisor concerning being made to look foolish, since a basic part of the job is to avoid being laughed at. It reflects poorly on the supervisor, after all.

Big words prior_approval, for someone who was fired by their employer (GMU) for incompetence.

Remember the reason you're on this blog is your 30 year pseudo revenge fantasy via trolling and insults.

And the reason you don't use your handle is that you were banned

I think this worst-case scenario is a bit hyperbolic. The fatality rate is almost certainly not 2%, more like sub-1%. And even if you assume immunity is so transient, deaths over multiple iterations are not independent and randomly distributed, because the most susceptible will have already been killed. (Humanity has been through this before.. we usually just pay the costly toll and move on). Viruses are known to mutate to become less deadly over time. And treatment protocols will improve even if a silver bullet vaccine does not arrive.

Whether there's long-lasting immunity after exposure to this disease is an open question right now. With SARS, my understanding is that immunity lasted 3 or more years.

The question is how fast the virus mutates. Does it mutate only slowly, in which case immunity should be long lasting? Or does it mutate fast so that like colds and the flu immunity to one strain does little to help you against future strains.

No proof for any of your numerous assertions. I won't address them all, but I'll take care of the big ones.
1.80% have no signs or symptoms. So no proof in the slightest it will continue to kill 2% annually.

2.Absolutely impossible to prove that immunity will reset after two years among the remaining since it has only been around for five months.

3. A cleaner, more conscious public could solve this in two weeks by better habits. Testing, tracing and individual ans group quarantines could solve the remaining outbreaks.

"80% have no signs or symptoms. "

This of course isn't true. 80% are not hospitalized, that's the most you can say. If you think that not hospitalized = not having symptoms, you're a moron.

"Absolutely impossible to prove that immunity will reset after two years among the remaining since it has only been around for five months."
You cannot prove it but you can make an informed asumption. SARS protective antibodies lasted for 2 to 3 years and SARS is the closest virus to this one.

Point 3 means eradication - exactly what I want to happen. So if you are using it to disprove what I said, I wonder how dumb exactly are you?

1. It isn't true, obviously, because we know that the vast majority of cases are untested. You would have to have everyone in the world tested, repeatedly, to know the actual infection rate and therefore, the disease's mortality rate, which you and I don't have. I was wrong as well, it's apparently around 50% asymptomatic, in Iceland.
The additional 30% of tested show mild symptoms.

2. Covid has a significantly lower mortality rate, and higher contagion rate, so to assume anything about it before we know is not reasonable.

You need a hug or something, so I'll send one across the world, to you. Be at peace, brother.

This is happening also:

My dad’s an ER doctor. He just got off of a conference call. His hospital is cutting his salary - and everyone else’s that works on the front lines - because they’re losing money from non-COVID patients.

Cutting medical personnels’ salaries right now. I mean... what the ???

My daughter is a front-line medical worker and was told she’ll face a 15% pay cut due to fewer elective surgeries at the hospital.

We must remove shareholders and profit from healthcare. The workers exposing themselves to COVID19 deserve hazard pay, not wage cuts.

You’re strangely inconsistent. The profit motive for medical workers you deem OK. The profit motive for medical enterprises calls for the Communist Revolution

Some capitalists deserve praise. Others maybe less. I totally agree that it's complicated :-)

How do you spend your money when you're a gazillionaire?

Bezos: I want to visit space for luls
Thiel: Literally anything if it means I can live forever
Musk: I'll build a mars colony
Bloomberg: I will buy the presidency

Gates: I will just quietly save tens of millions of lives

The top three are contingency plans in case Bill doesn't fix stuff here. Assume these guys play things close to the chest.

I guess who you think is praiseworthy depends what your risk tolerance and discount rate is

I'm seeing this trouble too. Our health care economy is so messed up that right now the only way hospitals can stay afloat is that if there is a sufficiently large surge of COVID-19 patients to make up for the lack of elective surgeries. I'm a negotiator for a nurses' union, so I see this from up close; the hospitals are preparing for the highest possible census literally because they can't afford to lose the revenue from turning people away. How messed up are the economic incentives where a hospital has to hope that a pandemic turns out to be as bad as it looks to be?

Between that and the fact that millions of people will lose their health insurance if their unemployment lasts beyond the first of the month and it's clear that something has to change. Fill in your mood-affiliated solution here.

Most hospitals are non-profit. If they are cutting wages, it is from an understandable desire not to operate deeply in the red.
I do however have the impression that hospitals would operate in the red for a long time in prior years. Maybe that has changed?

Well said, Bob.

People like Uair01 - and there are many of them - have this mistaken view that most U.S. hospitals are for-profit. Some do exist - HCA, etc. - but they are a distinct minority.

Here are the stats from the AHA - . About 25% of U.S. community hospitals are investor-owned for-profit hospitals.

The predominant structure for U.S. community hospitals is private not-for-profit (a bit over 55%). The remaining ~20% are owned by state or local governments.

Thanks for the update!

@Bob Hertz
It depends on whether they have sufficient cash on hand; many hospitals are running very short on actual cash, which is why you are more likely to see things like layoffs. Larger corporations are significantly better protected.

Is not quite the same thing as being driven by a need to meet quarterly targets by cutting wages.

For those of us living in retirement off the earnings of our portfolio, the perspective might be a trifle different.

At the rate things are going, the Federal government will be forced to--once again--"flood the zone" with money to service (I won't pass the laugh test if I say "redeem") our ever-burgeoning debt. If so, millions will see their life savings wiped out and the consequent evisceration of the middle class really will lead to a very bad endgame.

If you aren't quite sure to what I'm referring, check out what happened in Weimar in the early 1920s.

Wiped out? Hyperbolize much?
Try "take a haircuit"-- much as many people are having to do.

The irony is delicious. But there's also some deeper message here, that I'm too uneducated to formulate:

I just want to point out that the majority of COBOL programmers are in a demographic that many people were absolutely fine with putting at risk less than a month ago.

Stopping time will never happen, because it would mean bankers and land owners wouldn't profit for a few months. Please point to times in history where either of these groups, basically the same, were generous or thoughtful to the plight of their subjects....I mean....customers.

I've been disappointed that Tyler hasn't included any commentary pushing back against the inherent contradictions in this "stopping time" nonsense.

It's not really "stopping time" because people are still going to eat and pay for plenty of other consumption. So the "stopping time" idea doesn't extend to paying money to individuals - whether that's in the form of wages, capital income, or government program(s) - to fund individual consumption.

The person who emailed Tyler the "stopping time" idea was in the comments there with the idea the levels of government would somehow directly fund "essential" needs such as food. That glides over the massive complexities of that idea, which would be an on-the-fly conversion of U.S. food production and distribution from a market system to some sort of centrally-planned, "ration book" system. It would be an epic disaster because the entire structure of this system would have to be built on the fly. We almost certainly would get the massive social unrest that thankfully hasn't occurred, because suddenly the population wouldn't know if they could go get food at a grocery store tomorrow.

"Stopping time" is a superficially attractive idea that quickly breaks down once one spends a few minutes reflecting upon the problems with it.

A proposal that isn't either daft or evil, (or crypto-racist).... on this blog! Maybe people are finally starting to... I was going to move past their ideological blinders, but then I read some of the rest of this comment thread. Yikes.

This site often just collects some of the worst people on the internet.

The idea that solutions need to be coordinated by the government is problematic and ultimately the frictions and long term consequences of this action may be the largest economic loss due to the disease.

For what it's worth, I'm not seeing a lot of appetite for hazard pay among nurses and doctors. The general approach has been, at least for nurses, is along the lines of "It's our job to take care of these patients; this is what we have signed up for. It's the employer's job to make that as safe as possible. We want safety, not money."

The people that hazard pay would bring back in, by and large, are those sitting at home because they are higher-risk: pregnant nurses, immunocompromised nurses, nurses with lung or cardiac issues, or those who have family members with the same issue and don't want to bring it home. But what happens when you bolster your workforce with the very people who are at increased risk of dying for the disease? Solve for that equilibrium.

Is the one concerning a late middle age man who fits into several of the higher risk groups. Reasonably, he is concerned with making sure that he will be cared for if required, and not what that means for anyone else.

After all, someone has to hand out the those prizes.

The local knowledge problem.

The quote... "As a ballpark cost: if 25% of the economy is essential, this is about $400B/month."

Perhaps this virus teaches some people that 75% of the economy is positional goods for conspicuous consumption and every Ford ought to be painted black after all.

IDK if it's been mentioned but messing with UTC in any way is an extremely bad idea from a technical perspective. You might as well throw out every line of code written in the last 50 years.

Seriously I'm for any CoVID plans EXCEPT the ones that involve BREAKING ALL OF THE COMPUTERS FOR THE REST OF TIME

Just stop talking about it or die in a fire like whatever way works for you man.

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