On reopening, Robin Hanson suggests a political economy hypothesis

So while the public will uniformly push for more opening, elites and experts push in a dozen different directions. If elites would all back the same story and solution, as they did before, they would probably get it. If they would say “We agree that this is what we did wrong over the last few months, and this is the specific policy package that will produce much different outcomes over the next few months.” But they aren’t saying this.

So elites and experts don’t speak with a unified voice, while the public does. And that’s why the public will win.

While the public tends to defer to elites and experts, and even now still defers a lot, this deference is gradually weakening. We are starting to open, and will continue to open, as long as opening is the main well-supported alternative to the closed status quo, which we can all see isn’t working as fast as expected, and plausibly not fast enough to be a net gain. Hearing elites debate a dozen other alternatives, each supported by different theories and groups, will not be enough to resist that pressure to open.

Winning at politics requires more than just prestige, good ideas, and passion. It also requires compromise, to produce sufficient unity. At this game, elites are now failing, while the public is not.

Here is the full post.  To be clear, none of this implies that a speedy reopening is the correct plan.  More broadly, this is an example of why we need public choice/political economy in our models of this situation.  It is all about the plan you can pull off in the real world of politics, not the best plan you can design.  A lot of what I am seeing is a model of “all those bad Fox News viewers out there,” and I do agree those viewers tend to have incorrect views on the biomedical side.  Still, while that is a very real problem, if you see that as the fundamental problem I don’t think you will get very far understanding our current policy dilemma.


Are we really so far from the optimum here? Isn't trial and error the ideal scenario? Let some states try to reopen, see how it goes, adjust course?

Can it not be my state though?

You are free to move to a closed state, fwaidy cat.

Oh yes, why not experiment. I mean what’s a few thousand more deaths in order to find out what infectious dissed experts already know!

Plenty of "experts" say we can open.

Pick your expert to suit your priors.

It may be thousands fewer deaths.

Nobody knows the future. The so called "experts" are mostly big mouths.

We DID experiment. Our experiment showed that unrestricted spread caused the outbreak to double in size roughly every three days. That's the data. It generalizes to a bunch of different conditions. We've known this for months.

Not a binary choice, it’s a spectrum.

We DID experiment. Our experiment showed that unrestricted spread caused the outbreak to double in size roughly every three days.

Nobody is promoting 'unrestricted spread'. Believe it or not but people do change their behavior based on new information even if the government does not order them to do this or that like children. You could remove every legal restriction tomorrow and people (especially the vulnerable) would simply not rush to pack themselves in airplanes, restaurants, subways, buses, cruise-ships, stadiums, festival crowds, etc. In fact, restaurants were already emptying before any shutdown orders were imposed.

So why do the legal restrictions matter?

Because the government may not be as good as the actual people involved in deciding which activities to prohibit, which to allow, when, and under what circumstances. For example, the government might decide to prohibit people from buying gardening tools but allow them to buy lottery tickets and liquor in the same stores with the same spacing and safety. Or, it might prohibit people from walking outdoors on spacious beaches with lots of virus-killing sunlight. Or, when the government tries to manage supply chains, we might end up with shortages of toilet paper, meat, and other items, just like what happened when the Soviet Union tried to manage supply chains. I know these are just extreme hypotheticals that wouldn't happen in practice...oh, wait.

We can either give people information and rely on them to do the right thing or we can give people information and rely on them to elect the right officials, who in turn somehow make the right policies, even though informed voting is irrational, elected officials face perverse public choice incentives and, even well-intentioned officials lack all the necessary local information to make sound policy.

Very good points. Governments should advise not require. Vulnerable people (old, obese, etc) should be more cautious than young people with no health conditions and with limited contact with older people. If you trust people they will largely be sensible.

How about defining 'reopening' first.

If you compare 10 different cities in the US and Canada, look at what they are actually doing as opposed to some notion of 'lockdown' or 'shelter in place', maybe some idea of what works and what doesn't would emerge.

Currently there are shelter in place orders to social distancing requirements. They are different. Currently we have social distancing requirements here, and businesses and restaurants, food service or any other activity that sets up systems to keep that distance can operate.

If that was implemented in New York right now, it would be called an opening up of the economy.

" So while the public will uniformly push for more opening..."

Well, right off the bat I don't think that statement is true. It's not what polls show and it certainly is not the attitude in my state.

It might be... somewhat. I’m all for some gradual “opening”. For instance small retail shops following CDC guidelines and only allowing 50% of capacity.

At the same time, I’m not going to visit those stores for a while.

About 30% of the population fall into boomer, silent, or greatest generation. So if a poll says 2/3 of Americans are against reopening, that means only half of non-boomers are against reopening. If a poll says 30% believe the worst is yet to come, that means ~0% of non-boomers believe this. In other words, of people economically impacted by the shutdown, most support reopening.

I see. People within generations have absolutely homogeneous beliefs and opinions. Everyone born before 1965 thinks one way, everyone born 1965 and after thinks another way. Next time I confused as to what to think, I’ll just ask you.

Don’t be dense. It’s back of the envelope. The political economy of old people is obviously to stay locked down as long as possible. The political economy of people with secure government paychecks is to stay locked down. When businesses make decisions to reopen, they will do similar math. My clothing store caters to older women stays closed longer than my sporting goods store caters to young surfers type thing. It seems inevitable that politics starts splitting by age as young folks go back to BAU while old folks stay locked up. We will also see services reshuffle as markets start differentiating more heavily young vs old.

Burn baby burn, disco inferno!


Yes, absolutely correct. This agrees completely with The Party's military analysis. A strong plurality, if not majority, of USA's highly effeminate society craves domination and to lick the boot. Although this will permit a rapid increase in the rate of established Party control of North American territories, it unfortunately portends an extraordinarily difficult and lengthy re-education process for reinstallation of masculine virtues to create potential for worthy service to The Party.

*clap* *clap* What a terrific piece of performance art.

Lol, funny

Even California's petty tyrants are losing their grip, forcing them to move faster to relax the lockdown than the SF nanny staters might like.


Yes, I completely agree. Saying without evidence that "the public will uniformly push for more opening" is ridiculous. In France, the public pushes strongly *against* reopening. In the US, it is clearly more mixed
but the public is far from pushing everywhere for reopening.
In the circle where I evolve (Academia) I know no one who pushes for reopening. Are they public, are they "elite" (I don't even know what that mean) ?

Lol! Why would academics want to "work" when they can get their money for nuthin' and the ch...

Yea, academics aren't exactly the restless meatspace member of the petty bourgeoise or retail worker itching to go back to normal. They're a privileged bunch whose work can be done from home.

Hanson provides a brilliant description of elites' policy preference: "But elites did not insist on any particular standard containment policy....Instead elites seemed satisfied to let the politicians and experts in each jurisdiction craft their own policy packages, as long as they seemed 'strong', involving much public sacrifice."

Elites don't care what the public does, as long as it's mandatory. Costs and benefits of policy are dispersed so elites care mostly about raising their own status rather than actual policy effectiveness. Advocating "strong" measures allow elites to demonstrate "seriousness".

There is a tendency to equate "the public" with Donald Trump's voter base, and "the elites" with the anti-Trump crowd, even though the reality is much more complex. Perhaps the error is so common because it's flattering to both sides.

It’s a fair point about polling, but I think a notion that lockdown would be a short-term measure is baked into the polling. If pollsters asked, “Are you in favor of staying in lockdown all summer / all of 2020 / until there is a vaccine?” you would get a different result.

Very strong pressure to reopen and that’s the wisdom of crowds.
Experts will unrealistically make you hunker until the risk is indistinguishable from zero. They mostly suffer from analysis/ paralysis.
Just protect the nursing homes is a strategy most people can buy into and it’s not logistically so expensive or difficult or unfair to the young and healthy.

@Cat - I'm curious -- reminds me of the maxim 'curiosity killed the cat' (and I hope you're in good health my friend)--tell us in broad brushstrokes what your age demographics and health status is, cat? Do you think you'll be in the 80% that experience no symptoms from Covid-19 or not?

Bonus trivia: RRAR = arginine-arginine-alanine-arginine --> the Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein of unknown origin, but speculated to be chimeric by https://medium.com/@yurideigin/lab-made-cov2-genealogy-through-the-lens-of-gain-of-function-research-f96dd7413748

RRKR = arginine-arginine-lysine-arginine --> the artificial virus having a spike protein created and published by Japanese / Chinese (2019) biotech labs

A mere one amino acid difference in the genome sequence, trivial for a skilled biotech lab like the WIV to do, and such a trivial difference means the DNA is very similar.

Medium article: "[Note the] October 2019 paper from several Beijing labs, where the new furin site RRKR was inserted into not just some pseudovirus, but into an actual live chicken coronavirus, infectious bronchitis virus (IBV): An interesting side note is that, as the authors point out, the addition of a furin site allows the mutant virus to infect nerve cells. Perhaps the CoV2 furin site is the reason why some patients with CoV2 exhibit neurological symptoms, including loss of smell: 'Infection with mutant IBV induces severe encephalitis and breaks the blood–brain barrier.'

Translation: the loss of smell and taste in C-19 is a function of this amino acid sequence, found almost identically (except one trivial amino acid difference) in a 2019 chimeric coronavirus known to both China and Japan scientists, and to Dr. Shi of WIV. Connect the dots, it's not hard. Shi created the C-19 virus.

Agree. The "experts" are mostly still drawing paychecks and they suffer no penalty for playing it safe, so they will be a force for digging in their heels. Except for some economists.

Nobody is in favor of forcing people out into public--stay sheltered in place till kingdom-come, if you like. What some are asking for is to be left to make their own decisions about what relative risk they will accept.

Worse yet, in my state, Mike DeWine is the governor. Not only will he suffer no penalty for playing it safe, being seen as proactive and decisive has gotten him tremendous praise by the media and has seen his popularity and approval numbers rise. So, what incentive does he have now to pivot towards "opening things back up"? And what's more, the other governors that have moved towards opening things up have drawn criticism from the "experts". Is there any chance DeWine wants to be lumped in with the other red-state governor's he has found himself distanced from?

I'm not saying he's making the wrong call or the right call, but as far as what is expected, it's clear that trusting the public to make self-interested choices on their own behalf is going to be seen as going against the so-called experts. The experts haven't talked much about tradeoffs and calculated risk.

Because the fed gov doesn't have enough to cover the losses of every state gov, so the state govs will have to cancel plans for things that people like. Homeless, substance treatment, green. State govs won't have money to pay workers, and they will furlough like crazy. Pensions will be hurt even further.

And the citizens will look around and say "Hey, FL had extra deaths, but things are almost back to normal. We have a few less deaths, but things are a mess. My trash isn't getting picked up anymore, by property taxes are going up 30%, 50% were laid off from the DMV, my green subsidies for my electric car are all gone, landlords are closing their poperties, and my dad, the state worker, took a massive haircut on his pension. Maybe FL did it the right way, and my gov+mayor did it wrong"

This is why Trump cannot bail out those places that opted to minimize all risk. Those that take an aggressive approach shoudl have lots of financial help. Those that want zero risk should suffer the financial consequences.

> Until the risk is indistinguishable from zero

That's how fighting a contagious disease WORKS. You don't detach your parachute a thousand feet from the ground, seconds after opening it, because you've successfully slowed down. The goal is to finish the job.


Here's the compromise that gets our society off with a minimum of harm & change:


You close TIGHTLY (NYC-level) for around three months, until your cases are reduced by 99% or 99.9%, then after that you practice precautions like personal distancing, event & transport closures and border quarantines, and you exuberantly throw resources at testing (10^6 or 10^7 per day), contact tracing, and surveillance, while keeping regional/city/neighborhood lockdowns in your hip holster. Hopefully that's enough to stamp out the infection.

The alternative, where we all catch coronavirus, is the death of roughly three million people (1% IFR), and voluntary/variable/informal/personal shutdown of the economy, spaced out over however long you want that to occur.

You think gov is like a Thomas Clancy novel, where everyone in gov is hypercompetent. They are not. Our gov is filled with c-team players that could not get hired at Google ever. They couldn't get hired at most Fortune 500 companies.

Our gov cannot even handle a normal election. The act of counting ballots without error is beyond the capability of our state govs. Our federal govs cannot even build a website for health care. Every single startup can build a website, and then as demand increases they push a button on AWS and scale it all over the world over night. Not our gov.

If you think our gov could manage widescale testing and tracking you are nuts. And if you think our population is coming for all the callbacks required, keep dreaming.

> You close TIGHTLY (NYC-level) for around three months,

NYC cannot do this. If someone refuses, are you willing to kill them? That is, you see someone outside and they want to hang out with friends. Then what? Beat them and try to cuff them? They still won't submit. You call more cops. More beating.

You will eventually run across someone will to die rather than spend 3 months inside. Are you willing to kill him for being out? If not, then your law is a paper tiger and it will be crapped on just as people are doing now. NYC didn't even manage 2 months of lockdown. They did 6 weeks of kind of loose lockdown.

> The alternative, where we all catch coronavirus, is the death of roughly three million people

There's a % of the population that won't be harmed by this, and it could be massive (see prisons). Nobody knows what that size of the population is. Additionally, the death rate for those under 40 is miniscule. If antibody testing shows 25% of people in NYC have had this (2.5M people), and roughly 50% of the population is under 40, then that's 1.25M that have had this. NYC had just 309 deaths in people under 44. So, around 1.25M people under the age of ~40 had it, and 300 died. That's 0.02% IFR.

Destroying someone's family business that is 35 yo for something that is far less lethal to them than a random car crash (where NO alcohol is involved) is cruel beyond words.

Let everyone self-select for risk. If you are scared and want to stay home, then stay home. I wear a mask and wipe down my hands with bleach water after going into stores.


"Destroying someone's family business that is 35 yo for something that is far less lethal to them..."
You act like 'government' is somehow responsible for this. It is not. The problem is that business has dropped off and that is due to people not wanting to take the risk the their - and their family's - health. I'm not going out in a crowd no matter what my governor says about being 'open' or 'closed'. I make my own decisions... as does almost everybody that I know.

If you make your own decisions, then stay in side. But if a 25 year old wants to go have drinks with friends, and they are waited on outside by a 30 year old waitress and drinks are made by a 33 year old bartender in a club owned by a 40 year old businessman, how does that impact you? You are inside cowering, watching TV and remembering back to when you were 20 and had a pair, remember? :) And in between episodes of Bewitched you can peek out the drawn curtains and report to your better half which neighborhood kids are disappointing you by skating and playing :)

Plenty of people will have a beer and BBQ sandwich on a sidewalk as soon as its allowed. And if the hospitals see things starting to creep up to a point they might be getting overwhelmed, then throttle things down.

ASU today just reported they are seeing strains of the virus get weaker, just as it did with SARS in the early 2000's. If Ro drops from 3 to 1.5, then places like NYC are on the cusp of herd immunity. In other words, those that went out and caught it saved those that stayed in.

Ironic, no?

Re: You are inside cowering, watching TV and remembering back to when you were 20

So anyone not into going out clubbing is a coward? Ok...

1- your parachute analogy is deeply flawed. It's a very strong obvious effect and your chance of death is basically 100%. On a daily basis your risk of death from Covid-19 is at least 5 orders of magnitude lower.
2- You assume lives have infinite value so that no cost is too small when trying to mitigate. They don’t ; on average each Covid-19 death is worth 13 years of life. Use your own number for VSL. I use 125k per year. Where is your cost benefit analysis ? Not needed uhh?
3- The IFR is not 1 % . It’s probably 0.25% to 1% with a median of around 0.5%. It depends on many factors. NYC is the worst case. The 3M number is deeply flawed too, the deaths don’t occur all at once, and people still take precautions, lockdown or not, so Ro has a lower value. If it gets to 1.5 then herd immunity works out at 33%. I doubt reopen with precautions has an Ro of >1.5, otherwise Sweden is wrong and infections should increase there. They’re not.
4- People are dying today from Covid-19, actually quite a few, and infections still occur . The lockdown strategy did not save them. Every lockdown is porous except perhaps in China so what guarantee do you have that we’re at 99.9% in 3 months ? Maybe it’s 6 months. The strategy to wait with a porous lockdown until the virus is extinguished is not sensible and an airtight lockdown at any rate is not possible in the US.
5- Reopening doesn’t mean getting everyone infected thoughtlessly. It means targeted measures and precautions like using masks when appropriate. The most sensible approach is to protect the elderly. Notwithstanding your cherished current lockdown measures, care workers still today have to go in and out of these nursing homes and Covid-19 deaths still occur there. They comprise 30 to 60% of deaths (in Europe). You’d think that would be the obvious concern rather than stopping people from running on the beach.
6- After 3 months of shutdown, you might well get these non linear economic effects that Tyler talks about. Renters don’t pay rent. Landlords don’t pay mortgages. Banks have too many bad loans and have to be rescued, hospitals go bankrupt since ordinary care is shut down. Businesses go belly up and can’t be restarted, in person services cannot be done and disappear, construction stops, because it’s no time to invest in anything except survival. Large sectors of the economy are moribund. Demand collapses:, who is buying cars, fridges, going to restaurants, getting a haircut, buying a house. The government is doing most of the spending.
Isolation is bad for mental health . unless temporary, it goes completely contrary to our nature. It’s used as punishment because of the emotional toll it imposes.
The idea that we’re a smart people but that the best we can do to fight this epidemic is to wait and sit on our butt at a cost of $ 1T+ a month for months on end doesn’t make sense. It’s a strategy of helplessness, breeding resentment between generations for years to come because of the lost opportunities of the young and turning a huge amount of ordinary folks into UBI recipients/serfs suckling at the government teat.

+ more than 1.

Very insightful and thoughtful analysis. It's arguably a far better response than anonanomie's take, which is either (at worst) trolling or (at best) bedwetting pessimism, deserves.

Still very helpful to have it spelled out, however.

Great analysis except for the following:

" on average each Covid-19 death is worth 13 years of life."

This is likely an overestimation.

Then why didn’t governments say that was what they were doing? They said the lockdown was to flatten the curve and make the epidemic manageable, not eradicate the disease.

Sweden has had 1/3 the deaths from Covid-19 as it had from flu last year, that seems quite acceptable to me.

Here in NZ, there are ‘body found in woods’ type reports in the newspapers every other day. More people have committed suicide due to losing everything because of the lockdown than have been killed by the disease.

True Dat!

To be as flippant as possible: I'm relived that we are no longer being sold S*** under the flag of "Oh please would somebody think of the children" but "Oh please would somebody think of grandma" might be worse. F*** the grey-hairs we need to get back to work!

The elites made a good call to close down, but they did it on healthy executive gut instinct. The goal was not to stamp out the infection. The goal was to ensure a controlled rate of spread into the general population. But the goal was not clearly articulated to the public, probably because it makes the decision maker look weak if that's all they can do.

Now that control authority has been achieved, the decision makers are sticking excessively to their policy, probably for the purpose of managing perception: "if your policy was so good, why did you flip-flop on it after a week?". So the rate of reopening is arguably slower than optimal because there is a "maintain credibility" term in the elite's objective.

@Tomas - I disagree to a degree: from early on #FlattenThePeak was clearly articulated, as a way to save hospitals from having to perform triage. Whether or not the average (dumb) American understood it as such is perhaps your implicit point.

Fair point. But that "flatten the peak" rhetoric is so abstract. There is an implication to the "controlled", as in "control theory": sometimes it means you push the infections down, and sometime it means you push them up. It's asymmetrically repugnant and thus asymmetrically politically costly.

I don't think this implication was ever communicated: "There will come a day when it is optimal to let infections rise. The only questions are how much, and through resumption of what activities, so that we get the most relief out of the grave cost paid." The trade-off of visible cost, especially in sacred units like lives, and diffuse costs in abstract units like GDP, is hard for elected politicians.

And no, that implication is probably not one that many members of the public tried to verbalize for themselves.

The abstract GDP units turn into tanglble bodies in the woods units pretty quickly. The disease cost curve and the isolation/unproductivity cost curve cross at some point. My guess is that they already have, but I know that they will cross sometime if they haven't already.

People who think the lockdown should persist until the disease is stamped out should try not eating and see how that works out.

And after reading further: the division of people into 'elites' vs the 'public' is both artificial and silly. No definition, standard or defense of that division is made leading me to believe it is rather an ex post facto division... persons are 'elite' because they hold a view contrary to what the author wants the 'public' belief to be.

The word 'elites' is being used for the same reason the phrase 'middle-class' is so popular. Everyone loves the 'middle-class' because everyone thinks they're in it. Everyone hates the 'elites' because everyone is in the 'middle-class'...

In this instance to attack the concept of 'elite' as hypocrisy is just going to encourage the semantic treadmill of euphemism replacement... this feels pointless to me. So yes... and no.

Also lets go find some 'elites' and run them out of town on a rail...
"hun, HUN! where's my pitchfork?"

These elites (with some honorable exceptions) did not listen to the experts about preparing for the next pandemic. Heck, even my doctor for no particular reason two years ago gave me an impromptu lecture about how accurate the movie Contagion was, and how we should be preparing for the next pandemic. So why should people trust the elite advice especially when we know they are not going to lose their jobs or income?

So, on Dec 2, 2014, Obama was not an elite, but an expert, in talking about a deadly airborne disease spreading in five years in his call for more spending, but McConnell, Trump, the GOP were the elites who loudly opposed trying to stop epidemics and pandemics?

Voters voting for pols promising tax cuts and spending cuts and regulation cuts which logically means voting for no protection against the inevitable risks to their life are the elites?

Lol black guy cheats off of white guys paper and forgets to replace all the masks he used allowing swine flu a much less deadly virus kill 20K Americans. Good thing Obama was such a fag or he would have been a comical stereotype of black talking not doing attitude. You

You sound like a happy, well adjusted, impressive individual.

> his call for more spending

Don't look at words. Look at actions. Obama dumped billions into green energy, adn those companies are now all bankrupt. He could have at least re-filled the PPE strategic reserve. But when push came to shove, he prioritized green above pandemic. His words mean nothing.

Our entire blue ruling class has prioritized green above pandemic. Hell, our hospitals have prioritized chef-inspired gluten free dining cafeterias above PPE. If a doctor tells you they knew this was coming, ask them how they could permit their administration to build new wings and bring in baristas before they had "banked" PPE. 1 health care workers needs 20 sets of PPE per day during a pandemic. A pandemic lasts 60 days. If your hospital has 500 doctors and nurses, then THAT ONE HOSPITAL needs 600K sets of PPE stashed someplace.

If your hospital serves a city of 500K, and 0.5% of the population is coming in sick on any day, then you need the ability to run 2500 tests per day. Do you have the equipment to do this on site? Do you have the latest giant robotic RCP testing machine, the one that needs its own giant room? No? Why not? Why did you prioritize a new cafeteria over this machine?

The math is that easy. Our health care system failed to prioritize for something everyone knew was coming and for an event where the math is so damn easy you can do it in your head.

As far as I can tell, the only sensible justification for continuing lockdown is the apocalypse scenario - where the virus is far worse than we think due to rare or hidden properties. For instance if immunity is very short lived and subsequent attenuation is nonexistent (“reinfect until you die” scenario), or morbidity is severe and very widespread (“everyone has permanent lung/heart damage” scenario).

Do we have any sense of how likely these are? That may be *the* critical question but there’s not much discussion of it.

I agree. And those possibilities seem very unlikely. There's no much discussion about them, because new information relevant to the hypotheses is coming very slowly. Only time will tell.

I have yet to hear a succinctly articulated rationale for continuing lock down. Nobody claimed the area under the flattened curved would be significantly different than the steep one (and there are good reasons to believe it would be bigger). It seems continued lock down is motivated by the same scientism as global warming alarmism - pure, blind obedience to experts/elites.


Correct analogy.


Fifteen children, many of whom tested positive for or had previously been exposed to the novel coronavirus, have recently been admitted to New York City hospitals with a mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19, health officials said in an alert Monday night.

The patients, aged 2 to 15, had been hospitalized in intensive care from April 17 to May 1 with various symptoms associated with toxic shock or Kawasaki disease, a rare inflammatory syndrome typically affecting children under the age of 5. None of the reported patients have died, though more than half required blood pressure support and five needed mechanical ventilation, according to the bulletin posted by the New York City Health Department.

"Clinical features vary, depending on the affected organ system, but have been noted to include features of Kawasaki disease or features of shock," Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy city health commissioner for disease control, said in the alert Monday night. "However, the full spectrum of disease is not yet known."

Kawasaki disease causes swelling (inflammation) in the walls of medium-sized arteries throughout the body. It primarily affects children. The inflammation tends to affect the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle.

Kawasaki disease is sometimes called mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome because it also affects glands that swell during an infection (lymph nodes), skin, and the mucous membranes inside the mouth, nose and throat.

Signs of Kawasaki disease, such as a high fever and peeling skin, can be frightening. The good news is that Kawasaki disease is usually treatable, and most children recover from Kawasaki disease without serious problems.

White cell side effects.

The white cell menu is limited, When it is covid day at the pig farm, a bunch of other white cells get crowded out.

Blow the bridges and quarantine NYC. Perhaps allow one of the 30 red states who have kind this things ass annex NY and run it as a colony. Red states burden.

I'm still confused about why anyone would listen to Robin Hanson. I'm starting to be confused why anyone would listen to Tyler Cowen.

What conclusions are bothersome to you?

What styles of reasoning, practiced by either Hanson or TC are problematic?

Total lack of domain knowledge, pushing inaccurate and unrealistic home brewed spreadsheet models, independently rediscovering modeling concepts that are already in epidemiology textbooks and then implying that economists discovered them, arguing against straw men that don't exist, making weird distinctions about masses and elites that aren't supported by evidence, picking fights with epidemiologists on Twitter, making weird plays to increase the relative status of economists, trolling the libs to get more attention, ignoring expert literature and promoting white papers from random computer programmers, making serious sounding comments about "there are tradeoffs" that everyone knows exists, pushing an incomprehensible Sweden is Different hypothesis that has already been debunked numerous times, intellectually flirting with people who want to continue the shut down as well as those who want to reopen, never quite saying what they think should actually be done but implying that they know the best course of action, etc, etc, etc lol

While I don't much agree with you, that was a pretty complete answer.

Well... yes, but other than those things, what bothers you?

But, I mean, do I even have to?


Specific and concrete criticism is best criticism.

"Total lack of domain knowledge, pushing inaccurate and unrealistic home brewed spreadsheet models"

But none of the models from the epidemiology models have done us much good not least because we simply don't have good data to feed into them. The idea that there are experts who can tell us (with ANY degree of accuracy) what will happen based on this set of policies vs that one is laughable. We're all -- epidemiological experts included -- operating by informed hunches, guesses, and the seats of our pants.

Also I missed Tyler's and Robin's spreadsheet modelling - can you give me a link please?

Actually I would trust Robin a lot more on statistical analysis than a random epidemiologist. At least he would know how to calculate a Z score.

"What conclusions are bothersome to you?"

"elites and experts don’t speak with a unified voice, while the public does"

The "free market" means there is no unified public voice.

In general, we can each speak in complete contradiction, ie, I speak for non-fossil fuel by buying cotton, wool, flax(linen) clothing, while you speak pro-fossil fuels by buying only nylon, rayon, polyester.

When it comes to health issues, the two views are, "no one should die", and "they should die instead of me", to provide us with what we consume.

The economists arguing the cost of shutting down are higher than keeping the slaughter houses running are not rushing out to sign universal liability waivers to work in the slaughter houses under work conditions that promote epidemic in the workforce.

Markets allow individuals to vote for the opposites with their money, while commie central planning provides the unified public single choice.

Don’t you think we have enough data and knowledge to believe:

1) Covid mortality is going to be 0.4-0.5%.
2) If one is less than 60, the chances to die of Covid are slightly higher than those of a flu (yes, just like the deplorable say).

I think we do. If you think so, I submit that the most logical course of action is the Swedish, which has also the additional advantage not to treat free individuals like moronic children.

It will happen? I do not think so. Politicians and “elites” are not going to officially state that they screwed up in an epic fashion. Therefore I submit that most of us (those youngish and without pre-existing conditions) have the right to simply ignore the bastards and go ahead with life normally, just adopting reasonable mesures, like not visiting nursing homes, washing hands often, not going to the stadium or the theater, and so on. Enough with this clown-show.

Covid mortality is going to be 0.4-0.5%

So 70% infected we get 1,039,500 dead. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Massimo: You assume we know all there is to know. Someone above put the new information on Kawasaki syndrome up. And you should spend some time reading about the Arizona virus mutation work. Or the surge in young adult heart attacks and clotting.

And yet again, even if we gave you your 'let those people die' argument (and I agree it is not an absolute but a sliding scale determination), it still does include the cost to healthcare resources to let all the seriously to dying stack up at once. In fact, the flatten the curve policy response has been a winner where implemented--now, we should be seeing if we can raise it some.

The Kawasaki numbers are very small. At any rate , it occurs in the population at the rate of 150 per M, Covid or not.
This is typical of a media scary headline.
As far as knowing all there is to know, we still don’t know everything about SARS-CoV. Insisting on this is analysis paralysis.

@ Wondering

I am not taking an attitude of “let those people die”. I am rather taking an attitude of “Let anyone decide for themselves the level of risk they want to take”.

The “outside” is where people live and work. If the outside presents a risk, you decide if it is worthwhile to go out, based on your scale of preferences, predisposition to risk and another 100 variables. What you can’t do, in my opinion, is to say: “now nobody goes out because I am at risk. I don’t care if you feel imprisoned or if you are going to starve. The fact that I am at risk allows me to forbid you to move around. By the way, this applies of course also to me”. It is not only unethical, it is also immensely stupid. If the guy stays at home anyway, where is the risk for him? Actually it is higher if the others stay at home, because if they could go out, they would develop herd immunity with time, and eventually also the at-risk person could go out.

Massimo was in Italy and was proud of the fact that he could escape quarantine by having masks in his car that he claimed he was taking to his brother.

Massimo, how many people died in Italy? Anyone you knew.

And, do you remember the Italian politicians who hugged each other and claimed that this would wash over the population?

I know it was Boris Johnson in England, What were the names in Italy before the crash.

Again Bill, I was not proud. I was just saying I was exercising my nature given right of locomotion, somebody asked how, and I explained it.

458 deaths per million, the 0.05%, but you already knew it. No, nobody I knew.

I know nothing about Italian politicians, it would be another way of wasting my time.

My home is In Centro-America by the way, And I am in Italy against my will. I cannot leave because they do not renew one of my kids passport. Covid emergency, you know. I think I might consider myself kidnapped.

I am 56, I have what, 25-30 years to live? That is 360 months in the best option. I already wasted 0.6% of my expected life in this forced prison. At my age, without pre-existing conditions and with reasonable precautions, yes, I take my chances. Maybe you like to stay home and consider the quarantine a blessing. I don’t care, waste away.

Beside, future mortality could be reduced focusing on high-risk individuals. It has been documented fairly well how quarantine actually increases risks to high-risk individuals.

Besides again, you write from the US, it appears from your math. I write from Honduras, where about 50% of population dine what they earn during the day. Try to go one month eating 1000 calories per day in the lucky days and then tell me about the experience.


You said you were in Italy in previous posts.

Did you move to Honduras because of the risks, or did you pretend earlier to be in Italy to add support for your comments.

He’s a long time commenter, Italian that lives in Honduras and works on some charter project IIRC

Bill, you are starting to make me uncomfortable. Your stalking is becoming closer and closer. I assure you I am an old fat and bald guy, unless you are a pervert I should be of no interest to you.

That was an excellent response, Massimo.

Bill, don’t be an snarky a-hole. He answered you civilly and clearly.

Massimo claimed he was in Italy in one post, even today, and in another post today, that he is in Honduras. He said: ' I write from Honduras, where about 50% of population dine..." and on the same day says: "And I am in Italy against my will. I cannot leave because they do not renew one of my kids passport"

It's not snarky to be observant, God, and maybe you can be in two places at once.

Or maybe English is not his primary language and he is using location as perspective . He wanted to say "You write as and American ...I write as a Honduran ...". I see constructs that are off when reviewing papers by authors who aren't fluent in English.

And do you have anything substantial against about his position or do you just want to say he is a liar and not engage with the ideas?

I agree completely with your reasoning but I think your figure are two pessimistic.

1) 0.4-0.5% is still in the realm of possibility but 0.15-0.3% is also. We know much more than earlier, but we still don't know the mortality rate very precisely.

2) is completely true, but I would add that all evidence is that Covis-19 is less lethal for kids than the usual flu.

But also 3) there are two informations that are still missing: how much is the R0 with very light measure of hygiene and social distancing (like people wash hand very often, wear mask in public transport and any crowded places where that have to be, and in general try to avoid crowded places)? And what part of the population is susceptible of being infected? This number x may be significantly less than 1. Those parameters are important to compute the final rate of infection (if we minimize "overshooting"), that is x(1-1/R0). The standard figure of 70% seems largely overestimated to me.

The 0.4-0.5%, is of the number infected, which never reaches close to 100% The annual flu season reaches only about 1/5th the total population. It may be less infectious than Covid, but we don't really take anything like the current measures to fight its spread either.

Even with the preventative measures we were practicing in mid March, COVID demonstrably spread dramatically faster than influenza, and demonstrably has a far higher mortality rate than influenza.

https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3590771 estimates an IFR of 0.86%

This post reads like a weird, confusing rant about different straw men.

If you liked the article, you’ll love the comments!

So while the public will uniformly push for more opening,

What nonsense. No poll shows that. Another part being missed is that 66% of the economy is still running. 33% of people are working from home, 33% have always been working and 33% are out of work with the vast majority getting their wages replaced 100%.

So odd for one post to have so much wrong with it.

I take issue with the uniform part. The distribution of those pushing for re-opening will correlate with age and region. Boomer+ will want things to stay closed as they don't need to work with social security and medicare. You have to imagine the folks who don't want to re-open in these polls are heavily weighted toward boomer+. If you take out the boomer+ and look at younger, its much closer to 50/50. I imagine if you then looked by region, you would see most people in GA, TX, FL, etc. are ready to rock.

If you take out the boomer+ and look at younger, its much closer to 50/50.

Why? 66% are working and the other ~33% are making what they made before on employment. How do you get to 50%?

On unemployment I mean.

I am saying if a poll says 2/3 are against reopening and you assume every boomer+ is against. That leaves 2/3, 1/3 of the remaining 2 said they support reopening, the other 1/3 didn't. That is 50% of non boomer in support. That is obviously a swag.

You could take it further and assume a lot of boomer+ are retired, and say that the 33% (half of non-boomer+) not working are all of those who are against reopening. But not everyone of those get more than they made before (most waiters/barbers/nail workers in my city working for tips can clear more than the "UBI"), and of those making more some will want to go back to work whether its to advance a career, get away from their family, have social interaction, or they don't play video games. I think we are close to 75% non-boomer+ supporting re-open in the coming weeks. The boomers will likely never support but some will. We probably top out at around 75% of total population re-open.

(most waiters/barbers/nail workers in my city working for tips can clear more than the "UBI")

That's why if you're eligible for even $1 of UI you get an additional $600.

And the 66% still working are by your definition not boomers as they aren't retired.

None of your math makes sense.

Here's an idea. Instead of assuming a poll (agreeing with your priors) link one!

I did the lazy but honest search here. I googled it, and this was the freshest on my results page a moment ago:


Money quote from Foxnews,

According to the survey, which was released on Tuesday, 59 percent say measures taken by their states have been appropriate, with 22 percent saying their state hasn’t gone far enough in reacting to the outbreak, and 17 percent saying their state’s gone too far.

And I say your titanium tax Corona policy doesn’t go too far enough!

...is binary: either "keep everything shut for a year full lockdown" vs "reopen everything right now like it never happened". When neither of these come even CLOSE to what we are supposed to be talking about.

F*cking depressing, this is supposed to be the smart blog.

I agree.

Also, I must say that as much as I dislike Fox News, the implicit idea that CNN and MSNBC are somehow better is ridiculous. All of cable news is a cesspool of ill-informed partisand punditry (some of which happens to be correct, on occasion).

Robin Hansen's hypothesis is very nice. What it fails to recognize is that the public remembers the reasons for social distancing/lock down, whereas the myriad elites appear to have forgotten. The purpose of the lockdown/social distancing measures was to slow the spread or "flatten the curve." This would prevent the healthcare providers from being overwhelmed. The idea was that more lives might be spared if the system is not overwhelmed. What the public sees is that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed, not by a longshot; and the public reasonably asks for looser measures until such time that the system may become constrained. What the public also recognizes is that this is a novel virus for which there is no vaccine. That means the virus will necessarily infect almost everybody at some point. The best we can do is treat the sick and protect, such as is possible, the elderly and the frail.

Not the point of "lockdown"!

Lockdown is quarantine- ie, isolate a population that might have disease in the expectation that the population will become disease free by 14 to 30 to 60 days of no cases of disease, measured by dead bodies in the streets to haul away.

Isolation, as health measure, applies only to know cases of infection.

Lockdown and quarantine historically are done in ignorance.

The Trump administration has done lockdown and quarantine by his "travel bans" in complete ignorance.

Deadly airborne and bodily contact diseases are constantly spreading, or at threat of spreading, but informed public health policy limits the spread and risk.

In my youth, TB was a big threat, but testing existed and was used extensively to find and isolate those infected with all contacts loosely quarantined and repeatedly tested. This has made it rare in the US, but not eliminated. In the 50s, TB vaccination was not considered safe and effective but today is used in most places TB is common. But the US with few cases does not vaccinate exposing us to TB from travel(ers). But testing for TB is easy and public health has good contact tracing.

For SARS-Cov2 we lack good testing. We are totally lacking in contact tracing.

Both can be provided by paying workers, estimated at a million workers to bring the US epidemic to an end. A million workers at $100,000 is $100B.

To conservatives, paying a million workers a hundred billion is too costly, and the high cost kills jobs.

Instead, conservatives are eager for government to pay corporations a trillion dollars in borrowed money, even if leftists require it go through the pockets of unemployed workers.

The one solution never given by economists since Friedman's free lunch economics have become fully mainstream is "pay workers to work solving problems".

The GOP is 100% opposed to paying workers to work. The old GOP screwed the current GOP by creating the 13th Amendment.

So, lockdown is surrender to pandemic with no exit or other than surrender to dying in pandemic.

Coronavirus are endemic in humans, and the four common ones circulate constantly causing "common cold", of which a fraction result in complications leading to hospitalization and death. "Full" immunity is short lived. Unlike Type A flu viruses, coronavirus do not mutate rapidly, but unlike flu virus, they offer not easy target to trigger an immune response, even in the part that does mutate.

After all, the solution to a shortage of PPEs is easy for a Keynesian like me: pay workers to build PPE factories in the US.

For the conservative business friendly Trump administration and GOP, the solution is to attempt to gain control over China so it exports more PPE to the US. The latest Trump attack is China stopped exporting PPE to the US so it would hurt the US. Trump has not used defense production power to order increased building of PPE production in the US, because that would require paying US workers to work, and paying workers to work costs too much, and the high costs kill jobs.

Sorry bitch- we are open for business fatty

This screed was truly insane.

Go outside, get some fresh air.

This prejudicial framing of the public vs. the elites ruin what would otherwise be a good piece about people being undecided about what to do so there is a likelihood of reopening by default.

In reality, polls show that the large majority of the public supports continued lockdowns, and higher-income people (used as a proxy for elites) are no more likely to support continued lockdowns than lower-income people.

See this poll for instance where 76% of respondents said we should continue social distancing for as long as needed to curb the virus even if it means continued economic damage: https://www.politico.com/f/?id=00000171-9faa-d9a7-af77-ffeb5f250000&nname=playbook&nid=0000014f-1646-d88f-a1cf-5f46b7bd0000&nrid=0000016c-a5de-d088-a3ef-b7df92720000&nlid=630318

Of course that doesn’t mean the public is right; I think there is a quite good argument that the lockdowns are now futile and are doing more harm than good. Nevertheless, it’s a bit delusional to say that a view that every poll suggests is held by a minority of the public, and frequently only a small minority of the public, somehow represents undivided public opinion against a cabal of elites.

The California poll from today shows a different consensus:
Remain closed indefinitely: 36% vs Reopen now: 41%

So more people lean towards opening sooner rather than later.

"Q4: An alternative proposal has emerged for reopening California. Under this proposal, individual businesses could reopen only if they adhered to strict sanitation and social distancing standards "
Support: 72%


Yes, I think that’s more realistic. Poll results vary according to how the questions are posed.
1- Reopen without conditions, 2- reopen with some conditions.
I think most people are ok with 2-

The lockdown freikorps didn’t learn the lesson of the the Iraq War it is extremely easy to panic western countries into wide spread support for an undertaking. But they better plant some WMDs in Belarus because even they six bruthas playing basketball at park were talking about how “over in belrus they ain’t done a thing and no one is dying.” Outside of NYS The mood has quickly moved to-typical NYC fuck up that we are paying the price for.

Universal demand for getting out there with the virus? Says which poll? Is this after the Brechtian dissolution of the people and election of another?


Elvis Was King, Ike Was President, and 116,000 Americans Died in a Pandemic
The same year we had 38000 deaths. We also had larger families and half the population. What was the population growth? This seems a bit unusual that we could have forgotten or not bothered at the time.

Because when you cannot do anything (vaccines and their efficacy were just starting out in the early/mid '50s), you have to accept the losses as part of life. When you realize you do not have to just sit and wait, you get bothered and try to do something about it.

COVID-19 is getting us bothered and bewildered because it is like a flu but we cannot get our shots and avoid it (if we want to) like a flu. So, being in the family of what we can stop or greatly hinder, yet cannot, it causes an upwelling of support for new measures. People think, "I shouldn't have to risk my or my loved ones' lives for a flu, so how do I stop that?" Restricting travel and flattening the curve were the offered solutions and had and have significant support. If it becomes apparent there is no vaccine or immunity, it will cause some societal distancing alterations and some 'it's just part of life and we have to accept it'. But that will take a while.

We are now conditioned to believe that we will always be bailed out - financially, medically, scientifically. It is very difficult to accept facts contrary to that. Look a the stock market, the continued denial of facts by Trump, the 'open now' demonstrators... it's Wile E. Coyote clinging to hopes from Acme.

Oh for f's sake Tyler. You and 95% of the commentariat are completely full of shit and have become completely insufferable. Just admit, without a bunch of bullshit qualifiers to make sure all your friends know that you still hold the correct beliefs, that the "elites" or "experts" or "economists" have been almost universally wrong in their models, beliefs, and strategies to address this pandemic.

Tyler, you need to hear this: you and your cohorts in academia and the media have universally pushed a policy response that is putting millions of people out of work, and in some cases permanently restructuring our economy. You've done it with near zero analysis of the wisdom of that policy or any externalities of that policy. It's incredible.

And why on earth would I think that you, as opposed to the random Fox News viewer of your imagination, has the "correct" view of the "biomedical side". Because you're buddies with the guys who run Vox? Because you spend a few hours a day on twitter? It seems like just a few days ago you were claiming, in the same post, that epidemiologists were pretty dumb and their models were all completely wrong, but you still "fully supported" a complete lockdown of the global economy. I guess Ezra Klein must have more impressive GRE scores to keep you on board the shutdown train. Alex is super-impressed by some guy talking to a hundred gay male escorts to research "commodification". I guess I should listen to that guy on the best shutdown model as well? Give me a break with you dipshits.

I hope the next version of your textbook has a chapter on lol that time Alex and I, and 99% of academia and the media, advocated an immediate shutdown of the world economy that caused a global depression, all based on some obviously wrong models, because hey all our buddies on twitter agreed that this was the best "science".

Progressives have to believe in the wisdom of experts because that's the main part of their religion, but the rest of us know that you're ridiculous.

You're a very scared person. I'm sorry this is so frightening for you. But please don't push comfortable lies when the truth is hard to deal with.

To the contrary, that's what's so insane about our current policy. I don't go to nursing homes or New York City, so I'm not too worried. Although if you listen to the experts, it's no big deal to ride the subway. They just started cleaning it a couple days ago. Yancey Ward asked this question a while ago: if riding the subway in NYC is safe, then why are we locking down churches in, say, Wichita, Kansas? Can anyone answer that question?

Churches in Wichita, KA have the wrong type of people inside them, subways in NYC have the right type of people inside them. Easy peasy.

"99% of academia advocated an immediate shutdown of the world economy that caused a global depression".

That would make me in the 1% then, like Ray Lopez. But I don't know. Academic are cowards. For instance, very few would say in public anything against the "intersectionalist" vision of the world and its influence, but when you know them well, they will tell you how much they hate this. For the lock-downs, of course they were supported by epidemiologists, by the majority of economists but not all, but from the others I have not heard anything, except some voices crying against
the lock-down (Levitt from Israel for instance, who seems to have, belatedly, convinced his government)

Again, what if "herd immunity" is not easy, or perhaps even achievable?


If this virus is unlike SARSv1 and instead offers no protection against reinfection whatsoever then stock up on ammo and guns?

I mean a virulent disease with no immunity at all is basically a SHTF scenario at that point.

It’s also incredibly unlikely given the data.

Which data? I've linked a number of cautions in the past. Some were generic "we understand corona type virus" and some were more explicitly about SARS2CoV. The scariest one there was the claim that mild and asymptomatic cases show few antibodies.

But I don't think that means anarchy. It just means a mobilization, where getting in the crops and keeping the infrastructure running is the priority.

"The scariest one there was the claim that mild and asymptomatic cases show few antibodies." There is nothing scary about that. If an asymptomatic case show no antibodies, he (or she) is exactly like a person who wasn't infected. Except that if the particularity that made him an asymptomatic case is not just random luck, but something relatively permanent about him (his previous immune system, his genes, his being a smoker, whatever), then he is a person who somehow can't be infected, and that's even better.

"Except that if the particularity that made him an asymptomatic case is not just random luck .."

Again, a wish is not a plan.

I'd feel better if the "open now" argument did not always reduce to "do you feel lucky, punk?"

"If A then B" is neither a wish nor a plan. It is a syllogism.

So you are not proposing opening up because you believe in immunity one way or another?

If recovering from the disease offered no immunity we would see hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers becoming infected over and over and over again worldwide. Tens of thousands of families would never leave quarantine, because they would cyclically reinfect each other again and again.

We haven’t seen this at all.

And yes, it would quickly mean either anarchy or Wuhan style martial law. There would be no real recovery, since you could simply recatch the disease the very next day.

Few would ever leave a hospital.

Didn't you just argue "if no one wore PPE?"

Uh, no. We have data anonymous. Thousands of healthcare workers have been infected worldwide, recovered and went back to work in extremely high viral load situations.

If your hypothesis were correct it would be obvious by now. And catastrophic.

But all of this is arguing about angels on dancing on pins. The shutdowns are not tenable past another several weeks, no one in the US ever bothered to think about public choice constraints, and thus states will begin to reopen.

You have linked no data on re-exposure and disease incidence. I don't believe anyone has that data, which is why I don't base any argument upon it. People recovering and then going back to work with full PPE is not that data.

You're being exceptionally obtuse today.

Over 9,000 (kek) healthcare workers have been infected in the US alone. Not one has become reinfected with Corona.

Over 22,000 healthcare workers infected worldwide, not one case of reinfection.

Don't be ridiculous. You're not this stupid, although you are this stubborn.

What's the difference between theory and practice?

In theory there is none, in practice there is.

You are giving me theory as a proof for practice.

I humbly ask you guys not to confound anarchy with chaos.

BTW, WTF is an “intersectionalist vision of the world”, Joel?

Yeah, that was not clear. The idea that people of certain races, ethnicities, genders, sexual tastes, BMI, etc. should be given advantages in various aspect of life (hiring, receiving recompenses, etc.) and that if you are in several advantaged categories, you should receive an advantage greater than the sum of the advantages of each of the category you belong.
This is the explicitly dominant idea in American academia currently.

Here is a pretty well rounded article on hanging questions, reasons for hope, cautions as well:


Here is some new and mostly good news on this front, seropositivity in mild cases, but also possibly extended communicability.


The post ignores the elephant in the room: Trump. His official policy is a slow, gradual re-opening, but unofficially, loudly and clearly, he is encouraging the governors to re-open while disclaiming any responsibility if bad things happen - it's up to the governors, not Trump. Trump has lost a few followers with his poor performance during this crisis; alas, not many. I didn't read Hanson's full post, but does he point out that almost half the country is stupid, really stupid. What is the political economy when almost half the country is stupid.

What you say about Trump's policy is quite true: on the record, his policy is anti-deaths so he is protected from the consequences... but he encourages re-opening at the political risk of other persons so that he can claim the benefits of their risk-taking.
Heads, I win; tails, you lose.

It's actually 45.9%, and it's mentally challenged.


"The differences among white liberals, though, are striking: almost half of white liberals in this cohort report a diagnosis."

I don't think the public will uniformly push for "opening", even if some folks like to participate in Death Marches for Liberation.

People will be scared. And, they will get angry at those who were responsible for the death of persons they knew.

Not so much themselves, as they won't be able to vote when they are dead. At least in some places.

The country is not a uniform petri dish. Some places will have a problem, others, maybe not or later. A better approach is to focus on regions or clusters of counties and open or adjust based on data.

It won’t be uniform, because nothing ever is.

My take is that the shutdowns generally speaking are short dated. By end of summer every state in the Union will be partially open, some with more restrictions than others.

It’s politically untenable to have indefinite lockdowns, and I’ve yet to see a coherent strategy that takes the public choice constraints into account.

It's all a matter of semantics. If you say "lockdown" it conjures one image; if you say remain safe in place, it is another.

It is a straw man to say "indefinite lockdowns".

How about efforts to mitigate deaths instead.

Okay, if you're uncomfortable with the term lockdown:

It’s politically untenable to have indefinite lockdowns shelter in place orders , and I’ve yet to see a coherent strategy that takes the public choice constraints into account. Thus it won't last another 8 weeks or so anywhere in the US.

By July 15th, every state will have removed its shelter in place order, parks and beaches will have been reopened, and big box retail will have been reopened with distancing rules in place.

Note that's specific, they will have been opened in every state, not currently open.

Falsifiable predictions are a tax on bullshit.

No one in favor of "indefinite",
Which sounds arbitrary,
And is a straw man
And, you even proved that,
by saying all states will have been opened by July.

Do you see the contortion? Set it up and knock it down, and claim others favor the indefinite?

Do you think good policy should be measured by popularity or the data or reasonable plans for opening. (Notice: I used the word reasonable, because no one can object to reason, unless you think the popular will is not guided by reason, which may be true>)

Strawman arguments blow in the wind and are not easy to sustain, even in the same comment: argue against those you assert are for "indefinite lockdowns" but point to no one who does.


I used indefinite intentionally. Are we just debating semantics again? To clarify, I mean indefinite in the sense of: unfixed, unspecified, indeterminate, vague, of ill-defined time period, etc etc. Such as in the indefinite shelter in place orders we currently have throughout the US.

I'm not attacking your policy position at all, nor am I arguing a straw man. (Many of? Most of?) The shelter in place orders are indefinite throughout the US. There may be a date on the calendar, but in many states it's being extended via Governor fiat weeks before the date arrives. Thus, no-one is sure how long the shelter in place orders will last. Thus, by definition they are indefinite.

I didn't even express an opinion on whether the indefinite shelter in place orders are a good idea, the opinion I expressed is restricted to the fact that they are politically untenable, and as public opinion turns against them they will be rescinded.

The only other opinion I expressed was dismay at the lack of foresight on the part of policy makers: they never took public choice constraints into account when designing their Coronavirus response.

Maximal shelter in place orders are quite possibly correct in epidemiological theory, but once public choice constraints are entered into the model they may not be ideal.

(i.e. duration of shelter in place order is not an independent variable chosen by policy makers in a vacuum, it is in part determined by the strictness of the shelter in place order)

Almost exactly half the population is gen z or millennial. Over half of those are gen z. You could call that ~25% stupid. The political economy of the 25% that are millennial are not stupid, their political economy is mostly to support opening.

I know Tyler doesn't allow posting photos but down here in North Carolina you can find representative cultural images of the local “all those bad Fox News viewers out there" by visiting the people of wal-mart website. I see Trump has surged ahead in a recent poll here. Economists are not in the driver seat of anything, fascinating arguments ans theories here for class debate though. The heard could care less about how elegant your maths are. The pawn shops and liquor stores are still open. I guess we are angry about the kid's sports leagues and having to do something constructive with our lives to compensate for all the new found free time?

LOL folks, here is a number... 76% of the population you are discussing are already lining up to get on Adam's ship to freedom. We have tested selling discounted frozen chicken out of the back of trucks in dozens of towns in eastern NC. Lines of cars as far as the eye can see. All we have to do is lure them in with free chicken and a hot tub.

I agree with the commenters above that "the public" seems willing to continue the lockdowns for now. However, I think there are 3 important points to be made about this:

1. The public (like elites) is likely divided on what "lockdown" actually means (such that generic support for lockdowns is like support for universal healthcare or taxes in that the support changes a great deal on the specifics of the plan being presented).

2. The public for now is being shielded from the worst negative effects of the lockdown. We have good unemployment benefits for those out of a job, food remains plentiful, everyone has their internet access and iPhones, etc. However, I question whether this is sustainable over time. Is it true that the majority of our economy is useless activity which has now gone away and we don't need it back any time soon? Will essential workers being willing to work for months or even 1-2 years while being told we have to pay everyone else to stay home because it's just too risky to work right now?

Or will the meat shortages we are seeing spread to other goods (food, iPhones, computers, etc) and more pain starts to be felt? We may even see shortages in healthcare. I'm a doctor at a medium hospital in an area with relatively few COVID19 cases and we've had a large number of layoffs already due to the precarious financial situation our hospital is now in.

If the former is true and we really don't need a huge portion of the economy (and those in the essential industries are OK with continuing to work while others stay home), then lockdowns can perhaps persist quite a while.

If the latter and we do start seeing shortages / decreased living standards (or essential workers decide "screw this, I'm not risking my life so everyone else can get paid not to work"), then public opinion will turn rather quickly and lockdowns will go away.

3. It doesn't take a large % of the public rebelling to dramatically decrease the effectiveness of the lockdowns. If even 20% of the population turns against / ignores the lockdowns, what enforcement mechanism will there be to keep the lockdowns going? You can't jail these people (you just increase crowding/infections). And even 20% of the population going about their business (ignoring the lockdown) will dramatically decrease the benefits of the lockdown. A lockdown either requires near universal buy in or a very strong enforcement mechanism (ie martial law or the use of force).

Yes. There'll be a point at which the median person sees the marginal economic pain as greater than the marginal health gain.

Hanson is really starting to seem very overrated to me. I saw the lock down from NJ. It came before anything from 'elites' with people staying home, avoiding eating out, buying up cleaning products. Granted there was a bit of a class element to it. I watched the high end eateries in Morristown empty a week before any full shutdown while lower end places still had somewhat brisk business. Nor has there been any failure of the effects of lockdown. Places that lock down bend the curve down, nowhere near as fast as one would want but they do. Places that play games twist their curves up.

The failure here has been the economists who fail to support sensible supportive policies and quite frankly have failed to do cost benefit calculations and instead invoked 'the economy' rather than analysis.

I love how this argument undermines itself. If the lockdown was organic then removing it shouldn’t cause bitch fits. But you fitting like a bitch on her period.

When you get a bottoms up shutdown despite gov't trying to declare from on top all is well is when you will get economic collapse and panic.

Lol why? I know it’s that time of the month but to you reason and make a case. This isn’t gossip about that bitch Karen time.

California unions already are investing in the next bailout. The unions have been specific to Newsom, and Newsom follows orders. California schools are not re-opening until the public sector pensions are guaranteed by the Federals. In the meantime they get full pay. We are at sudden stop in the CA public sector. There will be a housing crash of sorts, property taxes will drop but only after the teachers get their indefinite free pay. Property tax payers are helpless out here.

I should note. Ther problem is compounded by the two teir system which jerry Brown was forced to implement. Boomer teachers get quite a better deal than new teachers. But, once the matter is resolved, most of the boomer teachers are moving from free pay to retired pay, and the problem gets a second wave, like the virus.

We cannot help ourselves, we were trained as flat earthers, we never close the circle out here, but we are 15% of the economy and the cost of flat earthing us is enormous. This is unresolvable, neither the Swamp nor the Newsom crowd can deal with it.

Must be nice to have the luxury of deliberating when we should reopen! But isn't it always those whose paychecks were never threatened, who have no worries of paying their bills or feeding their families, no fears of losing a job or home or business, who think it prudent to wait? Mostly media, academia, government employees, or entertainers who can afford to stay idle at home.

To hell with everybody else, right?

Who is the 'the public' here?

Because a large majority of the public in general thinks it is too early to reopen.

The idea that the public is unified on this is fantasy. Exactly what a certain kind of elite tells themselves

In related news.... U of Iowa biologist and NR expert, who advises ChromaDex, the maker of Niagen, took questions today on twitter:

Q. Does taking NR help suppress COVID?

A. Reasons to think it will: 1) NAD under attack with CoV infection, 2) NMRK genes up, 3) higher NAD allows better PARP functions, which are antiviral, 4) NR shown to depress inflam[mation] markers in small human placebo-controlled trial

I forgot to add the U of Iowa biologist is Charles Brenner.


The emergence of the novel human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan, China has caused a
worldwide epidemic of respiratory disease (COVID-19). Vaccines and targeted therapeutics
for treatment of this disease are currently lacking. Here we report a human monoclonal
antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 (and SARS-CoV) in cell culture. This crossneutralizing antibody targets a communal epitope on these viruses and may offer potential for prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Monoclonal means this B cell dines alone.

It is the variety with the heavy chain detector and this one targets a common protein string which all covid have. (This is why covids are one class of virus). But that B cell carries around a fairly unique model and crowds N, the local density. Think of politicians going after a single large stimulus, soon they are crowded around a turd and some politicians go away broken hearted. But in an emergency, we don't care, the B cell that eats this virus chunk gets all the DC stimulus it wants.

“ It is all about the plan you can pull off in the real world of politics, not the best plan you can design”

This sort of insight should be in economics textbooks. I wonder if anyone knows any authors.

Perhaps an addendum. Your plan also has to fit the population you have as well.

Several business associates are using similar biosecurity methods for achieving and internal virus reproductive rate (number of new cases per case)( Ro) of less than one in their businesses. This means it can't spread significantly internally in their organization even if an infectious person comes in (asymptomatic infective).

Note that hospitals with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) do have an internal Ro of about 0.05 or about 5 people of the hospital staff have gotten infected from 100 new cases entering the hospital. These people also had massive exposures. This means PPE works.

With this virus you can sanitize a set of PPE for individual use by just heating it to 140ºF (60ºC) for 3 minutes in a dryer or oven or sauna or even a food warmer (commercial grade) that can get to this temperature.

Along with the usual distancing, their policies and procedures (biosecurity plan) require staff to use face masks, gloves, and exterior garments that have all be sanitized by heating (including shoes) or for clothing either washed or just heated. So many of the guidelines being suggested by bureaucrats assume that the masks that stop the virus droplets aren't possible sources of virus for your hands to transfer to your nose. They also fail to note that most of the virus from a sneeze end up on surfaces (your outside surfaces and the floor) where it remains viable for days or at least documented transmission after many hours on a chair.

The reason hospital PPE works are that they change out contaminated equipment after every usage and assume all outer surfaces are contaminated and treat them with respect.

If we can get 75% compliance with mask use and sanitizing PPE for public contacts, the Ro for the society would become < 1 and the virus would die out like in Korea where this is what they did. Physical distance is irrelevant to PPE working when used properly.


If people are given a choice between 3 months of level 3 restrictions and elimination of the virus and presumably 10-60+ months of level 2 or 1 restrictions plus an additional 100,000+ deaths compared to the first option the overwhelming majority will pick the first option because their not stupid.

The assumption that the first option will in fact result in "elimination of the virus" is at best dubious, and more likely it is completely wrong.

Two weeks with no new cases here in South Australia. It might be a few weeks before it's eliminated from the general population as a whole in Australia.

I would submit that:

(a) it worked in Australia because the virus never got well-established, unlike in the U.S. and western Europe. That's great, but it's no longer replicable in many other countries.

(b) Even if the U.S. hypothetically would eliminate the virus, it's extraordinarily unlikely that would hold. We have a southern border that hundreds of thousands cross illegally each year before dispersing to multiple large metro areas.

We have reached a state where the elites will REFUSE to accept any responsibility of their decisions - and so WILL NOT issue a mea culpa. If anything they will double down and claim that the world will perish if we open up and will make the people worried about climate change happy - after all, no humans - the earth will live on gracefully (something like that). I find the condescension towards Fox News watchers tiring - if anything it has been my experience that there are functional illiterates on both sides and today there is more scientific ignorance on the "left" as they panic and imagine the world is ending tomorrow.

I'm 71. As a living creature I come from a long line of successful risk takers. Being able to calculate risks and then actually acting on those calculations makes my life worth living. Figuring out for myself what might work if correct but spell disaster if incorrect matters a lot. It gives me a high that lasts a lifetime. Life in the time of Corona, for me, is just another adventure in a life without a safety net.

Stories like this one will only serve to sow discontent with lockdown measures imposed by so called 'elites'.


In what country are the hoi polloi pushing for reopening? I'm in the US, and most non-experts are scared s--tlless.

If elites = People who don't agree with me and don't want to reopen,

And the public = People that agree with me and want to reopen immediately (ha),

Which camp do medical professionals fall into? The elites?

Which camp do business owners fall into? The general public?

This post is so disingenuous. I'm really disappointed and I expect better analysis here. Your half-hearted attempts to seem fair and balanced stick out like a sore thumb as well. It's not exactly a big concession to admit that the average Fox News viewer knows fuck-all about medicine. But hey, better to align with their views than the "elites," right?

The average CNN and MSNBC viewer (and reporter) similarly knows "fuck-all" about medicine - and statistics - as the average Fox News viewer.

The idea that the Left is some commanding height of far-sighted public policy analysis is amazing bullshit. The COVID-19 coverage has been terrible - that's true of both left and right, probably in large part because journalists are wonderfully self-selected that most of them suck at anything related to math - and let's look at the history of many shibboleths of the modern left. Recycling of products other than metals is a modern religion that's not subjected to minimal cost-benefit analysis. Organic foods and the anti-GMO movement are based on claims that border on being anti-scientific scams.

Are all examples of recycling that have a long commercial history.

In what universe is "the public...uniformly push[ing] for more opening"?

"93 percent of Americans do not think the economy should reopen immediately — even in states that are currently moving in that direction."


I find it crazy that governors who push to re-open aren't looking at the public's views at all...

The linked article doesn't even include the verbatim questions that they asked.

The article explicitly contrasts "physical distancing measures" with "reopening the economy", which smacks of the pollsters having engaged in borderline push polling to get the answer that they want. There are obviously a variety of measures that are steps toward "reopening the economy" that still allow for "physical distancing".

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