Why American lockdown exceptionalism?

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, and here is part of the explanation:

The danger lies in the potential for ratchet effects. If hardly anyone is eating out or going to bars, you might be able to endure the deprivation. But once others have started doing something, you will probably feel compelled to join them, even at greater risk to your life.

Consider that in the 1920s, the chance of catching a disease or infection from dining out was pretty high, but people still went out. Accepting that level of risk was simply considered to be part of life, because everyone saw that everyone else was doing it. In similar fashion, members of an infantry brigade are usually willing to charge an enemy position so long as they can be assured that all their comrades are, too.

So if you are wondering why the U.S. has become so tolerant of Covid-19 risk, one reason is simply that it has the most pro-consumption norms of any major Western nation. The pursuit of socially influenced high consumption levels is far more common in America than in, say, Kosovo, a country with a relatively good anti-Covid safety record.

And one implication is this:

So telling Americans that they are stupid and excessively sociable is likely only to make the problem worse.

Better in fact is everyone thinks no one else is going out very much.


'one reason is simply that it has the most pro-consumption norms of any major Western nation.'

It also has by far the highest tolerance of death by firearms and opioids. Along with the highest faith in religion among Western societies, contrasted to those to those other societies believing in the benefits of science.

It's Cthulhu's will if I get sick. Nothing I can do about it.

It is unlikely that anything you can do will prevent you from getting the disease until there is herd immunity. Face masks, social distancing, etc. is whistling past the graveyard. Makes you feel a little better but does nothing.

Agreed, but the later I get it the better!


I totally agree. The later I get it the better. The most effective choice is self quarantine.

Nope. Those things will easily prevent you from getting the disease until there is a vaccine or herd immunity. You don't get infected by hanging out at your house with your family and staying 6 feet away from other people outside. Doesn't happen.

Face mask only prevent you form making other people sick.

No. Take another try.

Sometimes I just have to say I feel so so sorry for people who have no idea about (a) how complicated the world is and (b) how stupid almost everybody they think of as being intelligent is.

Basically every famous epidemiologist lied to the sheeple, not that long ago, about the well-known facts about face coverings with respect to a virus of the size of the Wuhan coronavirus. Basically every intelligent and informed person knew they were lying, and basically every person who did not know if they are intelligent, and who was not well-informed, listened to them with respect.

A hundred years from now, those epidemiologists who lied about masks a few months ago will be considered to have been among the most undeserving of respect of any persons of any profession who ever lived. A hundred years from now, mothers will frighten their children, in a teasing way, saying that Cuomo is gonna send you to the facility now. Fauci is gonna steal your mask when you need it.

"It is unlikely that anything you can do will prevent you from getting the disease until there is herd immunity."

We've already seen, as if proof were needed, that this is false. States while under lockdowns did bend the curve, though with only limited success due to American exceptionalism/stupidity as Tyler points out.

Epidemiology 101 question: what do you think will happen to infection rates when states ease their lockdowns even though new cases are still numerous?

There were brief attempts by pandemic deniers to invoke higher testing rates, larger denominators, etc. which were quickly shown to be unsound because positive test percentages and hospitalization rates are up in those states that are showing the worrisome increases in new infections.

Yes! You can bend the curve. I am sure that if you stayed home for six months with zero outside contact that you would not get covid-19 for six months. Then when you went outside to show everyone how much smnarter you are then them you would get it.

I would hazard to guess that living anywhere with at least two orders of magnitude less new infection per day is a good way to keep you from getting the disease until there is herd immunity. Face masks, social distancing, etc. is just the cherry on the top of living in Australia/NZ, Western Europe, East Asia, etc. these days.

Did someone just claim that social distancing and masks dont prevent infections?

In an article about American stupidity?


The phrase is oh the humanity, which is how one responds to a catastrophe occurring right before you.

Do masks and social distancing work??? If they do then all you have to do is wear your mask and stay six feet away from everyone else and it does not matter if they wear a mask or not. Or do you prefer being a Karen?

I would argue that it's mostly due to an false ideological argument that posited this could only happen in NYC. Houston and Phoenix were somehow immune because reasons.

It happened. At 102% capacity utilization, Houston is now officially out of ICU beds. They are sending overflow patients to nearby cities.



They were out of ICU beds and the governor of Texas suspended elective surgeries to increase capacity, they suddenly found more capacity.......

Amazing what happens when you stop 'elective' procedures for three months.

Did the articles break that down? I've seen something like 25% of capacity use by Covid patients.

Where the heck did you guys get this new rule that full hospitals only count if full hospitals are 100% COVID? Did that come over the wire last night from Moscow?

Because it sure as heck makes no sense to this American. A full hospital, for any reason, means that new arrivals have reduced care.

Maybe this is the kind of stupidity Tyler is whispering loudly that we should leave unchallenged. I don't see how we win that way either.

There are plenty of people who, even more loudly, want to go with the stupidity as the plan.

Speaking of Tyler's loud whisper ..

"Students in Tuscaloosa, AL are throwing Covid parties to infect each other: ON PURPOSE.

They give money to whoever gets infected first."


Unsurprisingly, there is absolutely no indication of how many people are involved in this supposed scheme. At all.

1,000 kids? 10? 20? The innumeracy is galling, as are the idiots who retweet or share something like this without any indication of whether it’s one person or 10,000.

But hey, it’s on Twitter. Better share it!



Why is it that when we see the worst of America you jump up to defend it, before saying alternately low trust society, public choice, nothing can be done?

Maybe Tyler is whispering about you too?

Here's my challenge, seriously, if you're really up to it:

Show me the best Donald Trump, the Republicans in Congress, and as a national organization, are doing to separate themselves from this idiocy.

Show me how they are leading on science and pandemic response.

(also again it's not "on" Twitter it's just a click-through to an article. This time from ABC News, a good old time voice of authority.)

They aren't out of beds. Use is 2075/2202 (94%) 773 of these are Covid.
They also have a surge capacity of 2644 beds. Covid use peaked at 800 a few days ago. Use was about 90% this time last year.


Americans aren't stupid, but they have to be treated like adolescents because they act like adolescents. Cowen must have missed the advice of his friend Scott Sumner: never reason from a lockdown. What does that mean? It means that, contrary to what Americans assumed, that the lockdown solved the pandemic crisis, what the lockdown meant is complete and utter failure of policy. Ask your friend.

Curve was flattened, right?

Yes. And it stayed flattened as long as nobody did anything stupid.

Who cares about the curve flattening - the goal is to have a decline measured by at least an order of magnitude, not a slower rate of growth or bumpy plateau.

America is so, so messed up.

"Who cares about the curve flattening"

That was the original argument for the Lockdown. And it's too late to change the reason at this point. Anybody who thinks otherwise is just tilting at windmills.

Granted, states (and areas) should Lockdown again where hospital capacity gets strained or deaths start peaking. That fits the MO of flattening the curve.

'That was the original argument for the Lockdown.'

And three months on, who cares? That it worked in every other Western society seems to be ignored at this point.

'Anybody who thinks otherwise is just tilting at windmills.'
Hell, even tilting at windmills would likely be more effective that what is happening in Houston. Galveston is still open for business - "Authorities in Galveston, Tex., say they are bracing for big Fourth of July crowds at local beaches, even as coronavirus infections in the area soar and officials in other hard-hit states close public attractions for the holiday weekend.

“We’re going to see several hundred thousand people come down here regardless of the recommendations that have come out,” Galveston Beach Patrol Chief Peter Davis told KHOU this week.

Galveston County has about 3,300 confirmed coronavirus cases, more than 1,000 of which were reported in the past week alone, according to the county health department. The rate of positive tests has surged from less than 1 percent in May to roughly 15 percent currently.

Texas has emerged as one of the country’s latest coronavirus hotbeds, with state health officials reporting record highs in new cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations for weeks on end.

Galveston Island, about an hour’s drive southeast of Houston, is a hot spot for beachgoers and one of the region’s most popular weekend getaways."

America is so, so messed up.

Shrug, it’s a low trust society.

Presumably that’s why you left for Germany?

Low trust just means that you don't want to hold up your end of the load. I'm glad I never had to work with you or any other "libertarian."

It's lazy combined with self-centered.

"And three months on, who cares? That it worked in every other Western society seems to be ignored at this point."

Most other Western societies are ending their lockdowns also.

Those that are ending their lockdowns have reduced their daily number of cases by an order of magnitude.
Except for the UK.
The eternal useless anglo on both sides of the atlantic?

About 6% of the US is of Anglo descent, coming in well under the top five:

Mexican, German, Irish, and African American

Doesn't matter, white ethnics in the states have unfortunately assimilated to the anglo norms and lifestyle of the once majority.

Not counting Irish, Scottish, and Scots-Irish, in 'Anglo' for these purposes seems perverse. And there's the 20 million or so listed "Americans" that are mainly English. Add all those in and Anglo at least doubles Germans. Have all the Germans, Poles, Italians, etc. adopted Anglo social positions? Who knows? Let's go for the skeptical truth and call it a tie.

Don’t tell the Irish, Scots, German, Poles, and Italians, they might be surprised to learn they’ve been Anglo the entire time!

It’s 6% Anglo. Hispanic is about 20% for reference.

Why this is remotely controversial is beyond me

Because its well-known that a bunch of British disappeared in the last census that took such info, and the "American" ancestry jumped by about as much. And the breakdown to Scottish/Irish etc is a census artifact not based on cultural realities. When someone say "anglo" they usually mean all of them isles, some perhaps not Ireland. They are not involved in census science.

You just lost the tie.

In this racially confused time, "Anglo" means white northern European gentiles, perhaps excluding self-consciously ethnic Germans and Poles. So basically just white people. I'm Jewish, but I'm counted as Anglo for many purposes including diversity tables.

A Pole or German could be Catholic, Protestant or pagan, but he would still be a Pole or German. Is a Jewish person still a Jew if he's Catholic? Is Judaism an ethnic affiliation, a religion, both or neither?

Nice to see you bring the far white right script back - your boss must feel that keeping as many pots boiling as possible is effective in these dog days.

He was ripping on white people you goof.

Even UK cases have fallen. It's really just us and Sweden.

But apparently not in the South Pacific...

"Texas has emerged as one of the country’s latest coronavirus hotbeds, with state health officials reporting record highs in new cases..."

Increase in cases per day in Texas:

May 13 to May 19....3.3%
May 27 to Jun 2........2.4%
Jun 10 to Jun 16.......2.8%
Jun 24 to Jun 30.......4.3%

Increase in Covid-19 deaths per day in Texas:

May 13 to May 19....2.7%
May 27 to Jun 2........1.4%
Jun 10 to Jun 16.......1.3%
Jun 24 to Jun 30.......1.1%

wiki: Texas coronavirus pandemic

In other words, the original statement is true and Texas is recording record highs in new cases. A daily 4.3% increase in the number of cases means that cases will double every 17 days.

The other part of the statement concerned hospitalizations, which your data does not address.

Maybe Americans are stupid. What Sumner meant was that the policy failure occurred long before the lockdown policy was adopted, the lockdown policy merely a mitigation (coverup) for the failed policy.

And the other rationale I heard for the lockdown was to give policymakers time to get the policy right. Well...

well, to get the response right at least. i.e. prepare and coordinate.


Americans are worse than stupid.


I don't know what Trumpism does to the brain, but whatever it is, it's amazing.

Scott Adams is not a Trumpista.

From his own blog

Lately I have been describing my personal political views as “left of Bernie“

That's Mr. Adams virtue signaling, or gaslighting. Not sure which. Of course if you believe in the horseshoe theory of politics, that puts him to the right of Jordan Peterson

He’s gaslighting by saying he’s left wing ?

Is Dilbert coded red tribe?

He's been running that con since 2015.

From what little I've read of Scott Adams' stuff, I would say he is some combination of a Straussian and a contrarian. Regardless, he is not enough of a straight-shooter for his political beliefs to be relevant.

Adams had a low political profile until he decided to "help" us by "explaining" Trump's appeal.

Then, he explained the appeal, and explained the appeal, and explained the appeal, through thick and thin for the next four years.

In the process it's very clear he drank the KoolAid and mainlined the paranoia.

So he says something completely insane about Biden = death.

And we are left with the dark amusement that Skeptical and TMC have to deflect and protect in response.

Because of course those two would.

lol, if someone says "If Biden is elected, there's a good chance you will be dead within the year."

"That sounds like a Democrat to me" is probably not the brightest answer.

It's just right wing paranoia cranked up past 11. Way past 11 on the dial.

An outlandish statement on its own, but you're not supposed to take it literally. He also tweeted, seemingly to you, "I acknowledge that you don't understand why I tweeted that. Will you agree I have no obligation to explain it?"

Can you remember back to a day when you did not have to apologize for complete insanity?

"I don't know what Trumpism does to the brain, but whatever it is, it's amazing."

I never have, and feel no requirement to apologize for you.

You guys. Just stop and think for one second.

When Scott Adams said something crazy, all you had to do was say "that's crazy."

Or say nothing at all.

But the fact that you couldn't leave it alone, and had to mitigate it, or even try to attack me for knowing about it?

That was a really really bad move. It means that you have drunk the KoolAid and are mainlining the paranoia yourselves, or you want to protect those who do.

I said it was outlandish, but your simplistic approach doesn't help you. Next level is to consider context, especially when you know they guy does this, and that he's not a huge Trump fan in the normal way you'd think of it. To paraphrase his other quote, you have no idea what he's trying to say, and no interest in figuring it out.

No, you did this:

An outlandish statement on its own, but you're not supposed to take it literally.

Because 1. It's outlandish, and 2. You're not supposed to take it literally.

See also:

Scott Adams's Nihilistic Defense of Donald Trump

I guess we have a second order, TMC's nihilistic defense of Adam's nihilistic defense of Trump.

Not surprising at all, based on our history here.

Geez, at least read the article. Even the sub headline undermines what you are saying.

"Consider that in the 1920s, the chance of catching a disease or infection from dining out was pretty high, but people still went out. Accepting that level of risk was simply considered to be part of life, because everyone saw that everyone else was doing it."

This is fine until the "because," which may be true, but alternatively it could be because people simply felt that the benefits to quality of life outweighed the risks. (Not via conscious calculation, of course.) For months now I've found it bizarre that hardly anyone, regardless of politics, wants to acknowledge that this calculus exists, instead insisting on either moralizing or deliberate ignorance. (I shudder to think what it would look like if we were introducing highway speed limits now; the only acceptable positions would be "infinity" or "20 mph.") If we actually discussed what we want from life, with some actual numbers to help, we might all be happier.

What's even more bizarre is how many *economists* want to acknowledge this calculus exists.

(don't want to acknowledge)

"... the benefits to quality of life outweighed the risks": people ignore this because its almost always deployed in simple minded fashion. Leaves out the externalities of other people you are in contact with and whom they will be in contact with, and health care system people and process.

True, but that's also true of highway speeds and all sorts of other concerns that society has to deal with. I'm not saying it's easy, just that it's not binary!

Infectious disease risk (in terms of mortality and long-term morbidity) will be higher now than in the 1920s if covid becomes endemic.

Let that sink in. A century of medical progress erased by a single pathogen because politicians were too stupid to preemptively invest in pandemic prevention and the electorate is too stupid to allow the eradication policies necessary to be implemented post factum.

A cost of the transition from high to low trust society, incapable governments and agencies that can enable rent seeking and little else.

But I seriously doubt we will come close to reversing a century of medical progress. Vaccinations, treatments, etc will ensure that does not come to pass.

Not because China produced a virus and then lied to the world?

Of course the calculations are being made, but without enough regard for changes in behaviors that can reduce the risks of other people from becoming infected.

I always like letting it sink in that far right white Slavs (but not a Russian, no way, no how) are remarkably good at following their scripts to ensure they keep their jobs.

The Motherland salutes such heroes of labor, at the forefront of the struggle to restore the past glories of Russia.

The oddity is that this page has over a hundred comments from mostly economically-informed people reasoning from the proposition that an individual and a society should strive for a world without risk. And yet they celebrate Mr. Musk blasting rockets into space, and look forward to Mars missions from which it is most likely no one will return. America is a land of immigrants. Many of those who came here came at great risk to life, and left behind all their property, My great grandparents left behind a child who became sick just before the ship sailed. She never joined them, but spent the rest of her life in Europe. Is it so surprising that Americans, more than others, are willing to risk their lives in order to maintain their businesses, their livelihoods, their homes? That they are suspicious of politicians who promise to take care of them and claim to know how they must live? It’s certainly not surprising that people who huddle in their homes sit safely at their computers/phones and type “stupid” at all those people laboring outside to bring food, power, and every shiny device their hearts desire right to their door. Who’s stupid again?

No mention of how we just had mass spreader riots in every major city and public health officials endorsed it.

Yet, oddly, we do not see spikes in the places where that happened. Where we see it is where people gather indoors for extended periods - bars, churches, restaurants... and in all those warm parts of the country which were supposed to be anethema to the virus
No summer respite for you... and don't breathe other people's backwash!

Actually, we see a ton of spikes where there are protests. Especially in the West and South liberal cities (does anyone think Austin in conservative).

We haven't seen a spike in the Northeast where there have been protests, but partly because the virus already blew its wad all over the Accella corridor and they are halfway to herd immunity.

All herd immunity means is that you won't have sustained, exponential increases in new infections, it doesn't mean you cannot have a one-time spike.

There was a study done on it, it concluded that there were spikes in infections from the protestors, but they were offset by people staying home to avoid the protestors and associated violence.

Also helps that in NY you can't ask them about the protests.

"mass spreader riots". Don't you mean mostly peaceful demonstrations, many police riots and some instances of what is usually meant by "riot" ? The vast reight wing conspiracy is being very succesful at substituting the word riot for what actually happened.

Mostly peaceful. Is the Walter Duranty Award up for grabs?

Google "cost of riots so far". You have to scroll through at least three pages to find anything newer than three weeks ago.

In Minneapolis, where some 400 businesses were damaged, owners and insurance experts estimate costs of the damage to exceed $500 million, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Over $500 million, yet the cops insist that they know best.

More than 1500 buildings were damaged in Minny alone.

The LA riots in '65 were $357M in today's dollars. The '92 riots were $1.4B in today's dollars. The spate of riots we're going through now will likely exceed that. We're on track for the last round to be the most expensive civil unrest the US has ever seen.



Mostly outside. Outside is pretty safe.

Plus tear gas kills the virus, some people are saying.

"Mostly outside. Outside is pretty safe."

+1, Though of course the experts are still whining about people going to the beach.

Going to a park or playground that's low density is safe. Being piled on top of each other isn't.

We see a ton of spikes where there are protests. Especially in the West and South liberal cities (does anyone think Austin in conservative).

We haven't seen a spike in the Northeast where there have been protests, but partly because the virus already blew its wad all over the Accella corridor and they are halfway to herd immunity.

I think the beach thing is complicated. Many people (especially young) who go to the beach add a visit to a bar, which is where the real danger lies. Protesters don's usually end the day at a bar.

San Diego has tracked all local outbreaks. Nearly half were bars or parties. Almost all were inside. None were at the beach or protest related.

New York told its track and trace people to cover up when people went to protests. I suspect the same happened elsewhere.

Because no one ever goes inside to eat a pizza when at the beach.

The beaches are not reopening because of the pressure of the seagulls (savage as those birds can be), they are reopening because of the pressure of the owners of the establishments that make money from beach goers.

Then just don't allow inside dining. Set up a table outside and take orders to go.

"Plus tear gas kills the virus, some people are saying."

Agreed, more tear gas should have been used.

"pro-consumption norms"

Oh, so proper a phrase for 'selfish greed'!

Easiest Straussian read evar!

"But once others have started doing something, you will probably feel compelled to join them, even at greater risk to your life."

So, the American formula:

FOMO + YOLO = LMFAO at this country

We are a nation of COVIDiots and entitled, anti-mask Karens.

Wouldn’t a ‘Karen’ call the police on people for not wearing masks?

The latest hoax is “cases are spiking” where they were not or positive cases are concentrated in the younger with mild symptoms. Deaths and hospitalizations are not spiking. It’s the standard MSM/Dem/left spinning wheel of fear.

Everything you wrote it wrong. Reality doesn't care about your hyper-partisan bullshit.

Amazing. Every word of what you just said was wrong.

Take a look at the data https://covidtracking.com/data/us-daily

States are available, too. The MSM reports more cases but soft pedals any mention of greatly expanded testing.

Here’s a report from an executive of a Texas ER chain


Positive test % is skyrocketing, so its you who is trying smoke and mirrors.

Hospitalizations are spiking.

No one denies its concentrated in the young(er). I have seen many mainstream stories about that.

Let's face it, you don't care how many people die. All you care about is sucking off Trump at every opportunity.

ER usage in Houston 'spiked' from 90% in 2019 to 94% now, in a pandemic. I'm not sure 'spiked' is the word you are looking for.

Positive test percentage is "spiking" because we are testing more. In April they were testing around 50K per day in the US. Last week I think the numbers were around 600K per day.

Where I live, until about 15 days ago, you couldn't get tested unless you went to the hospital with breathing problems and the symptoms associated with Covid-19. In the past 15 days, we've had around 20 drive-through "free" testing centers crop up all over. This means *anyone* can be tested - and trust me - the cars are lined up for hours. This naturally means you're going to find a lot more people who "test positive" which means they have allegedly been exposed to the virus - even if they have no symptoms.

NOTE: I say "allegedly" because no one is exactly sure what the accuracy of the tests is and therefore, no one knows at what rate the test is revealing exposure to Covid-19, or some other corornavirus that causes either nothing, or symptoms akin to the common cold. The test also doesn't know *when* you were exposed so if you have no symptoms, it could have been a week before or months before.

For the argument, let's say the percentage of infected remains at 1% of those tested. This means in April, we would have had 1000 people infected per day. And ALL of them were symptomatic because you couldn't get a test without symptoms. However, today we would be seeing 6000 POSITIVE TESTS per day, but most (if not all) of them are NOT symptomatic - which means while they may have a positive test result, they are not necessarily "infected" with the virus.

This is an important distinction that Fauci and crew aren't talking about and the media is ignoring.

Furthermore, regarding the rates of hospitalization: If you are in any situation that requires a visit to a hospital, you get tested whether you ask for it or not. And if you test positive, you're listed as a "Covid-19 Patient" even if you never spend a night in the hospital. Even worse - if you're there because you had a heart attack or something else and you test positive, then you're listed as a "Covid-19 patient." Again, even if you DO NOT have symptoms.

Which means hospitalization rates become completely useless as a measure of the spread of the ACTUAL infected and symptomatic.

Not just testing more, but concentrating testing on the sick. Some places in Texas, like Austin, have (re)started restricting testing to the symptomatic.

The mainstream media is no longer CNN or MSNBC. It's Facebook.

The issue is not fear of infection, it is a matter of alerting people to take precautions not to infect others. This is worth doing even if the other person does not die;

Or, if I'm using the concept of mood affiliation correctly, since this hit Seattle and NYC first this was a team blue problem. Which to the hyper-partisan mind means it can't be a team read problem. Again, because reasons. With cases exploding in AZ, TX and FL that logic is now out the window.

Do people in countries with more than two parties benefit from viewing things in less partisan terms?

The preznit said today its just gonna disappear. Twice in recent days. So don't worry about it. That's what were dealing with here.

No. It was re-framed from Team Blue States to Team Blue Cities in Red States.

and something something about Cuomo

Cuomo, the Governor who complained about it being un-Constitutional for quarantine New York, but who is actively seeking a quarantine from other states that are now infectious.

That was indeed hypocritical. That and the fact that he seemed to rejoice at other states’ increasing case count upon reopening ( Schadenfreude)

Exactly - every time someone tries to talk about red states, a wingnut brings up Cuomo

Apparently, you’re too senile to remember you brought up Cuomo, and then blamed someone else for it.

Also, California, Washington, Oregon.

Oh I get it!

This is like that game where I have to define something without using the word.

Or that game some of us play where we actually pay attention to our own argument.

+1, George wants to blame everyone else for actually reading his comment.

Not sure that was ever the logic, really. The virus is completely indifferent to signaling. Lockdowns were never sustainable in the US due to public choice constraints. That much was obvious to those of us paying attention months ago.

Outcome differentials for developed nations will be easily modeled using predictors for Low Trust.

Shorter argument: Americans want to be more like Mexico and Brazil and less like Europe.

In a far too painfully accurate way, admittedly.

We wish we could be Brazil. Yet, we spend much more than Brazil to achieve much worse outcomes. Under President Captain Bolsonaro's correct leadership, Brazil was able to:

1) Stockpile more chloroquine than any other country in history.
2) Reform the pensions system.
3) Reopen the economy.
4) Eesume the soccer competitions.

Brazil's death rate from Covid-19 has been higher than the U.S for over two weeks. For the last week Brazil has had more deaths each day that the U.S. even with a smaller population. Only Mexico is doing as badly as Brazil in controlling Covid-19 this summer.

So much reflexive hatred of anything American these days. The European Union's case fatality rate is over 10%. Ours is under 5%. UK's is 14%. The cumulative number of COVID deaths per capita is higher than the US in the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Sweden.

Look up the results for Germany, Norway, Finland, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Portugal.

The case fatality rate is a very flawed metric, contingent on testing policies and reporting. Better, but also not perfect, is fatality per million. There the US is not doing too well, at all, even compared to the EU.

Clearly, the right answer is to let the lemmings have fun while weathering the storm somewhere sane.

I see a common trend in Tyler’s columns, in the WSJ, in WH press conferences - wherever somebody is defending some aspect of the US. The standard of comparison is being consistently lowered. In Tyler’s case, it’s now Kosovo.

I’m sorry would you rather be France, Germany, Italy or Spain? Every time someone sneezes they lock down the city.

Sure cases are low but they have the same issue as the US with actually lower levels of people going out.

Basically low cases or high cases people aren’t going out in droves. Nobody has restored business as usual unless it’s some extremely isolated island.

Lockdown or no lockdown everyone got a giant lump of deaths, limited human interaction and a severe business slow down.

And in the really lucky cases some island nations like Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan got really really lucky...

>Nobody has restored business as usual unless it’s some extremely isolated island.

Yep. NZ is 3000km from anywhere, but it feels nice to be carefree. Whoops, I meant covidfree.

Countries like Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Czech Republic are all open for business and seem to have the situation well under control. None of them is an island. And, FYI, neither are Singapore and South Korea ...

Singapore isn't an island is it? How very interesting

The original phrase was "extremely isolated island" which Singapore certainly is not. There are two bridges connecting it to the Malay peninsula and there are Malaysian workers and students who cross everyday. It also had one of the earliest documented cases of community spread outside of China in early February so it obviously failed to keep covid-19 from entering the country and then infecting locals.

The island theory of disease control is looking less and less viable every day. The Philippines and Indonesia are two of the worst-performing countries in Southeast Asia while the U.K. is one of the worst-performing countries in Europe.

Brazil has most definitely not succeeded.

Evidently, nothing is perfect. Life is made of trade-offs. However, all things considered, I think we can say Brazil has prevailed. It has stockpilled enough chloroquine to last the whole crisis, the economy has reopened, soccer championships have resumed, deaths have 5% of initial predictions. Even, if Brazil and its State last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

Some of your finest work Thiago!!

I am Mr. Leigh, an apothecary from Boston, Massachusetts.

Ah, but will he even know he's a Democrat? Will he still think he's running for the Senate? Will he think he's the other Biden?

Everyone can commit a slip of the tongue under pressure. All things considered, I think Biden is the best choice this year.

And here it starts.

We are going to see an amazing PR campaign to push Biden as President all the while hiding him from the electorate.

I don't think so. Republicans mocked Obama's (alleged) joke about having been to 54 states and his interest in arugula. Democrats mocked Bush's less the silvery tongue. It is just politics as usual. Whatever the faults of our system, it is very open and we are widely exposed to our possible leaders. I doubt any candidate will be hidden.

This is what makes the US system superior to other countries like China. If only China could overthrow Xi and become a Democracy !

It is not that simple at all! Every country needs a political system amenable to its traditions and suitable to the tasks and challenges its resources will be mobilized to face. China's system, socialism with Chinese characteristics, is the best system for China and has excelled in liberating the creative energy of the Chinese people to create progress, order, peace, understanding and stability. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has provided China's government with a strong, democratic and reliable theoretical framework upon which its actions can be built for the greater well-being of the people. That is why China has succeeded in its struggle against COVID-19 while America, taken by storm by a populistm anti-intellectual, swampy ideology, has failed despite being the richest country in the world.

Nice recap of the PLA party line, Comrade Thiago. Another 3 or 4 years, you should make Captain.

The young have made comparatively more of a sacrifice due to lockdowns because typically, they're the ones going out and socializing more
There’s an itch to go out and objectively and correctly they know their own risk is low. Not of catching Covid-19 but of the consequences to their health of catching it
So I think the reason might be not the worry about the risk , but rather the worry about the social acceptance.
If you're the only one not wearing masks or going to a bar, you stand out as antisocial and selfish but if 1/2 the population your age is doing it, it's just much more acceptable. People look to their peers for cues to acceptable behavior

"The young have made comparatively more of a sacrifice due to lockdowns"

+1, but the true cost isn't the loss of socializing. The true cost is that a lot of young people have missed a substantial chunk of schooling, career growth, wages and opportunities. They've sacrificed 3 months of their lives to protect people over 60.

I.e. their parents.

But in many cases these are benefits, not costs. I'm thinking of NOT having to attend certain schools, e.g.

Why is protecting people over 60 a bad thing? 60-year-olds can expect to live on average an additional 20 years and some people report being their happiest in this stage of life. It is an age category that includes many CEOs, scientists, writers, and even Mike Pence.

Young people see at the Great Recession, the rising wages of Baby Boomers since 1970, the declining wages of Xers, Millennials and Zoomers since they were born, and wonder when they are going to get a shot at America. There is a generational resentment, not that this is a new phenomenon.

Missing in this as well as most any other discussion about risk tolerance to the Deep State Fever is the question of how that risk was calculated.

We've gone from ¡MILLIONS WILL DIE! to infection and fatality rates near flu levels and yet all of the Very Smart And Serious People™ seem incapable of figuring out why those dumb Americans are accordingly reducing their risk mitigation to near flu levels.

Again, it's getting difficult to keep ascribing the behavior of our political, media, and expert classes to Hanlon's razor.

The IFR is between 10 and 20 times that of the actual IFR of seasonal influenza.
Stop being a shameless liar.

Maybe 5-10 times, but incredibly linked to age. If the young keep predominating IFR will drop dramatically

Flu IFR also correlates with age (though there is a spike in very young kids as well).
Your point is moot.

The actual IFR of seasonal influenza is at least 2 times lower than the often cited 0.1% so the 10-20 times is a quite generous underestimate.

Because of limited testing we don't know the IFR. We can observe the per capita death rate. If a bad flu season kills 60,000 and this looks like it is going to kill 200,000 that's 3.3x, not 10-20x.

Is that more of the same "the denominator is infinitely larger" crap?
We actually know the IFR because there has been enough representative serology done in a number of countries.
Yes, it's at least 10 times higher.

A German would plainly disagree with you. You do remember A German, right? It must not be easy keeping all the scripts separate, though that is what professionals are paid for.

On the basis of the admittedly small sample found in the MR commentariat, it's hard not to believe that at least in the case of the Americans everyone, no matter how ignorant of facts, has a certifiably non-sensical position on a subject that even experts don't understand. So in a what is supposed to be an advanced society, at least in terms of statistical analysis if nothing else, numbers are created out of a modelling ferment that are considered valuable and used in heated arguments by people that don't know what's going on inside the engine of the car they drive every day or what's involved in getting water to come out of the kitchen faucet. This is hilarious.

"We've gone from ¡MILLIONS WILL DIE! to infection and fatality rates near flu levels"

We have at least 130,000 people dead already with well under 10% of the population infected, so I don't think over 1,000,000 deaths is impossible and certainly it would have been quite possible if infection had continued uncontrolled and hospitals were overwhelmed. We locked down and prevented this.

Now you feel the need to lie in a readily verifiable way that covid is the same as the flu, as if people won't notice the 10x higher number of deaths.

Hey, that's the spirit! Keep your fingers crossed and your chin up; if you believe hard enough you might just get your million. Maybe we'll get lucky and another governor will kill off a nursing home or two.

It's astounding how many people here and elsewhere are all but hoping for more deaths just so they can feel smart.

'So telling Americans that they are stupid and excessively sociable is likely only to make the problem worse.'
So when are you gonna' tell us something we didn't already know???
Plus you could've saved space & left out the excessively sociable part but I'm sure there's a quote upcoming about banning tests & how the disease will disappear a few days later.
Look for it under 'American Exceptionalism'......

In deaths per million, the US is NOT exceptional; it's around the middle of developed countries.

Yes. Canada is not too far off of the US and is opening up as well.

And yes we will see a spike in cases. Lockdowns have an expiry date, and we are long past it.

Actually US rate per 1 million people is 1.7 times that of Canada...

Not yet worse than Spain, Italy and France, but in those countries the ratio is growing very slowly.

"It is worth asking who loses from these norms and associated higher risks. It is not higher-income teleworkers, who can themselves practice whatever degree of isolation they would want policy to impose. It is front-line workers, who tend to be poorer and are more likely to be black, Latino or immigrants."

This I think is the most important point. The externalities are the whole ballgame here. Perhaps a subsidized furlough program is this the best policy option? You can subsidize workers who physically go in to work and cover the salaries (up to a certain absolute amount per worker) of anyone who opts out.

Furlough the people in nursing homes out of nursing homes, a group that has been PUT at risk: These account for somewhere between 25% and 40% of deaths.

Where are you going to put them? Who will care for them?

I gotta be meeeeee!!!

I think it would happened if Trump has stayed on message. In Laos, a country a lot poorer than America, COVID-19 was defeated because General Secretary Bounnhang Vorachith, the Laotian people and the Vietnamese government joined forces to prevail over the virus.

What role did the Vietnamese government have in Laos?

It sent important supplies to help the Laotian people.


Please stop with this ridiculous Laos stuff.

Laos is a wonderful country with beautiful people. It is one of my favourite places in the world. But they didn't do anything to prevent Covid.

The country has 7 million people in a an area the size of France and has very limited large air conditioned facilities outside of Vientiane.

It's main borders are with Thailand, which has now had no new cases for 40 days, and South China, which was controlled by the Chinese.

The Vietnam/Laos relationship is a long and significant one. Sending medical equipment for Covid is a nothing event.

I've lived and worked in the US for almost a decade now. And I would say two things stand out for me. One, that there's such a massive underclass whose members live no better, and often considerably worse, than people in much less developed countries. The level of neglect and indifference toward fellow citizens is shocking. Two, that some Americans are stunningly insular and parochial. Not only do they know little about other countries, including their neighbors, but they also know little about their own country. I live in New England, about 90 minutes from Boston, and I have neighbors who have never--not once--gone there. They have the money and means to do so, but to them Boston is a distant, unfathomable world. The rest of America basically doesn't exist.

A generally incurious, self-absorbed mindset probably doesn't help in overcoming collection-action problems.

And yet the worlds poor have flocked to the US in droves.....why don’t they move to France, UK or Germany at relative percentages even close to US levels?

The US is the most racially, ethnically, religiously, and culturally diverse civilization in the history of mankind. It was founded by about five or six major ethnic-cultural factions.

It’s exactly the world you describe it to be!!

The United States of America is actually These United States of America. The sooner you figure that out the sooner you’ll stop comparing to Germany, France or UK. Or if you’re really unsophisticated you’ll compare it to Scandinavia!

Well I agree here to some extent... the US is more diverse than any one European countries, but it's still less diverse than Europe overall...

True! But to not recognize the levels of diversity at every level-racial, social, ethnically, economically is a bit insane.

The amount of people who say “xyz” about America without acknowledging this reality is breathtakingly too many....

Yes, we have comparatively diverse underclass.

And some people are proud of the fact that it's a step higher caste than the less diverse underclass in Central America

Well, most other places just won't let you in for longer than 180 days. For instance, check out the options for becoming a citizen of Portugal. They don't want you.

With a lot of effort and study you can worm your way into France, but if you aren't Johnny Depp you have to first learn what any French kid would have learned by sixième, like the arrangement of cantons and a little bit of Ronsard and how the geese saved Rome. France isn't going to take in your average Howdy Doody American unless he loosens up a little bit and learns some culture.

Sorry, guys, it's just the way it is and always has been. Maybe you will get to go stand in line for the Eiffel Tower if this Covid-19 thing ever calms down enough for you to get past visa control.

Diversity is a stock. US of A already has plenty, as has been said upthread.

Current quality of country is shown by the flow of how many people wish to move in which direction. Easier to measure is which way the machine guns face. The WEST is the BEST, without comparison.

Amazing that you've lived here 10 years and you somehow managed to learn less than nothing.

"One, that there's such a massive underclass whose members live no better, and often considerably worse, than people in much less developed countries. The level of neglect and indifference toward fellow citizens is shocking."

The poverty rate in the U.S. after taxes and transfers is 2%. The so-called underclass here in the U.S. has many more amenities than the average European. Many Europeans lack dryers, toasters, dishwashers, basic appliances for Americans. The reality is that America is far wealthier than Europe.

"Two, that some Americans are stunningly insular and parochial. Not only do they know little about other countries, including their neighbors, but they also know little about their own country. I live in New England, about 90 minutes from Boston, and I have neighbors who have never--not once--gone there. "

We're talking about one family here? "I know one guy who never went to Boston"? That's the sort of "knowledge about America" that is under discussion?

Toasters? No one in Europe, even in Romania, lacks a toaster because they can’t afford it. Most people don’t see the point. Does a lack of bidets mean Americans are poorer than Italians?

"The poverty rate in the U.S. after taxes and transfers is 2%."

Dubious. What poverty threshold is that based on and is it adjusted for the cost of living in each locality?

The great state of Brazil has handled the covid situation splendidly.
No one has died of covid in Brazil, that's an insinuation of all enemies of order, progress and football.

I would not go so far, but it is clear Brazil's leadership has handled the crisis much better than some so-called developed countries.

It's a sad day when a Thiago troll forces Thiago to be the reasonable one...

To those allergic to peanuts, I recommend reading


Sowell's got some nice photographs on his website.

The 1920s. I somehow doubt "going out to eat" formed any part of my grandparents' experience, in the twenties.

They probably didn't take a newspaper either. But even those that did, saw the news only once a day, or twice if they could afford to take an evening paper too. Imagine not marinating in these things all day long: Wear a mask! Masks save lives! I am horrified by our GOP governor's response! Unnecessary deaths! etc. repeated ad nauseum, utterly devoid of information. A colossal waste. I know my own ability to spend my time/direct my thoughts in a rational manner has deteriorated.

I dunno, I read Dos Passos' USA trilogy a few months ago and people seemed to go out to eat all the time, at least in cities. 15 cents for a bowl of spaghetti or something.

As peri notes, our grandparents / great grandparents didn't go out to eat much in the 1920s.

In terms of large sporting events, baseball has long term stats. Attendance per game in 2019 was 28,198. So let's look back at the years near the pandemic: 1917-4,186 1918-3,031 1919-5,842 1920-7,391. Attendance per game doesn't go over 10,000 until 1946.

The 1920s were a lot different than now -- unless, perhaps, you had to take the subway.


Also, there's shorter time exposure. The average time for a major league baseball game in the 1920s was under 2 hours. In 2019 it was 3 hours, 5 minutes.

Seems somewhat counter to earlier claims made here:
> Fast forward a bit and see how the group negotiations will go. Of a foursome, maybe three people would go to the game and one would not. That group is likely to end up doing something else altogether different, without 19,000 other cheering fans screaming and breathing into their faces.

it would be very interesting to test for a correlation between the frequency of the use of cash money in a country and the propagation of the virus. Could the lack of cash be part of the reason why some Asian and northern European nations have escaped the worst?

Over 50,000 new US cases yesterday. Unless this is due to explosive growth among elementary school children, the death rate will soon start to climb.

Americans aren't stupider than Australians are any other reasonably stupid group of people. Which is all of them, since we're all only human. But my impression is Americans are more insecure and this makes it harder for them to make good decisions. When the government response in Australia was inadequate medical professionals rebelled. They were able to do this because they would not lose their jobs as a result. Something was a real possibility and apparently happened in some cases in the US. Fear not just breeds poor decisions, it inhibits people acting on good ones.

oh its worse than that.

in the US we not only have an expert class scared of pissing anyone off up the chain.

but we push the myth that our experts are greedy partisan ideologues, who defy their leadership and hijack their agencies to pursue their nefarious ends

Have been trying to hold off of jumping to conclusions. I was pretty sure when lockdown ended in Shanghai, we’d be in for a rough time. Didn’t happen. But it is getting to the point where I just can’t believe what is happening. We’re still in the delusion phase of the pandemic.

Reading Matt Ridley’s new book. In it he talks about the idea that we often overestimate the short term impact of an innovation but underestimate the long term impact. Not his idea, just one he’s giving air time to. Same thing happening with this pandemic, I suppose.

"Consider that in the 1920s, the chance of catching a disease or infection from dining out was pretty high"

I stopped reading here, because I don't think this is true. Eating out was a relatively new phenomenon in the 1920s, and people did it because more and more work was in an urban setting where people had no other option for lunch. The most dangerous food practices were the many fad diets of the 1920s (i.e., eating that was done at home), some of which were potentially deadly, along with the practice of butchers selling salmonella-laced meat pies to their customers (again, food eaten at home). People quickly learned to avoid unsanitary buffets. That is, in eating out one could readily control the potential for getting a disease from their meal.

If being sociable at bars and restaurants were the primary reason for increases in COVID-19, the curve in Spain (and Italy) would still be rising (as in the US). Yet, the number of daily reported cases has been rising for the past month in both countries. Of course, people are required to wear masks indoors in both nations.

correction: dropping in both countries.

Maybe they just misunderstood. It's herd IMMUNITY. Not herd BEHAVIOR.

Terrible news, for some, just in: "Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 4.8 million in June and the unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as the U.S. continued its reopening from the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department said Thursday."

Double digit unemployment and generational lows for labor participation is pretty terrible news.

So an additional 4.8 million people working would be good or bad in your view?

The number of deaths by day is low and going down, and has been for two months now, -28% over 14 days according to the NYT.

Meanwhile new cases surge in places that have not been hurt a lot in March-May (such as California, Texas, Florida, etc.), and not in places that have been (NY, MA, etc.). The correlation is very strong, while there is no correlation between the surge in new cases and the intensity of length of the lock-downs (in California, they have the lock-down earlier that anyone else, it was very strict, and it lasted very long). NY has no lock-down, and has still a significant number of active cases, yet there is no surge in cases and even less in deaths. This confirms all predictions made by the section of this commentariat I belong too, and can be summarized as follows.
Herd immunity or something very close is done in states like NY, etc.

The death fatality rate has been overestimated. It is probably something like 0.2% for a typical American. In NYT, NJ, etc, this rate has been sligthly increased because the policy has caused unnecessary massive infection in nursing homes. An infection of the general younger part of population first, creating herd immunity, would have stopped the epidemics before it devastated nursing homes, and avoided many deaths.

The case surge in places like Florida, California, etc., which has begun a month ago, has not caused any increase in deaths there. It creates herd immunity without creating pain. It is very good news.

At the same time, the economy created 4.8M jobs in June. This is also very good news.

So Bill, anonymous, Cuomo, etc., you had all wrong, you killed Grandma, and finally, you lose. I offer no sympathy.

You're enlisting the modern news media to encourage behaviors by NOT employing scare tactics? oh man...

"This analysis suggests a very different approach to addressing the creeping increase of irresponsible American socializing."

How is it irresponsible to socialize when everyone is going to get COIVD no matter what? If you are over the age of 60 or compromised, you need to lock yourself in your house until 2022 because the train has left the station. No amount of social distancing or mask wearing or government action is going to change the fact that people are over the lockdowns and are not going to do anything that would reduce the COVID by anything like an order of magnitude.

There are no certainties. A mutation that increases the fatality rate or a revelation that a large percentage of younger and even non-symptomatic persons have lung damage could change things.

Other countries have managed to halve the rate of new infections every six days. There is absolutely no reason the US could not do the same. It just has to make the effort. I suggest it make the effort, just to show it can. Note that Australia was able to rapidly reduce its new infection rate without a New Zealand style lockdown.

Brilliant insight. One further observation: the people who complain about loose people aren’t doing it to keep people home. As you point out, this would require them to be coy or humble. Well, that’s not what they are doing. Americans are very self-righteous. We harm our environment and do so with a haughty dignity.

The pandemic and lockdown will continue until Trump is disavowed by the people. Then they will (magically) end.

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