Coronavirus

With COVID-19, That Which Is Not Forbidden Is Mandatory—and Subsidized

When this is all over, don’t expect politicians to lose their taste for ordering us around.

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Whatever your feelings about the right response to the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are that what you're actually doing was dictated to you by government officials at one level or another. It's equally likely that you have no idea what costs you'll ultimately face as a result of those mandates from above or because of promised subsidies and economic interventions.

Across the country, political figures are racing to do something—anything!—so long as it's mandatory for you and your neighbors. And they're pleased to offer showers of magic money borrowed from the future to pick up some or all of the costs.

Who knew that a virus would threaten to turn the Land of the Free into a command society where what we do is directed and paid for by the state?

"I'm calling on the Federal Government to nationalize the medical supply chain," Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York announced on Sunday. "The Federal Government should immediately use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves."

Cuomo joined a chorus of voices including CNN's Jake Tapper and MSNBC's Kyle Griffin asking President Trump to follow up on his invocation of the dusty, Korean War-era Defense Production Act, which gave the government Soviet-style power over the economy in order to fight communism.

But why should the government start bossing private businesses around when these businesses are already scrambling to meet the massive demand for medical equipment driven by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Industrial giant 3M, which makes much-sought N95 masks, has already doubled output to 100 million units per month. Its efforts are being supplemented by fashion industry designers and manufacturers switching from fashion-forward clothes to medical supplies to meet massive demand.

Distillers, who have alcohol to spare, are stepping step into the gap to manufacture hand sanitizer, which is disappearing from shelves as fast as it's restocked (the only help they seem to need is regulators getting out of the way).

Ford and General Motors have announced plans to reopen car factories currently closed by the pandemic in order to manufacture ventilators to help critical-care COVID-19 patients. They're working with existing manufacturers to increase capacity using existing designs.

Some of the more interesting responses are the decentralized ones meeting peculiar local needs. That includes the hospitals and clinics working with their communities to share plans for masks that people can sew at home. It also means the Italian 3D-printer company—one of many such small, responsive firms responding to the crisis—that stepped up to supply components when a local hospital ran short of valves for connecting respirators to oxygen masks.

Nationalization of the medical supply chain, as Governor Cuomo demands, would replace a normal marketplace (well, normal-ish, considering the already considerable government intervention in medicine) of shifting incentives, responsive prices and supplies, and unplanned innovation with a single purchaser. That purchaser—the government—will also decide which lucky recipients get what, and the cost to the end user.

Likewise, social distancing seems to be a good idea during a pandemic, with many employers scrambling to promote telecommuting, schools and families struggling to master distance learning, and businesses innovating to survive the pandemic, if they can. (Even the long-established handshake may fall victim to COVID-19, fated to be replaced by less intimate greetings; the air kiss may finally have its day.) Not everybody is behaving as every official and expert would like, but it's not obvious that they should; we don't all face the same risks and we don't all live in the same circumstances. Nevertheless, most people have made big changes to work safeguards into their lives.

But politicians think such normal safeguards don't count unless they're enforced by law. That means we don't get individual decisions responding to varied preferences, values, and demands, but mandates from above, like California Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home order, reading in part:

I as State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of public Health order all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, as outlined at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19.

Forget that government officials' idea of "critical" may not match yours (Reason's Eric Boehm points out that politicians may disdain laundromats, but they're a necessity for many people). Forget, too, that you can't shut down parts of an economy without affecting the whole thing.

The politicians don't care, and they'll enforce their whims: violation of the California order is a misdemeanor, "punishable by a fine of not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment for not to exceed six months or by both." States including Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, threaten similar penalties for not obeying government orders.

Of course, smothering whole sectors of the economy, and maybe the whole thing, might end up being a bit pricey. We should get ready for "a tsunami of economic destruction that will cause tens of millions to lose their jobs as commerce and production simply cease," the Wall Street Journal editorial board warns.

Not to worry, the government has a plan. Another plan, that is.

After ordering people to close businesses and having killed jobs, while threatening to nationalize procurement for the healthcare industry, government leaders want to make it all better by moving money around to offset the losses. With a price tag closing in on $2 trillion, Democrats and Republicans are competing to stuff favored corporate bailouts, interest-group payoffs, unemployment benefits for those forcibly sidelined, and more, more, more!

The ultimate result will be to transform a more-or-less free society, driven by individual preferences and private decision-making, into one in which planning is centralized and costs are shifted according to governmental priorities. You can assume that some calculation will be built into that spending, too – rewards for friends and punishment for enemies, as is always the case in politics. That is, we're becoming a country in which much of what we do is both mandatory and subsidized.

When this is all over, don't expect politicians to lose their taste for ordering us around. That's a hard habit to break. You can be certain, though, that they'll want us to thank them profusely for the checks they cut to offset some of what they inflict on us.

NEXT: Law schools should not abandon standard grading policies for all students

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  1. This whole situation is making me anxious, but this article literally activated a gag reflex and made me want to vomit. I do wonder though, are Bernie and Joe dead? I have not heard or seen them in like a week.

    1. Biden is giving daily contrary briefings to try and stay relevant. This has eaten up all the oxygen and the latest polling shows a majority or plurality (depending on the poll) Americans support the President’s actions so far. And the Democrats actions this weekend on the relief package (rather you like the package or not) will hardly improve things. Their playing politics (I am sure you can say the same about the GOP) and I have a feeling it will blow up in the face bigger than the impeachment did. Their crocodile tears over Trump loosening regulations so alternative treatments can be tried is also likely to backfire. We keep getting told how Pelosi is a a political strategic genius, but it doesn’t appear so

      1. The GOP needs to take Democrats to the woodshed, swiftly and without mercy. I have no love for what they are doing with the money, but also recognize that much of it will probably be needed.

        Nevertheless, let it never be said that politicians won’t find any excuse [apparently even disease, death, and destruction] to compete for who gives away the most, take credit, and blame the others for voting against something they’ve put a poison pill in or used as ransom, which is essentially what Pelosi is up to. For those segments surely in huge need like medical personal protective gear, arguing over $10B vs $11B is less about the amount than it is the speed. No nurse is going to give a damn if she has to work without protective gear because in the long run, Dems appropriated just a little bit more, which could have been done later anyway. If you at risk of drowning, the guy who won’t let the other guy throw the float because he prefers an oblong one to a round one. This is all about using a crisis to promote a political agenda, as was evidenced by Pelosi trying to tack on abortion funding on the last one at the last second. Imagine the melee if Trump had tried to put southern wall funding in.

        1. My mother would have solved this bill wrangling and the arguing in 20 minutes. Declare a Joint Session of Congress. Then lock them all in the House chamber until they have a bill and say nice things about the other side. To speed things up, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Diaz-Balart, R-Fla and Sen Rand Paul are introduced to the room and told to mingle. This is over like . Healthcare workers are being asked to risk their health and lives, so why not Congress?

        2. Worse than the abortion funding, they’re trying to backdoor in the green new deal and completely rewrite the voting system.
          Their demands are both wildly unconstitutional and totalitarian.
          At some point, violence will be the only recourse left

      2. Pelosi is a a political strategic genius, but it doesn’t appear so.

        Clawing the way to Speaker (repeatedly) would appear to be well above average if not actually genius. The problem is that she is competing against someone, who if you read the papers, is a dolt and an imbecile.

        Which leaves us with the best that the DNC can put in the ring can’t beat an imbecile.

    2. Correct me if I am wrong, but most of the shutdowns were initially private decisions. Events were canceled and stores were closed because of private property owner decisions. The government decrees came later, and were demanded by the populace. So yes, the government overreacted and us going to take advantage of this to grow in power, but it is mostly a reflection of what the population demands.

      1. “The government decrees came later, and were demanded by the populace. So yes, the government overreacted and us going to take advantage of this to grow in power, but it is mostly a reflection of what the population demands.”

        Please cute, as I’ve not seen evidence that “the populace” (however you may define that) has done any such thing

        1. Businesses of various kinds were emptying out. However, the shelter-in-place orders went considerably beyond market preferences. In many cases, as usual, it’s hard to tell whether people were going to do voluntarily anyway what they were ordered to do or not do. Whenever controls are widespread, it becomes difficult to tell how far things are from what the market would result in, because there’s no realistic-enough comparison. It’s like, who could tell how far gas prices were going to drop once controls were removed?

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  2. Cuomo was complaining about “price gouging” over the weekend for masks and other equipment. Apparently the first casualty of an emergency is the law of supply and demand.

    Guess what, numbnuts? If you need them so badly – if you need the masks more than, say, California – then PAY FOR THEM. I guarantee you that the party on the other side bidding up the price isn’t doing so because you are the only locale in the nation who needs them. They are bidding up the price because THEY NEED THEM TOO.

    Somebody explain to me too why golf courses are closed and why we need nighttime curfews? Neither activity seems particularly risky to me, but I’m not a politician.

    1. Jinx (ish)

    2. You forget the other ways to get scarce things, besides buying or trading: begging and stealing.

      You can decide which category Cuomo’s plan fits.

    3. Somebody explain to me too why golf courses are closed

      I was wondering the same thing the other day. They want to close the restaurant, fine, but during a typical round of golf you might see and interact with maybe 2 or 3 people in the pro shop, then the 2 or 3 people you’re playing with. So maybe 6 people, tops. 7 if you also interact with the beer cart girl.

      It’s fucking stupid, and if I don’t get to hit a little white ball with a stick soon I might snap.

      1. Looks like somebody has a crush on the beer cart girl.

        1. You caught me… “hit a little white ball with a stick” was actually a clever euphemism.

        2. Everybody crushes on the beer cart girl. It’s one of the little rituals of the game. Then we all simp out by spending way too much for two mediocre (though ice-cold) Heinekens and a too large tip, then continue with our round.

      2. But that would require a little critical thinking. And open politicians to complaints from voters about unequal treatment, say yoga class participants complaining that they had to give up sweating in crowded rooms while rich golfers get to enjoy themselves separated by hundreds of yards.

      3. Optics. If some people were deprived of their entertainment, then others (particularly the stereotypic golfer) had to be too, so it’s “fair”.

    4. people who lament ‘price gouging’ are basically the anti-vaxxers of economics.

    5. Curfews are incredibly shortsighted.

      If you’re trying to keep lots of people from congregating in the same place at the same time, why minimize the hours people can do those activities. With a curfew, instead of 1000 people going to the grocery store in a 24 hour period, you have them all going to the store in a 10 hour period.

      That means more people congregating together at the same time, which is the exact opposite of the goal.

      If they wanted to stroke their command and control boner, a more productive order would have been to tell shops like grocery stores that they had to stay open 24 hours a day.

      But it’s government, and I expect them to make bad decisions with every choice they make.

  3. I heard Cuomo griping about paying a premium price for the “much-needed” surgical masks, which of course we all know is the most effective way to allocate scarce resources. It’s crazy to think that government would simultaneously pump trillions of dollars into the economy at large, while squeezing the manufacturers of critical medical equipment on cost.

    Meanwhile, the reality is that a $7 price for surgical masks will certainly mean that production will greatly increase. The exact result that they’re looking for. And a high price will ensure that people won’t simply stock pile masks, further reducing their scarcity and impacting places that actually need them most. You know… how price signals have always worked throughout history.

    1. This guy gets it.

    2. Uber-capitalist Mark Cuban was just on Fox & Friends decrying 3M and price gouging. On the other hand, aren’t Tapper and others of his ilk always decrying “greedy capitalists?” So why would greedy capitalists need to be forced to make more of their product? Crises are always great for exposing economic fallacies and political pandering.

      1. Cuban should be the last guy complaining about the price of anything. Average ticket cost has tripled in the last 3 years and the price of a beer is now about $9. He would cite supply and demand, which is good enough for him, but not for anyone else.

        I don’t know if 3M is “gouging”, but I do know their cost of production has gone way up as they pay double overtime, which is still ironically about 1% of what his players make in a single year. How about ol Mark parting with a billion or two and poly up for supplies?

    3. Price signals aren’t fair. That’s why we have government. You know, to repeal and replace Supply and Demand. I’m surprised they haven’t amended Gravity to alleviate the obesity crisis.

      1. Plus reducing gravity will increase the mileage on all cars – – – – – –

      2. Gravity is just a tool of the white cis-male patriarchy to keep the black man down!

    4. England, Italy, Switzerland and Spain all have considerable more deaths per million citizens then the US (even if some countries have less deaths overall, gee less citizens have less deaths). Sure is a testament to government ran healthcare. US deaths would have to increase dramatically to approach their numbers (per capita).

      1. Switzerland has private healthcare. And most Americans over the age of 65 have government run healthcare. I think you’re looking for correlation too hard.

        1. Switzerland has government mandated and heavily regulated (more regulated then ours) private health care, not true private health care. Even if the above 65 have socialized health care, the majority of Americans don’t which means that private industry pays for the care of all but those who are most at risk, allowing greater focusing of resources where they are needed. Our healthcare system is also much more robust because it is consumer driven and more flexible then a government ran system. No, the correlation is there. Multiple studies have demonstrated that you receive better care, lower mortality and quicker access to medical care in a private system. We are seeing this yet again.

          1. I don’t disagree with your take on private vs public healthcare. I just think that your correlation/causation hypothesis is too early to test.

            Also, I’d take the Swiss version of healthcare to Medicare/Medicaid or an HMO any day. My in-laws are Swiss and they have phenomenal healthcare. Better than most Americans I’d say. And I can also say that the average Swiss is in FAR better health than the average American. There are demographic reasons for this…but just saying.

    5. Exactly, Leo. High prices during a shortage are a signal to suppliers to make more!

  4. Politicians don’t get elected by being smart.

    1. only just smart enough to promise enough people what they want so they can get reelecrted next time around. That takes being smart (or wealthy) enough to find out what which people want, and how to provide it (rather, PROMISE to provide it) in some way it does not directly raise taxes in a way they can figure out at least until it is too late.

  5. “We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela,” Trump told reporters. “How did nationalization of their businesses work out? Not too well.”

    There is still resistance to nationalization, which is a good thing.

    1. Spin this: “When asked by a reporter whether he supports the government taking an equity stake in certain companies, Trump responded: “I do. I really do.”

      1. And directly refuted calls to nationalize companies.
        Eric appears not to understand that equity = stock

        1. And stock equals a stake in the ownership of a corporation.
          What part of advocating government ownership of the means of production makes Trump “The Most Libertarian President Ever”? If the guy had a ‘D’ behind his name your fingers would be raw from squealing “SOCIALIST!” For the past three days.

          1. You actually think owning stock is equal to fascism. You’re a fucking idiot eric.

            1. Did I say Fascism? No I said Socialism. You and your ilk have been screeching about it for long enough that I’d assume you knew what it was.

              1. “Socialism isn’t a problem if it’s not the fascist type of socialism, but objecting to socialism is a problem!”
                -Eric

              2. It’s not true socialism! Look it up in the dictionary! Trump is a libertarian! Best president EVAH! Trump 2020! He can do no wrong!

              3. Stock equity isnt socialism either dipshit. It literally operates ownership on a market platform.

                Socialism would be like funding Solyndra with risk free loans. Government does too much of it. But stock purchases that can result in losses or gains is not socialism dipshit.

                Again, in a time when the opposing party is begging to increase executive powers you should be thankful a president is resisting the calls.

                But you cant be. Because you’re an idiot who values social signaling more.

                1. Are you really defending the government taking partial ownership of private companies?

                  1. My god man, I literally said earlier I dont agree with it. Look at the time stamp. My god man, stop being so pathetic.

                    1. I saw you disagreeing with nationalizing companies, but defending Trump for wanting the government to have stock in companies.

                      Is there anything Trump does that you can be critical of?

                      Bueller? Bueller?

                    2. I didnt defend trump you pathetic shit. I said stock ownership wasnt socialism. It isnt. I didnt defend the practice of government purchase of stocks.

                      For fuck sakes, are you capable of comprehending an argument or do you just jump into strawmen arguments?

                    3. Bueller?

                    4. By the way, I’ve listed the parts of trump I disagree with many times. Gun bans, government subsidized loans, his entire medical platform of extending insurance with government funds, etc.

                      I’ve done this multiple times because you, jeff, tony, sqrsly all devolve into the same idiotic arguments.

                      You’re incapable of arguing the actual argument being presented.

                    5. By the way, I’ve listed the parts of trump I disagree with many times. Gun bans, government subsidized loans, his entire medical platform of extending insurance with government funds, etc.

                      Hm. I can’t argue with that. I must have missed that. I don’t live here. Speaking of, I think I’m gonna do my job for a while. Toodles!

                    6. You didnt miss it. I’ve done it over a dozen times at this point. You were in a majority of those threads.

                    7. You didnt miss it. I’ve done it over a dozen times at this point. You were in a majority of those threads.

                      Like I said, I don’t live here. I don’t read every comment on every thread. I don’t read every article. I sometimes go for days without looking at H&R.

                      But go ahead and call me a liar if it makes you happy.

                  2. He is. But only because he is so completely married to his delusion of Trump being a Libertarian paragon. It’d make everything he’s said here for the past four years bullshit.

                    1. Lol. You and sarcasmic are a riot. You literally cant post a single substantive comment. It is literally 100% merely ad hominem (one based on literal lies).

                      Thanks for exposing the shallowness of your argumentation.

                      Quick, someone said trump didnt want to nationalize industries, we must go on the attack!!!

                      Lol. What fucking pathetic jokes you are.

                    2. My original reply was to your quote preening on how Trump wasn’t in favor of nationalization. There was no attack on you or ad hominem. Your response should have been: “Good point. Hopefully Trump realizes the error of HIS ways, and reconsiders.

                    3. Eric, poor pathetic eric….

                      You said “Spin this.” Literally your first two words. It was an attempted attack on me. My first reply to you was literally “Why would I spin that? I dont agree with it.”

                      Then you started on about me wanting socialism.

                      You’re an idiot.

                    4. Here was your other reply:

                      “Stock equity isnt socialism either dipshit. It literally operates ownership on a market platform.”

                      So which is it? Because it looks to me that you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth.

          2. It’s not socialism unless government has 100% ownership. So if government forces companies to give it a 51% stake so it can dictate what the companies do, it’s not true socialism. It’s libertarianism, because Trump is the BEST PRESIDENT EVAH!

            1. And when did trump advocate for majority ownership? He dodnt. This is your side if the arguments problem, you make up shit to attack him.

              In a time when democrats are begging Trump to use war time powers to nationalize medical industries, you should be happy he is refusing. But you and eric cant be. Because youd have to say something nice about Trump.

              1. Dude, I was exaggerating, and I wasn’t even talking to you. I’m sorry you take such things personally. I can’t imagine getting emotional over someone making fun of a politician. It just doesn’t compute.

                1. Lol. Please. You ran into a thread to accuse me of soliciting murder on people. Want to discuss emotions? Alcoholics are generally emotional people, so stop projecting.

                  You rushed in here to defend eric. Please stop scaring innocent. You literally do this every thread.

                  1. Says the guy who flips out whenever anyone is remotely critical of Trump….

                    1. You really are pathetic. I dont even defend trump that much unless I agree with him. You’re just lying like you lied about me wishing death on people. You’re a known and proven liar.

                      Engage in the actual argument.

                    2. You’re just lying like you lied about me wishing death on people.

                      If you recall I looked back and saw it was NumbNutz, and retracted what I said. I get you two confused since you’re part of the same choir.

                    3. You’re a known and proven liar.

                      Haaaaa ha ha ha haaaa ha ha ha! Yeah, dude. Whatevs.

                    4. So you lied. Good for you for retracting one lie. But that doesnt mean you’re not lying again. Which you are.

                    5. I wasn’t being a liar. I was mistaken. There is a difference.

                      But keep calling me a liar if it makes you happy. Even if it makes you the liar.

                    6. No, you lied. When I said I didnt you double downed on it. I asked for a link and you said “earlier.” Only an hour later did you admit you lied. 4 times you stated with certainty I had done it. That is a lie. And in this thread you lie about my posting history despite multiple times I’ve told you I listed disagreements with trump. Again, you are lying.

                      The only way you get out of this is by either being a known liar or admitting you’re an ignorant fuck who cant comprehend actual arguments.

                    7. I’m sorry I got you and Nardz confused. I honestly thought it was you, not Nardz, who was wishing death on people. You two are mostly clones of each other so it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes. It wasn’t deliberate.

                      But keep calling me a liar if it makes your balls tingle. It just makes you the liar.

                      Go ahead and have the last word. I’m going to work now.

                    8. Lol. Cant even be a man in an apology, calling me a clone of someone else. Fine. I’m calling you Jeff from now on. You’re basically a clone of him.

                    9. And Mr. Libertarian’s objection is?

                    10. Cant even be a man in an apology

                      At least one of us is man enough to admit to being wrong and apologize.

          3. If the guy had a ‘D’ behind his name your fingers would be raw from squealing “SOCIALIST!” For the past three days.

            You’re a sock! Nobody except Reason employees would say that! Sock! Sock! Trump 2020! Aaaauuugghh!

            1. Again… pathetic. You literally cant have one good statement about trump exist.

              1. I’ve said plenty of good things about Trump. You didn’t notice, just as you’ve never noticed Reason say anything good about Trump or anything bad about Democrats. You’re like the dead people on the Sixth Sense. You only see what you want to see.

                1. Plenty. You mean one or two? You do the same pathetic shit Jeff would do. You would say one positive thing one, then go right back to trashing 99% of the time then claim yourself neutral.

                  Again, the president here is literally resisting expanding his own power and you cant give him credit.

                  1. I’m supposed to give him credit for not doing something bad?

                    Oh gee JesseAz! You didn’t shoot that guy who cut you off on the highway! You have so much restraint! You’re so awesome!

                    1. Lol. It I’d amazing how quickly you dissolve into absolute shit arguments. C’mon, say one good thing. You say you’ve said plenty. You can do it. prove it neutral sarcasmic.

                    2. I support Trump’s deregulation, as minor as it was. I’m happy about being able to keep a little more of my paycheck.

                      As a libertarian I’m not at all happy with his protectionist policies, both economic and with immigration.

                    3. Hey congrats. You can mature a tiny bit.

                    4. You can mature a tiny bit.

                      You seriously think I’m serious all the time? Dude…. Get your head checked. I intentionally act immature, do a valley girl imitation, and blow things out of proportion. It’s a shtick. You are way too serious. Get over yourself. Geez.

                    5. If your shtick is being an overly sensitive asshole, you do it beautifully.

          4. Who said he was the most libertarian president ever? Not libertarians, for sure.

      2. Why would I spin that? I dont agree with it.

        This is your problem Eric, you dont add substantive discussion. All you do is seek out ways to attack others. Hilarious you tried calling out others for doing so.

          1. Jesse regularly posts substantive information.
            Hell, Jerry’s dug up a post from like 5 years ago in which jesse predicts the medical supply squeeze now being applied by China.
            Eric, on the other hand, has never posted a single thing consisting of more than “orange man/supporters bad”
            You’re worthless, dude

            1. It was 10 years ago lol.

            2. I burned your Trump loving asses up thread. I consider that a service for this entire commentariat. Now go back to defending your Socialist president comrade.

              1. Lol. No you didn’t. Eric had visions of self grandeur.

                1. Tell me how government equity in a corporation isn’t a major step towards socialism. You do realize common stockholders get to choose who runs the company right? If that isn’t a form of control over the means of production help to understand.

              2. Eric
                March.23.2020 at 10:08 am
                I burned your Trump loving asses up thread

                Sure, hihn

                1. Hihn actually tries to engage with you. He doesn’t realize that he’s beating his head against a brick wall.

                  Why is it that your little group constantly calls everyone a sock. I thinks it’s a defense mechanism. What’s your take Nardz?

                  1. *please citethe sock thing looks like a meme to me, and your interpretation of hihn trying to engage with people is noted.

                    Now go ahead and cite where I’ve called someone a sock.

                    1. Damn it, leftover comment that apparently didn’t post.

                      This one should read
                      “the sock thing looks like a meme to me, and your interpretation of hihn trying to engage with people is noted.

                      Now go ahead and cite where I’ve called someone a sock.”

                    2. “I really underestimated your lack of intelligence.“

                      Tell me again how equity doesn’t equal ownership smart guy.

                    3. Didn’t claim equity doesn’t equal ownership, I noted that purchasing shares of stock isn’t the same as nationalization.
                      But feel free to keep embarrassing yourself, eric.

                  2. “ Now go ahead and cite where I’ve called someone a sock”

                    You literally just did it in this thread:
                    “Sure, hihn“

                    1. Wow.
                      I really underestimated your lack of intelligence.
                      My bad.
                      Let’s see if I can explain…
                      Sometimes, one addresses another by using a third party’s name as a rhetorical device.
                      Insult via reference.
                      But it appears you have a special place for hihn posts…

          2. When did I jump on any of your substantive comments with a personal attack? I only reply to you when you reply to me. You offer nothing of substance.

            1. You may be right. I probably and unfairly lump you in with your whole sewing circle. BTW. It’s nice that you let LC participate. It makes him feel important. And make sure to say hi to Shitlord next time you see him. He and I are kind of a thing, if you didn’t know.

  6. This week three distinct groups will emerge, actually I think they are already formed:
    Group 1: Still working and getting full pay albeit in some cases reduced capacity at home
    Group 2: Not working but still getting full pay, large percentage are government workers, also many work for deep pocket companies
    Group 3: Not working or working at greatly reduced pay

    Groups 1 and 2 are the cheerleaders of shut it all down. They are the majority at present. However if this thing goes on months versus weeks those in group 2 will soon find out one morning in their pajama’s that they are now part of Group 3.

    And when we reach that tipping point it won’t matter what the politicians say. The quarantine is over.

    In one month this starts if its not even less than that

    1. I really pity people living paycheck to paycheck who aren’t allowed to go to work because government said so. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I was in their shoes.

      1. Because for all the virtue signalling Group 1 and 2 do they are A-OK with letting Group 3 suffer just to completely eliminate their risk of getting the virus.

        They cover with their concern for the health care worker.

        But once enough of them become Group 3 their tune will completely change

        1. All I can say is if you don’t have a loaded gun to protect your home, you better get one.

        2. I’m fortunate enough to be in Group 1, and I’m not at all ok with letting Group 3 suffer. I’ll feed my neighbors if it comes to that.

          1. I’m also Group 1 and can work from home for now but my customers are potentially affected and thus the proposals I am writing at home will not be acted on near future. How long before my boss decides to downgrade my group number?

              1. “2 weeks.”

                As said by the contractors from, “The Money Pit.” https://tenor.com/view/two-weeks-gif-8224513

        3. And the crazy thing is, (assuming we believe the government) it’s NOT GOING TO STOP THEM FROM GETTING IT! They will just be getting it LATER than they otherwise would have!

    2. How do your groups map onto people who push paper (or tap keyboards) vs. those who touch physical things (you know, the things that everyone is shouting about needing more of)?

      1. Services don’t have value?

        1. Of course they do. But too many people, especially in formerly trendy urban areas and champions of the information economy, forget that we humans are still dependent on physical things for food, shelter, energy, etc.

      2. Well, they want to shutdown everything except :
        1) Medical
        2) Basic necessities, food , water, electricity

        I work in the power sector so most of my job is tapping a keyboard and I already worked at home. But I am a designer so my designs eventually have to turn into hard products that get delivered to my customers, i.e. the utilities.

        But what I propose and produce are upgrades to existing power plats. They are all now hunkering down into strictly maintenance mode and upgrades will be deferred. So my business will be affected although with some delay since the utilities want to continue on their side as long as they are allowed but placing an order, what my boss cares about is definitely delayed at best.

    3. My husband and I employ 4 other people on a regular basis. Harris County, Texas is likely to enact shelter in place in a few minutes. On our way into work, we floated the idea of asking them to take half pay next month so we can continue to pay them all.

      1. The village idiot postponed announcing her decision on that until later today. That said, I’m pretty sure she’s going to monkey-see, monkey-do whatever Dallas does.

        Here’s today’s question for the class: how do these people plan on enforcing this curfew? At a time when cops are desperately trying to not make arrests, and jails are trying to release as many inmates as they can under the public’s nose? Is this going to be a primary offense for initiating a traffic stop? What are the penalties?

        1. I have no idea. We also have 4 Harris County Sheriffs that have tested positive so have as little interaction with an HCSO as possible would be recommended right now.
          We are still going to work because we can but it is heartbreaking to see all the empty strip centers knowing that they mostly represent small family-owned businesses that are likely laying off employees and /or losing life savings as this continues. If we go into lockdown, these will lose what little income they have when businesses like dry cleaners, florists, dog groomers, etc could still do business quite easily with acceptable social distance. This is the burbs we are all driving to these places in our own car, not mass transit.

    4. I’m part of group 1, and I’m not looking to shut it all down.

      Of course, I’m part of a generation that has a home, and an office, and likes to keep them separate.

    5. Group 1, I think everything is an overreaction and I’m in PA so all our restaurants are closed. Thank god Wawa has been spared. First thing I’m doing once this bullshit ends is my own restaurant week (Philly’s is garbage anyways) to help them all out.

      1. Also PA resident , western PA. I’ve talked to my reps and tried Gov Wolf and they all act like treating Philly different than the rest of the state is somehow crazy? No doing the opposite is crazy.

        1. Do they ever understand that not everyplace is uniform? I mean you haven’t they always tried to treat everywhere as homogeneous? Trying to pass one size fits all laws rather than relying on federalism has been pretty much the MO since the end of WWII at least. They don’t seem to understand that what works in NYC will not work in my county, the situations are so completely different. If we shut down completely people wouldn’t eat in the coming months. Yes, they have ruled agriculture is essential, but with over 20% of population (it is actually higher than this, because kids aren’t counted as being employed in agriculture, but our families are vital to keeping the farm or ranch operating) even shelter in place would be completely meaningless. We still need the implement dealers and mechanics, we still need the fertilizer and seed dealers open, we still need the grain elevators and livestock auction yards open. And heading into calving season, we definitely need the veterinarians open. We also need the bank open, because we mainly operate on credit until we sell our crops. Shelter in place is meaningless out here on the northern prairie and we already practice social distancing because of extremely low population density. We spent all weekend working on the ranch, my wife and kids, we didn’t see another person either day.

          1. And it wasn’t because of COVID-19 either, it would be the same rather their was or wasn’t a pandemic on right now.

    6. I’m in group #1 and I’m definitely against the “shut everything down” hysteria. There are a lot more people in group #3, and they’re already hurting in those parts of the country which have overreacted. FWIW, I don’t know anyone in group #2.

  7. This whole thing just makes me feel so hopeless as a libertarian. That realization that absolutely no one wants to hear a single thing about fiscal responsibility or letting the market do its work or gives a single shit about civil liberties is just soul crushing. It’s like being trapped in a car barreling towards a cliff and everyone shouting “CLIFF CLIFF CLIFF CLIFF” at the top of their lungs.

    1. Lets hope we avoid the cliff which is a large portion transitioning to Group 3.

      For some its already happened but I think if we can be done mid to late April and I mean back to business then it can be recovered.

      Folks HAVE to start looking at the actual data and start putting things in perspective economic versus medical.

      Its certainly not the plague, its not even the Spanish flu

    2. The good news, if there is any, is that a lot of people are simply ignoring the government mandated freak-out. This is even happening in the states that are locked down, yet they aren’t getting arrested. Restaurants around me even appear to be doing ok with takeout orders.

    3. Nobody is talking about fiscal responsibility because we are facing an economic disaster, and this is the exact situation where massive deficit spending is needed. The “market” that you so love is the same market that gave us far fewer ICU beds per capita then many other countries and lots of low pay workers without any health care coverage. I agree that we need to keep a close eye on civil liberties, but those liberties do not extend to putting the public health at risk.

      1. Keynesian spotted. Did you know that public health suffers when the economy tanks?

      2. Yeah, the AMA and the government colluding for decades to keep supply of healthcare artificially low is really the free market. Damn you’re smart.

      3. Are you aware the US has the most ICU beds per capita of any country?

      4. Of course we can’t be fiscally responsible this is an emergency! And of course we can’t be concerned about civil liberties right now, this is important!

        Whatever it is doesn’t seem to matter, does it? It’s always important. It’s always an emergency. In every single nanosecond of time that exists there is always, perpetually, and forever without cease an emergency which is so important that we just can’t afford to be free.

        Why are you even here?

      5. “The “market” that you so love is the same market that gave us far fewer ICU beds per capita then many other countries…”

        No. You can thank the very anti-free market/ anti-competition “certificate of need” laws on the books in several states for that.

  8. Whatever happened to “Give me liberty, or give me death”?

    1. That was always a minority view. The majority of humans are always looking to trade liberty for safety, or something.

    2. Since the Revolution was over the right to protect slavery (ask the NYT) anyone who believes that must support slavery. You racist. Next you’ll be calling it The Chinese Virus.

      1. It’s the Wuhan Virus.

    3. Nobody goes to church anymore?

  9. Looking at the numbers this morning, basically half of the cases in the US, and 1/3 of the deaths, are in New York. Add in New Jersey, Washington, and California, and you get 2/3 of all cases and deaths. And I would hazard a guess that within those states, the vast majority of cases are pretty well concentrated in a few urban areas. So at what point do we start to acknowledge that, if these drastic measures are warranted at all, it is really only in a few select areas? If you want to lock people down, lock down NYC metro, LA, SF, Seattle, and you probably have the vast majority of cases. The urban progressives are the ones who love some government action anyway. Let the rest of the country go on with some semblance of their normal lives. That’s part of what bothers me so much with all this- there may be a few isolated areas where severe actions could actually make some difference. I still don’t agree on libertarian grounds, but whatever. But the fact that they just say EVERYONE, across the country, whether you live in Manhattan or Manhattan, KS needs to take the same actions and approach makes no sense at all.

    1. It’s a trial run…

      1. “It’s a trial run…”

        Yeah. They are rapidly losing my belief in their good intentions with a lot of their new actions.

        1. This is exactly where I’m at. By continuing to only test the most severe cases, they’re ensuring that the stats look a lot worse than they actually are. If you are only testing severe cases, 100% of the confirmed cases will be severe………

    2. No, no, no, no. That would be UNFAIR! All people must be treated equally. So if the urban hipsters have to suffer because their lifestyle poses higher risks then we all have to suffer. EQUALITY!, or something.

    3. “Let the rest of the country go on with some semblance of their normal lives. ”

      The rest of the country has a third of the cases of the virus, as you point out.

    4. The epidemics in the cities show what happens when drastic measures are not taken soon enough. The communities that are not getting it now will in the near future. Their actions now will determine if they get it bad or catastrophic. It is the entire “I don’t see people sick in my community now” mentality that got us here in the first place.

      1. Well for one thing, got us where? People getting sick from a virus, the vast majority of which have benign symptoms? Because that’s… going to happen. Make no mistake, I have always firmly been in the camp that we shouldn’t do anything beyond perhaps emphasizing to people that they should wash their hands during flu season. What will be, will be. So I’m not saying “OMG, I was sure this would be a big deal throughout the country, but now I think we will contain it in a few cities, whew, we dodged a bullet.” Because I just don’t care, and never did.

        With that said, if we must freak out about this, we need to be informed by the data. I do concede your point that it is possible those areas are just seeing it before everyone else, and the waves from NY and CA will wash across the country and decimate Des Moines a month from now. However, to me it seems at least equally possible that these areas, with high population densities combined with tons of international travelers and immigrant residents (some of whom, like it or not, bring some of the more questionable sanitation practices of their native cultures with them) could be particularly susceptible to large scale outbreaks and, to the extent that the risk of “overwhelming the system” is real, that is where it could very well happen. How the numbers trend in the coming days will give a better picture of this, but I think that needs to at least be on the radar. NY might have 10k new cases today, and the rest of the country not much more than a thousand. At some point we need to ask ourselves whether the US has a problem, or NY (specifically NYC) does.

      2. How quickly will it spread in my county? We have a population of about 10,000 in an area over twice the size of Rhode Island. Yes we already have one positive case, but the number of people who have interacted with that person is infinitesimally smaller than the number of people an infected person in New York City would interact with. Calving and planting season are due to start in the next couple of weeks, lambing season has already started. These activities will further cut down personal interaction as over a fifth of our county population will be to busy working (mainly by themselves) for the next two months to have any time to interact with anyone but their families (and then only briefly).

        1. Yeah. And take Michigan- their crazy governor is issuing statewide edicts about what people and (more importantly) businesses must do. If your worry is controlling the spread of something like this, can you REALLY say that it makes sense to apply the same rules to the UP of Michigan (95% isolated wilderness with 19 people/sq mi) as the lower peninsula (239 people/sq mi)? OR, to take it further, to apply the same rules to the lower peninsula in general as to, say, Detroit, with 4713 people/sq mi? Because it DOES make a difference, numskulls! Though I doubt Whitmer even remembers that the UP is part of Michigan most of the time, nor care what those hicks want when she does.

          1. “can you REALLY say that it makes sense to apply the same rules to the UP of Michigan (95% isolated wilderness with 19 people/sq mi) as the lower peninsula (239 people/sq mi)?”

            The school rooms and number of children per class is roughly the same in the upper and lower parts of the state. Children also attend school with others instead of calving and planting alone as adults do.

            1. Starting spring break early/going to distance learning is completely different then shelter in place orders. Nice attempt at sophistry there. BTW, you would be surprised at how much more absenteeism we have in our schools during planting, harvesting and calving seasons. That is why our schools have deliberately shorter Christmas and Spring breaks, so we can shorten the school year so kids are more available during the height of the summer growing season.

              1. “Starting spring break early/going to distance learning is completely different then shelter in place orders.”

                Than is correct. Then is incorrect. I’ve already been over this with you. A horse is bigger THAN a dog. I woke up THEN got dressed. It’s not difficult.

                Closing schools is not dissimilar to shelter in place orders. It just affects children more than adults. And schools in sparsely populated places are typically of a similar class size to a school in a densely populated area. They have fewer schools in sparsely populated areas, but the schools they do have are roughly comparable to the schools in densely populated areas. Classes in Detroit are not going to be 200 times greater than (not so hard, was it) schools located in isolated areas.

                1. Similar class size, really? The graduating class last year was 20 students. In a town 15 miles from here it was 6. And you respond to my comment about your stupid sophistry by being being a grammar Nazi. Here is a hint when you have to correct people for misusing one single word (and spend a whole paragraph doing such) it generally demonstrates the weakness of your argument. No, rural classes are not the same size as urban schools. When I took pre-calcalus as a senior there were only 4 students. How many urban schools have a class size that small. How do you approach similar class sizes to urban schools when the entire K-12 school district is less than 120 students or fifty or 40?

                  1. “And you respond to my comment about your stupid sophistry by being being a grammar Nazi.”

                    I’ve told you multiple times about then and than and I expect you to get it right. If you still don’t understand, feel free to ask me for a more detailed explanation.

                    1. I don’t fucking care. Get a clue. I don’t have to satisfy your needs. You lack an argument so pick a mundane useless reason to criticize me. From now on I will purposely use the wrong form just to make you act like an asshat. And expose your complete uselessness in staying on topic.

                2. My son’s class, which is the largest class in school history is 28 students. So try telling me again how we can’t be 200 times smaller than a classroom in Detroit? How do you figure a school district that routinely has 1 or 2 seniors can be anywhere close to the same size as a classroom in Detroit?

                3. And in my k-12 school, with four separate incorporated towns going to it, plus 4 more unincorporated, we had 151 students total my senior year. That is less than 12 students per class on average.

                4. Also, if you go strictly by state comparison it is comparable, but even in states like Montana, you have a couple of extremely large school districts (Missoula, Billings, Bozeman) that skew the mean to the right. In this case median or more likely mode would be a better measurement then mean.

                  1. Schools in Montana and upper Michigan have fewer students than those of New York, Washington, California and New Jersey, where the virus has hit the hardest.

                    1. And thus smaller class sizes. Which you maintain is not possible. Isn’t that what you maintained? Divide 151 by 13 and let me know what the average class size is. Or can you only correct unimportant grammar?

    5. Yeah it’s weird to see all the talk about flattening the curve, but no talk about increasing the ability of the system. Trump is doing fairly well here, using a hands-off approach to rules but helping with logistics where it’s warranted.

      1. “Trump is doing fairly well here,”

        I saw him recently on Youtube interviewed by Hannity. It was a credible, extemporaneous, performance. Trump seemed confident and in control. The last I saw him he was addressing the nation from the oval office or somewhere similarly serious and impressive, reading from a teleprompter. It was execrable. Wooden, insincere, stumbling and unconvincing. All this and worse. For a man with a show business background, Trump should do better.

        1. I am much less interested in the optics of the situation than I am the policies enacted.

          1. I’m sort of half optics, half policies.

            1. You’re entirely about sophistry and correcting grammar rather then actually holding meaningful debate.

              1. Truman is basically a spam bot with poorly coded ai

  10. It’s good to read that industries like 3M, GM, Ford, and clothing makers are adapting to confront the virus. No mention of the banking and finance sector, though. Have they not done anything to merit a mention in an article about the private sector’s response? People, who may be cloistered at home for some time, may need access to credit which the banks can fulfill.

  11. Considering what it cost for government to keep us safe from terrorists after 9/11 and the fact that this is many thousands of times worse than 9/11, I’m afraid we might not be able to afford what it’s going to cost us for the government to keep us safe from getting sick.

    Not that I’m complaining about the cost of safety, of course, I’ve been happy to pay the price in lost liberty so long as I’m now safe from terrorists, and I do have to admit that since 9/11 I’ve never once been attacked – much less killed – by a terrorist so I guess it works! (A happy side effect of the “no terrorists allowed” policy is that since 9/11 I’ve never once been torn to pieces by baboons, trampled by elephants, eaten by tigers or kicked to death by a giraffe since the TSA is doing such a great job of keeping those animals out of the country as well.)

    1. ” I’m afraid we might not be able to afford what it’s going to cost us for the government to keep us safe from getting sick. ”

      The cost will be borne by future generations. You have nothing to fear.

  12. Who knew that a virus would threaten to turn the Land of the Free into a command society where what we do is directed and paid for by the state?

    Anybody watching the government over that past 20 years?

    1. And the sheeple?

  13. The worst case assumptions predict fewer deaths than automobiles or abortion.
    Why the mad panic? Fascists.

    1. You can contract the disease by merely breathing. You need a higher level of volition if you want to get yourself killed in a car or abortion clinic.

    2. Uhh. No. Cars kill about 35,000 Americans a year. Covid will easily beat that. There are about 600,000 abortions a year. It is possible that covid will rival that.

  14. “…and why we need nighttime curfews?”

    If you’re going to kick out much of your jail population—as seems to be trendy, just see the Shackford article from today—you’re going to want to try to keep them off the streets as much as possible during darkness.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  15. This mindset seems similar to the incorrect idea that The President is commander in chief of the United States. He is not. He is CinC of the armed forces and leader of the Executive Branch. His powers are limited to those enumerated either in the Constitution or in proper legislation. Every utterance out of his mouth is not a lawful order.

    I don’t know how this misconception evolved. But it needs to end.

    That said, I think one of the big lessons we should learn out of this whole debacle is proper risk management. It’s important in systems safety to pay attention to the corners of the risk matrix. The rare but extremely catastrophic events can indeed happen. You may not be able to prevent the event but you should at least be able to mitigate the outcomes. (that’s why fighter/attack aircraft have ejection seats, sometimes all the engineering in the world fails and it’s time to give the plane back to the taxpayers).

    So what is the true cost/benefit of having a robust system of disease surveillance, contact tracking, quarantine and isolation, and vaccine/medicine development? We’re about to get some data on that question (and I’m not advocating that should necessarily come from the government).

  16. Oy, are the suppliers going to overshoot when this pandemic peters out! Get ready for the recipes for hand sanitizer cocktails.

  17. And all of this expanded command and control is coming from the same pols that said C-19 was nothing to worry about, let it get here despite the advantage of oceans between us and it, and then and now botched testing.

    Government – the only activity where your organization grows and you prosper most from your failures.

  18. Trump just banned hoarding and price gouging. Most libertarian president ever!

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