Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
- Facemasks. Looks like the simplest, most effective tool to use during the epidemic here in the US is to simply wear a mask when out in public. As such, the stay at home lockdown impacting 75% of Americans is both unnecessary and needlessly damaging to the economy. If what the Japanese have done (everyone wears a mask while in public) is any indication, if we can take that simple step, we can start opening things up quickly.
- Appears one of the solutions is to mask up. It only took the WH Task Force a month after the bottom fell out to recommend something they should have done from day one. Masks were an integral part of the successful response by South Korea and Japan to the spread of the infection. Disgust over failure of the briefers at the daily WH briefing to push masking up has been at the center of Scott Adams’ disgust with what they are doing and recommending. While masking up is not a silver bullet, it ought to help mitigate exposure with a minimum of imposed pain, as viral load when infected appears to be an important variable – the more you snarf, the worse your case is likely to be. Masks work a couple ways. First, they mitigate outbound contamination. Second, they help keep your hands off your face (eyes, nose, mouth), locations where the virus can enter the body. Quality of the mask seems to be mostly immaterial, as homemade cloth ones can (and will) be washed (unlike reusable shopping bags which aren’t).
- President Trump turned over part of his daily briefing to My Pillow owner Mike Lindell, who turned his entire operation to facemask production. As an evangelical, he then went on to acknowledge the grace God visited on him and asked for God’s help in the crisis. For this, the media mocked and ridiculed him and the President that gave him a public forum. None of the media noted that Trump had to use the Defense Production Act against GM for crawfishing after their promise to produce 40,000 ventilators while My Pillow stepped right up and did the best they could. The story demonstrates continuing media hostility to Christianity and the agility of a small business to turn on a dime. Note that as of this writing, 93% of auto production in the US has been shut down and shifted to ventilator production. This shutdown also extends to auto parts, which are going to get in somewhat short supply in weeks and months to come.
- One of my favorite analysts, Willis Eschenbach wrote a piece in WUWT over the weekend taking a close look at the data and asking if lockdowns work. His conclusion? Not only are they generally ineffective, but the damage they do to the overall economy – currently at over a trillion dollars and 10 million newly on the unemployment rolls – is far worse than the actual damage by the disease. His recommendation is to spend the trillion dollars on the health care system and don’t lock the US down. The nation doing the best to minimize deaths per 10 million population is Japan. They also have the fewest governmental social distancing measures in place. So, what are they doing? Almost universal use of masks when out in public. Read the analysis at the link above. It is compelling.
- Finally, 3M got themselves in a spot of trouble after FNC reported their distributors were selling medical grade facemasks to overseas clients who showed up with large quantities of cash. Denials were thrown all over the place, with the NYT jumping onboard decrying President Trump’s use of the Defense Production Act to shut down these sales. This makes the first time in recent memory that the NYT was in passionate defense of the free market. It will likely be the last.
- Wuhan. The following are Wuhan-related things I came across over the last week:
- The next big political fight will be between Trump’s medical experts, the media and democrats on one side and the Americans he wants to return to work. Jack Wheeler thinks they have sprung a trap on him that he will have a hard time extracting himself from. Don’t think I agree with that viewpoint. Do agree that they will use and abuse a reopening, but if the focus shifts to masking up, having the drugs available, and paying particular attention to Americans in the high risk categories, I think we will be opening much quicker than anyone suspects.
- While the media glories in reporting Wuhan deaths, there is a growing discussion about net deaths. This number is computed based on the number of lives saved by people staying at home, not driving, not going to work, not dealing with stress of their daily lives. Take that total and subtract it from the Wuhan total and you end up with an overall positive because we have shut things down. In other words, the Wuhan shutdown saves more lives than Wuhan kills. Haven’t found any data on this yet but have run across the discussion a time or two. This is something we need to keep an eye on.
- There is a growing series of questions about the low death rate in California. Given their out of control homelessness, rampant drug use and crime, one would expect the disease to really roll through that population like Patton did across Europe. Early speculation has started discussing herd immunity due to the sheer number of Chinese visiting Cali daily before that traffic was shut off Jan 31.
- Ran across an interesting description of the ongoing run on toilet paper last week, though I am not sure any of the shoppers loading up (and creating great memes online) were aware of it. It turns out that there are two toilet paper markets here in the US – the home and the business market. People use facilities outside their homes for perhaps 40% of all daily visits. Think gyms, businesses, restaurants, malls, workplaces, etc. The products used there are different products than those used in the home. They are so different that they are not physically compatible with the dispensers. The amazing part of this is that the consumers knew this instantly and acted.
- Final story is Nancy Pelosi’s pet rock, the Kennedy Center, which she gifted with $25 million in the bailout bill signed a week ago announced layoffs for staff and musicians. It appears they had the layoffs planned before they lobbied for and received the free money.
- Deregulation. Deregulation is going to be a huge fallout from Wuhan. Should Trump be reelected, he will go after the federal health care bureaucracy – including his experts – with a chainsaw. FDA red tape is obstructing liquor companies’ production of hand sanitizer. It took the FDA a full two months after the disease showed up in the US to lift restrictions on production and sale of surgical masks. It took weeks for the feds to waive regs on testing kits. For more than a month, the CDC only allowed the use of a single test – which was often inaccurate – and slow-rolled any commercial effort to conduct the testing any other way. The feds weren’t the only players in this, as it took an action by NY Governor Cuomo to waive restrictions that kept medical personnel licensed in other states from practicing in NY. Hospitals in NY couldn’t even temporarily increase bed capacities without state approval. Only registered nurses could collect swab specimens. Powerline also discussed the same thing, this time with Minnesota as the miscreant. MN has laws that make it harder to increase the number of hospital beds in the state. This has been successful, as the total number of hospital beds in state fell by 921 while the population grew by over 80,000. Rationale for the law? To help control rising costs by keeping hospitals from overbuilding. Of course, what that does is simply increase the possibility that medical care in MN will eventually be rationed. Even the so-called streamlined Small Business Administration loan program passed as part of the $2.2 trillion bailout bill is mired in red tape. This has been the case for SBA for a long time, as we looked into getting one a decade ago for a small retail business. Wells Fargo wanted us to ask pretty please for every single penny they disbursed for the loan and we couldn’t afford that risk, so we went elsewhere. Appears things haven’t improved any with the recently passed legislation. Democrat rules and regulations continue to demonstrate that they are little more than a protection racket. In the words of Powerline: Burn down the regulatory house.
- Unemployment. Over the last two weeks, over 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment, increasing overall unemployment rate to 4.4%. Expect that number to spike over the next few months as the impact of telling 75% of the population to stay home and the OPEC – Saudi – Russian gas and oil price war takes effect. There has already been one natural gas independent file for bankruptcy. There will be more. As mentioned previously, expect the democrat – media – health bureaucracy to fight every single attempt to reopen the economy every inch of the way. Their cry will be life versus money, ignoring the fact that work (for many, many of us) IS life.
- Martinets. A martinet is defined among other things as “… a person who stresses a rigid adherence to the details of forms and methods.” Other descriptions would include words like fascist, dictator, and other less gentle terms. Generally, these are people who really, really enjoy the use of power, any power, and the more they use it, the more they want to use it, getting a power rush like an old-fashioned junkie. Power players of the week include the following:
- VA Governor Ralph Northam who last week announced a statewide stay at home order that expires on June 10, which is the day following the statewide Republican Primary election in VA. What a convenient selection, that.
- ANC Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who at the first opportunity closed bars and restaurants opposing his proposed alcohol tax weeks ago, finally got around to closing the major sporting goods stores here in ANC. He did leave the gun stores open, despite the fact that the sporting goods stores sell more guns and ammo than our local gun shops. He left Target open because it has a grocery section. Interestingly, he has so far refused to repeal the plastic bag ban that went into effect Sept 15 last year though he did finally shut down the People Mover bus system in town.
- LA Mayor Eric Garcetti authorized utility service shutdown to any business he defines as non-essential. His people also arrested a paddle boarder in Malibu for disobeying a lifeguard who claimed the beaches were unsafe. The guy was booked and released.
- NYC Mayor Warren Wilhelm (Bill de Blasio) threatened to permanently shut churches who persist in holding services while the city is shut down. No latitude given for distancing or use of masks. It is Good to be King (or a commissary, as Wilhelm is a communist).
- Both Wilhelm and NO Mayor LaToya Cantrell blamed President Trump for the Wuhan outbreaks in their cities because he did not order them to shut down and remain home. Liberty is a difficult thing. It means you get to make your own decisions. These two elected democrats are well on their way to getting a lesson in responsibility. Note that both cities chose to hold officially sanctioned parades as the outbreak took off.
- Both NV and MI governors who banned the use of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in their states relented on both bans last week. Is still Trump’s fault, but at least their doctors no longer have the Orange Man Bad speedbump to deal with.
More later –