Author Topic: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?  (Read 248277 times)

afox

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #200 on: March 25, 2020, 11:51:58 AM »
Seems like we all agree then that we should have slower speed limits, and ride the bus more, and have a coronavirus response!

But you're not accounting for the fact that Coronavirus is actually far deadlier than the flu or car crashes
In 2018, roughly 36,560 people died in automobile accidents. Another 38,000 died from flu-related causes in the winter ending that same year.

We donít yet know how many deaths the coronavirus will cause. But a recent study pegged the mortality rate for symptomatic coronavirus cases at 1.4 percent. That may not sound devastating in a vacuum, but it is significant, as that rate means the coronavirus could kill up to 1.1 million Americans if allowed to spread unchecked.

If your point is that there should be a limit on how much we spend to save 1.1 million americans I agree with you but you haven't provided any evidence that we're spending too much an/d you're not comparing apples to apples because doing nothing has economic consequences.


waltworks

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #201 on: March 25, 2020, 11:59:13 AM »
Seems like we all agree then that we should have slower speed limits, and ride the bus more, and have a coronavirus response!

But we don't ride the bus or lower the speed limit. That was my point. We have already placed a value on life, we just don't like to talk about it.

Your point that the death rate/danger is a relative unknown is well taken, as is the fact that some economic damage will result either way.

-W

nereo

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #202 on: March 25, 2020, 12:00:18 PM »
Seems like we all agree then that we should have slower speed limits
how did you conclude that?

bigblock440

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #203 on: March 25, 2020, 12:08:35 PM »
...there is nothing wrong with the economy itself.

was nothing wrong.

good luck to the thousands of businesses that will no longer exist in a month.

only if we're too cheap to save them. what's going to happen is that rather than pony up to save them we are going to let additional people suffer and die so we can "open the economy" sooner, something has to give, its your money or their life. in 1944 the top tax rate in the U.S. was 94%, think we're ready to tap into the wealth at the top to save lives and businesses? neither do I.

In 1944, we were fighting the Nazis and Japanese, and had been for 3 years.

afox

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #204 on: March 25, 2020, 12:09:09 PM »
Seems like we all agree then that we should have slower speed limits, and ride the bus more, and have a coronavirus response!

But we don't ride the bus or lower the speed limit. That was my point. We have already placed a value on life, we just don't like to talk about it.

Your point that the death rate/danger is a relative unknown is well taken, as is the fact that some economic damage will result either way.

-W

Oh, i understand we've already placed a value on life. its done all day long in the courts and by insurance companies.

You seem to be saying that covid is just as deadly as driving and the flu, but its clearly orders of magnitude more deadly. We might not know exactly how many people will die from covid but no credible source is saying its comparable to the flu or driving. Have you looked at the actual death rates for driving/getting the flu/and getting covid? Its far more deadly.



ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #205 on: March 25, 2020, 12:22:06 PM »
Katy Tur's Twitter account has been excellent highlighting small business owners.  She is crowdsourcing videos.  Highlights:

Bagel shop had 120 employees, then zero
Other bagel shop had 135 employees, now 12
Atlanta restaraunt had 40 employees, now zero
NYC restaraunt had 31 employees, only two more weeks to pay payroll
Yoga studio in Tribeca had 3 FT, 20 PT employees, now all furloughed
Tavern in Georgia had 14 employees, now 2
Construction company in New York went from 16 employees to 7

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It's going to be far, far, far worse than you think.

waltworks

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #206 on: March 25, 2020, 12:23:54 PM »
Oh, i understand we've already placed a value on life. its done all day long in the courts and by insurance companies.

You seem to be saying that covid is just as deadly as driving and the flu, but its clearly orders of magnitude more deadly. We might not know exactly how many people will die from covid but no credible source is saying its comparable to the flu or driving. Have you looked at the actual death rates for driving/getting the flu/and getting covid? Its far more deadly.

No, if you think that's what I'm saying, then you're misreading me. My use of the driving cars analogy was purely to say that we do indeed place a value on human life, and that we should use such metrics to inform our decisionmaking now, rather than just doing *anything* we can to prevent deaths.

I have no evidence to suggest you are wrong that Covid-19 is more dangerous than automobiles (you could get into quite a debate about GHG emissions and climate change, though, I suppose) and if that's what you think I'm saying, you can rest east, because it's not. I don't think I said anything like that anywhere in the thread, but I'm not always a perfect communicator.

-W

Telecaster

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #207 on: March 25, 2020, 12:27:24 PM »
Also, ya'all are attributing the entire cost of the stimulus and lost the lost jobs to control and response efforts. If we did nothing, no forced closures the markets would still be freaking out and lots of people would be losing their jobs and we would still have a stimulus. I think the markets would actually freak out more and the background problem would be worse.

This is an important point.  Many restaurants in Seattle had already closed before the shutdown order simply because there wasn't enough business.  Let's say we let this thing run its course and we get into a Spain situation where morgues and undertakers are overwhelmed and the military has to collect bodies from nursing homes and store them in a hockey rink.  I guarantee there will be Grade A freakout that point (we might get there regardless).  And of course, our medical system will be even more overwhelmed and  victims of heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents  won't get  treatment.   Getting a check up for your hypertension will be unthinkable.  How much will that cost? 

The Imperial College London study estimated there would be 2.2 million deaths if this thing is unchecked.  Even if the number is a third of that, that's still more Americans than were killed in all of the wars of the 20th century. 

On top of that, we still don't really know what we are dealing with.  We can't do contact tracing, a vital step if we want to return to normalcy.  Until we can figure some of this out, we have one choice and that's to keep things shut down.  That's a bad option, but the alternatives are worse. 

ender

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #208 on: March 25, 2020, 12:49:14 PM »
Katy Tur's Twitter account has been excellent highlighting small business owners.  She is crowdsourcing videos.  Highlights:

Bagel shop had 120 employees, then zero
Other bagel shop had 135 employees, now 12
Atlanta restaraunt had 40 employees, now zero
NYC restaraunt had 31 employees, only two more weeks to pay payroll
Yoga studio in Tribeca had 3 FT, 20 PT employees, now all furloughed
Tavern in Georgia had 14 employees, now 2
Construction company in New York went from 16 employees to 7

***

It's going to be far, far, far worse than you think.

One thing I've noticed is that because most people tend to associate with people in similar socioeconomic status, it's hard to understand the impact on people in different areas there.

I have extended family who basically have to get second jobs because they work for a newspaper which basically lost all its ad revenue.

It's obviously hitting the initial wave of businesses that are in the service industry but very quickly will start resulting in secondary/tertiary economic impacts.

afox

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #209 on: March 25, 2020, 01:19:06 PM »
Oh, i understand we've already placed a value on life. its done all day long in the courts and by insurance companies.

You seem to be saying that covid is just as deadly as driving and the flu, but its clearly orders of magnitude more deadly. We might not know exactly how many people will die from covid but no credible source is saying its comparable to the flu or driving. Have you looked at the actual death rates for driving/getting the flu/and getting covid? Its far more deadly.

No, if you think that's what I'm saying, then you're misreading me. My use of the driving cars analogy was purely to say that we do indeed place a value on human life, and that we should use such metrics to inform our decisionmaking now, rather than just doing *anything* we can to prevent deaths.

I have no evidence to suggest you are wrong that Covid-19 is more dangerous than automobiles (you could get into quite a debate about GHG emissions and climate change, though, I suppose) and if that's what you think I'm saying, you can rest east, because it's not. I don't think I said anything like that anywhere in the thread, but I'm not always a perfect communicator.

-W

yeah well if you want an accurate cost per life/year of life saved for covid you're not going to get it for awhile. we simply dont have the data. we simply wont know if the cure is worse than the problem or vice-versa for quite some time. if you want to blame someone blame nature. I dont think we're doing *anything* we can now to save lives due to covid, where i live we cant even test people that have symptoms. most states dont even have closures: https://abcnews.go.com/Health/states-shut-essential-businesses-map/story?id=69770806


ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #210 on: March 25, 2020, 01:20:56 PM »
Katy Tur's Twitter account has been excellent highlighting small business owners.  She is crowdsourcing videos.  Highlights:

Bagel shop had 120 employees, then zero
Other bagel shop had 135 employees, now 12
Atlanta restaraunt had 40 employees, now zero
NYC restaraunt had 31 employees, only two more weeks to pay payroll
Yoga studio in Tribeca had 3 FT, 20 PT employees, now all furloughed
Tavern in Georgia had 14 employees, now 2
Construction company in New York went from 16 employees to 7

***

It's going to be far, far, far worse than you think.

One thing I've noticed is that because most people tend to associate with people in similar socioeconomic status, it's hard to understand the impact on people in different areas there.

I have extended family who basically have to get second jobs because they work for a newspaper which basically lost all its ad revenue.

It's obviously hitting the initial wave of businesses that are in the service industry but very quickly will start resulting in secondary/tertiary economic impacts.

This Bloomberg article is the second wave you're talking about.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-24/u-s-retailers-plan-to-stop-paying-rent-to-offset-virus-closures

I only tangentially dabble in commercial litigation cases, but this is going to be an absolute clusterfuck in a month or two.

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #211 on: March 25, 2020, 01:28:55 PM »
The Imperial College London study estimated there would be 2.2 million deaths if this thing is unchecked.  Even if the number is a third of that, that's still more Americans than were killed in all of the wars of the 20th century. 

I'm starting to see a lot of scientific pushback on the Imperial College Study's projections.  Specifically, many scientists think they drastically over-estimate the R0 factor of asymptomatic people, the required hospitalization rate, and the exponential nature of the virus.

The Imperial College Study predicted a *minimum* of 1.1 million deaths EVEN IF (!!!) we did three months of strict suppression.  Will be interesting to see if that pans out.

Boofinator

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #212 on: March 25, 2020, 01:30:12 PM »
Also, ya'all are attributing the entire cost of the stimulus and lost the lost jobs to control and response efforts. If we did nothing, no forced closures the markets would still be freaking out and lots of people would be losing their jobs and we would still have a stimulus. I think the markets would actually freak out more and the background problem would be worse.

That's my observation as well. These restaurants and other service-related industries would have seen exactly the same collapse absent any government-directed stay-at-home measures, though delayed by a few weeks (until the general public witnessed the carnage first-hand and began freaking out).

GuitarStv

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #213 on: March 25, 2020, 01:37:27 PM »
Also, ya'all are attributing the entire cost of the stimulus and lost the lost jobs to control and response efforts. If we did nothing, no forced closures the markets would still be freaking out and lots of people would be losing their jobs and we would still have a stimulus. I think the markets would actually freak out more and the background problem would be worse.

That's my observation as well. These restaurants and other service-related industries would have seen exactly the same collapse absent any government-directed stay-at-home measures, though delayed by a few weeks (until the general public witnessed the carnage first-hand and began freaking out).

It might have been more complicated laying off their staff when half of them are on sick leave though.

lutorm

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #214 on: March 25, 2020, 01:40:13 PM »
No, if you think that's what I'm saying, then you're misreading me. My use of the driving cars analogy was purely to say that we do indeed place a value on human life, and that we should use such metrics to inform our decisionmaking now, rather than just doing *anything* we can to prevent deaths.
I'm curious, do you think we are currently near the extreme of doing "anything" we can to prevent deaths, or are you arguing an academic point?

I agree that there should be some cost/benefit analysis done. However, I strongly believe that the value we put on a single life when contemplating things like the cost/benefit of redesigning seat belts in a vehicle, or even lowering emissions from a coal power plant, are not applicable when the entire society is at risk.

I mean, suppose that we put the value of a life at $1 million. That would mean that if the entire nation was at risk of dying, let's say from an asteroid impact, any measures that cost more than $350 billion would be "not cost effective" and we should let the entire nation die. That is an absurd conclusion. It cannot be a linear scale. As the fraction of the population at risk goes up, what we are willing to do to avert it would go up without limit.

Boofinator

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #215 on: March 25, 2020, 01:42:37 PM »
The Imperial College London study estimated there would be 2.2 million deaths if this thing is unchecked.  Even if the number is a third of that, that's still more Americans than were killed in all of the wars of the 20th century. 

I'm starting to see a lot of scientific pushback on the Imperial College Study's projections.  Specifically, many scientists think they drastically over-estimate the R0 factor of asymptomatic people, the required hospitalization rate, and the exponential nature of the virus.

The Imperial College Study predicted a *minimum* of 1.1 million deaths EVEN IF (!!!) we did three months of strict suppression.  Will be interesting to see if that pans out.

Please enlighten us.

Here's the paragraph which mentions 1.1 million deaths:

Quote
Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over. In the most effective mitigation strategy examined, which leads to a single, relatively short epidemic (case isolation, household quarantine and social distancing of the elderly), the surge limits for both general ward and ICU beds would be exceeded by at least 8-fold under the more optimistic scenario for critical care requirements that we examined. In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1-1.2 million in the US.

What they are saying is clearly evident. If the disease were to spread throughout the population, and if we had enough infrastructure to properly care for everyone (which we don't), the U.S. would see at least 1.1 million people die (some 0.3% of the population). This shouldn't really be controversial.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #216 on: March 25, 2020, 02:28:28 PM »
I mean, suppose that we put the value of a life at $1 million. That would mean that if the entire nation was at risk of dying, let's say from an asteroid impact, any measures that cost more than $350 billion would be "not cost effective" and we should let the entire nation die. That is an absurd conclusion. It cannot be a linear scale. As the fraction of the population at risk goes up, what we are willing to do to avert it would go up without limit.

Your numbers are off by three orders of magnitude. There are about 330 million people in the USA, and if each one is worth a $1 million, that would be $330 trillion, or 15x annual GDP. Since we probably won't be able to spend that much, you're going to die in that scenario.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 02:32:14 PM by YttriumNitrate »

PDXTabs

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #217 on: March 25, 2020, 03:09:22 PM »
I mean, suppose that we put the value of a life at $1 million. That would mean that if the entire nation was at risk of dying, let's say from an asteroid impact, any measures that cost more than $350 billion would be "not cost effective" and we should let the entire nation die. That is an absurd conclusion. It cannot be a linear scale. As the fraction of the population at risk goes up, what we are willing to do to avert it would go up without limit.

Your numbers are off by three orders of magnitude. There are about 330 million people in the USA, and if each one is worth a $1 million, that would be $330 trillion, or 15x annual GDP. Since we probably won't be able to spend that much, you're going to die in that scenario.

Yes and no. If we had 100 years of notice I bet that we would spend the money.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #218 on: March 25, 2020, 04:11:00 PM »
Yes and no. If we had 100 years of notice I bet that we would spend the money.

You don't think we'd dick around for 95 years and then try an make up for it in the last five? The Giant Asteroid deniers are a rather vocal bunch who would point out that there isn't scientific consensus on where the asteroid would hit, so we might as well do nothing.

nereo

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #219 on: March 25, 2020, 04:35:00 PM »
Yes and no. If we had 100 years of notice I bet that we would spend the money.

You don't think we'd dick around for 95 years and then try an make up for it in the last five? The Giant Asteroid deniers are a rather vocal bunch who would point out that there isn't scientific consensus on where the asteroid would hit, so we might as well do nothing.
Or: emerging and future technology will handle it. No need to waste time now, let future generations address the problem. We need a tax cut now!

lutorm

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #220 on: March 25, 2020, 05:11:50 PM »
I mean, suppose that we put the value of a life at $1 million. That would mean that if the entire nation was at risk of dying, let's say from an asteroid impact, any measures that cost more than $350 billion would be "not cost effective" and we should let the entire nation die. That is an absurd conclusion. It cannot be a linear scale. As the fraction of the population at risk goes up, what we are willing to do to avert it would go up without limit.

Your numbers are off by three orders of magnitude. There are about 330 million people in the USA, and if each one is worth a $1 million, that would be $330 trillion, or 15x annual GDP. Since we probably won't be able to spend that much, you're going to die in that scenario.
Oops, thanks!

We don't have to spend it all at once though.

JGS1980

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #221 on: March 25, 2020, 06:33:21 PM »
I mean, suppose that we put the value of a life at $1 million. That would mean that if the entire nation was at risk of dying, let's say from an asteroid impact, any measures that cost more than $350 billion would be "not cost effective" and we should let the entire nation die. That is an absurd conclusion. It cannot be a linear scale. As the fraction of the population at risk goes up, what we are willing to do to avert it would go up without limit.

Your numbers are off by three orders of magnitude. There are about 330 million people in the USA, and if each one is worth a $1 million, that would be $330 trillion, or 15x annual GDP. Since we probably won't be able to spend that much, you're going to die in that scenario.

Yes and no. If we had 100 years of notice I bet that we would spend the money.

PDXTabs, I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not. Why? Because of Climate Change.

PDXTabs

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #222 on: March 25, 2020, 07:33:20 PM »
PDXTabs, I can't tell if you are being sarcastic or not. Why? Because of Climate Change.

I was being serious, but I understand the confusion.

Imagine if at 350 PPM of CO2 everyone died. I don't think that we would have ever gotten to 350 PPM. The problem with climate change is that you can always kick it off for one more year, one more PPM.

Bloop Bloop

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #223 on: March 25, 2020, 07:41:44 PM »
Bloop, I run a small business and know lots of small business owners. You are just wrong about this. You can do a fantastic conscientious job and not pay yourself crazy money in many industries and still only be making 5-10%. That's just the reality. It is not a reflection on the owner of the business being bad at it or greedy.

Even if you're operating at an awesome margin, say 50% - if you have even half of your expenses as fixed ones (paying employees, insurance, rent for your space, etc) you'll go under pretty fast if revenue goes to zero suddenly. How much of your own money are you going to plow into paying rent on an empty restaurant every month? Better to close up shop and wait for better times - but that also means now your employees and landlord are SOL.

-W

I'm not disputing that this is how some industries work. I'm disputing whether such a business can be characterised as "very successful". If the business is constantly a few weeks from bankruptcy and has no fat on the bones, why bother running it? I've never understood why people bother going into retail/restaurants - I've looked at plenty of their profit/loss statements and none of them ever makes more than a tiny tiny margin. My conclusion is that people either do it for passion (and are willing to not be particularly financially successful) or they do it by taking cash receipts and not declaring them.

waltworks

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #224 on: March 25, 2020, 08:24:15 PM »
I'm not disputing that this is how some industries work. I'm disputing whether such a business can be characterised as "very successful". If the business is constantly a few weeks from bankruptcy and has no fat on the bones, why bother running it? I've never understood why people bother going into retail/restaurants - I've looked at plenty of their profit/loss statements and none of them ever makes more than a tiny tiny margin. My conclusion is that people either do it for passion (and are willing to not be particularly financially successful) or they do it by taking cash receipts and not declaring them.

Almost all industry is low margin. That's how capitalism works. If there's a lot of "fat on the bone", someone will undercut your price. Did you not think this through at all?

Most businesses do not carry many months/years of spare cash, though some can get along for a while by cutting costs/selling assets to some extent. There are certainly exceptions, but a complete drying up of revenue will kill pretty much any business on earth within 3-6 months, I'd say.

-W

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #225 on: March 25, 2020, 08:35:53 PM »
I guess it depends on the industry. I work in legal services and our margins are incredibly fat. I run a small practice and my annual fixed costs are only something like $35k all up. That's $3k a month. I don't employ any employees directly - just occasional contractors, and they come cheap-ish. I could operate for many months just on a preceding month's income. Most professional services industries would have a similarly gigantic margin. This is why I think if you're going to go into business, you either pick a high-margin area (essentially white collar, or some other sheltered industry) or you generate profits through franchising or large scale, e.g. manufacturing. Stuff in the middle - restaurants, cafes, mechanics - which have neither massive scale nor high margins makes it very hard to sustain yourself, and hard to get rich.

waltworks

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #226 on: March 25, 2020, 08:43:56 PM »
Good for you. Hope you don't need any of those other businesses to hire you for legal work...

Again, I don't get what you're trying to say. It sounds like you think car mechanics, or restauranteurs (or airlines) are *bad people* or somehow unworthy because they don't have businesses that can run with no revenue for years at a time?

I mean, my total overhead for a YEAR is maybe $2500, I work from home and just need some insurance, and own all my equipment. But I'm not going to stand up and call out a successful mechanic whose 25 year old business put his kids through college a loser because he can't make payroll after a few months of no revenue.

-W

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #227 on: March 25, 2020, 08:53:32 PM »
I never said anything of the sort - that they are losers, or bad people, or unworthy. Where did you pluck that phrasing from? And where did you get the notion that I said businesses should run with no revenue for years at a time? All these are things you are imputing to me, yet they are all straw men. You need to be very careful with what you impute to others' posts.

What I said, and what you should respond to, was that I queried whether they could be counted as "very successful" businesses if they shut down within a month of the good times tap being turned off.

waltworks

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #228 on: March 25, 2020, 08:58:16 PM »
What I said, and what you should respond to, was that I queried whether they could be counted as "very successful" businesses if they shut down within a month of the good times tap being turned off.

Ok, in that case, you think that something like 95% of all businesses aren't successful? Because, really, very few can survive even a short period of time with no revenue. Entire industries can't, so there can't be even one "successful" business in there?

I think you and I, while we call our outfits "businesses" are really just doing jobs for ourselves. If I had no revenue and had to keep paying an employee what I pay myself, I'd be out of business pretty fast too. How about you?

I think extrapolating your experience to the larger business world is probably not a great way to look at things. You and other highly educated self-employed people are not "businesses" in the same way that a restaurant is. That's great, for both of us, but our experience is an extreme outlier (which is heavily overrepresented on this forum).
-W
« Last Edit: March 25, 2020, 09:02:53 PM by waltworks »

lutorm

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #229 on: March 25, 2020, 08:59:47 PM »
I guess it depends on the industry. I work in legal services and our margins are incredibly fat.
If margins are fat it's usually because there are large barriers of entry. If the sector is hard to enter, for example because you need a license (lawyers, doctors, etc) which means you need to plow down a chunk of capital, then people won't think it's worth it unless the margin is higher.

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #230 on: March 25, 2020, 09:09:54 PM »
What I said, and what you should respond to, was that I queried whether they could be counted as "very successful" businesses if they shut down within a month of the good times tap being turned off.

Ok, in that case, you think that something like 95% of all businesses aren't successful? Because, really, very few can survive even a short period of time with no revenue. Entire industries can't, so there can't be even one "successful" business in there?

I think you and I, while we call our outfits "businesses" are really just doing jobs for ourselves. If I had no revenue and had to keep paying an employee what I pay myself, I'd be out of business pretty fast too. How about you?

I think extrapolating your experience to the larger business world is probably not a great way to look at things. You and other highly educated self-employed people are not "businesses" in the same way that a restaurant is. That's great, for both of us, but our experience is an extreme outlier (which is heavily overrepresented on this forum).
-W

Yes, I can agree with a lot of what you say. If I had to pay my profit to myself as employee wages, I'd be out of business very quickly. Of course, that's the whole point of going into business for yourself - so you can pay yourself the employee wage plus a fat slice of profit. If I paid myself only what I'd pay to a market employee I could survive for probably 9-15 months off residual inflows and then I'd have to shutter the business. And I know I speak from a position of privilege. By the same token, I think that if someone's owning, say, a restaurant, and isn't able to keep the restaurant functioning for even a month by taking out some of the owner's equity/profit (i.e. the fat they get from the operations of the business paid to themselves), then they are working on such razor thin margins (and profits) that they might as well have stayed an employee.

waltworks

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #231 on: March 25, 2020, 09:13:46 PM »
Well, we're about to find out if anyone is going to hire a lawyer or a high end fabricator after they get laid off or close their restaurant...

-W

Travis

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #232 on: March 25, 2020, 09:15:11 PM »
I guess it depends on the industry. I work in legal services and our margins are incredibly fat. I run a small practice and my annual fixed costs are only something like $35k all up. That's $3k a month. I don't employ any employees directly - just occasional contractors, and they come cheap-ish. I could operate for many months just on a preceding month's income. Most professional services industries would have a similarly gigantic margin. This is why I think if you're going to go into business, you either pick a high-margin area (essentially white collar, or some other sheltered industry) or you generate profits through franchising or large scale, e.g. manufacturing. Stuff in the middle - restaurants, cafes, mechanics - which have neither massive scale nor high margins makes it very hard to sustain yourself, and hard to get rich.

I doubt most small business owners are looking to "get rich." This community is full of people who simply don't want to work for somebody else.  Should we all just resign ourselves to depending on MegaCorp for our income since they're the only ones able to weather a storm like this?  Congratulations on being in an industry that has no need for inventory, facilities, labor, or apparently enough competition to affect the prices you can demand.  Most other businesses in the world don't operate like that.  In fact, when they're sitting on that much cash the public howls wondering why they aren't lowering prices or hiring more labor.  Stockholders ask why they aren't reinvesting in themselves to become even more profitable.  Small businesses spend their first couple years in debt.  A third of small businesses don't survive their first two years. Half don't make it past five years.  If they make it that far, I would consider them successful. Also, they are "successful" relative to their own industry.  If an entire industry is in such competition that 5% profit puts them at the top of the ladder, then they're very successful. 

caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #233 on: March 26, 2020, 09:45:35 AM »
This was a really good article about what lies on the other side of the lockdowns and why a hard lockdown is a preferable strategy to a half-assed flattening of the curve: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-the-hammer-and-the-dance-be9337092b56.

I'm thinking Trump may fully realize that ongoing soft social distancing will cause more aggregate damage in the long run, but prefer it because that damage is disproportionately borne by the Democratic base.  A full lockdown would spread the pain much more in the direction of his base.

Anecdote, which is not the singular of data: Yesterday I drove from my urban core out about 90 minutes into the countryside.  The heavily Democratic city is basically shut down.  The people who aren't getting paid are disproportionately young, and/or black, and/or brown.  The entire area is composed of safe D districts, but the economic damage is most focused even there/here within the D base.

Once I hit the ex-urbs, and certainly out in the rural areas, it looked like business as usual.  Parking lots were full, roads full of traffic.  This is also a hard core Trump district.

It doesn't seem far fetched to imagine that this dynamic is playing out around the country, with urban, Democratic areas bearing most of the burden for social distancing, and rural, Trump areas basically going on as usual.

If I were Trump, with not only a base to please but also professed malice for Democrats, cities, and brown people, I can see why drawing out the pain and concentrating it in cities is far preferable to locking everything down so that it also impacts ex-urban and rural areas.

JGS1980

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #234 on: March 26, 2020, 09:58:31 AM »
This was a really good article about what lies on the other side of the lockdowns and why a hard lockdown is a preferable strategy to a half-assed flattening of the curve: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-the-hammer-and-the-dance-be9337092b56.

I'm thinking Trump may fully realize that ongoing soft social distancing will cause more aggregate damage in the long run, but prefer it because that damage is disproportionately borne by the Democratic base.  A full lockdown would spread the pain much more in the direction of his base.

Anecdote, which is not the singular of data: Yesterday I drove from my urban core out about 90 minutes into the countryside.  The heavily Democratic city is basically shut down.  The people who aren't getting paid are disproportionately young, and/or black, and/or brown.  The entire area is composed of safe D districts, but the economic damage is most focused even there/here within the D base.

Once I hit the ex-urbs, and certainly out in the rural areas, it looked like business as usual.  Parking lots were full, roads full of traffic.  This is also a hard core Trump district.

It doesn't seem far fetched to imagine that this dynamic is playing out around the country, with urban, Democratic areas bearing most of the burden for social distancing, and rural, Trump areas basically going on as usual.

If I were Trump, with not only a base to please but also professed malice for Democrats, cities, and brown people, I can see why drawing out the pain and concentrating it in cities is far preferable to locking everything down so that it also impacts ex-urban and rural areas.

That suggests that he will only change his tune once rural folks start dying in droves. We will see how this plays out, unfortunately.

caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #235 on: March 26, 2020, 10:05:58 AM »
That suggests that he will only change his tune once rural folks start dying in droves. We will see how this plays out, unfortunately.

And in the meanwhile, he'll continue to write everyone $1200 checks to buy their support, even if their employment hasn't been impacted.  I guess we'll see if he can keep it up for the next eight months.

Once things do go south in the rural areas, cities will be faced with a choice of either bailing out the rural health care system, or transporting all of those sick people into the cities for treatment.

I agree with those who say there are really only two reasonable approaches.  Either we call out the Army and shut society down for a couple weeks, or we let the virus run and mitigate where we can.  The in-between approach that we're trying isn't going to work, and the distribution of the burden is deeply unfair.

nereo

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #236 on: March 26, 2020, 10:22:00 AM »


I'm thinking Trump may fully realize that ongoing soft social distancing will cause more aggregate damage in the long run, but prefer it because that damage is disproportionately borne by the Democratic base.  A full lockdown would spread the pain much more in the direction of his base.

That's a bold prediction (that it will disproportionately be borne by the Democratic base).  Two reasons to suspect it might not be that way:
  • Currently it's ripping through nursing homes and is far more dangerous for those over 70..  At least 140 nursing homes have thus far had at least 1 resident test positive
  • The more red the state, the less seriously they have been taking the self-isolation recommendations in general, and the less robust their healthcare systems tend to be

Seattle and NYC have been epicenters thus far, but I'd bet dollars to donuts we'll see a lot more cases in more red and rural districts in the weeks to come.  I live in one such district and up until Tuesday coffee shops, daycare centers and bars were still open. People here are more likely to describe the entire thing as a 'hoax' or an overreaction.  Now a handful of new cases have been reported in our town (gee, go figure...)

The thing about urban vs rural areas is that the economies of urban centers have a relience because there are so many people and so much diversity (both in terms of people and job skills.  In rural areas that closing of a single business or sometimes the death of a single person can seriously disrupt everyone's lives.
Likewise, the group that supports Trump the most have always been white men 65 and older.  I postulate that will be one of the demographics hit the hardest by early summer.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 10:27:17 AM by nereo »

caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #237 on: March 26, 2020, 10:24:12 AM »
That suggests that he will only change his tune once rural folks start dying in droves. We will see how this plays out, unfortunately.

I should so add that events in rural areas no longer drive the news in rural areas.  Local reporting has been so thoroughly gutted that if a small town had an outbreak, there'd be nobody to cover it, and no paper to publish it.  The outbreak would just be a series of isolated incidents without any aggregation or interpretation.

Part of the "beauty" of Trumpworld is that it's informed by a Fox news narrative that isn't actually about its audience, it's about those other people (celebrities, urbanites, violent criminals, sociopathic mothers, national politicians, college students).  It's not like there's any danger of Fox sending a reporter out to a small town in rural Kansas where the hospital system is on the verge of collapse to do a deep dive into what life is like there.  The local realities no longer matter much.  What matters is the fully nationalized news narrative.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 10:31:04 AM by caleb »

caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #238 on: March 26, 2020, 10:28:29 AM »

Seattle and NYC have been epicenters thus far, but I'd bet dollars to donuts we'll see a lot more cases in more red and rural districts in the weeks to come.  I live in one such district and up until Tuesday coffee shops, daycare centers and bars were still open. People here are more likely to describe the entire thing as a 'hoax' or an overreaction.  Now a handful of new cases have been reported in our town (gee, go figure...)

The thing about urban vs rural areas is that the economies of urban centers have a relience because there are so many people and so much diversity (both in terms of people and job skills.  In rural areas that closing of a single business or sometimes the death of a single person can seriously disrupt everyone's lives.
Likewise, the group that supports Trump the most have always been white men 65 and older.  I postulate that will be one of the demographics hit the hardest by early summer.

All good and fair points.  I should clarify that when I say "in the long run," what I mean is between now and election day.  I think it's altogether possible that over the full course of this illness, older rural voters end up hit hard.  The political question is partly whether that pain can be delayed past the next election.

The other part of the political question is the reporting question that I just mentioned above.  Not to be too glib, but if a bunch of white men over 65 in a rural area die and Fox news doesn't report it, did it really happen?

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #239 on: March 26, 2020, 10:30:52 AM »
The Imperial College London study estimated there would be 2.2 million deaths if this thing is unchecked.  Even if the number is a third of that, that's still more Americans than were killed in all of the wars of the 20th century. 

I'm starting to see a lot of scientific pushback on the Imperial College Study's projections.  Specifically, many scientists think they drastically over-estimate the R0 factor of asymptomatic people, the required hospitalization rate, and the exponential nature of the virus.

The Imperial College Study predicted a *minimum* of 1.1 million deaths EVEN IF (!!!) we did three months of strict suppression.  Will be interesting to see if that pans out.

Please enlighten us.

Here's the paragraph which mentions 1.1 million deaths:

Quote
Perhaps our most significant conclusion is that mitigation is unlikely to be feasible without emergency surge capacity limits of the UK and US healthcare systems being exceeded many times over. In the most effective mitigation strategy examined, which leads to a single, relatively short epidemic (case isolation, household quarantine and social distancing of the elderly), the surge limits for both general ward and ICU beds would be exceeded by at least 8-fold under the more optimistic scenario for critical care requirements that we examined. In addition, even if all patients were able to be treated, we predict there would still be in the order of 250,000 deaths in GB, and 1.1-1.2 million in the US.

What they are saying is clearly evident. If the disease were to spread throughout the population, and if we had enough infrastructure to properly care for everyone (which we don't), the U.S. would see at least 1.1 million people die (some 0.3% of the population). This shouldn't really be controversial.

I honestly might be reading this wrong, but isn't that study saying even if we took the "most effective mitigation strategy examined, which leads to a single, relatively short epidemic (case isolation, household quarantine and social distancing of the elderly)," we would still see 1.1M deaths? 

FWIW, the author of that same Imperial College Study, who predicted 500K deaths in the UK even with stringent mitigation strategies, now predicts 20K deaths: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2238578-uk-has-enough-intensive-care-units-for-coronavirus-expert-predicts/

Translating that to the US, we are looking at maybe 40-50k deaths.  Still terrible but way less than what would be a catastrophic event.

dandarc

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #240 on: March 26, 2020, 10:35:39 AM »
Hope that's right @ReadySetMillionaire. Basically just an extra year's worth of traffic accident deaths - darn Sunday drivers!

I think it is awfully early though, and if we stop social distancing prematurely things probably look a whole lot different.

nereo

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #241 on: March 26, 2020, 10:40:35 AM »

Seattle and NYC have been epicenters thus far, but I'd bet dollars to donuts we'll see a lot more cases in more red and rural districts in the weeks to come.  I live in one such district and up until Tuesday coffee shops, daycare centers and bars were still open. People here are more likely to describe the entire thing as a 'hoax' or an overreaction.  Now a handful of new cases have been reported in our town (gee, go figure...)

The thing about urban vs rural areas is that the economies of urban centers have a relience because there are so many people and so much diversity (both in terms of people and job skills.  In rural areas that closing of a single business or sometimes the death of a single person can seriously disrupt everyone's lives.
Likewise, the group that supports Trump the most have always been white men 65 and older.  I postulate that will be one of the demographics hit the hardest by early summer.

All good and fair points.  I should clarify that when I say "in the long run," what I mean is between now and election day.  I think it's altogether possible that over the full course of this illness, older rural voters end up hit hard.  The political question is partly whether that pain can be delayed past the next election.


The rate of spread of this disease suggests to me that these populations will be hard hit in the next month, far before the November election.  I think these areas (my own included) are kidding themselves to think that low population density will spare them (it hasn't for other respiratory outbreaks).  To that end, WaPo has some interesting comments from their reporting:
Americans have died in 42 states and territories and the District, with punishing increases in Louisiana and Michigan. Experts fear the worst is still to come, pointing to a rapid acceleration of cases in communities across the country...
About 65 percent of people whose ages are known were older than 70 and nearly 40 percent were over 80, a risk that rises along with age...
Dense urban centers, many of them in coastal states, have been hardest hit in the first two months of the outbreak, but itís only a matter of time before the coronavirus takes hold in rural areas, too. In some places, like Albany, Ga., where at least 12 have died, itís already happening. When it arrives elsewhere, it could have a crippling effect, especially in places where resources and health-care workers are already in short supply.

Whether these deaths go unnoticed due to underreporting is an interesting question.  I suppose they probably will to a point - but if you are in that demographic and you lose some of your close friends... it's hard not to notice, even if it was never in the papers.  These people also have children and grandchildren that are certain to notice.

caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #242 on: March 26, 2020, 10:58:04 AM »

Whether these deaths go unnoticed due to underreporting is an interesting question.  I suppose they probably will to a point - but if you are in that demographic and you lose some of your close friends... it's hard not to notice, even if it was never in the papers.  These people also have children and grandchildren that are certain to notice.

For sure, but part of what good journalism does is aggregate individual experiences to reveal trends, and then interpret those trends to show what they mean.

It's one thing to go to a couple funerals of people you know.  It's a whole other thing when those funerals are put into a larger framework of causation, particularly government policy.  That sort of journalism transforms individual hardship into a political problem.

Paper Chaser

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #243 on: March 26, 2020, 11:02:14 AM »
This was a really good article about what lies on the other side of the lockdowns and why a hard lockdown is a preferable strategy to a half-assed flattening of the curve: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-the-hammer-and-the-dance-be9337092b56.

I'm thinking Trump may fully realize that ongoing soft social distancing will cause more aggregate damage in the long run, but prefer it because that damage is disproportionately borne by the Democratic base.  A full lockdown would spread the pain much more in the direction of his base.

Anecdote, which is not the singular of data: Yesterday I drove from my urban core out about 90 minutes into the countryside.  The heavily Democratic city is basically shut down.  The people who aren't getting paid are disproportionately young, and/or black, and/or brown.  The entire area is composed of safe D districts, but the economic damage is most focused even there/here within the D base.

Once I hit the ex-urbs, and certainly out in the rural areas, it looked like business as usual.  Parking lots were full, roads full of traffic.  This is also a hard core Trump district.

It doesn't seem far fetched to imagine that this dynamic is playing out around the country, with urban, Democratic areas bearing most of the burden for social distancing, and rural, Trump areas basically going on as usual.

If I were Trump, with not only a base to please but also professed malice for Democrats, cities, and brown people, I can see why drawing out the pain and concentrating it in cities is far preferable to locking everything down so that it also impacts ex-urban and rural areas.

Viewpoints like this make me realize how fucked we are as a society. We're facing a pandemic, and have an opportunity to come together for the common good and yet peoples first reaction is to look for a way to criticize the other side of the aisle. I think you're giving Trump WAY too much credit here.
I think the reason you see more activity in rural areas has more to do with the type of people that tend to live there (raises hand), the fact that you often have to use a vehicle to do anything (car culture), and the fact that rural areas really haven't been hit hard yet in the US, or anywhere else.
The virus has impacted densely populated areas with worse air quality the most. You also get the most bang for your "shelter-in-place" buck in those same densely populated areas compared to a rural area.

For what it's worth, my very red part of a very red state has been pretty much closed up for over a week now. Schools have been out for nearly two weeks and will remain closed until atleast May. The local college is empty and all online instruction. Gyms, salons, and most of the large retailers that don't sell food are closed. People are out and about, but traffic is noticeably lighter and the only places with cars in the parking lots are "essential" businesses.
I'd guess what you might see in a more urban area reflects the income disparity, where low wage hourly workers currently have no jobs to go to, while higher earners are salaried and able to work from home.

caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #244 on: March 26, 2020, 11:08:44 AM »
Viewpoints like this make me realize how fucked we are as a society. We're facing a pandemic, and have an opportunity to come together for the common good and yet peoples first reaction is to look for a way to criticize the other side of the aisle. I think you're giving Trump WAY too much credit here.

Trump has spent four-plus years undercutting any sense of a shared society.  It's been us-versus-them from day one.  He doesn't get to magically recover what Dewey called the Great Society when he needs it and when it suits his political purposes.

the_fixer

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #245 on: March 26, 2020, 11:30:58 AM »
Can we give the political dialogue a rest already?


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caleb

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #246 on: March 26, 2020, 11:34:34 AM »
Can we give the political dialogue a rest already?


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I'm not sure what the non-political version of a thread about trading off deaths for economic activity would be.

afox

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #247 on: March 26, 2020, 11:54:34 AM »

Due to the lack of testing, we are flying blind with this outbreak. More Tests Equal More Confirmed Cases. Less confirmed cases does not mean less cases!

New York is leading the nation in the number of Covid cases. It has also conducted more Covid tests, with over 100,000 completed, even though New York is only the fourth largest state with a population of 19.4 million. Florida has a population of 20 million but has only conducted 16,000 tests while California, the largest state with a population of 40 million, has only conducted 28,000 tests.

Until there is more widespread Covid testing, it will be difficult to come to any conclusion as to whether the pandemic is affecting new york more than south dakota. There is also a cultural trust issue with healthcare whereby people in rural areas may be less likely to seek medical care and get tested, this was reported on NPR this morning.

COVID doesn't care whether you're a democrat or a republican.




dandarc

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Re: How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #248 on: March 26, 2020, 12:14:39 PM »
We're up to 28,000 tests in Florida. Around 1400 pending results, and about 10% positive, 90% negative of those that have come in. Still a relatively small number of tests, but testing is ramping up now.

But yes, you need really good testing efforts to asses the current situation, and then to play whack-a-mole effectively once things can get more back to normal.

the_fixer

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How long can we wait while flattening the curve?
« Reply #249 on: March 26, 2020, 12:16:29 PM »
This was a really good article about what lies on the other side of the lockdowns and why a hard lockdown is a preferable strategy to a half-assed flattening of the curve: https://www.google.com/url?q=https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-the-hammer-and-the-dance-be9337092b56.

I'm thinking Trump may fully realize that ongoing soft social distancing will cause more aggregate damage in the long run, but prefer it because that damage is disproportionately borne by the Democratic base.  A full lockdown would spread the pain much more in the direction of his base.

Anecdote, which is not the singular of data: Yesterday I drove from my urban core out about 90 minutes into the countryside.  The heavily Democratic city is basically shut down.  The people who aren't getting paid are disproportionately young, and/or black, and/or brown.  The entire area is composed of safe D districts, but the economic damage is most focused even there/here within the D base.

Once I hit the ex-urbs, and certainly out in the rural areas, it looked like business as usual.  Parking lots were full, roads full of traffic.  This is also a hard core Trump district.

It doesn't seem far fetched to imagine that this dynamic is playing out around the country, with urban, Democratic areas bearing most of the burden for social distancing, and rural, Trump areas basically going on as usual.

If I were Trump, with not only a base to please but also professed malice for Democrats, cities, and brown people, I can see why drawing out the pain and concentrating it in cities is far preferable to locking everything down so that it also impacts ex-urban and rural areas.

That suggests that he will only change his tune once rural folks start dying in droves. We will see how this plays out, unfortunately.

I should so add that events in rural areas no longer drive the news in rural areas.  Local reporting has been so thoroughly gutted that if a small town had an outbreak, there'd be nobody to cover it, and no paper to publish it.  The outbreak would just be a series of isolated incidents without any aggregation or interpretation.

Part of the "beauty" of Trumpworld is that it's informed by a Fox news narrative that isn't actually about its audience, it's about those other people (celebrities, urbanites, violent criminals, sociopathic mothers, national politicians, college students).  It's not like there's any danger of Fox sending a reporter out to a small town in rural Kansas where the hospital system is on the verge of collapse to do a deep dive into what life is like there.  The local realities no longer matter much.  What matters is the fully nationalized news narrative.
Can we give the political dialogue a rest already?


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I'm not sure what the non-political version of a thread about trading off deaths for economic activity would be.

Ugggh so freaking tired of informative thoughtful threads being closed or destroyed by people coming in and trying to pin everything on trump, Republicans or whatever  party no different that the stupidity around the Obama birth certificate and whatever people decide to latch onto when a party they do not like is in office.

I get it you are not a fan of trump like most of us here but can we actually have a freaking discussion without saying stupid shit like trumpworld and trying to make the conversation partisan / inflammatory?

Maybe go back to the off topic area if you want to bitch about that stuff


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« Last Edit: March 26, 2020, 12:20:54 PM by the_fixer »