The economic damage from the current insane “shelter-in-place” regulations designed to thwart the coronavirus is going to be huge—lost jobs, shuttered businesses, economic downturn, stock market losses. This doesn’t count the personal cost in things like increased suicides and domestic and other violence. Think pissed off young men out of a job and drinking on the street because no place is open, even though of course it’s illegal to be on the street.
And on the positive side, as my graph below clearly shows, the South Koreans have managed to contain the virus. How did they manage that?
First, they test widely with fast tests, then they use confirmatory tests to avoid wasting time on false positives.
Then they trace all contacts of infected people and test them, and identify and house quarantine or hospital quarantine SICK people, not HEALTHY people. Plus everyone entering the country is tested and required to do a 14-day self-quarantine.
My oft-infuriating good friend Steven Mosher is living in Korea at the moment. He said that when one person in an apartment building gets ill, they test the whole floor plus a couple of floors above and below where the person lives.
When a guy in a call center got the virus, he said, they tested all 250 people working there. Heck, those jokers even have phone-booth style testing facilities to increase the number of tests per day … they are on it.
In this manner, using testing, tracing, and quarantining the ill rather than the healthy, they’ve been able to control the spread very well. As of today (2020-03-20) they have only 94 deaths in the whole country and leveling out (see below) and they’re NOT locking down the entire population and destroying their economy like we are.
Let’s emulate success, folks. I don’t mind learning from experience, but generally, I prefer to learn from other people’s experiences, and we have Europe and South Korea to learn from.
Here’s the crazy, bull goose looney part no one is talking about. The US government is about to spend a trillion dollars of your and my tax money to prop up the US economy, whose wheels have just been taken off by the insane shelter-in-place orders of that same US government. Sen. McConnell unveiled a roughly $1 trillion stimulus package on Thursday to help “mitigate the economic pain that tens of millions of Americans are already feeling”.
That trillion won’t put the wheels back on. It won’t get us rolling again. It just pays us for the losses already suffered.
Do you ever think how many ventilators and hospitals and test kits and testing personnel we could buy for A TRILLION DOLLARS OF YOUR AND MY GAD FARKING BOG SPAVINED TAX MONEY!!
Typical ventilator costs US$25,000, in normal times. Say you have to pay double in scarce times. Say we want a half million of them, big number, more than we’ll ever need, but why not? How much of our trillion pinche dollars of tax money remains?
Ninety-seven percent. We’ve bought a half-million ventilators and have hardly dented the pile.
My point is simple. If we’re going to spend a trillion, let’s put out wartime prices with war-time high-speed bidding processes. Say that the government will pay double the peacetime costs for ventilators and mobile field hospitals and beds and the like. Focus on American made. Phone-booth testing sites? Koreans can make them? Americans can make them. Buy all that the Koreans will sell, plus encourage US manufacturers can make them by putting tariffs on them.
Seriously … wouldn’t putting a trillion dollars into getting prepared be far, far better spent than doling it out in dribs and drabs, in grants and loans, a bit here, an overhead cost there, to the inhabitants of an economically blighted landscape?
Because here are two ugly truths.
Ugly Truth 1) Some good-sized proportion of the population worldwide is going to get the coronavirus. Only question is when.
Ugly truth 2) Remember that trillion dollars to pay for the losses occurred so far during the nationwide lockdown? You know how long the lockdown has been going on?
One week. One. Stinking. Week. And it’s ALREADY COST A TERABUCK OF OUR TAXPAYER MONEY. Now, the government is talking about it lasting a month?!? Madness of the highest order.
A trillion dollars to prop up one week? What say we suffer an attack of unexpected sanity and sudden clarity, we cancel next week’s lockdown, and put we the trillion we have saved in just one stinking week into ventilators and beds and field hospitals?
Because the virus will hit, and the only question is how prepared we’ll be when it hits. All this stick-your-head-in-the-sand is doing is delaying it. Why? Well, theoretically so that we can be medically prepared for it with enough beds and ventilators and the like. Which is a very good reason. Gotta have more beds and ventilators than you have sick people, or you end up like Italy. Medical preparation is what we want to achieve.
So … given that being medically prepared is the over-riding issue, how about we
a) stop this mad stay-at-home failed experiment immediately,
b) get America back to work,
c) continue with all the precautions we spent all this time learning—wash my hands, don’t touch my face, no sex with fruit bats, go back to disposable plastic grocery bags, social distancing, and most importantly, that we spend that trillion we just saved by coming off of lockdown on d) …
… you know … urgently, four-alarm urgently, wartime production urgently, getting medically prepared for the wave that we’re damn sure is going to break? Buy field hospitals. Pre-position them. Stockpile ventilators. Distribute them. How many field hospitals does the Army have? Put them all on standby to be rushed to an overloaded city. Buy test kits. Pretend it’s cholera in Haiti, we’ve done this drill before. Pay double pre-war prices for everything if some people can provide it in a crazy rush. GET READY FAST … and critically …
END THE AMERICAN LOCKDOWN!!! We simply cannot afford a dead economy costing us a trillion a week, not even in good times, and especially not at this time when we are preparing to fight a war against a most sneaky and dangerous virus. 13,000 dead worldwide already … let’s add as little as possible to that number.
Best to all,