MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Central Planning’

Canada’s Wait Times for Healthcare Are Huge. Activists Blame Free Markets. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 22, 2021

Ontario, of the approximately nine thousand deaths in the province, 41 percent, occurred in these homes. The public response to this tragedy has become a growing outcry to “nationalize” or rather have the province make all residences publicly funded and controlled. The worst part of this rallying cry, noble as it may be, is the assumption that LTC homes are private to begin with. In reality, the only thing “private” about long-term care homes is their name. These homes are almost entirely funded by the province, with the rest of the cost highly regulated. Doomed from the start, it is no wonder that these institutions collapse under the slightest amount of external pressure.

https://mises.org/wire/canadas-wait-times-healthcare-are-huge-activists-blame-free-markets

Trevor Schleihauf

For the past sixteen months, headlines have been broadcast across our televisions cautioning us that the elderly and vulnerable populations are most at risk of this life-threatening COVID-19 virus if we do not stop the spread. Despite the preventative measures, long-term care (LTC) homes have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. In Ontario, of the approximately nine thousand deaths in the province, 41 percent, occurred in these homes. The public response to this tragedy has become a growing outcry to “nationalize” or rather have the province make all residences publicly funded and controlled. The worst part of this rallying cry, noble as it may be, is the assumption that LTC homes are private to begin with. In reality, the only thing “private” about long-term care homes is their name. These homes are almost entirely funded by the province, with the rest of the cost highly regulated. Doomed from the start, it is no wonder that these institutions collapse under the slightest amount of external pressure.

When one says that a business is private, it conjures images of free enterprise and entrepreneurship. Even if that is not the first picture that comes to mind, one likely imagines that the consumer, or in this case, the patient, pays for the services. The unfortunate side effect is that people also think, “The greedy capitalist murdered my grandmother.” Those who think this way are the folks that wish to gallop down the trail to full public ownership. While one can understand the sentiment, the basis of this outcry is flawed at best.

In the 2020 April budget, the Ontario government spent $5.76 billion on LTC homes. This egregious sum of money goes toward all medical staff and supplies, recreation programs, support services, and even the groceries purchased for the home. The price charged to the residents is effectively an administration fee and covers nonmedical support staff as well. The catch to this cost is that the province sets maximum levels for these fees, essentially regulating what extras the homes can and cannot afford. At most, LTC homes are allowed to charge eighty-eight dollars a day for a long-term private room. It should be evident that although LTC homes are owned by private entities, they are hardly private in the economic sense, with the government picking up most of the tab and regulating the rest.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) of Ontario has put together a plan to end for-profit healthcare. Still, they really have to ask themselves, “If the government is already paying for all the medical care and controlling the rest of the system, how will more government control make this better?” Although the answer is that no amount of further intervention could make it better, and it’s best to examine why.

Like all central planning, the NDP’s plan and public healthcare in general face the economic calculation problem and knowledge problem hanging over them like the sword of Damocles. The problems that we see with the long-term care homes, such as lack of beds, long waitlists, shortage of nurses, and overall lackluster patient care, are the exact same problems that plague the rest of public healthcare in Ontario and Canada. In Ontario, wait times from the initial doctor’s visit to treatment are approximately 17.4 weeks, which also happens to be the shortest wait time in Canada. When one considers that Canada has the worst wait times out of all the countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the situation is dire. Further, it is significant to note that Canada is the only OECD country with a 100 percent public healthcare system. As the government has no competition, there are no price signals in the market. Without these signals, no economic calculation can occur, and thus no optimum can ever be attained. If the goal is to make LTC homes better, why hand the system over to a government that clearly cannot run the healthcare sector they already control? If 100 percent public control doesn’t work for primary healthcare, how could it ever improve the standards for LTC homes? Andrea Horvath, the leader of the Ontario NDP, and the rest of the party have no answers for these questions in their plan and likely never will.

We know rent control and subsidies distort equilibrium for the worse, reducing overall welfare and inevitably harming more people than it helps. This is, in effect, what the government is doing for LTC homes. There is an enormous market for safe and affordable LTC homes; let us increase investment and competition, and thus availability. I highly doubt any politician would develop a plan that would lead to an improvement in healthcare. The best way to improve long-term care homes is for the government to stop planning, stop paying, and stop interfering. The sad reality is that no politician would sacrifice their votes in favor of a real solution. Author:

Trevor Schleihauf

Trevor Schleihauf is a twenty-year-old economics student at the University of Ottawa in Canada. To supplement his undergraduate education, he devotes his free time to researching Austrian economics, specifically money and banking.

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‘The Most Merciful Thing a Large Family Can Do to One of Its Infant Members Is To Kill It.’ — Why Face Masks Matter – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 8, 2021

“Everything the government is doing right now is designed to make you fat, weak, stupid, depressed, lazy, and reliant on crumbs they wipe off their plates. Health replaced by pharmaceuticals. Education replaced by programming. Hard work replaced by handouts. These people hate you.”

-Ian Smith, New Jersey Gym Owner Who Refused To Close Down

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/04/allan-stevo/the-most-merciful-thing-a-large-family-can-do-to-one-of-its-infant-members-is-to-kill-it-why-face-masks-matter/

“Everything the government is doing right now is designed to make you fat, weak, stupid, depressed, lazy, and reliant on crumbs they wipe off their plates. Health replaced by pharmaceuticals. Education replaced by programming. Hard work replaced by handouts. These people hate you.”

-Ian Smith, New Jersey Gym Owner Who Refused To Close Down

—————————-

I want to remind you who you are dealing with.

They may be a childhood friend, they may have raised you, they may share your blood, they may be your neighbor, they may be your softball teammate, they may share a pew with you at church on Sunday.

Whoever they are, their worldview has really gained an upper-hand in the mainstream propaganda outlets since the Ides of March 2020.

They tend to be abortion supporters.

They tend to be technocrats with a passion for tinkering and central planning that looks an awful lot like eugenics when it nears the topic of health or medicine.

They tend to be anti-white racists (many of them white themselves).

They tend to have spent so much time in school that “indoctrinated” is as fitting a word for their thought pattern as can be imagined.

Their campaigns since the Ides of March 2020 have taken on a moralistic tone. Imagine that: abortionists and eugenicists taking on a moralistic tone? Anti-white racists and anti-family sociopaths taking on a moralistic tone?

It should not be surprising to anyone that people like that will say whatever they need to in order to accomplish the next incremental victory.

It should also not be surprising that many people are prone to following bad advice from some pretty bad dudes. Discernment is not everyone’s forte.

Bad people and bad ideas exist in every era. Some average folks follow those bad ideas. This is even more common when a leadership vacuum exists. None of this can be surprising. It is the norm of every single era throughout human history.

What should be surprising, however, is that people like you and me believe them, and furthermore that people like you and I do virtually everything the bad dudes tell them to do, especially when accompanied by a good enough reason.

That’s not normal. It’s not a constant throughout all of human history. It ebbs and flows. Accordingly, the direction of society ebbs and flows as the upright leaders of a society rise to the occasion or shirk from responsibility. The leaders are not those in positions of governmental authority. To the contrary such offices are often devoid of leaders. Leaders are those who live appropriately and inspire others with their example.

So many people who get what’s going on have been so very compliant during the corona communism that was implemented after the Ides of March 2020.

Around the turn of the last century, a woman named Maria Montessori emerged. It is impossible to read Montessori’s work without seeing her Roman Catholicism shine through, without seeing a foundational tenant of Christianity and western culture shine through: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

She doesn’t stop there though. She doesn’t just say man is created in the likeness of God. She says child is created in the likeness of God.

As the industrial revolution surged and modernity was being used to eclipse Christianity in philosophical attacks against the dignity of man, Montessori was witnessing the educational system firsthand. As the educational system was turning into 1.) A way for manufacturers to train children as laborers to obediently follow orders, 2.) A way for governments to indoctrinate, 3.) A way for the professional class and the proto-technocrats to professionalize the home life and open up the home as a treasure chest for professional teachers and other industries, 4.) A way for progressives to shatter the home, 5.) A way for East Coast American elites, British elites, and their counterparts to impose their twisted views of the world on the youth, 6.) A way for the mind of a child to be controlled and trained rather than liberated and empowered — as all that was happening, Montessori was providing a response to what it meant to be a human child, to be made in the likeness of God.

Her schools exist globally to this day. Her work and the work of her disciples is a true testament to what a school can be like if a child absolutely must leave the home for schooling.

A steward is one who takes care of the property of another. Montessori’s loving stewardship of God’s gift of a child is some of the most powerful stewardship in all educational literature.

At about the same time, around the turn of the last century, another person came about, and witnessed all the same changes.

Instead of stewarding what the Lord put on this earth, this person took a different approach. She sought to make it her decision who lives and who dies. She sought to make it her decision who wins and who loses. She sought to make it her decisions who grows and who shrinks.

And not just her decision but the decision of others. Not just her decision but the decision of elites. Not just her decision but the decision of anyone who wanted a say on who could and who could not have a baby.

The technology for having abortions had long existed, going back into classicism, a moral issue so significant that abortion is forbidden even in the Hippocratic Oath. Abortion was not this person’s impactful innovation, nor was genocide or eugenics her impactful innovation. Margaret Sanger is credited with building the infrastructure that brought this topic mainstream in the United States and across the globe.

Through her efforts in the United States and globally, Sanger set in place the greatest genocides of all human history.

Sanger wrote about this:

“The most merciful thing a large family can do to one of its infant members is to kill it.”

She wrote many more awful things that were just as ugly in her day as they are today. It is shrugged off by her supporters as a symptom of her times. That’s inaccurate though and dishonest and conveniently avoids an important conversation. Sanger was not a sign of her times. To a whole lot of people the spoken and written words of Sanger were as demonic and sociopathic then as they are today.

This does not stop her from having an army of disciples.

The disciples of Sanger are very bad people who want to disguise the most ugly sacrifice of infants as a most beautiful thing.

Incrementally they chip away at human dignity. They chip away at the likeness of God.

When you wear your mask, you join them in their treachery, as they chip away at the human dignity of anyone who would place such a thing on their face.

It doesn’t matter what the masses do. It doesn’t matter what the sheep do. It really doesn’t matter what the most evil people do. It matters what the lions do. It matters what the Remnant does. It matters what the moral backstop of society does.

Do you hear me? They don’t matter. YOU matter.

Twain wrote that a brave man can stand up to a lynch mob of 10,000 and get them to back down.

Don’t compare yourself to the sheep. Compare yourself to other lions. A lion is worth 10,000 sheep, if he will come into his own as a lion, if he will show courage, if he will do what’s right.

My friend, wear the mask, close your business, honor the lockdown, and you pave the way for the sickest future and enable the sickest of humans, each and every time you do it.

It doesn’t matter what reason you give yourself. It doesn’t matter what justification you have prepared. You do really bad things for the world each time you follow such prescriptions.

Stop it.

Stop it now.

The hour is late. And here you are, enabling evil, as if your every act has no consequence.

Thousands of readers of these pages have written me to tell me how they do it differently from most people, how they never wear a mask for any reason. Their stories and their techniques are in “Face Masks in One Lesson,”  they are in my LewRockwell.com writings, and they are part of the videos, pointers, and classes I offer to those who sign up at RealStevo.comThe most important thing they do though, that each one of these brave and righteous people have done, is to refuse to comply with evil. Will you do the same? 

Allan Stevo [send him mail] writes about international politics and culture from a free market perspective at 52 Weeks in Slovakia (www.52inSk.com). He is the author of How to Win America, The Bitcoin Manifesto, and numerous other books.

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Margaret Sanger-Progressive Pioneer

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Looking For Warriors: Face Masks, Giving In, & Proceeding Boldly Against Evil – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on December 31, 2020

As with all central planning, a one-size-fits-all approach from central planners in the public health field brings with it all the same downfalls of other blunt force central planning. This approach which we call by the public relations developed term “public health,” in our era, is a polar opposite of medicine, which at its best has an individualized approach going back more than 2500 years and pits doctor and patient as a team against the world.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/12/allan-stevo/looking-for-warriors-face-masks-giving-in-proceeding-boldly-against-evil/

By Allan Stevo

Mr. Stevo:

I read your article “Face Masks Refusal Says So Much, Because Courage Is the Prerequisite to  All Virtuous Behavior.”

When the suggestion first started to wear a mask to help stop the spread of Covid, I was skeptical and not a believer. And did not wear one. Then it became a requirement.  I was very reluctant . However, I did then do a lot of research regarding mask wearing for Covid. There are many articles and videos on this subject. And after reading on this matter, I became convinced masks could help, at least on some level, in helping stop the spread of Covid.

It is apparent you think masks are useless. I would like to believe this. But how do I combat videos such as this one at Men’s Health and It’s Okay To Be Smart that supposedly show masks stopping the droplets containing the virus from someone with the virus? 

J.T.

Dear J.T.,

Thank you for this note.

This Is A Poor Source 

Men’s Health is a poor source for this type of information, but it depicts the popular sentiment that is now circulating, so I am grateful for the reference point.

The information at those links is spread with a lack of understanding by those writing on the topic, or is alternately spread with some dishonesty. It’s not clear which is more common. Certainly it is both dishonest and irresponsible to write for an audience about a topic which the writer is unable to comprehend the magnitude of. Articles like the one linked are reverberators of unhelpful information taken out of context and obedient to a status quo.

Confirmation Bias: Beware Of Information Obedient To The Status quo 

When information is obedient to a status quo, it deserves a special level of skepticism to avoid the bias known as confirmation bias, an easy bias to fall into.

Mechanistic Studies Are Accurate “In Theory” 

The link you sent points to mechanistic studies. Mechanistic studies are not useful in prescribing behavior on this matter because they use theory to attempt to depict reality instead of actually measuring reality to the best of our ability. Sometimes we cannot measure the results of an experiment very well. With face masks we can. Mechanistic studies are commonly cited because they fit the narrative that everyone must be masked. They are not commonly cited because they are the best depictions of reality, which should be the meritocratic basis for citing a study.

Better Sources: Look For Randomized Controlled Trials With Laboratory Confirmed Results 

If you desire to avoid the confirmation bias that has accompanied face masks in this heavily politicized electoral year, I recommend you look for randomized controlled trials with laboratory confirmed results. These are attempts at measuring reality to the best of our ability. Studies like these have often been ignored and even censored in 2020 because the results so clearly counter the politicized narrative that all must be masked.

Mechanistic studies consistently tell us what can be summarized as “Face masks should in theory work to prevent Covid-19 transmission,” while randomized controlled trials with laboratory confirmed results consistently tell us what can be summarized as “In reality however, masks do not in fact work to prevent Covid transmission and may increase transmission, making face masks not neutral but harmful.”

There Is No Need For A Narrative Of Divisiveness, Yet This Is What We Have 

There is no need for divisiveness on this topic. The two types of studies are very helpful when read alongside each other and the results integrate quite nicely.

It should be no surprise that theory and reality in this field are divergent, since theory and reality are divergent in many fields. Scientific journalists covering the topic out of a sense of honesty for the subject matter would have no problem integrating these two types of studies, by saying: “In theory face masks should work to prevent the spread of Covid, in reality they don’t work to prevent the spread of Covid.” There’s nothing complicated about constructing such a sentence. There’s nothing complicated about presenting the idea in a way that anyone over the age of eight could easily read it.

Beware Of Those Telling You How A Theory Is So Complicated There Is No Way You Would Possibly Understand 

I have long found that theories that cannot be described to an eight-year-old are either fallacious or poorly understood by the speaker. Simplicity of communication is obtainable to he who understands his subject matter and possesses a sincere desire to communicate.

Instead, this topic of face masks and Covid is covered with great divisiveness. Anyone who suggests that an unmasked person is putting others in harm’s way or does not care about another is doing their audience a great disservice. Either they don’t respect their audience enough to understand their subject matter or they don’t respect their audience enough to cover the subject matter honestly.

For A Person Trying To Make Sense Of Efficacy, Xiao Presents The Most Useful Face Mask Research Of 2020 

Xiao in the May 2020 issue of Emerging Infectious Disease is the best study of the year on the topic. For those interested in delving deeper, I address that topic further in a recent article entitled “Reminder: The CDC Says Face Masks Don’t Stop Covid.” I cover the same topic in greater detail in my recent book Face Masks in One Lesson. I strongly recommend Xiao’s journal article.

Emerging Infectious Disease is a CDC journal of epidemiology. Attempting to avoid lip service or the lure of political correctness, Xiao and her co-authors looked at Covid as a serious concern and sought to distinguish superstition from efficacious approaches.

In Xiao’s Emerging Infectious Disease review of 14 randomized controlled trials with laboratory confirmed results, we see quite conclusively that

  • 1.) Face masks do not reduce the spread of Covid-19 or other respiratory viruses,
  • 2.) Hand washing does not reduce the spread of Covid-19 or other respiratory viruses, and
  • 3.) Disinfecting surfaces does not reduce the spread of Covid-19 or other respiratory viruses. Fauci: The Bernie Mado… Ortleb, Charles Buy New $5.99 (as of 02:55 EDT – Details)

This information is so vitally important, and Xiao deserves reading by anyone with an interest in the topic. Again Xiao does not need to be seen as a contradiction of mechanistic face mask studies, but an elaboration that we can turn to in order to see that theory diverges from reality on this topic and that practice should be modified accordingly.

Xiao’s Conclusion: Face Masks Are Superstition At Best 

The face mask is superstition at best. There is no question about that. This has been known for a long time and is even more obvious now after billions have been masked.

Xiao, takes this a step further. Xiao points out that the face mask is harmful and may increase the spread of Covid, especially when it is worn in disregard for the following protocol:

  • 1.) Face masks are single use only,
  • 2.) They are to be sterile when put on,
  • 3.) They are to be put on with sterile hands,
  • 4.) The nose and mouth should not be touched while wearing a face mask, and
  • 5.) If the face mask becomes moist it should be changed immediately.

Xiao cites a 2009 World Health Organization circular on this topic. I’ve never seen a single person in 2020 follow this protocol and no one should not be expected to as they are not trained in the protocol. Notably, as much as this protocol is followed, face masks do not work to reduce the spread of Covid-19 or other respiratory viruses. That is the bottom line.

Face masks are superstition at best.

“At Best,” Is Not A Realistic Standard, There Is Much Downside To Masking

There is also much worse to be said about face masks. Xiao does not cover the vastly more harmful aspects of face mask wearing:

  • 1.) Restriction of breathing,
  • 2.) Restriction of waste removal,
  • 3.) Medical impact,
  • 4.) Individualized impact necessitating an individual approach,
  • 5.) Deceased oxygen increased carbon dioxide in the micro environment of the face mask,
  • 6.) Social impact,
  • 7.) Developmental impact,
  • 8.) Communicational impact.

This was outside of her scope. The entire picture is something that must be responsibly synthesized by doctor and patient for an individual approach.

Central Planning Makes Its Way To Medicine Under The Guise Of “Public Health”

As with all central planning, a one-size-fits-all approach from central planners in the public health field brings with it all the same downfalls of other blunt force central planning. This approach which we call by the public relations developed term “public health,” in our era, is a polar opposite of medicine, which at its best has an individualized approach going back more than 2500 years and pits doctor and patient as a team against the world.

“Public health” is a theory that came about in the second half of the 1800s on the English and later the American side of the North Atlantic and seeks to drive a wedge between doctor and patient in order to make it the decision of neighbor what medical treatment a patient receive. Rather than doctor and patient against the world, it is doctor as a servant of the plebiscite, imposing that will upon the patient. Public health has aspects of communism and utilitarianism mixed in with medicine to effectively make it the very opposite of medicine.

It may be no surprise to readers that those who advocate for one-size-fits-all central planning in the field of public health have the same opinion about that same technocratic-led one-size-fits-all central planning in government and economics. It is a truly vile field that seeks to use manipulation to control man. A VOYAGE IN IMAGINATIO… Holmes, Dr Joel S Buy New $9.95 (as of 04:21 EDT – Details)

Public health motivation theory is an openly discussed topic in the field that is fundamental to public health and so contrary to medical ethics for it seeks to frame and spin apparently unbiased education to achieve a predetermined outcome, making doctor into a salesman or pitchman rather than someone seeking to achieve informed consent for his patient, to whom he has that duty.

Public Health Has Become A Countermovement To Medical Ethics 

Public health is in total contradiction to virtually all medical ethics, including the ethics around informed consent that grew out of the Nuremberg trials. It may be no shock therefore to recognize that the reincarnation of the most vile socialists of the past century — the national socialist of Germany, the Stalinist socialists of Russia, the Maoist socialists of East Asia, and their many compatriots — are kept alive and well in the field of public health. All of these men were young and charismatic in their time and praised in the pages of The New York Times. The same paper praises the public health politburo members of our day as heroes.

There is nothing heroic about men and women who bring tyranny to their homeland and seek to extinguish liberty from the globe, all the while claiming through cynical gaslighting that this utter destruction of human society is the only way to protect your loved ones and all that you hold dear.

It is hard to be appropriately pejorative about such behavior.

While They Are Effective Marketers, And Unethically Manipulative, The Field Of “Public Health” Has Not Hid Its Intent 

For more than 170 years, the forefathers of the public health field have publicly stated their desire to eliminate the structures of society and all people hold dear — church, free expression, self-defense, private property, livelihood, business, family.

Should anyone be surprised that in 2020, the year that the public health professional was allowed to take over society, we ended up with exactly the kind of life that the public health profession and their forefathers have been promising for 170 years?

Listen to them. They are telling you their plans. They have never hid it.

He who follows a single one of their orders, the face mask included, betrays freedom. You enable the most disgusting evil in the world.

Face Masks Should Not Be Worn By Any Person Of Conscience 

The face mask is a total joke of a medical intervention advanced by the clown of a man we call Fauci. It is with great sadness that I’ve seen even a single American adopt this medical intervention. Sadly, this adoption of face masks have been far more impactful to society than just a single American engaging in this harmful superstition.

That would be forgivable. That would be so minor as to be unnoticed. We are past the point where anyone should say “Anyone who wants to should wear a face mask.” The toxic symbol of obedience should be eradicated with the greatest level of societal pressure that a peaceful people can tolerate. 2020 is very different and the comfort of supplicating oneself to the masses is so impactful, so harmful to all that I hold dear and so deceitfully done in the name of protecting all that we hold dear.

No person of conscience should wear the mask even a single minute more. Not a minute. To do so is to give tacit approval to a great lie and to send ripples of harm through society as you empower such a lie.

I do not wear a mask. I will not wear a mask. I seldom allow anyone in a mask to speak to me without first removing their mask. I hold some degree of contempt for those who wear masks.

Heroes Walk The Earth 

Readers of these pages refuse masks in their businesses for the liability it creates for them as a fainting hazard. They refuse service personnel who come onto their property masked. They sue government agencies that force them to be masked. They take their children out of schools where they are masked and brainwashed about Covid. They scold managers for requiring their employees to be masked. They push against the illogical and unjust. They inform their bosses that they can fire them if they need to, but they will never again wear a mask. Had 2020 not come as it did, I would never have met these brave souls who so boldly walk the earth and demand freedom for themselves and others.

If you are not already behaving like these brave readers, it is not too late. You, too, can set a higher standard and demand such freedoms in your own life.

Sheeplike Behavior Happens, But Tacit Approval From Those Who Know Better Is So Much Worse  

No adult should be given a bye for the sheeplike behavior they engage in. Sheeplike people exist though and that is a reality of life. Those who know better and refuse to go through the discomfort of acting on their realization are truly awful.

Humanity needs those who see the reality of this behavior to act in defense of reason and liberty. So many do not. They abrogate that role. They burn down society because they refuse to act to protect it.

Minor discomfort and subtle displays of courage are all that is required for them to behave accordingly to advance freedom for themselves and others. It is a testament to how little society must mean to them or how costly subtle displays of courage must appear to them if they are unable to summon the ability to no longer fly this disgusting flag on their precious faces.

No decent liberty-lover would fly a Nazi flag or a Soviet flag out of sincerity, but many fly a far more pernicious symbol.

Courage Is An Axiom 

There is clearly a disconnect for so many Americans to so potently represent such an awful symbol and to carry it around with them — not on an armband or embroidered to a hat — but on their precious faces, covering their precious mouths.

Out of many conversations, the most clear sense I’ve been able to make of that disconnect is the far greater prevalence of cowardice in the United States than I had previously realized.

There I reach an axiomatic disconnect with the mask wearer, for if you have no courage, you are not a man to be trusted, you are not an adult who has come of age, you are playing the role of the perpetual child that modernity wants you to be and wants to convince you that you are.

There is a question left up to each of us to answer: “Am I too cowardly to be inconvenienced in the name of human freedom?”

People who I once viewed as heroes have answered that question in ways I would never have expected.

I hope that you have decided to never again wear a mask.

If You Criticize A Governor While Obediently Wearing A Mask, You Have Not Turned The Mirror On Yourself 

See the rest here

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: An Obama Crony Central Planning Doozy

Posted by M. C. on December 16, 2020

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/12/an-obama-crony-central-planning-doozy.html

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Move over, Solyndra. Another green boondoggle from the Obama era has failed, and taxpayers are out as much as $510 million. Late last week Judge Karen Owens approved a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization by Tonopah Solar Energy. Tonopah operated the Crescent Dunes solar plant in Nevada that received $737 million in guaranteed loans from the Obama Administration.

The plan includes a settlement with the Department of Energy that leaves taxpayers liable for as much as $234.68 million in outstanding debt, but the total public cost is even higher. Crescent Dunes also received an investment-tax credit, and the 2009 stimulus legislation allowed it to receive a cash payment in lieu of credit. In 2017 the plant received more than $275.6 million from Treasury under the Section 1603 program, which it used to service its outstanding liabilities. So taxpayers already gave Crescent Dunes cash to pay off its taxpayer-backed loans.

This is one more cautionary tale in climate subsidies.

No this is not a tale of problems with climate subsidies. It is a tale of crony government power freaks making investment decisions with money that isn’t their own. It is done with money taken from the masses for the benefit of those close to the power freaks.

Tonopah Solar Energy is a subsidiary of SolarReserve. 

Pacific Corporate Group is an investor in SolarReserve. Nancy Pelosi’s brother-in-law, Ronald Pelosi was executive director at PCG Asset Management(until 2009), a subsidiary of Pacific Corporate Group and a board member in September 2011 when the loan guarantee for Tonopah was finalized.

Incentives for government projects are always distorted by their nature. The profit and loss check is just not there. If the money is lost, the money-providers suffer no losses. No one is going to knock on Obama’s or Nancy Pelosi’s door asking them to sell a couple of their homes to return money to the “people” because of the crony idiotic project.

The only way these kinds of scams can be stopped is to end government investments in business projects. –RW

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Lockdowns Destroy What Makes Us Human

Posted by M. C. on November 27, 2020

There is no denying that during a pandemic there will be a need to alter one’s behavior, but just as no state bureaucrat can successfully plan the economy, no public health official is capable of centrally planning a response for hundreds of millions of people who are all in different conditions of life, with different material and spiritual needs.

Central health planning. That should be a scary thought.

https://mises.org/wire/lockdowns-destroy-what-makes-us-human?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=10466a8663-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-10466a8663-228343965

Zachary Yost

While GMU economist Tyler Cowen may have dismissed the idea of more pandemic lockdowns as being “a straw man” and saying that the extreme measures that started in March of this year “are now behind us,” it seems that governors and other politicians around the country have failed to get the message. More and more states have begun to once again impose ruinous lockdowns. The media and Twitter are filled with self-righteous scolds shrieking about the impending doom of families gathering together for Thanksgiving. CNN host Jake Tapper suggested that “Christmas is probably not gonna be possible.” 

If such people had their way, everyone would remain under veritable house arrest and not see anyone else for months or even years, as the duration of such onerous impositions has gone from “fifteen days to slow the spread” to months or even years into the future. That such ideas are even being considered demonstrates just how out of touch with human reality much of our “expert” class and their hordes of lemming-like followers are.

Things have not changed much from when I addressed some of the disastrous unintended material consequences of lockdowns in April of this year. However, as 2020 has dragged on, it has made clear that at least some of the lockdown logic is rooted in a fundamentally flawed and relatively recent conception of human nature.

Nearly every culture and religion throughout human history has held that humans are both material and spiritual beings. However, living in the secular age as we do, the material aspect of our existence has supplanted the spiritual to such an extent that it is barely recognized to exist.

Russell Kirk goes so far as to claim that the dividing line in contemporary politics hinges on this difference in understanding, stating that “on one side of that line are all those men and women who fancy that the temporal order is the only order, and that material needs are their only needs, and that they may do as they like with the human patrimony. On the other side of that line are all those people who recognize an enduring moral order in the universe, a constant human nature, and high duties toward the order spiritual and the order temporal.”

A purely material outlook on human existence will of course lead to certain policy prescriptions, especially in the face of a pandemic. To deny the spiritual existence of man is to deny the possibility of life after death—only the void of annihilation awaits. From this perspective, it makes sense that one might conclude that earthly life must continue on at any cost—that no tradeoff is too high to put off the coming oblivion.

In contrast, those who retain a more traditional conception of human nature, no matter the specific religion or creed to which they belong, can easily see an entire world of costs to lockdowns that those with a purely materialist perspective are not even capable of understanding.

Humans are social beings. Our very existence and development as human persons rests upon this social nature. Social contract thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau may fantasize about a solitary human existence, but all evidence from feral or isolated children indicates that without other humans a solitary individual would swiftly perish, not to mention fail to develop self-awareness or the ability to think and speak with language.

Some personalist scholars, such as political theorist David Walsh, argue that our entire conception of self can only be formed in relation to other persons. In contrast to Descartes’s famous line that “I think, therefore I am” a personalist would argue that we are not even capable of understanding the existence of “I” until we have first understood the existence of an “I” in others. Much like we can never truly see our own face, but only the faces of others, which in turn allows us to understand our own unseen face, we cannot become aware of ourselves until we find ourselves in the context of others, and through them recognize the mutual nature of our interior lives that makes us persons.

Many religions, in some form or another, speak of the interconnectedness of the world and of people and of the illusion of separation. While most often associated with Eastern religions such as Buddhism, this spiritual unity is not foreign to Christianity and the West. Indeed, the Christian Trinity is understood to be one God in three persons. Jesus Christ references this unity in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John when he prays “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”

Leaving the specific religious implications aside, humans have recognized for millennia that when persons gather together we enter into one another on a spiritual level through the recognition of our mutual personhood. However, this spiritual unity that is so essential to our very existence as human persons does not occur in a vacuum, but rather in the context in which we gather in the material world.

Humans could acquire all the nutrients we need by imbibing Soylent Green in solitude, but instead, we often turn our meals into ritualistic social occasions. Shared meals not only provide material nourishment but spiritual sustenance as well. Dancing alone in your kitchen is all well and good, but it pales in comparison to experiencing a crowd of thousands moshing at an electronic dance music festival or the pounding feet of a Sufi sect dancing the dhikr. We are fortunate to be able to access great art at the click of a mouse, but watching Swan Lake home alone on YouTube is no substitute for the experience of seeing it live in a crowded hall as every person is moved to tears.

There are few events more brimming with the spiritual unity of the attendees than a wedding, a celebration of the literal unity of two persons as one in the presence of their friends and loved ones with feasting, singing, and dancing.

Yet how many weddings have been canceled or celebrated in private this year thanks to lockdowns? How many shared meals have not been eaten? Dances left undanced, songs left unsung, conversations not had? How many parents and grandparents in nursing homes did not get to see their loved ones before they departed this earth? How many children have suffered in front of a screen alone all day? These are not mere frivolous luxuries that we humans can do without. The dual material and spiritual contexts of our personhood cannot be separated. These contexts of our families and communities are not nice additions to life, they are human life itself.

There is no denying that during a pandemic there will be a need to alter one’s behavior, but just as no state bureaucrat can successfully plan the economy, no public health official is capable of centrally planning a response for hundreds of millions of people who are all in different conditions of life, with different material and spiritual needs.

Every person must decide for himself what the proper course of action is in light of his unique life circumstances. Ripping these decisions from every person and placing them in the hands of public health bureaucrats has yielded disaster.

Suicide rates are up all around the country, in some places as much as 70 percent compared to the same time last year. Military suicides are up 20 percent. Drug overdose deaths are on track to reach an all-time high. The RAND Corporation has found an upswing in heavy drinking this year. The Associated Pressreports on the horrific conditions in nursing homes around the country that may have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of residents in excruciating and horrific circumstances, as their families have been forbidden from caring for them. What’s more, it seems many patients simply withered away, their spirits broken from being locked in veritable solitary confinement with no contact with friends or family for months.

Medical central planning that doesn’t even recognize the spiritual and social aspect of human existence has caused the deaths of untold numbers of people around the country, perhaps more than the virus itself in the long run.

Our vaunted leaders may act like pure materialists when it comes to their dictatorial decrees obliterating society and our very humanity, but on some level they obviously understand the importance of their own spiritual health. Why else would the leaders of California be breaking their own rules to dine at luxurious restaurants or flying to Hawaii for meetings and not be content with takeout and Zoom like the rest of us peasants? But what else can be expected from a system of top-down control?

Humans are both material and spiritual beings. Just as we have material needs that central planners cannot anticipate, so too do we have spiritual needs that can only be filled in a myriad of ways that central planners cannot plan for, especially when they don’t even recognize they are needs at all. When they are not fulfilled, our physical health suffers just as assuredly as if we had a virus. The social and communal aspects of human life, whether a holiday dinner with family, going to church, having a wedding, or even the mundane relations of everyday life are not mere luxuries that can be dispensed with, they are human life itself. People must be free to navigate these difficult times armed with the knowledge of their circumstances that only they possess. Author:

Zachary Yost

Zachary Yost is a Mises U alum and freelance writer.

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-Innovation’s secret sauce is freedom

Posted by M. C. on October 10, 2020

The vast and lingering damage done by the global lockdown will include governments’ opportunistic expansions of their controls of almost everything, and an increased tendency of people to look to government for shelter from all uncertainties. But one enormous benefit may result: There is an unflattering contrast between the tardy, lumbering, often blunderbuss response of many governments to the coronavirus and the nimble adjustments of individuals in their behavior and of commercial entities in their arrangements. So, perhaps there will be a healthier appreciation of the creativity of a free society’s unplannable spontaneous order.

Elegant way of saying stating the evermore obvious: central planning never works.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=075c5fb4b

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny…’”

— Isaac Asimov

Matt Ridley, the British writer, calls himself a “rational optimist,” which today probably strikes many people — their health and finances threatened, their equanimity destroyed by the horrors of close confinement with family members — as an irrational coupling of adjective and noun. Nowadays, cheerfulness can be irritating.

Ridley, however, is right.

For many millennia, artificial light was a luxury: In 1880, a minute of the average worker’s toil earned enough to purchase four minutes of light from a kerosene lamp. Then came innovation: the incandescent bulb, and successors.

Today, a minute of work purchases 7,200 minutes (120 hours) of light.

In 1922, a government commission concluded that “already the output of [natural] gas has begun to wane.” In 1956, an expert predicted that U.S. gas production would peak in 1970. Until around 2008, the consensus was that cheap natural gas would soon be exhausted. Then came innovation: hydraulic fracking. Today, cheap gas has supplanted coal in electricity production. One reason is property rights — the mineral rights of local landowners. Ridley quotes an innovator: “Shale production was hotly pursued by many small companies resulting in a multitude of varied drilling and completion methods being implemented and tested across multiple basins.”

When, in August 1928, Alexander Fleming took a vacation from his London laboratory, a cold spell stimulated the growth of the fungus Penicillium, a spore of which, blown through an open window into the lab, landed in a petri dish containing a bacterial culture. Then a hot spell stimulated the growth of this culture — but not around the Penicillium, which killed proximate bacteria. When Fleming returned on Sept. 3, a friend watched him examine this result and heard him say: “That’s funny.” After various innovations, penicillin would radically reduce World War II deaths from wounds, thanks to a 1928 gust of wind.

An epidemic — polio — was worsening in the 1950s, from 10,000 cases in 1940 to 58,000 in 1952, when a Pittsburgh researcher, Jonas Salk, innovated a technique for growing polio virus in minced monkey kidneys. One thing led to another, and to a vaccine, and the almost complete eradication of polio.

These mind-opening vignettes are from Ridley’s “How Innovation Works: And Why It Flourishes in Freedom.”

There are others: Pre-coronavirus pandemic, more than 10 times as many people were flying as in 1970, when the number of air fatalities was more than 10 times higher than today. This safety improvement, Ridley writes, “has happened in an era of deregulation and falling prices. Far from leading to cut corners and risk taking, the great democratization of the airline industry over the past half-century, with its fast turnarounds, no-frills service and cheap tickets, has coincided with a safety revolution.”

Increased competition also increased innovation.

In the half-century between 1960 and 2010, the acreage needed to produce a given quantity of food declined about 65% because of agricultural innovations. If this had not happened, most acres of forest, wetland and nature reserve would be turned to agriculture. Instead, most are increasing. Innovation has driven “dematerializing,” doing more with fewer resources: “By 2015 America was using 15% less steel, 32% less aluminum and 40% less copper than at its peaks of using these metals, even though its population was larger and its output of goods and services much larger.”

There are more bank tellers — and they are doing more interesting things than counting out money — than before ATMs arrived.

It is serendipitous that the new book by Ridley, who has a keen sense of serendipity’s role in scientific and (hence) societal advances, arrives during the pandemic. “The main ingredient in the secret sauce that leads to innovation,” he writes, “is freedom. Freedom to exchange, experiment, imagine, invest, and fail.”

The vast and lingering damage done by the global lockdown will include governments’ opportunistic expansions of their controls of almost everything, and an increased tendency of people to look to government for shelter from all uncertainties. But one enormous benefit may result: There is an unflattering contrast between the tardy, lumbering, often blunderbuss response of many governments to the coronavirus and the nimble adjustments of individuals in their behavior and of commercial entities in their arrangements. So, perhaps there will be a healthier appreciation of the creativity of a free society’s unplannable spontaneous order.

George Will is a Washington Post columnist.

His email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

George Will

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Calls for Central Planning in the COVID-19 Panic Are like the Calls for the “War Socialism” of Old | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 14, 2020

The opposite is true. It is the private economy that wins wars. The private economy is yielding more goods and services to alleviate the corona epidemic. The efficiency of private companies these days is amazing. Uncounted solutions are coming from the private sector, which is switching to the production of masks, medical suits, drugs, ventilators or coming up with safe new ways of delivering goods and services to consumers.

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In dark hours, when people fear for their lives, they eagerly deliver their freedom to the state. Many want the government take control of their lives, because they think it will be better for them. Ludwig von Mises has written extensively about the erroneous belief that in an emergency the state must take control of the economy because the market economy supposedly fails. Specifically, Mises dealt with this subject in his writings on war socialism.

In Human Action, he writes about the reasoning in favor of state planning:

The market economy, say the socialists and the interventionists, is at best a system that may be tolerated in peacetime. But when war comes, such indulgence is impermissible. It would jeopardize the vital interests of the nation for the sole benefit of the selfish concerns of capitalists and entrepreneurs. War, and in any case modern total war, peremptorily requires government control of business.” (1998, p. 821).

In Nation, State, and Economy Mises similarly remarks:

So-called war socialism has been regarded as sufficiently argued for and justified with reference mostly to the emergency created by war. In war, the inadequate free economy supposedly cannot be allowed to exist any longer; into its place must step something more perfect, the administered economy. (2006, p. 117).

The similarity between the reasoning in favor of war socialism and the arguments that have been brought forward during the corona emergency is striking. Today war rhetoric abounds. Emanuel Macron explicitly stated, “We’re at war,” and sent, as in Spain, the military to the streets. US president Donald Trump similarly speaks of “Our Big War” and invokes the wartime authority of the Defense Production Act. We hear the slogan “We are in this together” all the time.

Mises discusses German war socialism during the First World War in detail. He points out that Emperor Wilhelm II basically lost all powers to the General Staff. General Ludendorff “became virtually omnipotent dictator,” he explains in Omnipotent Government (1985, p. 42), and subordinated everything to the war effort.

Winning the war was thought to be the outstanding goal, which could only be achieved by centralizing all powers. These powers were given to the military. After all, they were the experts in military matters.

Today, we face a similar tyranny of experts, to borrow a term from William Easterly. In the medical emergency, enormous power lies in the hands of doctors such as Anthony Fauci in the US or Christian Drosten in Germany. These experts advise governments what to do—for instance, which size of gatherings shall be prohibited (events of 1000, 100, or 3 persons), if and for how long economies shall be locked down, and if the wearing of masks shall become mandatory. And politicians follow the advice of the doctors. After all, they are the experts.

The similarities to war socialism do not end there. Indeed, to different degrees we are experiencing war socialism, because the war against the virus involves a massive central invasion of private property. Almost all economic activity has become subordinated to the war effort. In many countries businesses not considered essential to the war effort are forced to close down, such as retail stores, gastronomy businesses, or hotels. Others are forced indirectly to close, as their customers are confined.

In a sense, the whole population has been conscripted in the fight against the virus. Some people are allowed to continue producing, because it is considered worthwhile. Other people have been conscripted and ordered to fight the war on the home front. They are not allowed to leave their homes, as the experts consider this the best way to fight the virus and win the war. Even children are forced to contribute to the war effort by staying home. The central planners also decide when it is worthwhile to leave the home trenches, i.e., to walk the dog or buy groceries.

As in other wars, borders are temporarily closed and the international division of labor is severely hampered. War is financed in three main ways (Mises 2006, pp. 136–42).

First, goods and services are confiscated. In the corona war, medical material is being seized. Companies are closed and individuals confined. They shift their “production” toward the war effort. They produce “social distancing,” which is considered the main “good” necessary to win the war against the virus. Second, taxes are increased. Indeed, war profit taxes are especially popular. We are already hearing the first proposals in that direction. Third, the printing press accelerates, which we are experiencing as well.

In sum, the government interventions in the corona epidemic can be considered as a form of war socialism.

The next question is: is war socialism true socialism?

According to Mises, true socialism exists when there is a “transfer of the means of production out of private ownership of individuals into the ownership of society. That alone and nothing else is socialism. (Mises, 2006, p. 142).

Mises declares: “the measures of war socialism amounted to putting the economy on a socialistic basis. The right of ownership remained formally unimpaired. By the letter of the law the owner still continued to be the owner of the means of production. Yet, the power of disposal over the enterprise was taken away from him” (2006, p. 143).

In socialism, the central authority decides what is produced. In corona socialism, the government indirectly does that also: it decides which businesses are allowed to open and which are not. Thus, it decides what can be produced (masks, ventilators) and what will not be produced (tourism or sporting events).

Mises clarifies: “War socialism was by no means complete socialism, but it was full and true socialization without exception if one had kept on the path that had been taken” (Mises 2006, p. 144). Of course, corona socialism, as an instance of war socialism, is considered to be temporary, as “exceptional provisions for the duration of the war” (Mises 2006, p. 146).

But does war socialism achieve its aim? The defenders of the centralized effort claim that “the organized economy is capable of yielding higher outputs than the free economy” (Mises 2006, p. 117).

The opposite is true. It is the private economy that wins wars. The private economy is yielding more goods and services to alleviate the corona epidemic. The efficiency of private companies these days is amazing. Uncounted solutions are coming from the private sector, which is switching to the production of masks, medical suits, drugs, ventilators or coming up with safe new ways of delivering goods and services to consumers.

Private companies swiftly shift their production efforts due to anticipated profits. In a market economy, it is profits that direct production, quickly taking all human needs into account. In contrast, the medical production czars tend to have only one end or human need in mind. They want to slow down infection rates at all costs. They disregard other human ends, such as creating successful businesses and enjoying a vast array of goods and services such as vacationing or other leisure activities. When these ends cannot be reached, there may be other health problems, such as heart diseases or psychic issues. The forced lockdown brings economic misery. A general fall in living standards ensues with all its consequences.

The central medical planning focuses only on measurable variables such the infection rate. By not taking into account other ends (and not being able to do so), this planning exerts enormous harm from the point of view of voluntarily interacting individuals. In contrast to the central planning approach, which focuses on one end, all ends in human society are taken into account in the market economy through (expected) profits. Production is adjusted swiftly and efficiently toward the changing ends of consumers.

It is entrepreneurial profit seeking that unleashes human creativity and genius and thereby satisfies human needs as efficiently as humanly possible. The right answer to a war, and to the corona war as well, is therefore to eliminate all barriers to entrepreneurship:

For anyone of the opinion that the free economy is the superior form of economic activity, precisely the need created by the war had to be a new reason demanding that all obstacles standing in the way of free competition be set aside. (Mises 2006, p. 117)

In other words, in order to win the corona war, government should cut taxes and regulations vigorously. Unfortunately, governments around the world have opted for the opposite path, namely war socialism. If they do not quickly rectify their responses and end their war, the socialization of our economies will continue. Mises warns: “in the long run war and the preservation of the market economy are incompatible” (1998, p. 824).

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Why Central Planning by Medical Experts Will Lead to Disaster | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 12, 2020

More important, however, may be that in making recommendations to address COVID-19, those with detailed knowledge of the disease (the experts we have been told to obey) do not have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their “solutions” for the economy and society to know what the costs will be. That means that they don’t know enough to accurately compare the benefits to the costs.

One major problem with such attacks is the substantial literature documenting the adverse health effects of worsening economic conditions. For just one example, an analysis of the 2008 economic meltdown in The Lancet estimated that it “was associated with over 260,000 excess cancer deaths in the OECD alone, between 2008–2010.” That is a massive “detail” to ignore in forming policy.

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A great deal of the coverage of the COVID-19 crisis has been apocalyptic. That is partly because “if it bleeds, it leads.” But it is also because some of the medical experts with media megaphones have put forward potentially catastrophic scenarios and drastic plans to deal with them, reinforced by assertions that the rest of us should “listen to the experts,” because only they know enough to determine policy. Unfortunately, those experts don’t know enough to determine appropriate policies.

Doctors, infectious disease specialists, epidemiologists, etc. know more things about diseases, their courses, what increases or decreases their rate of spread, and so on than most. But the most crucial of that information has been browbeaten into the rest of us by now. Limited and imperfect testing also means that the available statistics may be very misleading (e.g., is an uptick in reported cases real or the result of an increasing rate of, or more accuracy in, testing, which is crucial to determining the likely future course COVID-19?). Further, to the extent that the virus’s characteristics are unique, no one knows exactly what will happen. All of that makes “shut up and listen” advice less compelling.

More important, however, may be that in making recommendations to address COVID-19, those with detailed knowledge of the disease (the experts we have been told to obey) do not have sufficient knowledge of the consequences of their “solutions” for the economy and society to know what the costs will be. That means that they don’t know enough to accurately compare the benefits to the costs. In particular, because of their relative unawareness of the many margins at which effects will be felt, the medical experts we are being told to follow will likely underestimate those costs. When combined with their natural desire to solve the medical problem, however severe it might get, this can lead to overly draconian proposals.

This issue has been brought to the fore by the increasing number of people who have begun questioning the likelihood of the apocalyptic scenarios driving the “OMG! We need to do everything that might help” tweetstorms, on the one hand, and those who are emphasizing that “shutting down the economy” is far more costly than planners recognized, on the other.

Those who have brought up such issues (how long before they are called “COVID deniers”?) have been pilloried for it. Exhibit A is the vilification of President Trump for “ignoring the scientists,” such as the New York Times‘s claim that “Trump thinks he knows better than the doctors” after he tweeted that “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

One major problem with such attacks is the substantial literature documenting the adverse health effects of worsening economic conditions. For just one example, an analysis of the 2008 economic meltdown in The Lancet estimated that it “was associated with over 260,000 excess cancer deaths in the OECD alone, between 2008–2010.” That is a massive “detail” to ignore in forming policy.

In other words, the tradeoff is not just a matter of lives lost versus money, as it is often portrayed as being (e.g., New York governor Cuomo’s assertion that “we’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life”). It is a tradeoff between lives lost due to COVID and lives that will be lost due to the policies adopted to reduce COVID deaths.

Larry O’Connor put this well at Townhall when he wrote:

Why should the scientific analysis of doctors solely focusing on the spread of the coronavirus carry more weight than the very real scientific analysis of the deadly health ramifications of shutting down our economy? Doesn’t the totality of the data make the argument for a balanced approach to this crisis?

This issue reminds me of a classic discussion of specialists and planning in chapter 4 of F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. “The Inevitability of Planning” is well worth noting today:

Almost every one of the technical ideals of our experts could be realized…if to achieve them were made the sole aim of humanity.

We all find it difficult to bear to see things left undone which everybody must admit are both desirable and possible. That these things cannot all be done at the same time, that any one of them can be achieved only at the sacrifice of others, can be seen only by taking into account factors which fall outside any specialism…[which] forces us to see against a wider background the objects to which most of our labors are directed.

Every one of the many things which, considered in isolation, it would be possible to achieve…creates enthusiasts for planning who feel confident…[of] the value of the particular objective…But it is…foolish to quote such instances of technical excellence in particular fields as evidence of the general superiority of planning.

The hopes they place in planning…are the result not of a comprehensive view of society but rather of a very limited view and often the result of a great exaggeration of the importance of the ends they place foremost…it would make the very men who are most anxious to plan society the most dangerous if they were allowed to do so—and the most intolerant of the planning of others…there could hardly be a more unbearable—and much more irrational—world than one in which the most eminent specialists in each field were allowed to proceed unchecked with the realization of their ideals.

Panic has seldom improved the rationality of decision-making (beyond the “fight or flight” reaction to facing a “man-eater,” when to stop and think means certain death). However, much of media coverage has fed panic. But the illogical and intemperate media attacks against those questioning the rationality of draconian “solutions” drown out, rather than enable, objective discussion of real tradeoffs. And if “Democracy dies in darkness,” as the Washington Post proclaims, we should remember that it does not require total darkness. The same conclusion follows when people are kept in the dark about major aspects of the reality they face.

 

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COVID-19: The “Experts” Have No Crystal Ball | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 27, 2020

To believe in the utility of central planning you must be able to fall for the idea that someone somewhere has a crystal ball. Individual freedom is not only moral, it provides utility and risk mitigation in moments of crisis, precisely like the one we now face.

American federalism provides for fifty experiments. Individual freedom in America provides for 330 million experiments. Some win, some lose. That’s life. Authoritarianism that drags everyone down a common path merely ensures that all will eventually lose.

https://mises.org/wire/covid-19-experts-have-no-crystal-ball?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=9b99efe5d7-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-9b99efe5d7-228343965

On the night of Tuesday, November 8, 2016, and in the wee hours of Wednesday, November 9, 2016, Donald Trump became US president-elect. I am not aware of a single media source that predicted that. Many predicted Hillary Clinton would win. Some stayed out of the fortune-telling game.

The most striking thing was the lack of admission running up to election night that the experts were all making guesses. “Of course they were making guesses, no one has a crystal ball,” the rational observer might say, but petabytes have been dedicated to making the social sciences and all of their guesswork appear like, well, “science.” That means that it’s all very measurable and clear, when it actually isn’t.

Science, on the other hand, is science. Observable details can be used to solidify hypotheses into theory. Sometimes facts are even arrived at, though theory is usually the best a scientist can hope for.

And then there is the murky area between the two, where scientists use models to predict the future.

This starts to look a lot like when psephologist (election scientist), sabermetrician, and prognosticator Nate Silver in the weeks and months before the 2016 election replaced the term “algorithm” with the suggestion of fact, or referenced a peer-reviewed, proprietary model that one is supposed to believe tells the future. There is no question that the vast portion of social scientists who make predictions want their model to be seen as a crystal ball. “Algorithm” is a fancy word for “guess.” “Model” is a fancy word for “guess.”

The work is built on presumptions that are not philosophically or logically solid, but then a lot of math is used to cover up the illogical and unsteady foundations.

Hundreds of academic authors that I encounter over the course of a year cannot have a logically sound conversation or write logically sound arguments. They fail at the foundation of their arguments, yet proceed to built atop that unsteady foundation, knowing that few will notice. This is intellectual dishonesty, also known as lying. So rooted they are in the social scientist’s belief that their field is a science and that modeling can plausibly predict the future that some may not even be aware of the fundamental shortcomings of such a professional outlook. Yes, perhaps they themselves do not even notice the lie that they profess.

There are economists that put lots of math on top of bad presumptions. Metrics can be incredibly valuable in understanding a discipline or theory. When the logical foundation is faulty, though, the metrics may simply be window-dressing that adds legitimacy where none belongs. Complicated terminology can have the same purpose. Laymen have long understood that con-artist politicians, con-artist salesmen, and con-artist academics alike have opaque jargon, the use of which seems to demonstrate an unwillingness to be understood.

Warwick McKibbin and Roshen Fernando of Australian National University, the authors of a paper about the tens of millions who will die from coronavirus that has been widely cited in the media (“The Global Macroeconomic Impacts of COVID-19: Seven Scenarios“) show off their crystal ball.

To their credit, the corona prognosticators did a good job of stating pretty clearly: “We don’t really know what we are talking about; we are really just guessing” (actual quote: “These results are very sensitive to the assumptions in the model, to the shocks we feed in and to the assumed macroeconomic policy responses in each countries [sic]”), and “Our scary death counts are not reliable and are not even the focus of our work or this paper, we are doing this to provide some sort of economic estimate for people to start working with” (actual quote: “The goal is not to be definitive about the virus outbreak but to provide important information about a range of possible economic costs of the disease. At the time of writing this paper, the probability of any of these scenarios and the range of plausible alternatives are highly uncertain. In the case where COVID-19 develops into a global pandemic, our results suggest that the cost can escalate quickly”).

They also openly admit, “Our intent is to profess political support for global bureaucratic structures in health and medicine and to call for shifts toward better funded and socialized medical systems” (Actual quote: “Many governments have been reluctant to invest sufficiently in their health care systems, let alone public health systems in less developed countries….This study indicates the possible costs that can be avoided through global cooperative investment in public health in all countries”).

The most important takeaway from the paper is not a prognostication, but an observation from the past, the notion that social contagion is the great ill that results from an outbreak, not the contagion itself: “From studying many outbreaks, the real risk is not the disease but public and governmental reaction to the fear of the disease,” (Actual quote: “The fear of an unknown deadly virus is similar in its psychological effects to the reaction to biological and other terrorism threats and causes a high level of stress, often with longer-term consequences (Hyams et al., 2002). A large number of people would feel at risk at the onset of a pandemic, even if their actual risk of dying from the disease is low.”)

If you read the 44-page paper, uncertainty around the data and biases are disclosed by the authors.

But the media took it and ran with it for a salacious headline. The Chicken Littles of the world ran with it. The politicians, emergency services, military, and public health bureaucrats, seeking greater control for themselves, ran with it.

This is all predictable. What is far from predictable is whether you or I will believe any of this salacious nonsense. We don’t need to fall for it. We can look at the prognostication of 15 million deaths by corona, along with anyone who cites it as if it were fact, and challenge them quietly or openly as a heretofore discredited and unreliable person using an unreliable source in a moment where reliable journalism and sources are so badly needed.

Generations, centuries, millennia of humans around the globe have known what November 2016 reminded an entire country of: no one has a crystal ball.

Let us not forget this valuable lesson so quickly.

Will you be a willing megaphone to Chicken Little? Will you laugh at the nonsense, or will you be among those who chase Chicken Little into the henhouse where he belongs?

Whatever you choose, any person lying to you—economist, social scientist, prognosticator—deserves the same skeptical treatment across disciplines, because charlatans find their way into every discipline.

No matter how much modeling they do, the underlying truth is that no one has a crystal ball. Everyone is guessing. The experts didn’t know in 2016 how the election would shape up. The experts don’t know now how corona will shape up. Don’t sacrifice basic liberties to an expert claiming to have a crystal ball. Don’t sacrifice your basic sense of self to an expert claiming to have a crystal ball. Don’t offer the power of your fear, the power of your belief, and certainly not the power of your trust to an expert claiming to have a crystal ball.

Skepticism is the proper tool to use with any holder of any crystal ball. That is true, regardless of the complexity of the algorithm that they claim shows irrefutable proof of what the future will bring one day from now, one year from now, or one century from now.

The future is unknown to us and investing all of a society’s options in one path is detrimental to a successful outcome. One way that free societies have long prospered is by allowing individuals to produce many varying paths, some of which work, some of which fail. That is the risk mitigation method of freedom and individual choice. A single, unified path that no one may oppose removes a great deal of risk mitigation and forces many to make a single bet on a single path. That is a truly foolish idea given the fact that no one has a crystal ball.

To believe in the utility of central planning you must be able to fall for the idea that someone somewhere has a crystal ball. Individual freedom is not only moral, it provides utility and risk mitigation in moments of crisis, precisely like the one we now face.

American federalism provides for fifty experiments. Individual freedom in America provides for 330 million experiments. Some win, some lose. That’s life. Authoritarianism that drags everyone down a common path merely ensures that all will eventually lose.

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EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Lefty Confusion About Price “Gouging”; Face Masks and Purell

Posted by M. C. on March 8, 2020

One example of why central (government) planning does not work.

The Soviet Union, Venezuela and North Korea are others.

https://www.economicpolicyjournal.com/2020/03/lefty-confusion-about-price-gouging.html

Joe Weisenthal is an interesting writer and thinker. He is co-host of the Odd Lots podcast and ‘What’d You Miss?’ on Bloomberg TV and editor at Bloomberg.

I have been following him for years at @TheStalwart.

I am not sure he would identify as a Lefty but he sent out a snarky tweet yesterday that sure fits into the Lefty model of not thinking deeply about economic issues.

Here is the tweet I am referring to:

Joe is missing a lot here.

First off, without price signals, manufacturers don’t know how intense the demand for N95 masks and Purell are.

Would people be willing to pay an extra $10 per item or $25?

This is important to know.

The higher the price, the more resources a manufacturer would be willing to devote to providing more supply.

To illustrate my point, let us, just for argument’s sake, say that people were willing to pay $1,000 for an N95 mask. Well that is a lot more than only being willing to pay $5.00 extra. Thus it tells the manufacturer that if a key component of the mask is in another part of the country or the world that it might make sense to have the part flown over by plane rather via usual ocean shipping modes.

In other words, the size of the price “gouging” signals to a manufacturer how aggressive he should get in making more masks.

But that is not all.

Mask price “gouging” also signals to consumers how in demand masks are. If someone wants to buy a mask to travel by subway to go to a movie and the mask is $200, the consumer might think twice and not buy the mask, Thus leaving it for someone else. At the same time, a heart surgeon may want to buy a mask to travel the same subway to perform heart surgeries. He might be very willing to pay $200 for a mask.

Thus price signals provide much more complex signals then what Joe implied in his tweet that manufacturers only get the idea there is a lot of demand for masks. A lot of complex signaling goes on at different price levels to signal manufacturers, retailers and consumers.

RW

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