Learning the Importance of Government

 

It’s hard to know what to make of the Coronavirus pandemic and our response to it. But if I was one of Donald Trump’s advisers (which I wouldn’t be – I’d get fired in about 20 minutes…), I would encourage the President to use this opportunity to explain something to the American public. We’ve had a couple of government shutdowns in recent years, when our ‘leaders’ couldn’t agree on a budget. For the most part, nobody noticed. Life carried on as usual for most of us. Democrats tried closing public parks for a while, hoping that somebody might notice that the government had shut down. But it really didn’t matter all that much.

But now, due to fears of a contagious disease, the private sector has shut down. This is different. When the government stopped spending money, they had to tell us to be sure we knew. But when the private economy stops – when private individuals stop doing business and stop spending money – we, by God, notice. So Trump could just explain, “When we shut down the government, nobody noticed. But when the private economy has a setback, it can be catastrophic to hundreds of millions of people around the world. As long as our private economy is working, everything will be fine. So we should consider cutting anything that limits the private economy. Anything including government. Simple. Let’s use some common sense here.”

Now obviously, it’s more complex than this. Everything has pluses and minuses. For example, empty airports have negatives (the economy has shut down) and positives (nobody is watching CNN anymore). I’m not suggesting that all government is bad and all capitalism is good.

But still, this is a great opportunity to highlight the difference between the importance of government and the importance of capitalism.


A host can live without the parasite, but the parasite cannot live without the host. The private economy, obviously, is the host.

Government is the parasite.

This should be pointed out right now, when it’s particularly obvious.

The negatives of the Coronavirus are horrifying. But perhaps there may be positives, as well. Perhaps we might learn something…

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  1. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    How much you wanna bet corporate lawyers were telling businesses and organizations not to hold conferences, tournaments, etc. because they would be libel for virus deaths?

    • #1
  2. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    The Democrats are learning that they can turn a problem into a crisis because they control so much of the media.  We should learn that we can do far more without gathering than we have been willing to do.  We could use the University closings to institute major changes.  Do people have to pay huge amounts to watch TV lectures?  Why should not  others use them?  The return to a great lecturer could sky rocket, for lousy ones fall.   The value of great teachers can become better known the value of obscure un read research should also.  Shouldn’t this be the general direction in any event? We must avoid using this exaggerated crisis to concentrate power; rather we should use it to disperse power, to de bureaucratize matters.  (Yea, ok , wash your hands and avoid crowds.) Employees that are productive and valuable and those who are marginal should become more  obvious.  Crises, even highly exaggerated ones, are opportunities for learning and change.  Democrats like to rant and use existing concentrations of power for leverage, change could weaken their influence if we get on top of what’s actually going on, and it isn’t just another spreading disease.  

    • #2
  3. John H. Member
    John H.
    @JohnH

    None of the retail establishments I’ve been in this week looked like the one in the first picture, and none of the airports I was in this week looked like the one in the second picture.

    Maybe the lessons are: there are American publics, and there are American private sectors. Then dare someone, anyone, to protest that this is the wrong kind of diversity.

    • #3
  4. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’ve been trying to decide all week which is worse, the virus’s effect on human health or its effect on the private sector. They seem equally bad at this moment.

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    John H. (View Comment):

    None of the retail establishments I’ve been in this week looked like the one in the first picture, and none of the airports I was in this week looked like the one in the second picture.

    I haven’t been in an airport for a fortnight, so not sure how they look.  Our grocery-store shelves were, until yesterday afternoon, fairly well stocked.  Then, yesterday afternoon, I had to pick up a prescription for Mr. She, and the grocery-store shelves looked exactly like that, a sea change in about 24 hours.  The only thing I can attribute it to is that, shortly before I went into the store, the governor of PA shut down all the public schools in the state for two weeks.

    Not only did the shelves look like that, but the butcher section of the store was completely out of meat.  There were a few pre-packaged selections of beef, chicken and pork, but not much.

    A couple of hours later, the first case of coronavirus in the Western part of the state was reported on the news.  It’s in my county.  I wonder if the school-closing announcement came after the governor was informed, and before the public knew about it, and that’s what caused the run on the stores.  I shudder to think what it looked like after the case in my county was reported.

    In any event, yesterday, people in Western PA lost their [expletive] and denuded the grocery stores of just about everything.  I’ve never seen a mob quite like it; although, thankfully, it was civil.

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Stad (View Comment):

    How much you wanna bet corporate lawyers were telling businesses and organizations not to hold conferences, tournaments, etc. because they would be libel for virus deaths?

    How much you wanna bet the media thinks they are performing a valuable service?

    • #6
  7. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I saw a clip of Chuck Schumer this morning taking credit with Pelosi, despite President Trump’s actions,  for whatever benefit might result from the bill the Congress is working on. Whose money does Schumer think he is using to deliver these benefits.

    We have declined as a society into a mode of net wealth consumption when we should be net producing wealth.

    • #7
  8. GrannyDude Member
    GrannyDude
    @GrannyDude

    My husband and I have been talking about the problem of trying to interpret the pandemic through the lens of an untrustworthy media. How dangerous is it? To whom? How much of the interruption in normal life (cancellation of sports, theater, music and other events) is because of the illness or because of the perception of the illness? Does the stock market crash because people might get sick, or because people might get freaked-out? 

    If Uncle Joe and Ayanna Pressley think the big problem is xenophobia and racism, does that mean they have information the rest of us don’t (e.g. the virus isn’t that big a deal, and this is the left’s warped version of “keep calm and carry on”) or that they’re just mendacious and stupid? 

    And then there is the embarrassment of one’s own paranoia… do I have a headache because I’ve got Wuhan Flu? or maybe just because I drank too much wine last night? 

     

    • #8
  9. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    MarciN (View Comment):
    virus’s effect on individual human beings

    which ones?

    • #9
  10. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    • #10
  11. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston Symphony, Philharmonic Hall are all shut down.  The essential activities of maybe 4,000 musicians, stage hands, ticket takers and maybe 10,000 more employees of nearby parking lots, restaurants, dry cleaners, hotels etc are stopped.  That is to say, they can not now make a living.  Making a living is rather essential to most of us.

    One of my fertility patients is a concert pianist, her husband is a professional string player.  All of their work from last week through May has been cancelled by their concert organizers.  So they now will have no income for two or three months.

    All of this so that the left can try to bring down a good economy.  How pathetic.

     

    • #11
  12. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    The Masters has been postponed indefinitely!!

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    All I know is, it won’t be a good look for Democrats if we’re “saved” by Walmart and Target. Most Americans seem to think that’s Government’s job!

    • #13
  14. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Bob Thompson: What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    All economic activity is essential to the people involved. I was scheduled to work the men’s final of a mid-major basketball tournament this weekend for ESPN. Is that “essential?” It was to me and the people I owe money to.

    • #14
  15. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston Symphony, Philharmonic Hall are all shut down. The essential activities of maybe 4,000 musicians, stage hands, ticket takers and maybe 10,000 more employees of nearby parking lots, restaurants, dry cleaners, hotels etc are stopped. That is to say, they can not now make a living. Making a living is rather essential to most of us.

    One of my fertility patients is a concert pianist, her husband is a professional string player. All of their work from last week through May has been cancelled by their concert organizers. So they now will have no income for two or three months.

    All of this so that the left can try to bring down a good economy. How pathetic.

     

    I have no expertise at all regarding the effects of social crowd gathering on the advance if the coronavirus. It appears that health experts believe social distancing is warranted. I accept that. Then that means there will be negative economic effects on those you have noted, maybe not immediately life-threatening. The non-gathering into crowds of those who enjoy music , sports, travel and other forms of entertainment may be a big benefit to those who don’t gather at those events. By not spreading the coronavirus at a faster rate within gatherings that would include members of the vulnerable populations, the burden on hospitals, healthcare workers,  and equipment availability to meet demand such as ventilators and respirators is mitigated.

    My son is a musician and I have always seen his vulnerability to situations where the gigs he depends on might not be available. That justifies measures from government that can help those in situations you describe. I will be providing help to my son. I think the effort to get action to eliminate the payroll tax is exactly targeted to groups of people whose work does not yield an income that necessarily enables them to save for a rainy day. 

    • #15
  16. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    All economic activity is essential to the people involved. I was scheduled to work the men’s final of a mid-major basketball tournament this weekend for ESPN. Is that “essential?” It was to me and the people I owe money to.

    OK, life threatening.  Is your life threatened if you don’t work for a month?

    • #16
  17. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I’m talking about essential economic activity as being those that will cause death among the population generally if they are stopped for a significant period.

    • #17
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    An essential economic activity is the food production and distribution function. Or the healthcare function.

    • #18
  19. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    All economic activity is essential to the people involved. I was scheduled to work the men’s final of a mid-major basketball tournament this weekend for ESPN. Is that “essential?” It was to me and the people I owe money to.

    That’s not how things are viewed when the government is shut down because there is no funding appropriation.

    • #19
  20. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    the burden on hospitals, healthcare workers, and equipment availability to meet demand such as ventilators and respirators

    I find this and the looming, massive pharmaceutical shortage the most worrisome and where government might be most useful (testing is secondary to treatment!). We need plans to set up field hospitals (maybe in those unused neighborhood schools) and I wouldn’t mind tax dollars temporarily going to private industries that make medical supplies and medicines. We need to get our meds locally!! Not from China.

    The biggest advantage of this pandemic may be to damage the noxious idea of globalism (as if “we” were ever going to liberalize China by including it in the WTO and doing business with it). 

    • #20
  21. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):
    the burden on hospitals, healthcare workers, and equipment availability to meet demand such as ventilators and respirators

    I find this and the looming, massive pharmaceutical shortage the most worrisome and where government might be most useful (testing is secondary to treatment!). We need plans to set up field hospitals (maybe in those unused neighborhood schools) and I wouldn’t mind tax dollars temporarily going to private industries that make medical supplies and medicines. We need to get our meds locally!! Not from China.

    The biggest advantage of this pandemic may be to damage the noxious idea of globalism (as if “we” were ever going to liberalize China by including it in the WTO and doing business with it).

    Absolutely. I meant to include the pharmaceuticals in my list. These are the obvious ones and there are others not quite as obvious I’m sure. I never meant that it is not essential for those who work to have their work for income. I guess those who don’t do anything productive won’t notice any of this since they don’t seem to understand how things get done anyway.

    • #21
  22. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    The biggest advantage of this pandemic may be to damage the noxious idea of globalism (as if “we” were ever going to liberalize China by including it in the WTO and doing business with it). 

    Many years ago I thought Wall Street and business, in general, were big backers of Republicans and I guess I equated that to conservatism. Now we can see that is not the case. We need a correction.

    • #22
  23. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    MarciN (View Comment):

    I’ve been trying to decide all week which is worse, the virus’s effect on human health or its effect on the private sector. They seem equally bad at this moment.

    You don’t see us shutting down the auto industry given the death toll on our highways . . .

    While a single death is tragic, I believe the damage to our economy will be worse in the long run.  Rush was right.  The Chinese were able to cripple our economy where the MSM and Democrats failed . . .

    • #23
  24. DonG (skeptic) Coolidge
    DonG (skeptic)
    @DonG

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    The Masters has been postponed indefinitely!!

    That I don’t get.  You have individuals walking in a very sparsely populated “park”.  Is that unsafe?  Really??

     

    • #24
  25. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    The Masters has been postponed indefinitely!!

    That I don’t get. You have individuals walking in a very sparsely populated “park”. Is that unsafe? Really??

     

    I imagine the concern was about contagion among the crowds of fans both at the course and staying in the area’s hotels, etc.

    • #25
  26. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Fritz (View Comment):

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    The Masters has been postponed indefinitely!!

    That I don’t get. You have individuals walking in a very sparsely populated “park”. Is that unsafe? Really??

     

    I imagine the concern was about contagion among the crowds of fans both at the course and staying in the area’s hotels, etc.

    I think the only real problem we might be facing is that if the spread produced too many of the vulnerable group with severe symptoms like not being able to breathe at the same time, medical capability might be overwhelmed. I suppose that’s why they are going to this social distancing to flatten that curve. I have to assume that the situation is such that some of these most vulnerable people are able to be saved through the use of available medical facilities like ventilators but would die if not available. I don’t know this to be the case.

    • #26
  27. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera, the Boston Symphony, Philharmonic Hall are all shut down. The essential activities of maybe 4,000 musicians, stage hands, ticket takers and maybe 10,000 more employees of nearby parking lots, restaurants, dry cleaners, hotels etc are stopped. That is to say, they can not now make a living. Making a living is rather essential to most of us.

    One of my fertility patients is a concert pianist, her husband is a professional string player. All of their work from last week through May has been cancelled by their concert organizers. So they now will have no income for two or three months.

    All of this so that the left can try to bring down a good economy. How pathetic.

     

    I have no expertise at all regarding the effects of social crowd gathering on the advance if the coronavirus. It appears that health experts believe social distancing is warranted. I accept that. Then that means there will be negative economic effects on those you have noted, maybe not immediately life-threatening. The non-gathering into crowds of those who enjoy music , sports, travel and other forms of entertainment may be a big benefit to those who don’t gather at those events. By not spreading the coronavirus at a faster rate within gatherings that would include members of the vulnerable populations, the burden on hospitals, healthcare workers, and equipment availability to meet demand such as ventilators and respirators is mitigated.

    My son is a musician and I have always seen his vulnerability to situations where the gigs he depends on might not be available. That justifies measures from government that can help those in situations you describe. I will be providing help to my son. I think the effort to get action to eliminate the payroll tax is exactly targeted to groups of people whose work does not yield an income that necessarily enables them to save for a rainy day.

    There are no known cases of Wuhan virus being spread in the US by attendance at a public event.

    We have 40 deaths in 360,000,000 people.  Not even a rounding error.

    As I am wont to say, this is BS.

    • #27
  28. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson: What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    All economic activity is essential to the people involved. I was scheduled to work the men’s final of a mid-major basketball tournament this weekend for ESPN. Is that “essential?” It was to me and the people I owe money to.

    Pretty much the entire recreational and travel industry has been closed.  That has follow-on effects for all the hotel, restaurant and other affiliated industries.

    With schools being closed in several states for three to four weeks, parents will have to take time off of work to take care of their kids.  Salaried workers may or may not be immediately affected.  Hourly workers?  They have a big problem.

    Michigan has closed its schools.  Within a week or two the auto industry there will be slowing or stopping production due to a lack of workers (and demand).  The company I work for in Wisconsin puts a significant portion of its output into the auto industry, so we’ll be taking a hit.

    Our finance department was told on Friday that they are on mandatory “work from home” until further notice.  And oh by the way, all the temp workers? Let go for the duration.

    The economy is cratering in a way that’s going to take a long time to dig out of.

     

     

    • #28
  29. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    The Masters has been postponed indefinitely!!

    That I don’t get. You have individuals walking in a very sparsely populated “park”. Is that unsafe? Really??

     

    I imagine the concern was about contagion among the crowds of fans both at the course and staying in the area’s hotels, etc.

    I think the only real problem we might be facing is that if the spread produced too many of the vulnerable group with severe symptoms like not being able to breathe at the same time, medical capability might be overwhelmed. I suppose that’s why they are going to this social distancing to flatten that curve. I have to assume that the situation is such that some of these most vulnerable people are able to be saved through the use of available medical facilities like ventilators but would die if not available. I don’t know this to be the case.

    That’s exactly the problem. In Italy they don’t have enough ventilators so older people aren’t intubated. They are seeing very serious cases of it in people as young as 50. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a nurse or doctor watching an elderly person dying for want of oxygen but that’s happening. And what a horrible death for that person. 
    But also it’s not like people don’t have other ongoing medical needs. The increased pressure on the hospitals impacts on every area of health, surgeries and outpatient clinics cancelled, that kind of thing. 

     

    • #29
  30. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    DonG (skeptic) (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    What’s on the list of essential economic activities that have been stopped?

    The Masters has been postponed indefinitely!!

    That I don’t get. You have individuals walking in a very sparsely populated “park”. Is that unsafe? Really??

     

    Yesterday, we held the Aiken Trials, one of three March equestrian events we call the Aiken Triple Crown. This first event typically brings hundreds of spectators if not in the low thousands.  However, this coming Saturday is the Aiken Steeplechase, which has drawn up to 30,000 fans in the past.  So far, there are no indications it’s going to be cancelled, so it will be interesting to see if attendance takes a dip.  As you can imagine, weather will be the biggest factor in the turnout.

    If you wanted to be cynical, you could say we’re putting revenue and profit ahead of public safety.  I say we’re not kowtowing to the panic, and people can choose to attend or not . . .

    • #30