Life During Wartime

Settle in, shelter-in-placers, we’ve got another super-sized (and shall we say, impassioned) edition of the Ricochet Podcast. In addition to the robust debaters, we’ve got Deb Saunders (self-quarantined from an undisclosed location) and Arthur Brooks who provides some much needed optimism in these dark days.

Music from this week’s show: Life During Wartime by Talking Heads

Subscribe to Ricochet Podcast in Apple Podcasts (and leave a 5-star review, please!), or by RSS feed. For all our podcasts in one place, subscribe to the Ricochet Audio Network Superfeed in Apple Podcasts or by RSS feed.

Please Support Our Sponsors!

Lending Club

Hydrant

Use Code: ricochet

The Zebra

Now become a Ricochet member for only $5.00 a month! Join and see what you’ve been missing.

There are 177 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Samuel Block Support

    Good news from Arthur, you say?

    I’m listening…

    • #1
    • March 20, 2020, at 2:26 PM PDT
    • Like
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Samuel Block Support

    I just thought I’d say that I think the opening argument, though a little interrupt-y a few times, was excellent. The disagreement was vehement, but impressively civil. Peter and Rob should find more to get into it over! James, you should jump in as well.

    But, seriously guys. Well done!

    • #2
    • March 20, 2020, at 2:58 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  3. PeterParisi Inactive

    Re: first fifteen minutes.

    Wow! That is the most contention (I will not use the word “acrimony”!) I’ve heard on this podcast. But it was really great: this is the conversation everyone is afraid to have.

    (Brief digression: Someone should ask if Peter is alright. He sounded truly worried. It must be terrible to be living in California right now.)

    My questions are: how long do we need to maintain this regimen, and how successful will be after two weeks? We already have college students on spring break refusing to adhere to the suggestions. Some will doubtless catch the virus and bring it home to their families, since their schools have probably shut down. Adults, I hope, can do better, but how much better?

    The shut downs are draconian but I don’t see how we can avoid them. The earliest we’ll see a vaccine is spring 2021. Perhaps a month while the country warms up? We can be grateful this didn’t happen in October: imagine what might have happened if this had hit us just before the Christmas consumer glut?

    • #3
    • March 20, 2020, at 3:12 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  4. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHillJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My updated poster from the UK Ministry of Health during WWII

    • #4
    • March 20, 2020, at 3:19 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Barry Jones Thatcher

    Have these guys even heard of chloroquine and the associated treatments? The French study indicates rather remarkable results…to include prophylactic uses which would prevent the virus from getting a hold. Chloroquine and some of the HIV anti virals could well be the “silver bullet” for the Corona virus with patients leaving the hospital after 6 days and virus free. Even if half of the information is BS it is still a TREATMENT for the thing, not just “let;’s treat the symptoms and hope they recover” that has been the norm until now.

    • #5
    • March 20, 2020, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  6. ericB Lincoln

    Full disclosure: my wife and I are at increased risk from infection.

    Even so, though I really appreciate @roblong, it is not the case that an early severe shut down of everything would solve anything. If we held our breath in pervasive seclusion for 3 weeks, bringing new infections to zero, and then returned to normal, we would have only delayed matters by about 3 weeks. No one gets immunity from temporary seclusion, the virus does not become any less communicable, and it takes only one infected person to restart the spread.

    Shutting everything down temporarily isn’t a solution (and doing it indefinitely isn’t feasible). A temporary pervasive shutdown by itself only buys a bit of time (in which one might make more test kits, look for treatments, increase ventilators, etc.).

    A real solution must be sustainable. Someone might swim the English Channel, but not if they imagine they can hold their breath for the duration.

    If we could do-over, a better, more selective extreme response would have been to quickly quarantine and test everyone entering the country from anywhere (possibly restricting entry into the country), while allowing our country to keep working.

    I cannot imagine any sustainable solution that doesn’t make ongoing prudent distinctions between those who need to be quarantined, those at risk who need seclusion, and those who need to be working.

    The good news is that summer and the return of heat and humidity may help as is usual for virus seasons.

    • #6
    • March 20, 2020, at 3:35 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. Henry Castaigne Member

    What’s that IPO thing that they were arguing about?

    • #7
    • March 20, 2020, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Blue Yeti Admin

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    What’s that IPO thing that they were arguing about?

    WeWork.

    • #8
    • March 20, 2020, at 4:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Lois Lane Coolidge

    In the first fifteen minutes, I agree with Peter. Rob’s very adamant, but Peter is right. The WSJ editorial is right. 

    I do not live anywhere near California either. 

    I’d compromise on schools, and I’m a college professor, so that is no picnic for me. But fine. I’m married. I’m getting paid. Keep the kids separated. At least the kids in higher education who are on their own and going to the beach anyway. The reason the campuses have shut down has a lot to do with protecting the faculty on any count, even though I’d take my chances.

    I have stayed at home like a good girl, and that is fine, but for 18 months? Regular people can’t do it. It’s as simple as that. This chemo kills the body. Who cares if it kills the cancer if the body is already dead? 

    Additionally, who cares about the “what ifs” per January and February?

    The worst case scenario is 3,000,000 dead. 

    We should try to circumvent that, of course. But the concern is not about people being inconvenienced or people being selfish or people not taking that number seriously. 

    This is about killing the entire body. The 330 million.  

    We have to rethink the approach after 15 days.

    By the way, I am pretty certain this will rip through the adjunct world in which I swim because I can’t imagine students will go back to school in the summer. I am pretty certain the summer term classes will collapse. I am pretty certain none of those adjuncts who hobble together various campuses to pay their rent have jack doodle to do with IPOs, and they won’t be able to get those “tide you over” jobs because they are all being killed, too.

    I do feel deeply, Peter and Rob. Very deeply.

    The government can’t float the country. It can’t.

    • #9
    • March 20, 2020, at 4:57 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  10. Peter Robinson Founder

    Lois Lane (View Comment):

    The government can’t float the country. It can’t.

    You’re right, you’re right, you’re right!

    • #10
    • March 20, 2020, at 4:59 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  11. Peter Robinson Founder

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    What’s that IPO thing that they were arguing about?

    The IPO thing was only tangential to our disagreement about the crisis, but it went like this:

    Rob argued that the collapse of the WeWorks IPO (or “initial public offering”) put a chill on tech activity in Silicon Valley many weeks before the coronavirus arrived. My reply: IPOs have so shrunk in importance that the softening of the IPO market proved of no concern whatever to startups of the kind I was attempting to describe. These are new, small companies, still attempting to achieve a “product-market fit”–in other words, to find customers. You can’t sell your product when nobody’s answering the phone–and, since the coronavirus lockdown, nobody is–and that has nothing to do with IPOs.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s an article about the diminished importance of IPOs in Silicon Valley these days.

    • #11
    • March 20, 2020, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  12. PeterParisi Inactive

    @EricB and others have mentioned that the warmer months may provide a terminus ante quem to our enforced inactivity, if the virus does abate during warmer months. If true, it would be useful to hear it more often, and from people who are speaking on this in official capacity (Fauci, for instance). The recognition that this ordeal has an end date may steel people’s resolve.

    • #12
    • March 20, 2020, at 5:36 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Architectus Coolidge

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    What’s that IPO thing that they were arguing about?

    The IPO thing was only tangential to our disagreement about the crisis, but it went like this:

    Rob argued that the collapse of the WeWorks IPO (or “initial public offering”) put a chill on tech activity in Silicon Valley many weeks before the coronavirus arrived. My reply: IPOs have so shrunk in importance that the softening of the IPO market proved of no concern whatever to startups of the kind I was attempting to describe. These are new, small companies, still attempting to achieve a “product-market fit”–in other words, to find customers. You can’t sell your product when nobody’s answering the phone–and, since the coronavirus lockdown, nobody is–and that has nothing to do with IPOs.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s an article about the diminished importance of IPOs in Silicon Valley these days.

    Agreed. The WeWork IPO was undone by the very fact that in preparing for an IPO, it made investors look at the company’s fundamentals. It was obviously a house of cards with little prospect for success, beyond its ability to get more suckers to invest. The bank with the most to lose is staving off the collapse by bringing it under its umbrella, in hopes of softening the blow and landing on a workable, ongoing model (like other older players in that field have been doing for many, many years, but without the “tulip madness” hype). If there is a chill, it is only among other digital P.T. Barnums who were hoping to ride a hype wave of their own to unearned riches. No loss…

    • #13
    • March 20, 2020, at 6:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie WatkinsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    My gosh I’m bummed to say this, Rob, but can you be any more unsufferable? BTW, the number of deaths from flu in the 2020 season, as of the CDC website at this moment, is estimated to be between 23,ooo and 59,ooo, and these data begin as of October 1, 2019. And unfortunately, many more young people have died of flu this season and only a handful from the Corona virus. Also, South Koreans went back to work, so the draconian measures there were made with the economy in mind. … I’m 66 and a recent cancer patient. I think the hysteria created by our governments’ refusal to discriminate demographically is a total crime and far more important than me living another year or month. I’m sick over this. Just sick.

    • #14
    • March 20, 2020, at 6:19 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  15. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    What’s that IPO thing that they were arguing about?

    The IPO thing was only tangential to our disagreement about the crisis, but it went like this:

    Rob argued that the collapse of the WeWorks IPO (or “initial public offering”) put a chill on tech activity in Silicon Valley many weeks before the coronavirus arrived. My reply: IPOs have so shrunk in importance that the softening of the IPO market proved of no concern whatever to startups of the kind I was attempting to describe. These are new, small companies, still attempting to achieve a “product-market fit”–in other words, to find customers. You can’t sell your product when nobody’s answering the phone–and, since the coronavirus lockdown, nobody is–and that has nothing to do with IPOs.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s an article about the diminished importance of IPOs in Silicon Valley these days.

     

    airBnb will have to postpone their IPO

     

    • #15
    • March 20, 2020, at 6:29 PM PDT
    • Like
  16. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    What’s that IPO thing that they were arguing about?

    The IPO thing was only tangential to our disagreement about the crisis, but it went like this:

    Rob argued that the collapse of the WeWorks IPO (or “initial public offering”) put a chill on tech activity in Silicon Valley many weeks before the coronavirus arrived. My reply: IPOs have so shrunk in importance that the softening of the IPO market proved of no concern whatever to startups of the kind I was attempting to describe. These are new, small companies, still attempting to achieve a “product-market fit”–in other words, to find customers. You can’t sell your product when nobody’s answering the phone–and, since the coronavirus lockdown, nobody is–and that has nothing to do with IPOs.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s an article about the diminished importance of IPOs in Silicon Valley these days.

     

    it’s better to be acquired by google, facebook, apple, microsoft, amazon, etc

     

    • #16
    • March 20, 2020, at 6:32 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    The Diamond Princess had an infection rate of 20 percent.

    80 percent did not get it probably because they are immune.

     

    • #17
    • March 20, 2020, at 6:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Peter Robinson Founder

    Leslie Watkins (View Comment):

    My gosh I’m bummed to say this, Rob, but can you be any more unsufferable? BTW, the number of deaths from flu in the 2020 season, as of the CDC website at this moment, is estimated to be between 23,ooo and 59,ooo, and these data begin as of October 1, 2019. And unfortunately, many more young people have died of flu this season and only a handful from the Corona virus. Also, South Koreans went back to work, so the draconian measures there were made with the economy in mind. … I’m 66 and a recent cancer patient. I think the hysteria created by our governments’ refusal to discriminate demographically is a total crime and far more important than me living another year or month. I’m sick over this. Just sick.

    Leslie, for goodness’s sake. Don’t start talking about what might or might not be more important than your own good health, continued smart, sassy appearances on this website, and–this definitely–longevity. We love you here on Ricochet.

    • #18
    • March 20, 2020, at 6:50 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  19. kedavis Member

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    This is about killing the entire body. The 330 million.

    The idea/claim that “shutting down the economy” (which is bombast anyway, since grocery stores etc remain open and will have to stay open) for a few weeks or even a few month, if necessary, would KILL 330 MILLION PEOPLE is not useful, or helpful, or… anything else positive.

    • #19
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:00 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. kedavis Member

    I may have figured it out.

    Peter is demanding an “exit strategy” when the “war” may not have actually begun yet.

    • #20
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:16 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Leslie Watkins Inactive
    Leslie WatkinsJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Peter Robinson (View Comment):
    2020  

    Thanks, Peter, for your affectionate well wishes (quite touching, actually), but please don’t fret over me and my vehemence. I’m not trying to say I don’t care about my health. I do. But I care more about the ability of people to live their lives. Isolation is a terrible idea. Just terrible. On so many levels—not to mention the lack of resistance to the virus developing from people getting it and getting over it. (Except, of course, isolation of people with symptoms or who know/suspect they’ve been exposed or have recently traveled here from another continent. From what I’ve read, this is what the Taiwanese did—test and quarantine—having learned from SARS). There has to be a time limit on this everything’s closed bulsch. Suspension is torture. (Dare I make reference to a particular method of torture involving water?) … But what most grabs me in the gut is that Americans will come away from this thinking government is the way to go, despite the fact that it’s the CDC and FDA’s fault that the country wasn’t prepared for an epidemic/pandemic: their number-one priority, it would seem to me. So now we have to be the lab rats for their theories. Or hamsters running round and round while standing in place. And yet, I’m very heartened by regular Americans and how we’re actually being there for each other. You can sense neighbors and acquaintances feeling the same way, though their smiles, while still there, are showing the strain.

    • #21
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:27 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  22. kedavis Member

    Part of the problem with stuff like closing down schools AFTER there have been traced infections, is that, by definition, you’re “closing the barn after the horse has escaped.”

    • #22
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:28 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    We’re in the opening weeks of the next great depression. It wont be a down turn, or a recession.

    Best case scenario, this stoppage lasts another 2 – 3 weeks, and is slowly lifted over the next few weeks. The economic disruption to the working class will be massive. Their incomes for 2020, will be down by 15% to 20% – IF they get back to work right away, and IF the best case scenario doesn’t play out. (it rarely does)

    Then there are all the small business – that will be wiped out by this. I dont see how most of them will re-open.

    The best idea I saw was on from a FOX interview, with a former Trump Administration official, who worked in the Treasury Dept or the Small Business Admin – he suggested that the government force insurance companies to honour their business interruption insurance policies for pandemics. (its currently not listed in the policy as a claimable loss) – and then bail out the insurance companies for their losses… I thought this was a very clever way to get funds quickly into main street, while minimizing waste fraud and abuse…

    This is such a sensible suggestion that I see it has no chance of being enacted…

    -0—–

    As for the first 15 minuets – I see both sides of the argument, IPOs arent that important anymore, the number of IPOs have been falling, mostly because the regulations and accounting requirements are quite draconian for a smaller enterprise to support. This is an example of how regulation strangles economic activity as much as taxation does.

    The WeWorks thing isnt quite relevant to the slowdown in IPOs. Its just a bad business model that should never have been funded. Ironically its a model that is being imitated by other established real estate trusts (REITs) that are using it to get some income from under utilized office space that they already own. (Calgary for example had office vacancy rate – even before the crisis that was a 30 – 40 year record high – there are entire office towers downtown that are completely vacant)

    • #23
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  24. kedavis Member

    Also, if it ends up that “only” X number of people die, Peter and others with similar arguments should NOT begin shouting – or even “calmly arguing” – “See, only X people died! Shutting down the economy was pointless!” Without omniscience, or at least a nice time machine, it is impossible to support that claim. And past experience suggests that the deaths would always be far higher, if unpopular measures are not taken.

    • #24
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. JuliaBlaschke Coolidge

    Honestly I think the thing to fear is worldwide depression! If the projections on the number of unemployed are accurate we are looking at depression level numbers. And if the USA is depressed … the world is depressed. It looks eerily like the Roaring Twenties.

    I bet Rubio and Cruz are glad they lost. 

     

    • #25
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  26. MISTER BITCOIN Member

    the 56 percent infection rate is absurd.

    It’s a terrible assumption by Governor hair gel, Gavin Newsom

     

    • #26
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:42 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. kedavis Member

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    The WeWorks thing isnt quite relevant to the slowdown in IPOs. Its just a bad business model that should never have been funded. Ironically its a model that is being imitated by other established real estate trusts (REITs) that are using it to get some income from under utilized office space that they already own. (Calgary for example had office vacancy rate – even before the crisis that was a 30 – 40 year record high – there are entire office towers downtown that are completely vacant)

    Of course, getting some income from real estate that you already own, is different from what amounts to sub-leasing the way WeWork operates. What they were doing seems more akin to me renting an apartment for $1000/month, and then I rent it out to someone else for $200/week and claiming to investors that it’s a great business model. Even if I was renting it to someone else for more than $1000/month in total, it might not be enough to cover MY expenses, employees, etc.

    • #27
    • March 20, 2020, at 7:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Lois Lane Coolidge

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Lois Lane (View Comment):
    This is about killing the entire body. The 330 million.

    The idea/claim that “shutting down the economy” (which is bombast anyway, since grocery stores etc remain open and will have to stay open) for a few weeks or even a few month, if necessary, would KILL 330 MILLION PEOPLE is not useful, or helpful, or… anything else positive.

    I’m obviously talking metaphorically. I’m referring to people’s livelihoods, not their bodies. You may disagree with my analysis that people who work in sectors outside of grocery stores cannot handle an economic shutdown that continues for months, but that is the case I’m making. Sorry if my wording was unclear for you.

    • #28
    • March 20, 2020, at 8:01 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  29. Samuel Block Support

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Also, if it ends up that “only” X number of people die, Peter and others with similar arguments should NOT begin shouting – or even “calmly arguing” – “See, only X people died! Shutting down the economy was pointless!” Without omniscience, or at least a nice time machine, it is impossible to support that claim. And past experience suggests that the deaths would always be far higher, if unpopular measures are not taken.

    But it could be that a major earthquake levels Los Angeles or San Francisco in the near future. We don’t know that something won’t put Venice or New Orleans underwater without time for a large scale evacuation. I don’t really think it all that likely these events occur, but a lot of people claim to believe them. I don’t think anybody is disregarding the tragedy of the deaths that will occur – even if it isn’t a spectacularly large figure – but this response strikes quite a few of us as about as reasonable as forcefully evacuating all of those places.

    Right now the shutdowns are effectively indefinite; some have recently given dates of about two weeks out, but there’s been talk of these measures lasting for many months. That’s a lot more panicky than people buying out supplies (when they’re told they might be quarantined) and taking the few measures most of us are taking. The virus will stay novel until people are exposed to it, and it’s not going to stop being highly contagious. People are packing in grocery stores in the early morning. Is it wise to keep things how they are in that regard? I’m not sure they’d be less packed if we limited their hours further.

    I think this is another expression of a culture which believes it can alter the course of the weather and that good health is a human right.

    • #29
    • March 20, 2020, at 8:02 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  30. Architectus Coolidge

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

    We’re in the opening weeks of the next great depression. It wont be a down turn, or a recession.

    Best case scenario, this stoppage lasts another 2 – 3 weeks, and is slowly lifted over the next few weeks. The economic disruption to the working class will be massive. Their incomes for 2020, will be down by 15% to 20% – IF they get back to work right away, and IF the best case scenario doesn’t play out. (it rarely does)

    Then there are all the small business – that will be wiped out by this. I dont see how most of them will re-open.

    You picked a perfect avatar! ;-)

    • #30
    • March 20, 2020, at 8:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like