This morning, news broke that 6.6 million people have filed for unemployment over the past two weeks:
The “Back To Work Now!” crowd sees this as vindication for the dire warnings they’ve been issuing the past couple weeks, and understandably so. This is by far the biggest unemployment spike in the past 50 years, and probably on par with the economic calamity experienced during the Great Depression.
Now, it’s important to note that we don’t know how many of those unemployment claims are for people who are temporarily out of work, and how many are for people who have actually lost their job. I filed for unemployment because my employer told me to, but I haven’t lost my job.
This is still an important caveat in this data. So until we actually know how many people truly lost their jobs vs. how many people have been furloughed with eligibility for unemployment, we don’t know just how bad this situation is.
For what it’s worth, the stock market has largely shrugged off the news:
But then again, perhaps the market had already assumed this would happen long ago and priced it in when the S&P 500 declined by 35% between Feb. 20 and March 20.
What we do know, though, is that the “Back to Work!” crowd is taking this as validation, and they’re blaming Trump and his task force for all the job losses and small business closures sure to happen over the next month of CDC-advised social distancing:
One thing to keep in mind is that we don’t know how much economic activity would have slowed down even without the social distancing measures and government-mandated closures of “non-essential” businesses–i.e. naturally, out of widespread public fear of the virus. Before my work was shut down, we were already experiencing a significant slowdown in business simply due to people voluntarily self-quarantining. So let’s not act like the slowdown in economic activity is 100% due to government action–a lot of it would’ve happened anyway.
Now, is it true that we could be doing things differently in a way that would cause less economic harm and still “flatten the curve?” Sure. In my last piece I said I agreed with the idea of only quarantining the most vulnerable subsets of the population–i.e. the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions. If we did that, and also urged everyone to simply wear a mask and gloves out in public, we would probably be okay.
But the problem is that most people in America aren’t going to wear masks and gloves out in public. It’s just not in our culture the way it is in Asia. I don’t think you can tell Americans life can go back to normal as long as they promise to wear masks and gloves whenever they leave the house. Americans just won’t do it. What are you going to do, ticket everyone seen outside the house without a mask and gloves? Jail them? It would never work.
So for now, “social distancing” and “shelter in-place” remain the most practical policies for slowing the spread of the virus. They’re not ideal by any stretch; I only said they are the most practical.
And no matter what the “Back to Work!” crowd says, it’s not as simple as “just ignore the virus and go back to work.” As bad as things may seem at the moment (25k new cases of the virus per day), things would probably be much worse had we not enacted social distancing measures.
The hard thing to grasp about prevention is that there is no way for us to see what would have happened had we chosen another course of action. We cannot simply peer into an alternate universe and see what would have happened had we taken a different course of action.
This is how life works in general. We make decisions based on incomplete information and amidst uncertainty. We can’t see into the future. Most of the time, we just have to go off instinct and best judgement. Our leaders often use “sophisticated models” to try to convince themselves they know precisely what would have happened had they chosen Path B over Path A. But as we know, models are faulty and often wildly inaccurate; anyone remember Al Gore’s “models” predicting mass calamity by 2015 due to Global Warming?
Prevention is a messy business. It really is impossible to know with certainty how many lives you saved by choosing Course A instead of Course B, because Course B never played out. And then when Course A does play out and there are still some negative consequences, people inevitably take those as the worst case scenario having played out anyway. They only focus on the bad things that did happen because of your decision, instead of comparing them to the even worse things that would have happened had you made a different decision.
What if 9-11 had somehow been foiled or stopped, whether by passengers on the World Trade Center flights retaking the cockpit Flight 93-style, or by the FBI intercepting the hijackers before they got on to the planes? Very few people would actually be aware today how big of a difference those actions made. It would have been a minor news story even at the time, and probably quickly forgotten.
In fact, the Flight 93 situation itself is a perfect example of this: the official story is that the terrorists were intending to fly that plane into the Capitol Building, but instead the passengers stormed the cockpit and wrestled control of the plane away from the terrorists, and flew the plane into the ground, making the ultimate sacrifice to prevent it from being flown into the Capitol. But Flight 93 is an afterthought when people think about 9-11. Most people just think about the image of the planes flying into the World Trade Center. We don’t have an image of a destroyed Capitol Building burned into our minds.
But Flight 93 wouldn’t be an afterthought if it had actually been flown into the Capitol Building as intended.
Similarly, it is impossible to tell how many lives have been saved and will be saved by social distancing and “flatten the curve” measures. We have know way of knowing for sure how many people would’ve died had we chosen to deal with this differently. It’s impossible for us to understand how fortunate we were because we don’t know what we avoided.
We would only know the worst case scenario for this virus if we simply did nothing and allowed it the worst case scenario to actually play out. Then we could look back with the benefit of hindsight and say, “If we had implemented social distancing measures and quarantines, then x fewer people would’ve died.”
I still think Trump made the right call in trying to flatten the curve. The worst thing for a President during a crisis is to be perceived as not doing anything. It makes it seem like you’re not in control.
Trump was put in a horrible situation with the media hyping this virus up as the End Of All Things. Had he done nothing and said, “It’s no big deal, just go about your business as usual,” then no matter how many people would have died, he would have taken the blame. Not taking any action at all leaves you open to easy criticism: “Trump did nothing and 100,000 people died! They would still be alive today had Trump taken action!!”
Trump was forced to choose between maintaining the economy and stopping the virus, and he chose to stop the virus. He can always hang his hat on the fact that he did everything he could to save lives, and that it would have been much worse had he not taken the actions he did.
And I think most Americans will more or less support him on that–poll numbers show the public gives him high marks for his handling of this situation.
But still: once the virus peaks and tapers off, and we go back to normal life, we’ll be left with the economic fallout of “social distancing,” and there will be a lot of angry, unemployed people on the other side.
Will the same Americans who currently approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus turn on him when they survey the economic damage “social distancing” inflicted? It’s possible, although that will depend a lot on whether they themselves lost their jobs.
But the thing is, we shouldn’t even be viewing it in these terms.
It’s not Trump’s fault people died. It’s not Trump’s fault people are losing their jobs.
It’s China’s fault.
Trump is doing the best he can to deal with a problem created by China.
China is why millions of people filed for unemployment. China is why 200,000+ people are sick. China is why over 5,000 Americans have died.
Everything bad that happens as a result of this virus is China’s fault.
China created this virus in a lab and it either got out, or it was unleashed.
Certainly the globalist free traders who have run America and Europe for the past several decades deserve a lot of the blame for putting us in a position where a virus in China becomes our problem.
But it’s still ultimately China’s fault.
China did this to us, and they should have to pay for it.
For all the people who lost their jobs, for all the businesses that have and will have to close down. For all the pensions and 401Ks that have been crushed. For all the medical bills and funeral costs.
When this is all over, China must be forced to pay reparations to the rest of the world like Germany had to do after World War I.
There must be consequences.
China cannot be allowed to get away with this.
They did this to the world.
If Western world leaders do not come together when this is over and levy punishing, crippling economic fines on China, then it’s over for the West.
If China is allowed to get away with this, then this is their world and we’re just bystanders. They will be the superpower of the world that can do anything and get away with it, no matter how much it harms everyone else.
Do we really want to live in a world where China sits at the top of the heap of world nations?
When this is all over, China must pay the price.
It will be trillions of dollars, and China must pay all of it.
The biggest outrage of this entire coronavirus crisis is that China did this to all of us.
If there is any sort of accountability at all in this world, China must pay a steep price for what is has done to the rest of the world.
As the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown continues, a divide has emerged in Americans’ opinions over What To Do About It. Not so long ago, it used to be that most people agreed that pretty much everything should be shut down and that people should stay home until this blows over. The Trump Administration publicly declared on March 15 that the country would begin “15 Days to Slow the Spread” with the hope that two weeks of social distancing and closure of “non-essential businesses” would reduce the spread of the virus significantly. After the 15-day period, then we could see where things are and potentially allow things to go back to normal. Most Americans were on-board with this plan.
But as time has passed since March 15, two developments have caused a divergence in public opinion into two camps:
“Testing in the US has ramped up significantly, revealing thousands of new coronavirus cases every day. Therefore, the 15-day economic shutdown period will not be long enough, and the country should be shut down for even longer. If we do not double down on our efforts to suppress the virus, then countless more people will die.”
“The collapsing stock market (which has rebounded some over the past few days), spiking unemployment claims, and testimonies from small business owners hurting from the shutdown, show that we need to Get Back To Work ASAP and re-open the economy before this turns into Great Depression 2.0.”
And so now, many Americans are split into the two camps: one that thinks that if we don’t keep it all shut down indefinitely then 1-2% of the US population will die, and another that thinks if we don’t all go back to work ASAP we’ll have 50% unemployment and be lined up around the corner for the soup kitchen by April.
The two camps are increasingly intolerant of one another. The Quarantine Indefinitely crowd thinks the Back To Work crowd wants to sacrifice grandma so the stock market can go back up, while the Back To Work crowd thinks the Quarantine Indefinitely crowd are hysterical idiots.
I’ve got problems with both sides–especially how they act like the other side’s fears are completely unfounded and irrational–but I want to focus on the side panicking about the virus.
Re-opening the economy does not mean “sacrificing lives for the stock market.” This is nonsensical and disingenuous.
The virus is not going to kill a significant percentage of the population no matter what we do. As it stands now, the virus has a death rate of 1.4% in the US. But that death rate is only derived from the denominator of confirmed cases. Loads more people have it or had it and recovered already, and they’re not counted in the official figure of ~66,000 cases. So the death rate is definitely even lower than 1.4%.
You can’t claim that if half the country catches the virus, then 1.4% of those who catch it will die, resulting in the deaths of millions of Americans. The death rate only factors in those who have already been tested. And not only that, if you go to the tracking website, at the bottom it will give you descriptions of the people who have died from the virus. Overwhelmingly the descriptions are like this:
“March 21 (GMT) — New deaths include:
1st death in Minnesota: a Ramsey County resident in their 80s [source]
1 new death in Oregon, first in Marion County[source]
1st death in Tennessee: a 73-year old man with underlyinghealth conditions in Nashville [source]
1st death in Arizona: a Maricopa County man in his 50s with underlying health conditions [source]
1 death in Ohio: an 85-year-old man was an Erie County [source]
2 new deaths in South Carolina: elderly people suffering from underlying health conditions [source]
1 death in California: the first death in Contra Costa County: a patient in their 70s [source]
1 death in Maryland: a Baltimore County resident in his 60s who suffered from underlying medical conditions [source] D.C. schools will be closed until April 27
1 death in Missouri: a woman in her 60s, who suffered from multiple health problems prior to being diagnosed with COVID-19 [source]”
Because we’re now over 100 deaths per day, the site doesn’t provide a blurb for every death anymore. But you can go back a few days when deaths were much lower and get some background information for most of the deaths. Older people with underlying health conditions are the ones dying. This is not to minimize their deaths at all, it’s only to point out that the death rate is not the same for everyone.
The death rate is also going down over time. On March 4, there were 138 people confirmed infected with 11 deaths. That’s a death rate of 8%. On March 13, with 2,126 people infected, there were 48 deaths, or 2.2%. And now, March 25, the death rate is 1.4%. It keeps going down the more testing we do.
“If the number of actual infections is much larger than the number of cases—orders of magnitude larger—then the true fatality rate is much lower as well. That’s not only plausible but likely based on what we know so far,” the professors argued.
The professors cited data from Iceland, China, the United States, and Italy, which is arguably the hardest-hit region when it comes to the coronavirus.
“On March 6, all 3,300 people of Vò [Italy] were tested, and 90 were positive, a prevalence of 2.7%,” the professors said. “Applying that prevalence to the whole province (population 955,000), which had 198 reported cases, suggests there were actually 26,000 infections at that time. That’s more than 130-fold the number of actual reported cases. Since Italy’s case fatality rate of 8% is estimated using the confirmed cases, the real fatality rate could in fact be closer to 0.06%.”
The professors argued that current epidemiological models aren’t adequate for two key reasons.
“First, the test used to identify cases doesn’t catch people who were infected and recovered. Second, testing rates were woefully low for a long time and typically reserved for the severely ill. Together, these facts imply that the confirmed cases are likely orders of magnitude less than the true number of infections,” it reads.”
They also said this:
“Ultimately, while stressing the seriousness of the virus that has infected almost half a million people, the professors aren’t convinced a universal quarantine is the most logical course of action.
“A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health,” the article concluded. “We should undertake immediate steps to evaluate the empirical basis of the current lockdowns.”
One might object thusly: “Okay, even if the death rate is actually much lower than current figures show, ending the quarantine and allowing people to go about their business as usual means lots of people are going to get it who wouldn’t have gotten it had they stayed in self-quarantine.”
But that’s what we’re having the debate over. Is it really worth it to keep the economy running on half (or fewer) cylinders over a disease that may have a death rate as low as 0.06%? Someone should be able to answer “no” and not be considered evil.
What if people want to take the risk and go back to work and start spending money like normal? I’m sure a lot of small business owners who are hurting due to the quarantine measures would gladly take that risk. Given the number of people who catch the flu every year–CDC says at least 38 million Americans caught it this season–it’s just as risky to go out in public and go to work during flu season as it is now.
It’s not as if right now is the only time that going to work and going out in public put Americans at risk of getting sick. At any point from November to March you have a pretty high risk of catching the normal flu by going out in public and going to work, but most people don’t care–they don’t even think about catching the flu. Now is not the only time it has ever been dangerous to leave your house.
But the Keep Everyone Quarantined! crowd doesn’t want to hear it.
What is behind their extreme precaution and fear? Many, I would guess, see America’s cases of coronavirus (and deaths) increasing exponentially and quickly conclude that we do not have this thing under control, so it is idiotic and borderline-wicked to reopen the economy.
If you look at the data, they’ve got a point:
We’re over 66,000 total cases as of right now after adding about 10,800 today. Yesterday was a little over 11,000 new cases.
In terms of deaths, yesterday was our worst day yet: 225 deaths nationwide.
Today, we’ve had about 151 deaths today as of 7:15pm EST. No telling yet if this the start of a reversal, or if it’s just a blip. Still, things are clearly much worse now than they were even a few days ago.
Italy, however, is starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It appears daily new cases are leveling off:
Today, Italy had about 5,200 new cases.
Deaths in Italy appear to be leveling-off as well:
Today’s tally for Italy was 683.
So the situation in Italy is by no means better yet, but it at least seems that things aren’t getting worse. It might be too early to say, but it appears the virus has plateaued in Italy.
This does not mean the same applies to the U.S. We began our 15-day period of self-quarantining on the 15th, so we’re only on Day 10. If Americans are doing their part (and that’s a big assumption given that our quarantine was a recommendation rather than a government order, like Italy’s was) then we shouldn’t expect to see things turn around for another several days.
If daily new cases and deaths do begin to slow in the next few days here in the US, then hopefully we’ll be able to avoid the “Everyone Dies/Great Depression 2.0” debate. You would think it’s a no-brainer to err on the side of caution and keep the country locked-down for longer, given that if things really get out of control and we do suffer massive amounts of deaths, we’ll have an economic depression anyway. So why not just play it safe and keep everything shut down for even longer?
Well, the Back To Work crowd would argue that it’s a false choice to say we have to choose between a hundred thousand people dying (or more) and another Great Depression. And they’re right: I don’t think there’s any scenario where tens of thousands of Americans die from the coronavirus.
Trump seems to have made up his mind already. Last night, he tweeted:
“The cure cannot be worse than the problem.” This is essentially what the Back To Work crowd is arguing; we can’t wreck our economy for a virus that has only infected 66,000 people in a nation of 330 million. The Back To Work crowd also points out that the Swine Flu epidemic of 2009 was worse than this, with over 115,000 confirmed cases in the US and over 3,400 deaths, and we did not freak out anywhere near as much as we are now. We never considered shutting our economy down for that.
Trump tweeted this today:
He’s completely correct. I don’t doubt for one second that a major reason most “news” channels and bluecheck “reporters” are pushing non-stop fear porn over the virus is because they think it’ll hurt Trump. Does the media want an economic collapse? Absolutely. They think it will turn the country against Trump.
Trump has figured out the game. While the vast majority of the Keep It Shut Down! crowd feel that way because they’re genuinely afraid of the virus, the media, which is chiefly responsible for making all these people so scared is completely exploiting this situation. And since Trump is aware of what they’re trying to do, he’s pushing for things to go back to normal soon.
In Trump’s most recent press briefing tonight, he said “There are large sections of our country, probably, that can go back to work sooner than others. We’re looking at that. People are asking ‘Is that an alternative?’ and I say absolutely, that is an alternative.”
Trump is targeting Easter (April 12) as hopefully the day everything can go back to normal, and that would mean almost a full month of social distancing. That seems like enough, but the Back To Work crowd says it’s too long, while the Quarantine Indefinitely crowd thinks it’s insanity.
But I don’t see why we can’t, after the 15-day period, lift the quarantine for parts of the country that haven’t been hit as hard as others. After all, more than half of the nation’s cases right now are in the immediate New York City area:
We definitely should not lift the restrictions on NYC anytime soon. But for the rest of the country, as long as we take the necessary precautions and avoid New Yorkers, it should be fine.
NY Governor Andrew Cuomo says the peak is still 2-3 weeks away for New York, but that shouldn’t mean the whole country has to remain shut down. Quarantine New York. Don’t go there unless you absolutely have to, and when you return, self-quarantine for 14 days. Don’t leave New York unless you absolutely have to, and if you do, you self-quarantine for 14 days.
We can and should keep the current restrictions in place for the most at-risk subsets of the population, namely the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions. Keep the elderly–nursing homes especially–cordoned-off while the rest of us go about our business as usual. This seems like the path Trump is leaning towards, and to me it makes perfect sense. It’s a smarter, more efficient selective quarantine policy rather than a blanket nationwide quarantine.
But the Quarantine Indefinitely crowd is still very upset by this. Most of them, I’d guess, are motivated primarily by fear.
Specifically, there’s a widespread belief that This Virus Is Just Different, uniquely bad, and that if you catch it, it will permanently damage your health. Is this true? It could be true. It’s not really known for certain yet because it hasn’t been around for very long. But stories about how the virus left male survivors sterile turned out to be false. As far as permanent lung damage, that could well be true. But it varies from person to person. Probably most people who get it will recover and be just fine for the rest of their lives.
The regular flu and the common cold can even can have lasting effects on your body, from hearing loss to Guilliane-Barre Syndrome and even lasting lung damage. The Wuhan Virus is not the only widespread virus that can potentially inflict permanent damage on your body. Yet all the scary stories in the media have people convinced they should be downright terrified of getting the coronavirus.
But others in the Shut It Down! camp–I’d say a minority, but definitely a sizable number of individuals, and predominant on social media–are motivated by something else. It’s not really fear of the virus and mass deaths, either.
Some people just want to watch the world burn. Most of them are younger people, and this, right here, is the closest they’ve ever been to Chaos.
Maybe they’ve grown up on too many post-apocalyptic movies and video games, but they feel like life would be more fun if society collapsed. I’m not sure the reason, but there are a lot of people out there who want society to collapse. To them, the near-total shutdown of the economy is “cool” because it’s such a break from the ordinary. And some feel that if it continues for longer, then society itself will totally collapse, and after that, a new type of society will arise from the old one’s ashes. And it will be Better, they imagine.
I know this because I have a little bit in me, although not nearly as much as when I was younger. Really, it’s more of a yearning for adventure that cannot be satisfied in our world of urban/suburban orderliness and 9-5 jobs. So, some people think, maybe if everything collapsed and we went back to the Stone Age, life would be full of adventure. And maybe, if there is a “great reset” of human civilization, I could end up on top.
This Societal Collapse Fantasy largely disappears once you’re invested in the stock market, but there are still lots of people who want to see the world burn.
Whether it’s young would-be socialist or anarchist computer-chair revolutionaries, or simply people who hate the modern world and wish for things to be completely different, there are a lot of people that are secretly (maybe even unconsciously) hoping the coronavirus basically brings the modern world to its knees. (And I’m not saying these are bad people for hating modern society! I’m no fan of modern life myself. But I don’t think society needs to collapse in order for me to get the kind of life I want out of it.
That said, I still think the broad majority of the “THE VIRUS IS GOING TO KILL US ALL!” crowd are motivated by fear of the virus rather than a desire to bring down the modern world.
Fear is a very powerful emotion. Some would say it’s the most powerful. Most people who are gripped by fear cannot be reasoned with (although some can). The only thing that will snap them out of the fear currently governing their words and actions is if real-world events prove their fears to be overblown and unfounded. And even then, they will credit their own over-cautiousness for the fact that the world didn’t end.
The people gripped by media-induced fear–while most of them certainly have noble intentions and valid reasons for being fearful–can’t be allowed to call the shots here. We just have to move forward and get the economy firing on all cylinders again. Eventually the people who want to stay quarantined until August will get over it.
All that said, when we do re-open the economy, we should still emphasize washing our hands and social distancing and generally try to keep our hands in our pockets as much as possible. We should wear masks and gloves whenever possible and not look at people who do wear masks like they’re crazy. We should avoid large crowds of people and mass gatherings for at least another month.
But we should re-open the economy ASAP. Small businesses can’t hold out much longer.
The government has told many of them to shut down, and so businesses–small and large–need a way to recoup lost revenues. You can’t just tell businesses to shutter and then not expect to compensate them for lost revenues. That’s pure evil. Bailouts or bust. Wall Street nearly killed the global economy back in 2008 and they got bailed out. You could even argue that the big banks that survived ’08 were rewarded for their recklessness.
Those were bad bailouts because the banks didn’t deserve them.
This time around, however, the bailouts are infinitely more justifiable. Most of these businesses are not in trouble because they were reckless and immoral, but because they were simply doing what the government told them to do. There is nothing wrong with a bailout here.
Not every case is the same, of course. For instance, the airline companies that nickel-and-dime the hell out of us (carry-on fee, booking fee, checked-bag fee, seat selection fee) and spent 96% of their free cash flow over the past decade on stock buybacks, now they want a bailout because they have no money?
That’s the kind of stuff that should piss Americans off. But still: what else are we supposed to do? Let the airlines go belly-up? It might Feel Good for a little while to see those greedy bastards get what’s coming to them, but it would be terrible for our country in the long (and short) run. (Thankfully, it appears the stimulus bill will prohibit stock buybacks for any company that gets government money. I still think the weasels will find a way to weasel around this, but it’s at least encouraging that this language has been included in the bill.)
If, by keeping the economy shut down well into April and we force businesses to fold–both mom and pop stores and the larger publicly traded companies–then it will only accelerate the consolidation of our economy, in other words, monopolization. The big trend of the past 20 or so years has been consolidation: the big firms get bigger by buying up the smaller firms. The market share of the various sectors of the economy held by the largest corporations has only increased over the past couple of decades, and if we let businesses fail now, that will only get worse.
This is what happened in 2008-2009 and it’s what’s going to happen today if we let small businesses fold.
What I’m trying to say is that there’s a lot of validity in what the Back To Work crowd is saying. It will be very bad for our country if lots of businesses have to close, and not just because of all the people who will lose their jobs. The big corporations that can weather this storm just fine will emerge with more power and market control.
Which is why I wonder if this has been the plan all along: a mass economic genocide of small businesses so that big businesses can swoop in and buy all their assets up for cheap. The conspiracy theorist in me fears that this has been the plan all along, and until I see very generous terms from the government on the small business bailout that make it clear the government wants small businesses to come back, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to disabuse myself of that suspicion.
I saw something about the government promising small businesses “low interest loans” and that phrase set off my Conspiracy Alarm. The government is going to force small businesses to shut down and then act like it’s doing the small businesses a favor by offering them “low interest loans” to deal with problems they encounteredfor doing what the government told them?
I certainly hope this is not what happens when all’s said and done. But it might. I guess low-interest loans are better than nothing.
That said, I do think some of the Back To Work crowd’s concerns are overblown.
This chart of the ridiculous spike in unemployment claims is misleading:
I filed for unemployment, but I wasn’t fired. Not all of these people have lost their job. Many of them have actually just been temporarily furloughed.
As for the US economy not being able to handle a two-week pause: European countries shut down for a whole month every year. Scott Adams provoked a good discussion the matter today:
But if the American economy shuts down for a week then everyone goes bankrupt and businesses can’t keep their doors open? What happened to rainy day funds?
Yes, that’s because 300 years ago we were all farmers and our economy did not rely on complex international supply chains and financial leveraging products. People didn’t rely on much other than themselves. They knew how to budget–and I’m not just talking about money, I mean crops and food. They had to stretch the harvest through the winter months or else they died.
The replies to Adams’ tweet from Europeans were interesting:
This Businessweek article from 1993 provides a small glimpse into how life is in Italy during August:
“It’s just no fun being a journalist in Europe during the summer. I had wanted to write about the spiffy new Punto subcompact that Italian auto giant Fiat will be rolling out next month, but nobody answers the phone at company headquarters in Turin. Then I thought, surely BUSINESS WEEK readers will want to know about how the Sicilian Mafia finally seems to be on the run? Alas, every prosecutor I try to call in Palermo is at the beach. Hey, I’ve got it! I’ll do a Letter From Rome–and describe how no one over here works in August. “Now that’s not a bad idea,” says Antonella, my Italian wife, who has been on holiday since July. “And while you’re at it, fetch me another Diet Coke.”
“It’s August again and in Europe that means “out of the office” messages, “closed” signs, and desolated streets. August 1st marks the unofficial start of summer vacation in Spain, France and Italy, and even in times of economic crisis, most employees are dead-set on taking their summer days.
And why not? According to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, European countries lead the world in guaranteeing paid leave for its workers. Among OECD countries, 16 of the 18 most generous governments when it comes to paid vacation are European.
Spain and Germany are among the most holiday-happy, both offering 34 days of paid leave each year. Italy and France guarantee 31 days of paid vacation, and Belgium requires 30. These numbers include both mandatory vacation and public holidays.
CEPR reports that the United States is the only nation among advanced economies that does not provide a legal guarantee of paid leave. New Zealand and Australia ensure respectively 30 and 28 days of paid leave, and Canada’s federal government stipulates 19 paid days, with some provinces adding on additional time. Even in Japan, where thousands commit suicide every year because of work-related stress, all employees are guaranteed 10 paid vacation days.
To be clear, many American companies do provide paid leave. According to CEPR, 77 percent of private sector companies offer employees at least some paid vacation, and those workers get an average of 21 paid days.
Still, that leaves nearly 1 in 4 Americans without any guarantee of paid time off from work. Those workers are noticeably overrepresented in the lower classes, notes CEPR. Half of the workers whose wages scale in the bottom 25 percent enjoy no paid leave.”
It seems like a matter of respecting basic human dignity to simply not expect employees to devote their entire lives to increasing The Company’s Profits. Maybe Americans who are off work right now will realize how nice it is to have a European-style vacation, and perhaps there will be a new push for some form of government-mandated paid vacation time for the most over-worked nation on earth.
To be sure, even though European countries have very generous state-mandated paid holiday requirements, it’s not as if it all happens at once. Lots of Americans have this belief that basically the entire continent of Europe shuts down for the month of August, but that’s not entirely accurate. Lots of Europeans do take their vacations in August, but not everyone. There’s a big difference between “much of the economy” and “the whole economy.”
But then again, it’s not as if the whole American economy is currently shut down. I’ve been out and about a few times over the past 10 days and plenty of businesses are open. I guess we’ll see when the Q1 GDP print is release just how much of the U.S. economy was shut down, but I don’t think it’ll be as bad as the alarmists are saying.
The whole point of the European example is that European businesses plan ahead for August, and the fact that all their employees get a full month of paid vacation. I’ve never heard any stories about how Europe descends into chaos and economic depression every August. They get by just fine.
In a globalized world of free trade, free travel and largely open borders (at least in the West, i.e. the countries everyone else wants to move to), we’re going to have to get used to events like this. A viral outbreak in one country will quickly spread and overwhelm the whole world. Maybe it’s time we structure our economy to be more prepared for stuff like this. It’s all part of the game our elites have chosen to play.
Now, all that being said, the one thing both the Back to Work and the Stay Quarantined crowds ought to be able to agree on is that
Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats she leads are not taking this seriously. They’re totally exploiting this crisis to load up the stimulus bill with pork and leftwing wishlist items that are not even remotely pertinent to the matter at hand.
By no means am I saying every last thing the Republicans put into the stimulus bill is pertinent and awesome. I am under no illusions that this is the case. There’s probably tons of corporate welfare and other bullshit handouts put into the bill by Republicans.
But Pelosi is on another level:
She’s trying to squeeze “Green New Deal” agenda items into the coronavirus bill, as if limiting airplane emissions has anything to do with re-starting the economy.
Not only that, she’s pushing for mass amnesty:
Amnesty for DACA illegal aliens? Unbelievable. She’s saying, “If you want to provide relief to small businesses, you have to legalize 800,000 illegals, too.” Can you make it a little less obvious you want to destroy America, Nancy?
I understand that Nancy has to do this kind of shit to appease the Sanders-wing of her party. She’s upholding her end of the deal, as required by Ocasio-Cortez and the rest to allow her to be Speaker: intransigently push for the most radical and idiotic Social Justice™ and Climate Change Cult agenda items at every opportunity.
But still, it makes me wonder: if Nancy and the Very Opinionated Young Women Of Color Whose Voices Will Be Heard she serves aren’t taking this coronavirus situation seriously, then why should I?
As I wrote earlier, I think this economic shutdown was probably part of the plan–whether China’s as part of the trade war, or the elite’s. I still don’t know who exactly was behind this but the goal was to tank the economy and make people give up their freedoms out of fear.
I’m ready to go back to normal. I like normal. It takes abnormal for us to realize how much we like normal.
But I can’t help but think that’s what the special interests and lobbyists want us to feel. They want us to be so afraid of losing our jobs and the economy tanking that we’ll acquiesce to whatever they want in the stimulus bill and just get back to normal. And the rest of us, they want so terrified of the virus that we
Can we get some good news? Every time I open up the Twitter app on my phone, I almost instantly regret it. It is nearly all bad news, hopelessness and hysteria. It’ll make you think we’re all going to be dead soon.
The thing is, though, it’s not as if the people on Twitter are wrong. The situation is pretty bad right now, especially in Italy, where the number of cases just keeps going up. Today, there were over 800 deaths in Italy. Thousands of new cases are being diagnosed every day. Just a few days ago, it seemed like things were under control in Italy. New daily cases seemed to have stabilized and stopped going up, but then they started going up again, and in the past two days, Italy has gained more than 11,000 new cases.
America, Germany and Spain are all adding 2,000+ new cases a day over the past few days, and here in the US total cases are over 24,000 now.
In America, we now have over 24,000 cases, but more than half of those are in New York. And in New York, the overwhelming majority are in New York City. This means that New York City has more cases of coronavirus than the rest of the country combined:
New York City is the epicenter in America. Undeniably. Overwhelmingly. It’s time to quarantine NYC from the rest of us. No flights in or out. Military checkpoints on the highway. Do not let a single soul in or out of New York City. Obviously make sure they’re supplied with food and goods, but we need to isolate NYC.
The scariest part of it all, however, is that Italy has been under nationwide lockdown since March 9 and things have never been worse. It appears the lockdown isn’t working, although perhaps it’s too early to say because the virus has a 14-day incubation period (although it’s possible for symptoms to appear as early as 5 days). So hopefully by Tuesday or Wednesday, Italy starts seeing its new daily cases start declining, because Monday will mark 14 days since the lockdown began.
All this bad news out of Italy begs the question: just to what extent was China lying about its coronavirus numbers? Italy already has more deaths than China claims they had, and China was the origin point for the virus. The worse the Italian numbers get, the less believable the China numbers look.
So just how bad was it really in China? The government’s official figures of 80,000 infected and 3,255 dead are clearly way understated, but by how much?
Well, there is some indirect data we can use to make some inferences about the possible death toll in China, and it is not good.
Yesterday, I saw on Twitter that a 4chan user looked at subscription losses for Chinese mobile phone service companies to try to estimate the number of coronavirus deaths based on how many subscribers Chinese mobile providers lost over the past couple months. The total number of subscribers lost was 14.4 million over a two month span.
This user then drew the obvious conclusion that as many as 14 million people in China may have died from the coronavirus, given that the three main Chinese telecoms lost 14 million subscribers in January & February alone.
He included some images from the three main Chinese telecoms:
The China Mobile numbers are somewhat confusing because it looks like the decrease in subscribers could have been from people switching from 4G to 5G, but focus on the “Total Customers” column. It shows a decrease of nearly 7 million overall.
These are the numbers for China Telecom:
That’s a decrease of 5.17 million subscribers.
Another China telecom also showed over a million in lost subscriptions. It is between these three companies that the 4chan guy got the 14.4 million figure.
Now, I think this is a very high estimate. 14 million dead in China is 1% of the country, and that’s an astronomical death toll. I think it would be very hard for China to cover this up, although if any country could do it, it would be China.
Still, I don’t see many other good explanations for why 14 million people canceled their cell phone service other than: they died. Of all the expenses you’d consider cutting out during a time like this, cell phone service is at or near the bottom of the list.
But another Twitter offers another explanation for why China suddenly lost so many mobile phone subscriptions:
It’s possible people canceled their mobile subscriptions as they fled the country, but even this seems somewhat implausible. If I were to flee the US, I doubt I’d cancel my mobile subscription, but who knows.
In order to make the claim that as many as 14 million people died in China from the coronavirus, you’d have to exhaust all possible non-death alternatives for why people could’ve canceled their subscriptions. For instance, if millions people did flee China and cancel their mobile subscriptions, did they open up new mobile contracts in the country they fled to? I have no idea where they would have fled to and what those other countries’ main telecom companies are, so it would be a lot of work to try and figure out if telecoms in countries outside of China saw corresponding increases of millions of new subscribers, indicating their gain was China’s loss.
It’s also possible people just used their phones on wifi only after fleeing China, and we will not see any other country with an explosion of new mobile subscribers caused by fleeing Chinese. We haven’t seen any headlines like, to use a country Chinese people could have plausibly fled to, “Taiwanese mobile providers struggle to accommodate millions of new Chinese expat subscribers.” Or really anything about fleeing Chinese pouring into any other countries at all.
“MORE countries have banned travel to China in the wake of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. As the death toll rose above 300 in China, more countries have issued travel warnings and bans.
Vietnam has barred all flights from and to China. Overall, nearly 10,000 flights have been cancelled since the outbreak. Australia is temporarily denying entry to non-citizens who have recently travelled to the country. Japan also said it would bar foreigners who had recently been in the Chinese province at the centre of the outbreak, or whose passports were issued there.
Previously, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, France, New Zealand, India, Egypt, Germany and a host of others had issued travel warnings or bans to the Asian country. African airlines have cancelled scheduled flights to China except Ethiopian Airlines. Last week, Nigeria issued a travel warning to China even as Nigerians in China were urged to tread with caution.”
Where could potentially millions of fleeing Chinese have gone? By early February, their options were extremely limited. No other countries wanted to take them in, and rightly.
However, most of these travel bans included provisions to allow expats living in China to return home. For instance, American citizens living in China were allowed to come back to The States. This article from Feb. 1 elaborated on that point:
“Russia will start evacuating its citizens from China next week. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the evacuations would be from regions that had been most affected by the outbreak, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported.”
What I’m trying to say here is that it’s possible that a portion, or even the majority, of the 14 million lost China telecom subscribers were foreign citizens living in China long-term who canceled their subscriptions to Chinese cell service when the virus started spreading and they had to make a quick exit from China.
This, to me, is the best possible alternative explanation to the “14 million Chinese died” theory. If I were an expat living in China long-term, I would most definitely have made a quick exit from China and come back to the states as soon as the virus outbreak began.
More recent headlines indicate Chinese expats are flocking back to China as coronavirus case numbers explode in Europe:
So who knows. Even if we see a major spike in mobile subscribers in China for the month of march as loads of expats living outside of China come back to escape Europe, they might not be the same people who left China in droves in Jan/Feb. There are Chinese people living abroad, but then there are also Americans/Europeans/British/Australians/ Russians/etc. living in China. The latter category likely fled China in Jan/Feb, while the former category is in the process of fleeing Europe to go back to China now.
I don’t know. We’re living in chaotic times. But still, even if just 10% of those lost mobile subscribers in China are people who died, that’s still 1.4 million people.
The bottom line is that we are not getting the full story from China. They have been lying about and covering up the virus since the start. Someone on Twitter posted this on Feb. 8, which showed an unusual amount of sulfur dioxide being emitted from Wuhan, China, indicating mass cremation of dead bodies:
China is so unbelievably guilty for all of this. Government officials forced a Wuhan lab to stop their testing on the virus and destroy the samples so as to destroy proof of it:
This is the Chinese Virus. No honest person at this point can deny that. China passed this on to the rest of the world.
And the worst part of it is, we’re learning that China now basically owns the US Media given how much the media is advocating on China’s behalf. I’m sure you’ve all seen the clips of “reporters” attempting to scold President Trump for saying “Chinese Virus.”
As of February 21, CNN was more concerned with “racism” against Chinese than Americans dying of the virus itself:
It’s almost worse that this article is from a month ago because it clearly shows CNN was not taking the virus seriously at all.
Three days ago, Rolling Stone whined:
Trump bad, China scapegoat.
New York Times:
Screw the “experts.” Why didn’t the experts prevent this from happening? And screw concerns over “xenophobia.” Xenophobia is a made-up term by the globalists to attempt to pathologize the natural human distrust of foreigners. If we were more “xenophobic,” we wouldn’t have to worry about coronavirus. Xenophobia is good.
Washington Post ran almost the same article as NYT:
The media is the enemy inside the gates. The fifth column. The media is actively undermining America from within. Whether it’s because they’re all brainwashed morons, they just do whatever they believe will get them higher ratings, or (more likely) because they’re all bought-out traitors, they are America’s weakness.
You’ve got the worst global pandemic in decades spreading like wildfire, and the American media is determined to make the situation worse for us.
So accustomed is our media to disingenuously framing literally every news story as a matter of “racism” that they are unable to resist doing so even in this global crisis.
Never has it been more clear that the media’s obsession with painting America as a viciously racist hellhole where life for minorities is nothing but endless misery and suffering, was simply them inventing problems where there were none. Now that we have a real problem on our hands, notice that nobody but the media is still fretting about racism. It’s almost as if the past five years’ hysteria over racism was complete nonsense and totally fabricated by the media.
And it’s not just racism that has fallen by the the wayside due to coronavirus:
Hopefully, this means that when the dust settles and this coronavirus business blows over, most Americans will realize what a sham the identity politics push since 2015 has been.
But don’t be fooled into believing the media’s behavior has been harmless. The media’s conduct has been so reprehensible during this coronavirus outbreak that it is actively lobbying against finding a cure for the coronavirus. I’m not kidding or exaggerating.
It all started with Trump making a statement on Thursday that a drug called Chloroquine, normally used to cure Malaria, may actually be highly effective against the coronavirus.
“A renowned research professor in France has reported successful results from a new treatment for Covid-19, with early tests suggesting it can stop the virus from being contagious in just six days.
Professor Didier Raoult from infection hospital l’Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire (IHU) Méditerranée Infection in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur), published a video explaining the trials on Monday March 16.
Professor Raoult is an infectious diseases specialist and head of the IHU Méditerranée Infection, who has been tasked by – and consulted by – the French government to research possible treatments of Covid-19. He said that the first Covid-19 patients he had treated with the drug chloroquine had seen a rapid and effective speeding up of their healing process, and a sharp decrease in the amount of time they remained contagious.
Chloroquine – which is normally used mainly to prevent and treat malaria – was administered via the named drug, Plaquenil. The treatment was offered to 24 patients, who were among the first to become infected in the south east of France, and who had voluntarily admitted themselves to hospital for the process.”
Not only did French researchers come to this conclusion, American researchers did as well a few days prior.
“A new academic study, published on Friday March 13 by US scientific researchers, also said that chloroquine appeared to be an effective treatment, and appears to align with the findings in France.
It said: “Use of chloroquine (tablets) is showing favorable outcomes in humans infected with Coronavirus including faster time to recovery and shorter hospital stay…
“Research shows that chloroquine also has strong potential as a prophylactic (preventative) measure against coronavirus in the lab, while we wait for a vaccine to be developed.
“Chloroquine is an inexpensive, globally available drug that has been in widespread human use since 1945 against malaria, autoimmune and various other conditions…[it] can be prescribed to adults and children of all ages.
“It can also be safely taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers [and] has been widely used to treat human diseases, such as malaria, amoebiosis, HIV, and autoimmune diseases, without significant detrimental side effects.”
Researchers worldwide are continuing to work on developing a vaccine against Covid-19.
So far, no country – nor the World Health Organisation (WHO) – has officially published treatment measures against Covid-19, but in China and South Korea, guidelines already outline the use of chloroquine as an “effective treatment”, the study report said.”
But don’t even bother clicking the link to the US study. It’s a Google Doc, and Google has taken it down due to “violation of terms of service.” Very curious.
For some reason, the media and Google are trying to throw cold water on the buzz around Chloroquine. As is the FDA, as we’ll see shortly.
Why would they be actively working to discourage the use of the Malaria drug for coronavirus? Because the drug is already on the market. As the block quote above shows, it has been widely available since 1945.
But Big Pharma has a strong financial interest in making sure it and it alone has monopoly control over the eventual mass production and distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.
Which is why you see CNN running shameful headlines like this regarding Trump’s touting of Chloroquine:
How dare Trump try to boost our spirits amid such “dark times”!
Let’s have a look at the article, though, because it’ll show just how treacherous CNN is:
On Thursday, Trump celebrated his own announcement that he had torn down red tape and that several anti-virus therapies used to treat other conditions were now or shortly will deployed in the battle against Covid-19.
Which “anti-virus therapies,” CNN? Why won’t you specify?
“I think it could be a game changer, and maybe not, and maybe not. But, I think it could be, based on what I see, it could be a game changer. Very powerful — they’re very powerful,” Trump said.
You can tell from Trump’s quote that he is referring to something specific (“it”), but CNN’s article is intentionally vague about what, exactly, Trump is talking about. They mention “the several anti-virals, including one used against malaria,” but never Chloroquine by name. This is no accident. They do not want you to be aware of the fact that Chloroquine has been shown to be extremely effective against the coronavirus.
The New York Times at least used the term “Malaria drugs,” but that was about it. They’re still very much against the use of an already-existing drug to combat coronavirus.
“With minimal evidence.” Actually there are multiple studies out. Add New York Times to the list of evil institutions that don’t want coronavirus to be cured.
The FDA is probably in Big Pharma’s pocket as well given the speed with which it attempted to shoot down Trump’s claims.
The media even tried to pretend Chloroquine is DANGEROUS AND WILL KILL YOU BECAUSE TRUMP IS TRYING TO KILL YOU, with MSN posting a scare headline “Drug touted by Trump to possibly treat virus can kill in just 2 grams”. But they neglected to mention the recommended dose size is 500 milligrams:
Wow, if you overdose on Chloroquine, it can kill you. So I guess we shouldn’t use it against coronavirus, even in the prescribed dose amount. In fact, let’s throw out every other drug that can kill you if you take 4x the recommended dose.
This dishonesty from the media is downright evil. Let’s be completely clear here: they literally want to deprive people of a safe, effective cure for Coronavirus because Big Pharma does not have a monopoly on Chloroquine.
We have the cure already. But Big Pharma has mobilized its shills in the media, at Google, and at the FDA to prevent it from ever seeing the light of day.
But Trump remained undeterred, reiterating his interest in using Chloroquine to cure coronavirus earlier this morning:
Big Pharma and their paid shills in the media are determined to make sure the coronavirus does not have a proven and widely available cure, and that America remains entirely dependent on China for medical supplies.
The Daily Beast, for example, is very upset that a Trump administration official is trying to “commandeer” the Coronavirus in order to make the medical-supply chain “more America-centric”:
Outrageous! America MUST remain reliant on China for medical supplies!
Were you aware that even drugs as common as aspirin are no longer produced in the United States because China put our last manufacturer out of business in 2002?
“There’s talk that we should let the free market fix this. The reality is there is no free market. Generic manufacturing has collapsed in the US. There are only two Western companies left that are making generic drugs, and they announced last year that they’re dropping half their products because they can no longer make them. So now they’re on the FDA shortage list.
And how does this happen? Because of China forming cartels. Which has driven out production of so many of our core medicines–we can’t make penicillin anymore, because of what I wrote about in ‘China RX,’ we can’t make vitamin C, we can’t even make aspirin. And thousands and thousands of other medicines.”
We are completely dependent on China for just about everything, including medical drugs and supplies. This is what Trump adviser Peter Navarro is trying to address, and the media is slamming him for it.
It’s difficult to overstate just how much damage the media is deliberately doing to America.
While the coronavirus may be causing chaos around the world (the US stock market is down over 30% as of Friday), and its death toll is rising by the day, we will get through it. It may not seem like there’s any end in sight, but we will get through this.
The world we will inhabit on the other side, however, will not be the same as the one we inhabited as recently as January. The Great Coronavirus Epidemic of 2020 will have long-term consequences all around the world.
Such as what?
First and foremost, the China Problem will take center stage. For too long we have ignored the fact that we have slowly but surely become entirely dependent on China. It all started with Richard Nixon “opening” China for business in 1971, and was cemented in 2001 when the Bush finally administration allowed China to join the World Trade Organization and obtain “most favored nation” status with the U.S.
This has been an utter disaster for America, and it’s not just in medical supplies. It’s in rare earth minerals, it’s in clothing, it’s in electronics–just about everything. I remember when I was working for a US Congressman I accompanied him on a tour of a semiconductor plant in our district. At the end of the tour we sat down with the owners and asked them how we could help their business out, and their #1 concern, overwhelmingly, was China. China was undercutting their prices and they would soon be out of business because they couldn’t compete. China has been waging economic warfare on America for decades, and we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking it’s all good because at least we get cheaper goods.
We can no longer view China as a developing country that needs our help to modernize. China is now our foremost rival in the world. I’d even go as far as to say they’re our number-one enemy in the world.
Our trade deficit with China has ballooned to head-spinning levels:
And that’s on top of the fact that the US Trade Representative estimates that the US loses out on between $225-600 billion per year in Chinese intellectual property theft. The Chinese are bleeding us dry.
Growing wariness of China should not be a partisan issue, either. It’s an American issue. The only way one could oppose America ending its dependence on China is if they’ve been paid off by China. Our reliance on China benefits no one except the multinational corporations that have outsourced to China for cheap production, and the American universities that collectively accept hundreds of thousands–probably by this point millions–of Chinese students.
The rest of us are paying the price.
China is our enemy. That much has become crystal clear for Americans over the course of the past couple months. Not only have they bled our economy dry, they’ve now inflicted a deadly virus upon the whole world. No matter how much the media tries to muddy the waters by calling Trump a racist, this is a Chinese virus that has now become the whole world’s problem. We must lay the blame on China and hold them accountable for not only the medical suffering they’ve inflicted, but the trillions of dollars of economic carnage as well.
China wrecked the world economy. China did this.
And if you’re wondering why Italy has been hit so hard by the coronavirus, it’s because Italy has the highest population of Chinese expats in all of Europe. According to Wikipedia, there are 320,000 Chinese citizens living in Italy, and most of them arrived over the past decade. There is nothing coincidental about Italy being the worst-hit nation by coronavirus after China.
China has been investing in (read: buying out) Italy for the past decade, Milan specifically. And wouldn’t you know that Milan has borne the brunt of the virus outbreak in Italy.
“I spoke to Marco, a 38 year old construction worker, about the changes he’s seen here over the last 30 years.
‘Prato has evolved and grown in terms of population, but the majority… how can I say it… the majority it’s all Chinese. That ‘something’ that there was before isn’t there anymore, Prato’s traditions, the feasts… on the 15th of August we used to go to Feast of Santa Maria, we’d eat watermelons, you’d go there and see all the people from Prato… now what you see, it’s mostly managed by [the Chinese]….’
So when did Via Pistoiese swap cantuccinis for noodles and dumplings? Where do all these hand waving cats come from, and who buys them? Why do some areas of Prato, in short, look so Chinese?
Until the 60s, the extra workers Prato needed came from the countryside and around Tuscany. In the 70s and 80s, these jobs were taken up by migrants from the south of Italy, and in the 90s by workers from China.
Chinese immigrants quickly began buying and opening small firms, merging those firms, and replacing the older firms owned by Italian families. They focused on fast production of ready-to-wear fashion clothing and employed mostly other Chinese people, who were much cheaper than Italians. Failing Italian firms began cutting costs by closing down and renting their warehouses to Chinese companies instead.
Today, Tuscany has the largest percentage of firms owned by Chinese citizens in Italy, and Prato has the largest share in Tuscany. More firms in Prato are owned by foreigners than Italian, and over 70% of those owned by a foreign national are owned by the Chinese.
Giulio, an 80 year old man who used to own a textile factory, said: “The young people from Prato all left to go work in France, Germany… if you look around, you can’t see a young person, it’s only the Chinese. It’s just like 50 years ago, when there were no jobs and Italians went abroad, to America… it’s like back then. The firms are all closing down, especially in Prato. The only ones that survived are the ones that buy already made stuff from China to sell. There’s no more manufacturing here.”
In the end, Marco points out, “People from Prato used to drive big expensive cars and Chinese people used to drive the Ape [a cheap and small three-wheeled truck]. Now people from Prato drive the Ape, and Chinese people drive the big cars.”
When white Europeans did stuff like this in Africa during the 19th century, it was condemned as “imperialism.” When the Chinese do it, it’s all just part of the glorious process of “globalization.”
The developed West needs to ween off of China. It’s time to start making things again and stop allowing China to leech off of us.
In fact, when this is all over, China needs to answer for this virus that destroyed so much. We’re talking post-WWI style reparations like Germany was forced to pay at Versailles. Massive, punitive, crippling reparations.
Second, people in America are going to learn the art of saving money again. At least they should. 78% of the country lives paycheck to paycheck. 69% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.
People are going to learn to save money again. No longer should people take their incomes for granted.
Third, people in America are going to question urban living. Densely-populated urban areas are, unsurprisingly, being hit the hardest by the coronavirus. Again, New York City has more than half of America’s cases. It’s also the most “international” city in the U.S., where thousands of foreigners flock daily for business, tourism and even to start whole new lives in the land of opportunity.
Not only are you far more likely to catch a deadly virus in a big city, urbanites are also the ones encountering emptied-out supermarkets. City dwellers are far more reliant on the supermarkets than rural Americans.
While it won’t be mass exodus from the cities, I think you’ll see some people move away from the cities and head for, if not rural areas, then at least suburban locales.
I’ve been saying it for a while and now it’s never been more crucial: get out of cities, move to the countryside and become self-reliant. Buy land, raise goats and chickens, get in touch with nature and God.
Fourth, I can’t even begin to fathom the economic impact the coronavirus will have on this country and the world. Hopefully, people who are out of work (that’s most of us) will either get unemployment insurance, or those Trump Bucks (preferably both). But if this goes on any longer, the number of businesses that will shut down will dwarf anything we saw in 2008. There’s a big difference in a business experiencing slowed demand and a business that cannot operate at all. We need to get the economy back up and running as soon as humanly possible or else things are going to get really bad.
Fifth, open borders is a liability. Not only is it turning America into racially-fragmented, third-world-esque banana republic, and eroding its historical culture and traditions, it’s made us vulnerable to viruses like this. The reason this virus became our problem and not just China’s is because of open borders and globalization. This will inevitably lead many more Americans to begin questioning if open borders is such a good idea–and since a lot of people have already started questioning it over the past several years, this could be a major turning point in public opinion. We can only hope.
Finally, at the beginning I said we need some good news around here because everything seems so apocalyptic at the moment.
Well, the good news is, the coronavirus may well in fact be “just the flu.”
I’m not talking about the symptoms of the virus, but rather in terms of numbers.
Here are the CDC’s stats on the current flu season, still ongoing:
38 million – 54 million total flu illnesses
17 million – 25 million medical visits
390k – 710k flu hospitalizations
23k – 59k flu deaths
In America, we’ve only seen 24,000 total cases of coronavirus and 288 deaths.
Now, these numbers are of course still going up (and rapidly) but there’s no way we’ll see 38 million cases of coronavirus, and I seriously doubt we’ll see 23,000 deaths.
The death rate for coronavirus is certainly higher than the flu. That’s a fact. But it’s also true that we don’t have an accurate number on just how many people have the coronavirus. We don’t have anywhere near the testing capability for the coronavirus as we do the flu. It’s likely there are many more people who have the virus than we currently know of. Many people will get it and recover without ever going to a hospital or a doctor.
I’m not trying to say you should be out in crowded areas and being careless, but I am saying the virus is not nearly as scary as it seems.
Placing the virus in the context of the flu makes it less scary. At least it did for me.