Category Archives: Political Economy

Pandemic Preparedness And America’s Mañana Mentality

Debt, Economy, Free Markets, Healthcare, Political Economy, The State

The dynamics of state regulation and ownership aside, there is no ignoring our American mañana mentality. Consume in the present; worry not at all about tomorrow’s supplies.

Doesn’t that epitomize the state of America’s coronavirus pandemic reserves?

Via the LA Times: “A disaster foretold: Shortages of ventilators and other medical supplies have long been warned about.”

The nation needed larger caches of standby medical supplies and hospitals that were better prepared to handle a surge of infected patients.

A decade later, the coronavirus crisis is exposing many of the same gaps. Inadequate supplies of protective masks, ventilators, intensive care beds and other medical resources are forcing mass closures of schools and businesses and restrictions on everyday activities as public officials rush to slow the virus so America’s medical system isn’t overwhelmed.

the Government Accountability Office … the federal government’s leading internal watchdog, has issued a steady stream of reports about poor pandemic planning. …

The GAO, public health experts and others issued a steady drumbeat of warnings that America would sooner or later face a widespread infectious disease outbreak or a major bioterrorism attack and was woefully unprepared. …

… In both 2018 and 2019, U.S. intelligence agencies issued insistent warnings in their annual Worldwide Threat Assessment.

“We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support,” the 2019 report noted.

AND, Making the case for investments in material and hospital planning has long been challenging as most people have difficulty envisioning a major disaster, acknowledged Dr. Eric Toner of Johns Hopkins University, an authority on pandemic preparedness.”

Hospitals also are under pressure to keep margins thin and eliminate spending on staff and supplies that aren’t used all the time.

And, in government-regulated hospitals, which are the majority in the US,

The budget crunch represents a particular challenge for so-called safety-net hospitals, institutions that serve many uninsured patients and those covered by Medicaid, and consequently collect less revenue. These same hospitals are now expecting a large surge in coronavirus patients but have limited resources to ramp up staffing and add intensive care beds if needed.

“Cash is very limited,” said Charlie Shields, chief executive of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City. Shields said the finances are under even more stress since the hospital canceled elective procedures and shut down its dental services to prepare for the pandemic, moves that reduce hospital revenue.

In case you imagine the US has a free-market in medicine, here are a few statistics that’ll shock you, via The Economist:

The country has over 6,000 hospitals. Only 1,300 or so are private for-profit institutions; the rest are non-profit or government-run. The lack of an overt profit motive has done little to rein in prices …

In any event, the defining characteristic of the Unites States is debt—public and private, macro and micro. America is a debtor nation. A natural shift must take place in the economy from a credit-fueled, consumption-based economy, to one founded on savings, investment and production.

NEW COLUMN (UPDATED): Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks’

Argument, Capitalism, Democrats, Economy, Free Markets, Healthcare, Ilana Mercer, Political Economy, Propaganda, Reason, Regulation, Socialism, The State

NEW COLUMN is “Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks’. For fans of the site, it’s on Townhall.com, now, but also on WND.COM and The Unz Review, too.

As Townhall.com reader “defendingfreedom” exclaims, “What an excellent article! Interesting information about N95 masks and even better perspective about capitalism vs socialism.”

An excerpt:

Some clear thinking is required to counter incessant, statist propaganda against the use of N-95 filtering facepiece respirators, to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The message has been seconded at every turn by the Center for Disease Control, a cumbersome bureaucracy, which tightly controls both testing capacity and criteria. Such centralization is everywhere and always detrimental to the screening and segregating of the infected, and, ultimately, to disease containment.

The State and the agents of America’s highly centralized healthcare system categorically don’t want the citizen to purchase “face masks.” The surgeon general is already “warning Americans” to stop exercising their sovereignty as consumers and quit buying face masks.

Hence the incessant, near-neurotic discrediting of N-95 respirators, which, by previous CDC accounts, can be protective.

Before the outbreak of COVID-19, on its website, the CDC had asks and answered the following question:

“What makes N-95 respirators different from facemasks sometimes called surgical masks?:
“… N-95 respirators are tight-fitting respirators that filter out at least 95% of particles in the air, including large and small particles. … These respirators filter out at least 95% of very small (0.3 micron) particles. … including bacteria and viruses. … [thus reducing] the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles, from small particle aerosols to large droplets.”

By logical extension, properly made and fitted, the N-95 respirator is better than nothing and may certainly be protective. Here’s why:

While the coronavirus is indeed minuscule, smaller than 0.3 microns (likely between 0.1 and 0.2 microns), COVID-19 is delivered in a larger medium of bodily fluids or spray.

Certainly, some barrier to the spittle in which the coronavirus is dispersed is better than none.

No surprise then, that world health authorities can’t seem to get their story straight on masks. At times, they concede “that N-95 face masks are protective.” More frequently, they scratch the proverbial proboscis (ostensibly a sign of lying) and say “No, of course, they’re ineffective.” In other words, “they work for me, the healthcare worker, but not for thee.”

For honesty’s sake, the country’s health-care functionaries might appeal to consumers on the ground of dire shortages. But on the basis that no protection is better than some protection? Please!

In a free society in which the market for goods and services is free, the citizen, not a central planner, decides what purchase is in his best interest.

So, one must be especially stupid to allow a socialist like Bernie Sanders anywhere near the free market, in general, and that for surgical masks, respirators and other pandemic prophylactics, in particular.

Trust me: If the country’s health-care overlords could, they would prohibit people who want to wear N-95 respirators, during the COVID-19 pandemic, from purchasing these.

In their universe, masks are a zero-sum commodity. The more of them sovereign consumers purchase, the fewer remain for healthcare workers.

But that’s not how the glorious free market works.

Provided politicians, especially Sanders, stay out of it, here’s how the market for surgical face masks and respirators will work:

A rise in consumer demand for this product, reflected in empty shelves and relatively higher prices, will galvanize business to hire more workers and produce more of the coveted commodity.

Prices are crucial. They are the street signs of the economy. The thing the socialists will soon insist on controlling (“price-controls”) and suppressing are the vital signs of the economy …

MORE glorious free-market economics in the NEW COLUMN. “Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks’ is on Townhall.com, now, but also on WND.COM and The Unz Review, too.

UPDATED (3/7/020):

Writes defendingfreedom @townhallcom: “What an excellent article! Interesting information about #N95 masks and even better perspective about #capitalism vs. #socialism.”

Writes: I always enjoy Ilana’s writing. She’s so refreshingly honest and says just how it is. This is another pearl of wisdom you need to think about, and ACT on her recommendations.”

“…the primary issue Ilana Mercer raises — the perfidiously mixed messages from the ‘authorities’ regarding the use of #N95Masks — is right on.”

Whereas I’m not a libertarian and the supply/demand/price issues I regard as secondary, the primary issue Ilana Mercer raises — the perfidiously mixed messages from the “authorities” regarding the use of N95 face masks — is right on.

In particular, the CDC & the surgeon general say that “only the infected people should wear them.” But the authorities ALSO say that the incubation period is 2 weeks and that one might be infectious BEFORE exhibiting the symptoms. Meaning that anyone potentially could be infected with Coronavirus AND that therefore everyone might benefit from wearing the mask. How’s this for a contradictory message.

So far I don’t wear a mask and I rely on my immune system, but I despise dishonest and/or incoherent directives from the “Authorities.”

Again, on that score Ilana is 100% correct.

I’m impressed with her courage to deal with politically incorrect topics and to speak the truth

  • I always enjoy Ilana’s writing. She’s so refreshingly honest and says just how it is.

    This is another pearl of wisdom you need to think about, and ACT on her recommendations.

 

America Is Moving Leftwards

Democrats, Donald Trump, Left-Liberalism, Political Economy, Politics, Republicans

We know the Democrats are rapidly radicalizing, but what about Republicans? What about the country as a whole?

Well, according to The Economist, “AMERICANS ARE more in favour of ‘big-government’ policies today than at any point in the last 68 years. That is the conclusion of James Stimson, a political scientist, who has analysed long-running polls from the Universities of Chicago and Michigan to come up with annual estimates of the ‘public mood.'”

The magazine blames—you guessed it—“Donald Trump’s presidency,” rather than demographic changes over the corresponding decades.

Mr Stimson estimates that the last time America was feeling this left-wing was in 1961, when the civil-rights movement was full-steam ahead and Alan Shepard became the first American to be launched into outer space.

Public opinion is contradictory: many more Americans describe themselves as conservative than as liberal; yet Americans prefer left-leaning policies to right-leaning ones, even when these are accompanied by the promise of higher taxes. Mr Stimson’s data show a steady leftward shift in Americans’ views on the scope of government since 1952. And according to data from the Policy Agendas Project, an academic research group, the public also holds views that are more tolerant than ever on social issues like same-sex marriage; worries more about the environment; and is more enthusiastic about immigration and giving a helping hand to African-Americans.

MORE.

In Venezuela, There Is No Disagreement About SOCIALISM

Democracy, Foreign Policy, Neoconservatism, Political Economy, Socialism

This may come as news to the doctrinaire democrats (lower case “d”) who doggedly conflate the will of the people with liberty:

The Venezuelan mobs fighting against the forces of Nicolás Maduro are not fighting for “freedom,” as we classical liberals think of it; they are not fighting against socialism.

In Juan Guaidó, Venezuelans are simply looking for a better, kinder socialist.

Guaidó is a member of the Socialist International. Guaidó is a member of the Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, which has been an official member of the Socialist International since 2014.

MORE.

You mean you didn’t know that the Guaidó the US wants to go to war for is a socialist?

AGAIN: The masses as a rule, in the US and abroad, want more stuff, not less of it. If we quit the Disneyfied view of the world’s quarrels; perhaps we Americans will be less inclined to intervene in battles not our own.

One can only hope.