Category Archives: Free Markets

Finally, PPE Domestic Production Capacity Predicted To Take Off

Business, Capitalism, COVID-19, Free Markets, Government

Thankfully, the domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE) is predicted to vastly expand in the next five years.

Back on March 5, a full month before government’s “experts,” national and international, stopped fumbling, lying and dissembling about the effectiveness of masks, I foresaw what IBISWorld, an industry research company, now confirms. I wrote:

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. In particular, scarcity and high prices are vital signals. Mask these natural market indices, and you kill off the knowledge needed by manufacturers and entrepreneurs to decide whether to rush into the production of surgical face masks and N-95 respirators.
Masks and all others pandemic prophylactics are currently exorbitantly priced to reflect high demand and subsequent scarcity. These prices have already been taken by producers as a signal to accelerate productions.

IBISWorld now forecasts an “increased emphasis on domestic production capacity in the interest of national security.” It expects “the industry’s trade balance to shift from a deficit to a surplus over the five years to 2025.”

SEE: “Unmasking Statist, Socialist Propaganda About ‘Face Masks”’(March 5)

IBISWorld further reports that “the PPE manufacturing industry has seen an unprecedented surge in demand for N95 masks, respirators, face shields and gloves. The industry’s largest operators are operating at maximum capacity and are currently or intending to expand their domestic production capacity within the year.”

For this, we owe the profit motive, not American leaders. As a rule, the latter have no compunction about leaving their pliant people in the lurch during disasters.  The U.S. government knows its loyalists will do anything, including to deny COVID is real, to help their leaders save face.

 

Trust Republicans To Sabotage A Safe Return To Work

Business, COVID-19, Free Markets, Labor, Law, libertarianism, Private Property, Regulation, Republicans

“In the absence of clinical therapies or a vaccine for coronavirus, the successful return to work rests, very plainly, on the willingness of the citizenry to cover up, keep clean and keep a distance.” (“The Ethics of Social Distancing: A Libertarian Perspective.”)

If businesses want customers to resume consumption and workers to stay safe and productive on the job—they must, within reason, provide a safe working and shopping environment.

The market incentivizes business to protect customers and employees and thus to also reduce the spread of COVID. If business acts recklessly, customers will stay away. And if companies place workers in a precarious position, then the worker who gets sick on the job generally has recourse through litigation.

The free-market and the law—more so than government regulation—provide corrective mechanisms to ensure workers and customers are safe. Government regulations are generally agreements between industrial special interests and the state. Duly, they mostly benefit those interests alone.

By removing the incentives aforementioned,  so necessary in a society based on ordered liberty, the government sabotages a safe return to work, as it fails to allow corrective mechanisms to work.

Trust the Republicans, then, to strive to remove the incentives for business to fit the workplace for success in the age of coronavirus.

To hell with the desperate young worker, who toils in a crowded, unclean, meatpacking facility, currently a “serious vector for the pandemic.”

Or, the flight attendant who was told by the airline she’d be fired if she wore a mask. If they get sick on the job because their employers refused to set up and suit up for COVID—the worker will have no recourse, courtesy of the Republicans’ liability protection guarantees.

With half of all U.S. states forging ahead with strategies for easing restrictions on restaurants, retail and other businesses shuttered by the coronavirus crisis, business groups have been pushing for protection against COVID-19-related lawsuits …The Trump administration is also pushing for liability safeguards … [Reuters]

GOP lawmakers have warned that without additional protections they believe business owners will be too fearful of litigation to reopen.

McConnell, during an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, called the extra protections his “red line.”

“Let me make it perfectly clear, the Senate is not interested in passing a bill that does not have liability protection. … What I’m saying is we have a red line on liability. It won’t pass the Senate without it,” he added.

Stripped of baffle-gab, this means that Republicans wish to shield business from the consequences of reckless disregards for the safety of shoppers and workers. For the courts will examine cases on their merit, and throw them out if they are frivolous.

Fail to allow corrective mechanisms like litigation to work—and you’ll increase illness, death and poverty and spread more devastation.

* Thanks, Scott Olson | Getty Images, for fair use.

@ Unz Review.

Pandemic Preparedness And America’s Mañana Mentality

COVID-19, 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.

US Has Over 6,000 hospitals. Only 1,300 Are Private For-Profit Institution

America, Capitalism, COVID-19, Free Markets, Government, Healthcare

If you imagined America has a free market in medicine, read “Diagnosis: opaque: Donald Trump wants hospitals to be more upfront about prices”:

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, however. Hospital costs have risen at an annual rate of close to 5%, compared with below 1% for drug prices. … Nor has a charitable mission dampened the ambition of bosses at big hospital chains; seven-figure salaries are not unheard of at those with revenues exceeding $500m a year. They have also been on an acquisition binge. The number of deals has jumped from around 55 a year between 2002 and 2009 to 90 or more these days. Since 2018 non-profit hospitals have been the acquirers in three-quarters of the transactions.

How do government-run or subsidized hospitals engage in the capitalistic act of mergers?  They do so on the backs of taxpayers. Profits are privatized; losses are socialized. This is the stuff of cronyism.

Free market medicine we do not have. Before Coronavirus, Trump was looking to reform the nation’s hospitals.

MORE:

“Diagnosis: opaque: Donald Trump wants hospitals to be more upfront about prices”

* Image courtesy The Economist.