The US could stand to learn a few things from this pandemic, but likely will not.  It’s response was hasty at best, and reckless at worst.

March 30, 2020

By: Bobby Casey Managing Director GWP

stimulus responseI’ve been watching the government response to Covid 19, and I must say, it looks to be much more destructive with a much longer timeline than the virus itself. Sadly, not many are monitoring the governments’ responses with the same jaundiced eye as they are this particular virus.

It’s irrational to say that those who don’t see things the same simply don’t care about human life. That’s patently false. People care about different aspects of life more than others. Some worry about the number of lives and the number of years people live. Others care about the quality of life for the survivors, not just in the immediate future, but down the line.

First off, it’s important to know that none of the world leaders could do anything to stop the spread of a virus. It’s preposterous to make this a partisan issue.

Second, it’s been disastrous to make this a political issue. Bad things happen. The true test is how people respond to those things. And the response was terrible. Worse yet, it was used as an excuse to sneak all sorts of cronyism and agenda driven funding through.

Right now, the US has a litany of legislative artifacts left from 9/11. The Patriot Act and all the goodies therein remained long after the event.

What will the knee-jerk response from politicians leave for those to survive to the other side of this event?

Priorities

I’m seeing a lot of shaming of those who want to introduce some normalcy back into their lives. But the fact is, several developed countries maintained a more open society than the US through this pandemic.

South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan all monitored the spread and focused more on accurate testing and containment than draconian, and premature shelter-in-place ordinances.

I’m not condoning the phone tracking and digital monitoring, but I am saying the focus in South Korea was on testing and sequestering only those who were diagnosed. There was no presumption of “guilt” of being a carrier. But those who presented symptoms were quarantined while the rest of society continued to go about its business.

Singapore went so far as to say that children were not an at risk group for the disease, so they saw no need to cripple adults by shutting down schools.

These Asian countries culturally have a very high regard for their elderly, and yet kept their economies going. The claim that by continuing business as usual we are somehow choosing profits and economy over life is absurd.

Sweden and the Netherlands decided to keep their societies and markets open as well, leaving it to their constituents to self-assess what course of action if any made sense for them.  Certainly there are concerned citizens who are watching countries like Italy, wondering why they are still free to go about their day.  But in the end, they are equally free to take precautions of their own as they see fit.

Even Governor Andrew Cuomo has come around on his hard line approach to this.

If you rethought that or had time to analyze that public health strategy, I don’t know that you would say quarantine everyone. I don’t even know that that was the best public health policy.

US government officials have taken the first thing that surfaces as truth and ran with it. And many are backing off some of the original claims, including Dr. Anthony Fauci who co-authored this piece out of the New England Journal of Medicine:

“If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases, the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1%. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of Covid-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9 to 10% and 36%, respectively.”

Meanwhile, Rhode Island is tracking down New Yorkers:

Rhode Island police began stopping cars with New York plates Friday. On Saturday, the National Guard will help them conduct house-to-house searches to find people who traveled from New York and demand 14 days of self-quarantine.

There is a far more respectful and balanced approach to this sort of thing, and it doesn’t involve criminalizing people who leave their homes. The fact is, regardless of the laws in place, people are going to do what they are going to do. Counting on government or anyone else to keep YOU safe is not advisable.

Individuals need the freedom to assess the risks and do what they need to do. And to compliment that, there needs to be flexibility in the market so businesses and individuals alike can accommodate this state of affairs while still meeting their needs and the needs of others.

Here’s a list of 109 regulations that were suspended due to the heightened conditions brought about by Corvid 19. How necessary were these rules to begin with a variation of the common cold could warrant suspending them anyway?

This only demonstrates further the inflexibility of the US economy and its inability to pivot in an emergency.

Many developed countries were woefully under-prepared and remain so.  Rather than drop this on the laps of the presiding politicians, shouldn’t the presiding politicians create a real plan of action for something like this for the future?

What Is Coming?

There’s the $2 trillion Stimulus Bill. That’s a hotbed of pork barrel spending! For example:

  • $300,000,000 to the Endowment for the Arts

  • $300,000,000 for the Endowment for the Humanities

  • $7,500,000 to the Smithsonian for additional salaries

  • $35,000,000 to the JFK Center for performing Arts

  • $25,000,000 for additional salary for House of Representatives

  • $315,000,000 for State Department Diplomatic Programs

Reason recapped the bill:

Among the plan’s primary provisions are $500 billion in loan guarantees for corporations, $367 billion in loan assistance to small businesses, $130 billion for hospitals, $150 billion for state and local stabilization funds, $200 billion for ‘domestic priorities’ like childcare, seniors, and transportation, a large expansion of unemployment insurance, as well as a $250 billion fund to make direct payments to some Americans.

I think it’s ASTOUNDING that a 1,432 page bill was READY for a vote in such short order. Here I am typing this thing up struggling to hit 1432 words in a day! Fortunately, someone in the House of Representatives had the presence of mind to demand a raise to the tune of $57,470 per representative. That’s not a one-time pay out like many individuals will see of $1,200. It’s permanent.

I’m not sure what this means for the election. But I do know it means a devaluation of retirement funds, savings, and currency.  It means that at some point, the debt plus interest will eventually dominate everyone’s tax bill.

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