Friday, May 29, 2020

America Is Opening. It Should Never Have Closed

Jeffrey A. Tucker

I wanted to celebrate the opening day of breweries in Connecticut. But it was hardly that. Open means freedom of association and commerce. We are nowhere near that point.

You had to have reservations for a particular time slot, because they are only allowed a fractional capacity. You can only stay an hour and a half. Beer can only be sold in plastic cups and servers can’t touch the thing after you have touched it. You must bus your own table. You have to sit outside.

The mask mandate remains as confusing as ever: you have to put them on when you walk up the ramp to the beer garden but then you can take them off, unless you are the server in which case you have to scream your menu items through a cotton fabric and it comes out like a big muffle anyway. Health theater.

All of this is mandated by the government, as part of the slow-go opening, as if the politicians passing these mandates have any clue about risk, the power to control and direct a virus with precision, or any knowledge of this virus or viruses in general.

It’s all a crazy kabuki dance that everyone is going through, businesses and customers alike, even though it should be completely obvious to one and all by now that for the demographic of your typical brewery patron, this is hardly a disease at all.

We know vastly more about COVID-19 than we did early on, and the more we know the more preposterous is the entire lockdown, which is probably why the media-fueled fear mongering is rising and not falling during the opening. (To be sure, even if COVID-19 had turned out to be the bubonic plague, I still reject the idea that there is any excuse to violate human rights.)

Back to my brewery trip. My sense of dread about this outing quickly turned to happiness. There was a food truck. They were serving burgers. On the way in, I ordered one for me and each of my friends. They were delivered to the porch where we were seated. It tasted like the greatest meal I had in my life. It was astonishing. The food truck people were so incredibly happy to be selling, serving, making money, making people satisfied. Their typical tips this day were 50%. Rightly so!

It was the same at the brewery. Yes, the owner and servers were wearing masks, as mandated by the government. Still, you could almost see the smiles through them. They were practically yelling with delight to be back working, back in business, back serving the public. They were all hopping around like rabbits, even though the place was forcibly doing a fraction of its normal business. It was like two-plus months of pent-up energy pouring out all at once.

It was immediately obvious to me that these people have a vocation. They have dreams. They are meant to do this. It is a deep passion that burns within. They were wickedly and cruelly stopped from doing what they set out to do and robbed of two months of profits and two months of happiness in serving others. More importantly, their dreams of a secure legal environment to do business were crushed.

Finally with the opening, it was back – in a very truncated form but back nonetheless. You could just feel the energy and joy on the porch. It was a reminder to me that great entrepreneurs at every level of society possess a passion akin to great intellectuals, priests, or scientists. They believe that they are doing what they were born to do.

This country was founded to allow them to make their dreams come true. How and why we came to the place in which they were shut down coast to coast is a scandal for the ages.

Still, what I sensed here was a desire to move on. Don’t look back. Don’t seek justice. Don’t kvetch about whatever the hell just happened in the spring of 2020. Let’s just get on with business. Now.

A worry has haunted me during this lockdown concerning capital formation in the future. Why would anyone invest in anything if government can just shut it down on any pretext? Viruses, even new ones, even deadly ones, will always be with us, so does this mean that lockdowns and the pillaging of enterprises will be with us too? In that case, we face a very grim future.

But being out and about curbs my pessimism. The opening is taking place not because of government or the howling media; it is happening despite their objections and due only to massive public pressure. Sure, the polls are ambiguous; they always are on controversial topics.

What matters is the underlying passion for freedom that has been shown by the commercial community and average people, including the protestors in every town in America. People have been betrayed by their leaders; the passion to make matters right is boiling up all over the country. You see it in every Twitter feed of every governor. You detect it in conversations. You see it on the beaches, which are blessedly full. America is so over this.

What of capital formation in the future? It will undoubtedly be harmed. However: the passion and energy of the business community will not be so easily discouraged. It can overcome the threats, the bureaucrats, the political cowardice that led to lockdown, and even the legal ambiguity of the executive orders that brought it about.

The same passion will now seek absolute assurances that nothing like this will ever happen in our lifetime. There will be curbs on the powers that made this possible. They will be written in stone. Mixing the metaphor, they will hang over the political class like the Sword of Damocles. Changes in law can only go so far; the public must demand that their governments stop this. And if the public demands absolute assurances, and kicks out of office anyone who fails to promise “never again,” there is no reason for American entrepreneurs to be worried. The worst-possible thing has happened, and yet most have survived. Those who haven’t will find other ways forward.

American business owners and those who work to service the public via commerce cannot and will not let their dreams be stolen by a pathetic political class and a savagely ignorant media apparatus that understands not the first thing either about viruses or commerce, and cares nothing for people’s rights. This country is about realizing material and spiritual dreams. That means freedom as a first principle – a principle that can never be thrown away no matter the excuse of the moment.



Now, Norway's Health Chief Just Torpedoed the Case for COVID Lockdowns

Was the coronavirus real? Yes. Did some overreact to it? It appears so. I was one of them, but the past ten days have been a deluge of news pretty much undercutting the need for panic. First, most of the country was not hit that hard. New Jersey, New York, parts of New England, and some areas of the West Coast were heavy hit. The rest of the country was not nearly as badly ravaged. New York City is the mecca for the US-based outbreak, but most of the deaths appear to be concentrated in an area we all know would be a problem: nursing homes. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo forced these facilities to admit COVID-positive patients. Of course, it spread like a brushfire in there.

I supported the lockdowns to curb the spread and prevent the hospitals from being overrun. Fine—but the goalposts were moved by liberals. Also, we’ve flattened the curve, the hospitals are stable, and it’s time to re-open. Yet, in Norway, their health chief now says that maybe a lockdown wasn’t necessary at all—that the rate of infection was not accurately gauged. In all, she declared that Norway could have handled the infection without a quarantine. The Local Norway, the nation’s English-speaking news outlet, reported on this:

Camille Stoltenberg, the agency's Director General, told state broadcaster NRK that the agency's analysis now suggested less restrictive measures would have been sufficient.

"Our assessment that we could possibly have achieved the same effects and avoided some of the unfortunate impacts by not locking down, but by instead keeping open but with infection control measures," she said.

The institute reported at the start of this month that the reproduction number had already fallen to as low as 1.1 even before the lockdown was announced on March 12.

This suggests that it would not have required heavy-handed measures such as school closures to bring it below 1 and so push the number of infected people in the country into a gradual decline.

"The scientific backing was not good enough," Stoltenberg said of the decision to close down schools and kindergartens, a policy her agency had not recommend even at the time it was instituted in March.

Well, that’s a gut punch, huh? Also, the “R naught” number which tracks how contagiousness of a virus was whittled down to 1.1. It was reported as closer to three, making it far greater more infectious than the seasonal flu.

North Carolina now has slashed its COVID death toll drastically. The CDC totally reevaluated the virus and how it spread on surfaces. Testing has increased dramatically, and positive results have never been lower. Also, in the UK, the vaccine tests have run into an issue: there aren’t enough infected people. The virus is dissipating at such a rate that the chances for a successful test hover around 50/50. That is a good problem, however. Also, the mortality rate has also been clarified to show that it's not as lethal as originally reported.



Pew Research Shows Republican Run Districts Controlled Virus Way Better

What was Pew Research thinking to trot this piece out about the differences between GOP and Democratic-controlled counties impacted by the coronavirus? Was this a way to take a swipe at the GOP? Was it to pour more gasoline on the fake news story about COVID hot spots being impacting rural areas? I don’t know, but it did succeed in pointing out that viral outbreaks spread like a brushfire in densely packed population centers, like cities, whereas the spread slows down in rural areas where people are more spaced out.

Sorry, I know you know this, but what the hell is going on here? The hook for liberal readers appears to be the fact that COVID deaths aren’t dropping as quickly in red counties, which weren’t hit nearly as bad as New York City or the Acela Corridor, so again—what is this? (via Pew):

Of the 44 hardest-hit congressional districts – the top 10% in terms of deaths – 41 are represented by Democrats, while three are represented by Republicans. These include the New York-area districts, as well as those in the Boston, Detroit and New Orleans metropolitan areas. The average death toll in each of these hardest-hit districts was 1,122 as of May 20.

The next 100 hardest-hit districts, which represent the remainder of the top third of districts, with an average of 270 deaths, also are disproportionately represented by Democrats: 75 are represented by Democrats, 25 by Republicans.

About two-thirds (68%) of the 44 least affected districts – the bottom 10%, with an average 13 deaths in each district – are represented by Republicans in Congress.

While the current death rates remain highest in districts controlled by Democrats, the trend in coronavirus fatalities over time has been decreasing in Democratic districts steadily since mid-April. In contrast, Republican-controlled districts have not seen the same declines in the trend over time.

Yeah, it’s why that study about how elderly deaths could impact Trump’s 2020 re-election was equally absurd, just red meat for Trump-deranged liberals to distract them from the notion that their areas are infested with COVID. This was partially due to their leaders sitting on their hands and doing stuff like forcing nursing homes to admit COVID-positive patients, looking at you Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo. The latter’s grim reaper policy is bound to boomerang on him, as he’s tried to deep-six the order:

Yet, let’s bring it over to Ed, our great friend from Hot Air, who took a blowtorch to this whole…article. Professor Morrissey has entered the chat:

The obvious reason why GOP-controlled districts have a shallower decline in death rates is because they had a much shallower incline. The peak in these districts was just one-third of the peak in Democrat districts, which still have more than twice the rate of deaths at this time. This is so obvious that it speaks to a blinding bias on the part of Pew Research that they couldn’t see it for themselves before publishing it — and then promoting this hot take.

Put it this way: what impact does a House member have on policy and governance specific to his/her district? None at all, which is why this analysis is entirely useless. This is correlation without causation, a very common statistical fallacy that one would ding students for creating in an undergrad paper.

To have this appear in a Pew Research publication suggests another form of causation — political bias. It undermines Pew’s credibility and calls into question all of their work in this political environment, if for no other reason the sheer idiocy involved in making that bias sooooooo obvious.




"A dereliction of our duty as elected officials": House Republicans sue Speaker Nancy Pelosi in bid to stop unconstitutional proxy voting (Fox News)

Justice Department closes insider-trading investigations of Senators Dianne Feinstein, Kelly Loeffler, and James Inhofe; Richard Burr inquiry continues (NPR)

Richard Grenell declassifies slew of Russia probe files, as John Ratcliffe takes helm as DNI (Fox News)

U.S. ahead of schedule in cutting Afghanistan troop strength; just 8,600 remain (Reuters)

Salaries get chopped for many Americans who manage to keep their jobs (Bloomberg)

Reopening optimism fuels stock-market surge (Washington Examiner)

Memorial Day weekend shootings leave 10 dead in Chicago — the most since 2015 (AP)

Illinois Democrats bank on a congressional bailout; state budget relies on billions in federal assistance (The Washington Free Beacon)

Obfuscation: New York health website deletes Governor Andrew Cuomo's order linked to nursing-home fatalities (Fox News)

Birds of a feather flock together: WHO praises Communist China for "very consistent message" of "openness" in virus investigation (Washington Examiner)

China wants to keep COVID tracking system in place permanently, fold it into social-credit system (The Daily Caller)

Despite confiscation, New Zealand sees most gun crime in a decade (NRA-ILA)

Policy: Donald Trump is right to dump the Open Skies Treaty (The Daily Signal)

Policy: The space business is about to get really serious (American Enterprise Institute)


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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