Sunday, March 15, 2020

Wuhan Virus I - Economy Destroying Safety Measures

Government, especially governors and mayors, need to stop and think about what they are doing.  It was my understanding we were trying to flatten the contagion curve, not stop the virus.  And do it without destroying the economy.

[Update:  The only change to the original has been the title number.]

I was all in for bans on large gatherings, social distancing, preparation for isolation, and good hygiene.

But this isn't China.  You cannot just stop a business for 1, 2 or 3 months, then order it to start back up.  The business will go bankrupt.  I doubt most operate on a cash basis with no debt.

What does a waitress do to buy food and pay bills when a restaurant is ordered to close.  In God's name, I hope they all have bought long-term supplies of food.  I doubt anyone will shut off their electricity and water.  But their credit card debt, car loans and house loans are going to go into default.

The restaurant won't have any income to pay the waitress.  The National Emergency loans up to $50 billion won't get disbursed quickly, and it won't be enough.  The restaurant also won't have income to pay its lease, buy supplies, pay for the food in its refrigerators and freezers that are going to spoil.

Then take the schools, with the kids that everyone says are almost virtually immune to the virus.  When they go home because a governor or mayor ordered schools closed, at least one parent is going to have to stay home with them.  That parent cannot go to work.  It's easy to say telework, but most of the work in this country is not people just sitting at a computer all day.  Half the under 45 crowd is going to have to stop working at their job.  The business is not going to have those people producing products or making money for the company.  The company won't be able to pay them.

I really doubt that all those people running our infrastructure systems (water, electricity, waste, transportation, etc.) don't have children.  Do you want the lineman in your neighborhood at home with the kids during a thunderstorm when a tree falls on the power-line bringing you electricity?  Or the engineer that know how to handle a pump failure in the water distribution system?  Or the fire man that is going to put out the fire in an apartment building?

Then closing all retail outlets except pharmacies and groceries.  The US was supposed to have converted to a services economy after manufacturing left.  What do you think services are?  People supplying goods and services to others.  By definition it requires interaction.

Then what about the remaining 25% of jobs, businesses and government organizations that are not ordered closed?  Those people still interact, usually in large groups.  I know the defense organizations I worked for won't close, cannot telework (classified operations), and are forced into small spaces to save building, construction and maintenance costs.

How do you think those people are going to feel being forced to 'socialize' when most others are staying at home?

And we did all of this when (as an example) Texas had 50 cases diagnosed out of 29 MILLION people.  They didn't wait till the last minute.  They started closing everything when they are saying most everyone, except in pockets of contagion, has a low chance of getting sick.

Flattening the curve--extending the pandemic--may be great for keeping hospitals from getting overrun.  But if you extend that curve from 30 days to 90, 120 or longer, you just kill the economy.  We will become a socialist nation because we have to.  No businesses will be able to come back after that without government help.  Who pays for that help?  We do.  And there are a LOT of businesses in the US.

Scott Adams said today that he saw no panic.  I say the response you are seeing is insanity.  Get a grip and live with the risk.  Or lose your nation.  I hope it's not too late, or that Wuhan virus somehow disappears in the next 3 weeks.

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