March 31, 2020

Foolish Freak-Outs

Timothy Birdnow

I recently posted this article from the Jerusalem Post on Facebook and an old schoolmate scoffed at it:

That , my friend ,is ridiculous...u a conspiracy theorist?..

I had thought to just ignore him but decided to answer for the sake of others:

L.J.. Mueller based on what exactly? If you look at the numbers involved with this disease we are talking about three quarters of a million infected worldwide (not dead) - something that has happened on other occasions with plagues. But it was never handled with a universal shutdown as now. That is because of computer projections, which in fact the primary guy who made them Oxford's Neil Ferguson - has since revised them way down, from half a million deaths in Britan to 20,000. That is still a lot, but it is based on computer models that do not necessarily have all the information needed. We don't KNOW the death rate of this virus, nor the infection rate. We DO know the death rate is relatively low compared to many other terrible diseases (like smallpox with a fifty percent kill rate or Ebola Zaire with a ninety percent rate.)

The authors are primarily discussing the echo effect in modern society. The media finds something and pumps it up because it's a good story, and then some scientists or other authorities, eager for camera time, don't tell the public that there are two or more possible outcomes but rather promote the scariest, worst case scenario because that is what the media want. (Ferguson himself said he would rather overreact than under-react.) Politicians - whores by nature - get on board. The end result is a kind of panic - a state of perpetual fear as Michael Crichton called it. And public policy is done poorly as a result.

That said neither the authors of the piece nor I deny this is a dangerous virus, but it is not being handled in the same way as previous outbreaks. This is not smallpox, nor even the Spanish flu. More people will probably die from the economic collapse that "shelter in place" is in the process of causing Jeff. Economists are predicting as high as a 30% unemployment rate -- higher than the peak of the Great Depression - because of the collapse of businesses.

As the authors say, it is a cost/saving benefit analysis. I am not in total agreement with them, but I think they have a solid point. These are two social scientists, looking at the event from a social science perspective. Calling it ridiculous suggests you didn't read it, or are simply alarmist without facts.

The fact is the Spanish flu of 1918 infected five hundred million people and killed fifty million or thereabouts worldwide. In America it killed 675,000 Americans - a number that dwarfs the Coronavirus as of March 29 was 680,000 infections worldwide and 41,700 deaths. The U.S. tally is 164,798 infections and 3,178 deaths.

Those numbers will grow; an epidemic is a bell curve. Until we develop herd immunity we won't stop this. We will probably have a lull come summer (viruses hate heat and light) then a possible return in the fall. But it will run it's course quarantine or no.

 Most of the big outbreaks have been in specific, isolated spots, primarily in Wuhan but also in parts of Italy and in specific places in the U.S.  (Washington state in particular and New York City.) It primarily kills people with pre-existing conditions or the elderly. Cause for concern? Sure. But to impose a quarantine across the board? We did that in a few cities during the Spanish flu, but did not impose it across the nation even then - when things were so much worse.

That said, the authors of the article did in no way disparage voluntary quarantine or any steps taken EXCEPT mandatory shutdowns. Jeff, you have to see the danger to the economy and to the Constitution of some of what is being done and more that is being proposed. A LOT more people will die from the collapse. That is not conspiracy theory, nor is it wrong. And it is being completely disregarded in the current panic. Children panic. We need adults at this time.

Oh, and Jeff the article is in the Jerusalem Post, hardly a kook forum.

I doubt he'll respond. If he does I'll let everyone know.

ADDENDUM: There's more:

JL Mueller:

Hope you saved up my friend..the government knew months ago about this and let people in knowingly...tha ts a could have been stopped at the borders..withou t a wall

I reply:

You're right Jeff. Trump shut down traffic from China on February 3 which probably was too late (even though he took a beating for "Panicking" at the time. In fact he should have moved faster there. It should also be pointed out that a holdover from the previous administration allowed all of the infected passengers from the Princess Cruiseline to come here. The Directorate of Operational Medicine Dr. William Walters, a career State Department guy, greenlighted that move without informing his superiors. (Trump was furious but it was a fait-accompli.)
That brought a bunch of infected people into the country. It was a STUPID move, to put it mildly. Walters was the same idiot who decided to bring people infected with Ebola into the U.S. during the Obama Administration, by the way.

He replies:

A holdover..but employed by trump..give it a excuses..trump f'd up and gotta go bye bye

I conclude:

No Jeff; that holdover was a career guy who couldn't be fired. It was NOT Trump's "fup". It was the result of an unwieldy bureaucracy stuffed full of hacks who have their own agenda and can't be fired by the rules in place.

Oh, and Jeff, maybe Trump could have done a better job if idiots in Congress hadn't wasted all his time on a ridiculous impeachment over nothing.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 08:51 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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