This country is seriously screwed, especially compared to ones like China and Russia, which due to their forms of government can be as devious and dictatorial as they want, and yesterday’s events only make that clearer. I don’t care what your politics are, anyone who doesn’t think we are being manipulated by our enemies into a completely dysfunctional and financially bankrupt country is delusional. And the manner in which we have handled the epidemic hasn’t and isn’t helping. I have been pretty successful at investing and I am telling you to get ready for some serious stagflation starting in the second half on 2021. Too much money floating around, too much debt, too many government regulations, too much stupid taxation for wasteful spending is not a recipe for solid, steady economic growth. The impact of joblessness and higher inflation, for a nation that hasn’t seen inflation for decades, is going to be grim. Not that I am trying to be a downer or anything. But one thing I know for sure is that being very realistic is the best way to be prepared and even profit from whatever trend occurs.
And here is another cheery note, Minnesota is right on the cusp of 1000 deaths per million. We continue to pull well ahead of Sweden and we are going to catch up with Florida, at 1040 per million, with its much older and more vulnerable population, partly because at least Florida has figured out how to vaccinate the elderly who are most likely to die. On an age adjusted basis we are already worse than they are. Why do I use those comparators? Because unlike our pathetic state, they managed to keep schools open, keep businesses open and have some normalcy of life that doesn’t result in a ton of lockdown deaths.
The IB yesterday turned in one of his usual performances while deigning to grant us a little more freedom. How is everyone not astounded that we continue, in a supposed democracy, to allow one person to determine all aspects of our lives? Most notable once again is the outright lying and again, but more subtly than before, making it clear that he blames Minnesotans for case waves, which pretty obviously are driven solely by seasonal factors favoring the virus. So a little commentary on some of his statements. He said we knew the wave was coming in November and December. Uhhh, your model said the epidemic would be over by September at the latest. Amazing how in hindsight he has gotten more precise in his claims about when we knew a wave would come. Before it was just we knew fall and winter would be bad. And of course, if you knew it was coming, how were you so completely unprepared and why couldn’t you do things to stop the cases? Are you really sure they can be stopped.
He put up a chart of cases and said the little bump after the sharp decline from the peak was Thanksgiving. It was not, it was some goofy testing and reporting snafu that had a really weird positivity thing going on with only about 760 cases out of supposedly almost 70,000 tests, whereas the days before and after had thousands of cases. Typical state incompetence. But the most important thing anyone would note looking at that chart is the cases went up on their own and came down on their own, at the same basic rate. He said we have to be careful because hospitalizations are still high. But why are they high? I think it is observation, remdesivir and “with” CV-19 stays that make it look artificially high.
Now we get to his crux–we must “do what we know keeps us safe”. You mean move to Florida? We must be “personally responsible”. This is his new messaging around it is all our fault–we are to blame. And of course the completely debunked mask fetish is invoked again, as though his own case chart doesn’t demonstrate just how useless those are. Somehow everyone started wearing masks right at the case peak and down they came. The mask mandate has been in place the whole time; use in Minnesota has been super high the whole time, so I don’t know how you think masks make one bit of difference.
As usual, he has to dump on other states–he makes the presposterous statement that we flattened the curve better than other states. Don’t think there is one shred of evidence to support anything other than a purely seasonal effect that affected all states pretty much the same. Somehow we flattened it in the spring but gosh, even though now we had the mask mandate and so much more time to prepare, the cases just popped right back up in the fall? Typical IB logic, obviously not his strong subject in school, assuming there was one. He said death and hospitalization rates were higher in states that didn’t take the mitigation measures we did. See Florida above, as well as many other states. And if he thinks our economy is doing better than South Dakota’s despite that state’s higher death rate, he is using Chinese-type economic statistics. Somehow despite no mitigation measures, South Dakota’s economy is much better than ours, which again, according to him just isn’t possible because if people don’t feel safe you can’t have an economic recovery. Last time I checked, Florida’s economy is also way better than ours, while New York and California, two states with the strictest lockdowns, have completely trashed their economies and people are leaving those states in droves and going to, guess where, Florida and Texas.
So more of the same and he didn’t even take questions today, which doesn’t really matter because no one is going to challenge the lies.
On to the research. Speaking of Sweden and open schools, here is a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on schools and CV-19 in Sweden. (NEJM Article) Must be disaster right, tons of cases, among students and teachers, not least because, oh how could they, they don’t wear masks at schools. Anyway, preschools and normal school for children up to and including 16 years of age were kept open in the spring. The researchers looked at serious cases of CV-19 among children 1 to 16, and teachers, for the period 3/1 to 6/30/20. From November 2019 to February 2020, before the virus supposedly arrived in Sweden, there were 65 deaths among children this age from all causes and in the study period there were 69, a statistically indistinguishable number. There were about 1,952,000 children in this group. There were no CV-19 deaths. There were only 15 children admitted to an ICU for CV-19, or one in 130,000. Clearly a lot of serious risk. Only around 10 preschool teachers and 20 normal school teachers needed ICU treatment. The preschool teachers had a very slightly elevated risk of ICU use compared to other occupations and normal school teachers had less than half the risk of ICU use that other professions did. And there was no showing that either children or teachers actually contracted the virus at school. The children who needed ICU use most often had other serious pre-existing conditions. But we have deprived our children of a normal, in-person education for almost a year. Disgraceful.
And another study on the damage we are doing to children from the mitigation of spread efforts. (SSRN Paper) Around the world, the economic downturns caused by the lockdowns is estimated to result in the deaths of an additional 283,000 children just under the age of 5, so how many altogether? And that is just in the next year. And the most conservative assumptions. But oh yes, we really care about the children.