Flatten The Curve

JUMP TO:

Media Confirms Opening Premise That Flattening the Curve Was To Protect Hospitals/Healthcare ★ A Debate on My Facebook About The Curve ★ Historical Stresses on the Healthcare/Hospital System  [192,446 Hospitalizations for Covid-19 as of May 27 2020 | 2017-2018 Flu Season: 810,000 Hosdptalizations (low: 620,000 | high:1,400,000) – CDC] ★ Ventilator Shortage MythsDamages of Continued Flatten Curve Power Grabs: Hospitals Going Bankrupt

OPENING PREMISE:
Not To Overwhelm Hospitals

This first part of a multi-part post is merely to discuss what the Flattening the curve was for ~ AND THAT WAS ~ not over-burden our healthcare system.

The Los Angeles Times explains:

The goal is no longer to prevent the virus from spreading freely from person to person, as it was in the outbreak’s early days. Instead, the objective is to spread out the inevitable infections so that the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed with patients.

Public health officials have a name for this: Flattening the curve.

The curve they’re talking about plots the number of infections over time. In the beginning of an outbreak, there are just a few. As the virus spreads, the number of cases can spike. At some point, when there aren’t as many people left for the pathogen to attack, the number of new cases will fall. Eventually, it will dwindle to zero.

If you picture the curve, it looks like a tall mountain peak. But with containment measures, it can be squashed into a wide hill.

The outbreak will take longer to run its course. But if the strategy works, the number of people who are sick at any given time will be greatly reduced. Ideally, it will fall below the threshold that would swamp hospitals, urgent care clinics and medical offices, said Dr. Gabor Kelen, chair of the emergency medicine department at Johns Hopkins University

(LOS ANGELES TIMES / SCIENCE, March 11, 2020)

No Other Reason


MORE CONFIRMATION


LOS ANGELES TIMES: Why We Should Still Try To Contain The Coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak that has sickened at least 125,000 people on six continents and caused nearly 4,600 deaths is now an official global pandemic. But that doesn’t mean we should give up on trying to contain it, health experts say. The goal is no longer to prevent the virus from spreading freely from person to person, as it was in the outbreak’s early days. Instead, the objective is to spread out the inevitable infections so that the healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed with patients. Public health officials have a name for this: Flattening the curve. (Healy and Khan, 3/11)

ABC NEWS: Why Flattening The Curve For Coronavirus Matters (March 11, 2020)

NBC NEWS: What Is ‘Flatten The Curve‘? The Chart That Shows How Critical It Is For Everyone To Fight Coronavirus Spread. (March 11, 2020)

Confirming the above, you will see that the trend line was to spread out the disease, not to defeat it. And this endeavor would take two weeks at the least, six at the most:

Anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent of the adults around the world may be infected with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. That’s the estimate from leading epidemiological experts on communicable disease dynamics.

[….]

So yes, even if every person on Earth eventually comes down with COVID-19, there are real benefits to making sure it doesn’t all happen in the NEXT FEW WEEKS.

(SCIENCE ALERT, March 11, 2020)

Dena Grayson, MD, PhD, a Florida-based expert in Ebola and other pandemic threats, told Medscape Medical News that EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, Washington, is a good example of what it means when a virus overwhelms healthcare operations.

[….]

Grayson points out that the COVID-19 cases come on top of a severe flu season and the usual cases hospitals see, so the bar on the graphic is even lower than it usually would be.

“We have a relatively limited capacity with ICU beds to begin with,” she said.

So far, closures, postponements, and cancellations are woefully inadequate, Grayson said.

“We can’t stop this virus. We can hope to contain it and slow down the rate of infection,” she said.

“We need to right now shut down all the schools, preschools, and universities,” Grayson said. “We need to look at shutting down public transportation. We need people to stay home — AND NOT FOR A DAY BUT FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS.”

The graphic was developed by visual-data journalist Rosamund Pearce, based on a graphic that had appeared in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) article titled “Community Mitigation Guidelines to Prevent Pandemic Influenza,” the Times reports.

(MED SCAPE, March 13, 2020)

To slow down the spread of the pandemic virus in areas that are beginning to experience local outbreaks and thereby allow time for the local health care system to prepare additional resources for responding to increased demand for health care services (CLOSURES UP TO 6 WEEKS)

(CDC, April 21, 2017)

On the other hand, if that same large number of patients arrived at the hospital at a slower rate, for example, OVER THE COURSE OF SEVERAL WEEKS, the line of the graph would look like a longer, flatter curve.

(JOHN HOPKINS MEDICINE, April 11, 2020)

And, here is a conversation via my Facebook that elucidates how people have this idea of saving lives mixed up with not pressuring or overwhelming our healthcare system

EXCERPT FROM FACEBOOK CONVO

(ME)

  • Steve W — you do know Steve that the same amount of death from and infection due to Covid-19 exists under the trend line of doing nothing and the most strict quarentine rules…. right? In other words, we are not saving lives. And, in fact, we have made it worse for our economy next fall/winter because it is coming back as it makes its rounds around the world.

(STEVE W)

  • Sean Giordano I have heard that said but not seen it from a credible source. So I think that is false.

(ME)

  • Steve W what is false?

(STEVE W)

  • Sean Giordano “the same amount of death from and infection due to Covid-19 exists under the trend line of doing nothing”

(ME)

Steve Wallace now you are saying don’t listen to Dr. Fauci?

Many bemoan Trump for not listening to him (even though he has), and some I meet do not support Fauci in the idea that this was to elongate the process as to not put any undue stress on our health care system. Even though he clearly announced multiple times this was the reason to do so

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM mentions the following, and all the graphs of the United States shown by Doctors Fauci and Birx have all used this idea as well (graph below from CDC and WEF)

CHRIS WALLACE: All right. You talk about slowing the virus down. You talk a lot, and I’ve very used to this now, you can either have a bump like this of cases or you could make it maybe the same total cases, but it’s a much more gradual and slower and longer curve. I want to put up some numbers. We have in this country about 950,000 hospital beds, and about 45,000 beds in Intensive Care Unit. How worried are you that this virus is going to overwhelm hospitals, not just beds, but ventilators? We only have 160,000 ventilators. And could we be in a situation where you have to ration who gets the bed, who gets the ventilator?

DR. FAUCI: OK. So let me put it in a way that it doesn’t get taken out of context. When people talk about modeling where outbreaks are going, the modeling is only as good as the assumptions you put into the model. And what they do, they have a worst-case scenario, a best-case scenario, and likely where it’s going to be. If we have a worst-case scenario, we’ve got to admit it, we could be overwhelmed. Are we going to have a worst-case scenario? I don’t think so. I hope not.

What are we doing to not have that worst-case scenario? That’s when you get into the things that we’re doing. We’re preventing infections from going in with some rather stringent travel restrictions. And we’re doing containment and mitigation from within. So, at a worst-case scenario, anywhere in the world, no matter what country you are, you won’t be prepared. So our job is to not let that worst-case scenario happen.

(…. STILL ME….)

STEVE W for you not to understand the goal of all this, and then get on here sharing insights is itself insightful. I am not blaming you STEVE I just see this fundamental misunderstanding of the underlying factors and goals of this whole endeavor of bending the curve as applicable to MANY A PERSON in these discussions here and elsewhere on social media. I am giving you, in fact, the most respectful benefit of a doubt, but am merely in conversation with you at this moment. This conversation is just multiplied (others are having) across social media many fold. Blessings to you and yours friend. Yet, this foundational view is not known well by othersthat is, the reason behind flattening the curve as well as the data underneath the trend line.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Here I wish to switch gears a bit and start to discuss another “info graphic” post from MY SITES FACEBOOK I shared with my readers. And since the entire idea behind “flattening the curve” was to keep the health and hospital system working well by not getting inundated all at once, this should have lasted two or three weeks. Not as long as it has — our economy is important too! Damnit!

CAPACITY OF THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

The following was compiled after a conversation I had on Facebook. It touches on some of the issues above. Enjoy

  •  I note the bell curve because many are under the false impression we are doing this to “save lives.” This was never the case.

The quarantine was to lessen the apex of the bell curve as to not put pressure on the hospital/health system. The same amount of people in the elongated “quarantine bell curve” (the trend-line) would die and get sick. In other words, the same statistics exist below the line (POWERLINE). Here is a site cataloging the hospitalizations for the rona that POWERLINE used – US CORONAVIRUS HOSPITALIZATIONS  …they used both the CDC site and this one, but the CDC site has lower hospitalizations, so they opted for the most updated numbers. WHICH AS OF APRIL 21ST STAND AT 84,292 HOSPITALIZATIONS FROM JANUARY TILL NOW. This is important, because, the flu season of 2017-2018 we saw 810,000 hospitalization, and our health system didn’t collapse. Nor did the Swine Flu of 2009-to-2010, which saw 60-million American infected and 300,000 hospitalizations.

No quarantines then.

No exaggerated respirator shortages then.

SOME VENTILATOR MYTHS

  • The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn’t (NATIONAL REVIEW)
  • Report: New York City Auctioned Off Ventilator Stockpile (BREITBART)
  • New York City auctioned off extra ventilators due to cost of maintenance: report (THE HILL)
  • Gov Cuomo Refused To Buy Ventilators In 2015 Despite Knowing They’d Be Needed (INDEPENDENT SENTINEL)
  • Trump Was Right: Cuomo Admits New York Has ‘Stockpile’ of Ventilators, Says ‘We Don’t Need Them Yet’ (DIAMOND and SILK | BREITBART | WESTERN JOURNAL)

(What was different I wonder? Maybe the Orange Man Bad Syndrome?)

This then may explain why all the field hospital’s the ARMY CORE OF ENGINEERS built are being dismantled without a single bed being used.

  • The panic and fear among the people who cannot be bothered to read the actual statistics about this pandemic is what should concern most preppers. In fact, this virus has been so overhyped that the Army’s field hospital in Seattle, an “epicenter” of the pandemic has closed after three days without seeing one single COVID-19 patient. According to a report by Military.com, the hastily built field hospital set up by the Army in Seattle’s pro football stadium is shutting down without ever seeing a patient. [….] The decision to close the Seattle field hospital comes amid early signs that the number of new cases could be hitting a plateau in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., and other states. At a news conference Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Overall, New York is flattening the curve.” — ZERO HEDGE (see: MILITARY TIMES | DAILY CALLER)
  • Unlike the Mercy, the Comfort is treating COVID-19 patients on board as well as patients who do not have the virus. The ship has treated more than 120 people since it arrived March 30, and about 50 of those have been discharged, said Lt. Mary Catherine Walsh. The ship removed half of its 1,000 beds so it could isolate and treat coronavirus patients. [The Mercy has seen 48 patients, all non-Covid related] (THE STAR)

And literally handfulls of patients on the Comfort (New York City) and the Comfort (Los Angeles) — *see comment below. There was never a shortage of respirators (NATIONAL REVIEW), and we may surpass the 2018-to-2019 flu death rate, but come nowhere close to the 2017-to-2018 flu death rate:

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

And it seems that we are reaching a plateau with The Rona, so there is good news in this regard (POWERLINE).


* Here is a comment from the Military Times article from a few days ago:

So, why did we spend all that Taxpayer’s money to move the Comfort to NYC and all the added Military medical personnel to staff the Javitt’s Center? Because Cuomo was crying WOLF.

“So far, the thousands of beds provided by a converted convention center and a hospital ship have not been needed, but the extra personnel are coming in handy for the city’s civilian hospitals.

About 200 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and others are working in New York’s medical centers, where bed space has not been overwhelmed, but where hospital-acquired coronavirus cases have sidelined civilian staff.”

…TO WIT…

HOSPITALS GOING BANKRUPT

VOX actually has a decent story on this:

  • Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston is laying off 900 people from its 17,000-person staff and asking full-time salaried employees to take a 15 percent pay cut, according to the Post & Courier; the hospital says it’s not laying off front-line workers at this time.
  • Essentia Health, a major medical system of clinics and hospitals in Duluth, Minnesota, is laying off 500 workers, per KBJR.
  • The Cookeville Regional Medical Center in Tennessee will be furloughing 400 of its 2,400-person staff, and a few hundred others will see a cut in their hours, Fox 17 Nashville reports.
  • Boston Medical Center is furloughing 10 percent of its staff, about 700 people, according to the Boston Globe.
  • Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic, which runs five hospitals in the Philadelphia area and employs 125,000 people there, will furlough an unspecific percentage of its staff, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • Mercy Health, the largest health system in Ohio, is temporarily laying off 700 workers.
  • Two hospital systems in West Virginia are furloughing upward of 1,000 employees combined, Metro News reports.
  • The largest hospital system in eastern Kentucky is laying off 500 workers, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

I’m sure there are many more stories like these. But you get the idea.

Hospitals have typically said in these announcements that they are starting with nonmedical staff for furloughs and reduced hours, which is no solace to those workers but softens the impact on our medical capacity.

But it’s not clear how long medical systems can avoid cutting doctors and nurses as well, and some of them clearly cannot. I heard from a nurse in Texas, who asked that neither she nor her hospital be named for fear of professional repercussions, who has been furloughed because of the ongoing economic crisis.

She said how constrained she felt by the news. If she wanted to help with the coronavirus response by taking a job with a travel nursing service offering temporary postings in Covid-19 hot spots, for example, she would lose her old job and her health insurance.

”It really is frustrating to hear that you’re a hero but also we don’t value you enough to prepare or pay you,” she said. “I would be happy to temporarily relocate, work in a hot spot, and make the same wages as I normally would. I can’t afford to work for free, exactly, but it’s frustrating if I can’t work at all.”

Hospitals have taken huge revenue losses as they postpone elective surgeries and other routine care so they can make more staff and space available for the Covid-19 response. Some hospitals expect to lose half their income, and the top industry trade groups have warned that hundreds of hospitals could close after this crisis.

Congress pumped $100 billion into US hospitals as part of its first stimulus package, and Democratic leaders are already calling for another $100 billion in the next stimulus bill they hope Congress will pass.

But that may still not be enough, in the end. When one in four rural hospitals were already vulnerable to closure before the coronavirus struck, the current pandemic is almost certainly going to leave some hospitals with no choice but to close, no matter how much money the federal government provides….

And to compliment the Left leaning VOX article is the “Right” leaning FEDERALIST article:

….During a press conference Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis noted that health experts initially projected 465,000 Floridians would be hospitalized because of coronavirus by April 24. But as of April 22, the number is slightly more than 2,000.

Even in New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last month he would need 30,000 ventilators, hospitals never came close to needing that many. The projected peak need was about 5,000, and actual usage may have been even lower.

Other overflow measures have also proven unnecessary. On Tuesday, President Trump said the USNS Comfort, the Navy hospital ship that had been deployed to New York to provide emergency care for coronavirus patients, will be leaving the city. The ship had been prepared to treat 500 patients. As of Friday, only 71 beds were occupied. An Army field hospital set up in Seattle’s pro football stadium shut down earlier this month without ever having seen a single patient.

It’s the same story in much of the country. In Texas, where this week Gov. Greg Abbott began gradually loosening lockdown measures, including a prohibition on most medical procedures, hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. In Dallas and Houston, where coronavirus cases are concentrated in the state, makeshift overflow centers that had been under construction might not be used at all.

In Illinois, where hospitals across the state scrambled to stock up on ventilators last month, fewer than half of them have been put to use—and as of Sunday, only 757 of 1,345 ventilators were being used by COVID-19 patients. In Virginia, only about 22 percent of the ventilator supply is being used.

Meanwhile, hospitals and health care systems nationwide have had to furlough or lay off thousands of employees. Why? Because the vast majority of most hospitals’ revenue comes from elective or “non-essential” procedures. We’re not talking about LASIK eye surgery but things like coronary angioplasty and stents, procedures that are necessary but maybe not emergencies—yet. If hospitals can’t perform these procedures because governors have banned them, then they can’t pay their bills, or their employees.

To take just one example, a friend who works in a cardiac intensive care unit (ICU) in rural Virginia called recently and told me about how they had reorganized their entire system around caring for coronavirus patients. They had cancelled most “non-essential” procedures, imposed furloughs and pay cuts, and created a special ICU ward for patients with COVID-19. So far, they have had only one patient. One. The nurses assigned to the COVID-19 ward have very little to do. In the entire area covered by this hospital system, only about 30 people have tested positive for COVID-19.

If Hospitals Can Handle The Load, End The Lockdowns

I’m sure the governors and health officials who ordered these lockdowns meant well. They based their decisions on deeply flawed and woefully inaccurate models, and they should have been less panicky and more skeptical, but they were facing a completely new disease about which, thanks to China, they had almost no reliable information.

However, in hindsight it seems clear that treating the entire country as if it were New York City was a huge mistake that has cost millions of American jobs and destroyed untold amounts of wealth. Now that we know our hospitals aren’t going to be overrun by COVID-19 cases, governors and mayors should immediately reverse course and begin opening their states and communities for business…..

Infectious Thoughts On “The RONA” (My Facebook Posts)

JUMP TO: INFECTION RATES | HERD IMMUNITY | Uncommon Knowledge Bonus EXCERPT FROM FACEBOOK CONVO | CAPACITY OF THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM | Ventilator Myths

  • (A quick note, I am not saying we should have done nothing, please do not infer that from what is below. However, I am saying that pushing the shutting down of our infrastructure for anything past two or three weeks ~ is ~ dubious at best.)

As An Aside, this is one of the most important article I believe regarding this whole “pandemic” issue we are dealing with. While it focuses on New York City, this is multiplied ad infinitum around our nation and globe. I would highly recommend this article at CITY JOURNAL:

My computer is down, and its a brand new build (something I did surely found out it is a bad motherboard). But my phone is allowing me opportunity to expand on some thinking. In a conversation about reopening Minnesota I had the other morning. I will include the conversations end below the raw numbers and pics. Take note I start with my old numbers of THE RONA’S estimated infection rates, with newer studies, as well as some HERD IMMUNITY stats/commentary. Enjoy number crunchers. I will add some other Faceboook posts as well.

INFECTION RATES

This portion was the earliest idea to how widespread the virus was. People would continuously mention the KNOWN infection rate of Covid-19 to the KNOWN death rate from Covid. And then in the same breath compare those stats to the ESTIMATED flu infection rate to the SOMEWHAT KNOWN flu death rate. And then they would say “see, Covid-19 is more deadly.” But I wanted to compare the same stats… so this was my way of referenced “estimations” to the infection rate of Covid-19. These were the two referenced numbers:

  • There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed. (Dr. Makary BIO | YAHOO)
  • That 86% of infections went undocumented (Journal SCIENCE | NEW YORK POST)

The above older work can be found at MY SITE — last updated end of March using above numbers: RPT — Here is an example from my post:

MY ORIGINAL ESTIMATES

(March 30th)

WORLD WIDE CORONA NUMBERS (KNOWN)

35,236 (known deaths) | 740,743 (known cases) = 4.75%

WORLD WIDE CORONA NUMBERS (ESTIMATED)

(There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed. [Dr. Makary BIO | YAHOO])

LOW # 18,561,550‬ (0.19% death rate with known deaths);

HIGH # 37,123,100 (0.09% death rate with known deaths).

(That 86% of infections went undocumented [SCIENCE | NEW YORK POST])

5,303,300 (0.66% death rate with known deaths).




UNITED STATES CORONA NUMBERS (KNOWN)

2,597 (known deaths) |  144,280 (known cases)  = 1.79%

UNITED STATES CORONA NUMBERS (ESTIMATED)

(There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed. [Dr. Makary BIO | YAHOO])

LOW # 3,607,000 (0.07% death rate with known deaths);

HIGH # 7,214,000 (0.03% death rate with known deaths).

(That 86% of infections went undocumented [SCIENCE | NEW YORK POST])

1,030,571 (0.25% death rate with known deaths).

Now, as the testing for antibodies is getting under way, we are finding confirmation for the above numbers. Here are some articles to make the point (as well as some media) HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND regarding the Santa Clara County information….

Closer to the publishing date of the information garnered from the 3,300 volunteers getting the antibody test in Santa Clara County, there were 32-deaths attributed to the Coronavirus, or, THE RONA. So what we can assume is that as the death toll rises over a time-line, so does the infection rate. Here is what the REASON.COM ARTICLE notes closer to the studies publishing date:

Between 48,000 and 81,000 residents of Santa Clara County, California are likely to have already been infected by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, suggests a new study by researchers associated with Stanford University Medical School. The researchers tested a sample of 3,330 residents of the county using blood tests to detect antibodies to determine whether or not they had been exposed to the coronavirus. If the researchers’ calculations are correct, that’s really good news. Why? Because that data will help public health officials to get a better handle on just how lethal the coronavirus is, and if researchers are right it’s a lot less lethal than many have feared it to be.

Currently, the U.S. case fatality rate, that is, the percent of people with confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 who die, is running at 5.2 percent. But epidemiologists have known that a significant proportion of people who are infected are going undetected by the medical system because either they don’t feel sick enough to seek help or are asymptomatic. For example, recent research in Iceland suggests that about 50 percent of people infected with the virus have no symptoms.

In the new study, the researchers sought residents through Facebook to whom they could administer the antibody tests. The results were an unadjusted prevalence of coronavirus antibodies of 1.5 percent. After making various statistical and demographic adjustments, researchers calculated the likely prevalence ranged from 2.49 to 4.16 percent. At the time that these tests were administered, there were about 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 32* deaths from the disease in Santa Clara County. The upshot is that “these prevalence estimates represent a range between 48,000 and 81,000 people infected in Santa Clara County by early April, 50- 85-fold more than the number of confirmed cases.”

Using these data, the researchers calculated the infection fatality rate, that is, the percent of people infected with the disease who die: “A hundred deaths out of 48,000-81,000 infections corresponds to an infection fatality rate of 0.12-0.2%,” they report.* That’s about the same infection fatality rate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates for seasonal influenza…..

  • COVID-19 Lethality Not Much Different Than Flu, Says New Study: Possible really good news from a population screening antibody test study in Santa Clara County, California (REASON | ABC NEWS)
  • Why A Study Showing That Covid-19 Is Everywhere Is Good News: If millions of people were infected weeks ago without dying, the virus must be less deadly than official data suggest (ECONOMIST)
  • Medical Experts Appear on ‘Life, Liberty, and Levin’ to Urge Leaders to Reopen America (PJ-MEDIA)
  • LA Study: Virus May Be More Widespread, Less Deadly Than Thought (NEWSMAX)

TWITTER: Andrew Bostom

YOUTUBE: Tucker Carlson

What is the actual death rate of COVID-19? (Multiple antibody tests mentioned)

See OANN’s video as well: The Best Argument against Govt Mandated COVID-19 Lockdowns

I mention to people that with all the precautions many states are forcing on its population they are retarding the rate of HERD IMMUNITY… which is important.

HERD IMMUNITY

Important because Dr. Fauci mentioned during one of his briefings that this is coming back in the winter season. But because we have chosen as a nation to not allow for normal contact that nature demands of us, we will be dealing with this at a higher rate than say Sweden.

Our governor, Gavin Newsom, thinks he “sounds” scientific — but has no idea [apparently] what or how to achieve “herd immunity.” Here is a MERCURY NEWS article discussing the issue statements by our “fearless” governor:

“The prospect of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine,” Newsom said. “So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers altogether across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations.”

Obviously he has no idea what he is saying, and, probably like Biden see’s this as an opportunity to advance a political agenda.

The article mentions no large gatherings until Thanksgiving… but then the flu and Covid-19 season starts again. Are we shutting down our economy (bars, restaurants, small businesses, etc) and flights, beaches, etc., in the 2020-2021 season? (THANKFULLY “Attorney General William Barr warned that states could find themselves in hot water from the Justice Department if their coronavirus lockdowns go ‘too far’.” | BREITBART)

  • Why Simply Waiting For Herd Immunity To Covid-19 Isn’t An Option: Waiting for enough people to catch the coronavirus could take a very long time (MIT TECH REVIEW)
  • Stockholm Will Reach ‘Herd Immunity’ Within Weeks (TELEGRAPH | AL ARABIYA)
  • Sweden Resisted A Lockdown, And Its Capital Stockholm Is Expected To Reach ‘Herd Immunity’ In Weeks (CNBC)

Sweden has allowed nature to provide a natural defense to future Covid-19 outbreaks. By doing so, the next time this comes around (2020-2021) Sweden will be the most prepared out of the Western Nations. Bravo Sweden, and they took the idea that destroying their economy was not the wisest of choices.

JOHN STOSSEL

UNCOMMON KNOWLEDGE BONUS

March 27th

April 17th

Steve and I agree on a lot, I do not wish to put Steve here in a bad light… he is a guy that I would probably enjoy conversation with over a beer or two (or three):

EXCERPT FROM FACEBOOK CONVO

(ME)

  • Steve W — you do know Steve that the same amount of death from and infection due to Covid-19 exists under the trend line of doing nothing and the most strict quarentine rules…. right? In other words, we are not saving lives. And, in fact, we have made it worse for our economy next fall/winter because it is coming back as it makes its rounds around the world.

(STEVE W)

  • Sean Giordano I have heard that said but not seen it from a credible source. So I think that is false.

(ME)

  • Steve W what is false?

(STEVE W)

  • Sean Giordano “the same amount of death from and infection due to Covid-19 exists under the trend line of doing nothing”

(ME)

Steve Wallace now you are saying don’t listen to Dr. Fauci?

Many bemoan Trump for not listening to him (even though he has), and some I meet do not support Fauci in the idea that this was to elongate the process as to not put any undue stress on our health care system. Even though he clearly announced multiple times this was the reason to do so

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM mentions the following, and all the graphs of the United States shown by Doctors Fauci and Birx have all used this idea as well (graph below from CDC and WEF)

CHRIS WALLACE: All right. You talk about slowing the virus down. You talk a lot, and I’ve very used to this now, you can either have a bump like this of cases or you could make it maybe the same total cases, but it’s a much more gradual and slower and longer curve. I want to put up some numbers. We have in this country about 950,000 hospital beds, and about 45,000 beds in Intensive Care Unit. How worried are you that this virus is going to overwhelm hospitals, not just beds, but ventilators? We only have 160,000 ventilators. And could we be in a situation where you have to ration who gets the bed, who gets the ventilator?

DR. FAUCI: OK. So let me put it in a way that it doesn’t get taken out of context. When people talk about modeling where outbreaks are going, the modeling is only as good as the assumptions you put into the model. And what they do, they have a worst-case scenario, a best-case scenario, and likely where it’s going to be. If we have a worst-case scenario, we’ve got to admit it, we could be overwhelmed. Are we going to have a worst-case scenario? I don’t think so. I hope not.

What are we doing to not have that worst-case scenario? That’s when you get into the things that we’re doing. We’re preventing infections from going in with some rather stringent travel restrictions. And we’re doing containment and mitigation from within. So, at a worst-case scenario, anywhere in the world, no matter what country you are, you won’t be prepared. So our job is to not let that worst-case scenario happen.

(…. STILL ME….)

STEVE W for you not to understand the goal of all this, and then get on here sharing insights is itself insightful. I am not blaming you STEVE I just see this fundamental misunderstanding of the underlying factors and goals of this whole endeavor of bending the curve as applicable to MANY A PERSON in these discussions here and elsewhere on social media. I am giving you, in fact, the most respectful benefit of a doubt, but am merely in conversation with you at this moment. This conversation is just multiplied (others are having) across social media many fold. Blessings to you and yours friend. Yet, this foundational view is not known well by othersthat is, the reason behind flattening the curve as well as the data underneath the trend line.

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Here I wish to switch gears a bit and start to discuss another “info graphic” post from MY SITES FACEBOOK I shared with my readers. And since the entire idea behind “flattening the curve” was to keep the health and hospital system working well by not getting inundated all at once, this should have lasted two or three weeks. Not as long as it has — our economy is important too! Damnit!

CAPACITY OF THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

The following was compiled after a conversation I had on Facebook. It touches on some of the issues above. Enjoy

  •  I note the bell curve because many are under the false impression we are doing this to “save lives.” This was never the case.

The quarantine was to lessen the apex of the bell curve as to not put pressure on the hospital/health system. The same amount of people in the elongated “quarantine bell curve” (the trend-line) would die and get sick. In other words, the same statistics exist below the line (POWERLINE). Here is a site cataloging the hospitalizations for the rona that POWERLINE used – US CORONAVIRUS HOSPITALIZATIONS  …they used both the CDC site and this one, but the CDC site has lower hospitalizations, so they opted for the most updated numbers. WHICH AS OF APRIL 21ST STAND AT 84,292 HOSPITALIZATIONS FROM JANUARY TILL NOW. This is important, because, the flu season of 2017-2018 we saw 810,000 hospitalization, and our health system didn’t collapse. Nor did the Swine Flu of 2009-to-2010, which saw 60-million American infected and 300,000 hospitalizations.

No quarantines then.

No exaggerated respirator shortages then.

SOME VENTILATOR MYTHS

  • The Ventilator Shortage That Wasn’t (NATIONAL REVIEW)
  • Report: New York City Auctioned Off Ventilator Stockpile (BREITBART)
  • New York City auctioned off extra ventilators due to cost of maintenance: report (THE HILL)
  • Gov Cuomo Refused To Buy Ventilators In 2015 Despite Knowing They’d Be Needed (INDEPENDENT SENTINEL)
  • Trump Was Right: Cuomo Admits New York Has ‘Stockpile’ of Ventilators, Says ‘We Don’t Need Them Yet’ (DIAMOND and SILK | BREITBART | WESTERN JOURNAL)

(What was different I wonder? Maybe the Orange Man Bad Syndrome?)

This then may explain why all the field hospital’s the ARMY CORE OF ENGINEERS built are being dismantled without a single bed being used.

  • The panic and fear among the people who cannot be bothered to read the actual statistics about this pandemic is what should concern most preppers. In fact, this virus has been so overhyped that the Army’s field hospital in Seattle, an “epicenter” of the pandemic has closed after three days without seeing one single COVID-19 patient. According to a report by Military.com, the hastily built field hospital set up by the Army in Seattle’s pro football stadium is shutting down without ever seeing a patient. [….] The decision to close the Seattle field hospital comes amid early signs that the number of new cases could be hitting a plateau in New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., and other states. At a news conference Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Overall, New York is flattening the curve.” — ZERO HEDGE (see: MILITARY TIMES | DAILY CALLER)
  • Unlike the Mercy, the Comfort is treating COVID-19 patients on board as well as patients who do not have the virus. The ship has treated more than 120 people since it arrived March 30, and about 50 of those have been discharged, said Lt. Mary Catherine Walsh. The ship removed half of its 1,000 beds so it could isolate and treat coronavirus patients. [The Mercy has seen 48 patients, all non-Covid related] (THE STAR)

And literally handfulls of patients on the Comfort (New York City) and the Comfort (Los Angeles) — *see comment below. There was never a shortage of respirators (NATIONAL REVIEW), and we may surpass the 2018-to-2019 flu death rate, but come nowhere close to the 2017-to-2018 flu death rate:

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

And it seems that we are reaching a plateau with The Rona, so there is good news in this regard (POWERLINE).


* Here is a comment from the Military Times article from a few days ago:

So, why did we spend all that Taxpayer’s money to move the Comfort to NYC and all the added Military medical personnel to staff the Javitt’s Center? Because Cuomo was crying WOLF.

“So far, the thousands of beds provided by a converted convention center and a hospital ship have not been needed, but the extra personnel are coming in handy for the city’s civilian hospitals.

About 200 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and others are working in New York’s medical centers, where bed space has not been overwhelmed, but where hospital-acquired coronavirus cases have sidelined civilian staff.”

Scandinavian Socialism (Stossel Update)

WATCH the documentary on Amazon Prime: “Sweden: Lessons for America?” (1-hour)

(Jump to the challenges directed at me dealing with America protecting these smaller countries)

The Myth

Gay Patriot introduces us to the myth often put forward by the left. This post by Gay Patriot will add to the video by Bill Whittle that follows it:

One of the myths Progressive Leftists elevate to “fact” by constantly repeating it to each other is the idea that Scandinavian countries are the closest on Earth fulfillment to their socialist dream utopia. ~ Gay patriot

…continuing…

Scandinavian Hell

Kyle Smith, writing in the NY Post, digs a little deeper and discovers that, like almost everything Progressive leftists believe, the Myth of Scandinavian Utopia really is as much a myth as the college rape epidemic, the genius of Barack Obama, or the popularity of gun control.

Visitors say Danes are joyless to be around. Denmark suffers from high rates of alcoholism. In its use of antidepressants it ranks fourth in the world. (Its fellow Nordics the Icelanders are in front by a wide margin.) Some 5 percent of Danish men have had sex with an animal. Denmark’s productivity is in decline, its workers put in only 28 hours a week, and everybody you meet seems to have a government job. Oh, and as The Telegraph put it, it’s “the cancer capital of the world.”

So how happy can these drunk, depressed, lazy, tumor-ridden, pig-bonking bureaucrats really be?

I think my favorite paragraph is where he cites the Scandinavian Social Contract as the “Ten Commandments of Buzzkill.”

“You shall not believe that you are someone,” goes one. “You shall not believe that you are as good as we are,” is another. Others included “You shall not believe that you are going to amount to anything,” “You shall not believe that you are more important than we are” and “You shall not laugh at us.”

They read like the 10 Commandments of Progressive Leftism…

…read it all…

Economics 101

In an excellent Bloomberg article entitled, “Booming Sweden’s Free-Market Solution,” the myth is dismantled in toto by Anders Aslund. Here is a snippet:

…From 1970 until 1989, taxes rose exorbitantly, killing private initiative, while entitlements became excessive. Laws were often altered and became unpredictable. As a consequence, Sweden endured two decades of low growth. In 1991-93, the country suffered a severe crash in real estate and banking that reduced GDP by 6 percent. Public spending had surged to 71.7 percent of GDP in 1993, and the budget deficit reached 11 percent of GDP.

TURNING POINT
The combination of the crisis and the non-socialist government under Carl Bildt from 1991 to 1994 broke the trend and turned the country around. In 1994, the Social Democrats returned to power and stayed until 2006. Instead of revoking the changes, they completed the fiscal tightening. In 2006, a non-socialist government returned, and Finance Minister Anders Borg, with his trademark ponytail and earring, has led further reforms. Sweden successfully weathered the global financial crisis that started in 2008, and the Financial Times named Borg Europe’s best finance minister last year.

Before 2009, Sweden had a budget surplus, and it has one again. For the past two years, economic growth has been 4 percent on average, and the current-account surplus was 6.7 percent in 2011. The only concerns are the depressed demand for exports caused by the current euro crisis and an unemployment rate that is about 7.5 percent.

Sweden’s traditional scourge is taxes, which used to be the highest in the world. The current government has cut them every year and abolished wealth taxes. Inheritance and gift taxes are also gone. Until 1990, the maximum marginal income tax rate was 90 percent. Today, it is 56.5 percent. That is still one of the world’s highest, after Belgium’s 59.4 and there is strong public support for a cut to 50 percent.

The 26 percent tax on corporate profits may seem reasonable from an American perspective, but Swedish business leaders want to reduce it to 20 percent. Tax competition is fierce in some parts of Europe. Most East European countries, for example, have slashed corporate taxes to 15-19 percent….

Reason.org Weighs in on the “Swedish” experiment, how it got its wealth, noting how it squandered it, and how it is returning to the pre-70’s ideology:

  • Sweden is a powerful example of the importance of public policy. The Nordic nation became rich between 1870 and 1970 when government was very small, but then began to stagnate as welfare state policies were implemented in the 1970s and 1980s. The CF&P Foundation video explains that Sweden is now shifting back to economic freedom in hopes of undoing the damage caused by an excessive welfare state.

And do not think for a moment that the free-market has not allowed Sweden or other Nordic nations to get back on their feet. This is is pointed out in the following “101” presentation on economics:

The Above Video Description via Reason.org:

For those of us who place more trust in free markets than state-directed economies, we must inevitably (and repeatedly) confront the skeptical interlocutor who details the “successes” of Swedish social democracy. “If state intervention into the economy is so bad, high taxes so destructive, then why is Sweden such a success?” It’s an irritatingly simple question with a incredibly complicated answer, though I do recommend pointing out, when the conversation turns to health care and secondary education, that nothing, in a state the confiscates a massive portion of your income, is “free.” But as many have pointed out, during its boom years, Sweden was a pretty free market place; from the 1970s through the 1990s—when taxes and regulation dramatically increased—the economy slowed until it spun out in the early 1990s…

[….]

…So here is my bottom line: When some American pundit, with expertise is everything, explains why some European welfare state “works,” or how everything you know is wrong about taxing income at 75 percent, do a little digging, make use of Google Translate, and don’t trust that, because Swedes and Danes tell researchers that they are happy, the United States should introduce “daddy leave” and provide subsidies to syndicalist newspapers.

The best English-language explication of the Swedish model comes from my pal Johan Norberg, who wrote this brilliant piece for The National Interest a few years back. And watch my interview with Norberg on Swedish welfare politics here and on Naomi Klein here.

The following interview is Johan Norberg, author of In Defense of Global Capitalism, sits down with reason.tv’s Michael C. Moynihan to sort out the myths of the Sweden’s welfare state, health services, tax rates, and its status as the “most successful society the world has ever known.”

National Review seems like a good place to continue the theme of showing how the Nordic countries have used the free-market system to recoup what it has lost with previous regulations that crippled free-enterprise. Here is a comparison between Sweden and Venzuala that was helpful in explaining how Sweden has less regulations that us in many places (a recent phenomenon BTW):

Talk to a Bernie Sanders voter about “socialism” — and they can be very insistent about using the word — and you’ll get paeans to Sweden, which is not a socialist country but a country with large, expensive welfare state. The distinction is not trivial: There is relatively little in the way of state-run enterprise in Sweden; the Swedish government is in fact only a 60 percent partner in the postal service. The Swedish government is, alas, in the casino business, albeit in a more transparent way than American government is. On the Heritage economic-freedom rankings, Sweden isn’t that far behind the United States. It has very high taxes, but taxes are not the only burden that governments put on the economy, not necessarily even the most important, and Sweden outscores the United States on a number of important metrics: free trade, property rights, freedom from corruption, investment freedom, monetary policy, etc. The United States’ small edge in the rankings comes mainly from relatively low taxes and a much less regulated labor market.

Reason.org again weighs in on whether Sweden is the right model for the U.S. to emulate:

The Above Video Description:

To the American mind there may be nothing more quintessentially Swedish than the leggy, blond supermodel.

But there’s another Swedish model that inspires almost as much admiration—the Swedish economic model. With a generous welfare state and high living standards, Sweden seems to prove that socialism works. Much of the hope that swept Barack Obama into the White House rests on the belief that America could reach new heights under a regime of enlightened progressivism, that we could be more like the Swedes.

Not so fast, warns Stockholm University sociologist Charlotta Stern: “If an American told me that the US should be more like Sweden I would say I don’t think it’s possible.” The United States can centralize its health care system and pass other laws that mimic Sweden’s welfare state polices, says Stern, but it’s impossible to replicate a culture that allows those policies to operate about as smoothly as possible. Swedish bureaucracies inspire trust, but their American counterparts (DMV, TSA, IRS) inspire punch lines, if not outrage.

But America could emulate some of the Swedish policies that don’t require extensive bureaucracies. Take school vouchers. Teachers unions in America regard the idea as free-market radicalism, but families in Sweden enjoy universal school choice. Sweden adopted its famously progressive policies during the 1970s, but after years of sluggish economic growth the land of ABBA altered its course in the 1990s, adopting a host of free-market reforms, from deregulation to tax cuts.

Although much of the disco-era welfare state remains, economist Andreas Bergh credits the free market reforms with reviving his nation’s economy. “Sweden is moving in the market economic direction,” says Bergh, “but that does not mean America should be moving in the socialist direction.”

What if the two nations continue on in different directions? Maybe some day when America is looking for a way to rejuvenate its economy, pundits will point to a different kind of Swedish model. One that increases individual choice and competition.

“Sweden—A Supermodel for America?” is produced by Daniel B. Klein, and written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Shot by Jonathan Liberman and Henrik Devell, with additional production support by Zach Weissmueller and Sam Corcos and post production by Hawk Jensen and Austin Bragg. Special thanks to Niclas Berggren, Martin Borgs, Nils Karlson, and the Ratio Institute.

A Challenge Directed At Me

In conversation about an audio upload to my YouTube Channel of Dennis Prager discussing Bernie Sanders, I was challenged with this:

  • Sweden is not a Nato member so how does the US pay for Sweden defense? Pointing at Whittle and saying “because he say they do” won’t cut it.

To which I responded with a quote from an International Business Times article:

Finland is joining military exercises with other Scandinavian countries, as well as several members of NATO, in late May, Finnish media report. The maneuvers called Arctic Challenge will span 12 days, starting May 25, and include nine countries and close to 100 planes. The drills, over Sweden and northern Norway, come amid increased tensions between Russia and its Baltic and Nordic neighbors.

Sweden and Switzerland, which like Finland are not members of NATO, are expected to join the exercise, along with NATO members Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Finland plans to send 16 F-18 Hornet fighter jets, while the other countries will supply Gripen “multirole” fighters, F-16s, Eurofighters and Jet Falcons, as well as transports and tankers, Russian news agency Sputnik reported. The Norwegian armed forces said the purpose of the Arctic Challenge exercise is to “learn to coordinate efforts in complicated flight operations conducted in cooperation with NATO.”

Russia has ramped up military activity along its borders with northern Europe, causing consternation in several Baltic and Nordic countries and pre-emptive actions to head off — or prepare for — a possible military crisis. Latvia, which reported a Russian submarine near its coast in mid-March, is beefing up security on its eastern border, while Finland recently began a letter campaign notifying some 900,000 reservists of their duties in a potential crisis. Sweden also intercepted four Russian planes flying over the Baltic Sea in March with their radios off. Russian jets have been intercepted in other instances while flying in European international airspace….

I also pointed out that this promise went back to the Cold War, and was not known about till a Swedish defense think-tank/security firm uncovered the agreements in 1994. The original story’s link has been lost, but it is here on FOI’s site. FOI’s “about us” page has this:

  • FOI is one of Europe’s leading research institutes in the areas of defence and security. We have 1,000 highly skilled employees with various backgrounds. At FOI, you will find everything from physicists, chemists, engineers, social scientists, mathematicians and philosophers to lawyers, economists and IT technicians…. The Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Material Administration are our main customers. However, we also accept assignments from civil authorities and industry. Our clients from the defence sector place very high demands on advanced research, which also benefits other customers.

Here is the info from the old article via WIKI:

Initially after the end of World War II, Sweden quietly pursued an aggressive independent nuclear weapons program involving plutonium production and nuclear secrets acquisition from all nuclear powers, until the 1960s, when it was abandoned as cost-prohibitive. During the Cold War Sweden appeared to maintain a dual approach to thermonuclear weapons. Publicly, the strict neutrality policy was forcefully maintained, but unofficially strong ties were purportedly kept with the U.S. It was hoped that the U.S. would use conventional and nuclear weapons to strike at Soviet staging areas in the occupied Baltic states in case of a Soviet attack on Sweden. Over time and due to the official neutrality policy, fewer and fewer Swedish military officials were aware of the military cooperation with the west, making such cooperation in the event of war increasingly difficult. At the same time Swedish defensive planning was completely based on help from abroad in the event of war. Later research has shown that every publicly available war-game training, included the scenario that Sweden was under attack from the Soviets, and would rely on NATO forces for defence. The fact that it was not permissible to mention this aloud eventually led to the Swedish armed forces becoming highly misbalanced. For example, a strong ability to defend against an amphibious invasion was maintained, while an ability to strike at inland staging areas was almost completely absent.

In the early 1960s U.S. nuclear submarines armed with mid-range nuclear missiles of type Polaris A-1 were deployed outside the Swedish west coast. Range and safety considerations made this a good area from which to launch a retaliatory nuclear strike on Moscow. The submarines had to be very close to the Swedish coast to hit their intended targets though. As a consequence of this, in 1960, the same year that the submarines were first deployed, the U.S. provided Sweden with a military security guarantee. The U.S. promised to provide military force in aid of Sweden in case of Soviet aggression. This guarantee was kept from the Swedish public until 1994, when a Swedish research commission found evidence for it. As part of the military cooperation the U.S. provided much help in the development of the Saab 37 Viggen, as a strong Swedish air force was seen as necessary to keep Soviet anti-submarine aircraft from operating in the missile launch area. In return Swedish scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology made considerable contributions to enhancing the targeting performance of the Polaris missiles.

Some More Discussion

In this first back-and-forth, I noted some of the above and got this response:

  • Seems Sweden is searching for the viable balance of Capitalism and Socialism. Good for them. Bernie Sanders seeks the same.

To which I respond:

They want [and have] a lower tax rate than Sanders wants. They dumped their “wealth tax” and “death tax.” They lowered their corporate tax-rate and want it at 20% and below. Lessened regulations on businesses… on-and-on.

Bernie wants the 70’s through 90’s Sweden… I am down with the 2006 and beyond Sweden.

Someone else joined the discussion, and mentioned the following:

  • My family is Swedish and I can tell you with 100% accuracy they are way better off than we are…. Across the board pretty much.

Again, I respond:

There is a Swedish economist in the post that from first hand experience (and expertise in his field) telling you they are where they are because of the free market and a reduction [greatly] of the welfare state/socialism enterprise. [And, BTW, they use the many life saving drugs produced by the profit motivated “Big Pharma” spending on R&D to extend the lives of their fellow Swedes.]

When you get all these health care services for “free” then people start taking them for granted, calling ambulances without second thoughts, and going to the doctor for simple things that you don’t really need to see a doctor for… False alarms for ambulances and fire trucks end up costing the government and indirectly tax payers huge amounts of money every year. Which is why Sweden has as of late started to reform its health care system by privatizing parts of it. Mind you, these are somewhat limited in scope, but people are able to pay now for private care (1-in-10 now have private insurance/health-care).


…The paradox is that America has been doubling down on government authority over healthcare with the Affordable Care Act, just as more and more European governments, including Denmark, England, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Sweden, have been forced by public outcry to address the unconscionable waits for care by introducing new laws. But it is even more essential for American voters to realize, and for our government leaders to acknowledge, what other countries are beginning to recognize all over the world. These governments have started to understand that the cure for their failed nationalized health systems is a shift to privatization. And citizens under government-dominated health systems are increasingly circumventing their own systems, pursuing private healthcare to solve the uniformly poor access to care and limited choices.

Let’s consider Sweden, often heralded as the paradigm of a successful welfare state. The facts tell a very different story. Having failed its citizens in healthcare access, the Swedish government has aggressively introduced private market forces into healthcare to improve access, quality, and choices. Although once entirely public, over a quarter of Swedish primary care clinics are now run by the private sector. Sweden’s municipality governments have increased spending on private care contracts by 50% in the past decade. Private nursing facilities now receive substantial public funding to care for patients. Widespread private sector competition has also been introduced into pharmacies to tear down the pre-2009 monopoly over all prescription and non-prescription drugs. Since the Swedish government sold over half of its pharmacies to private firms in 2009, 20 private firms entered the market and over 300 new pharmacies opened, not only improving accessibility but providing the first pharmacies ever to many small towns.

Moreover, despite the fact that an average Swedish family already pays nearly $20,000 annually in taxes toward healthcare according to Swedish economist Per Bylund, about 12% of working adults bought private insurance in 2013, a number that has increased by 67% over the last five years. Half a million Swedes now use private insurance, up from 100,000 a decade ago, even though they are already “guaranteed” public healthcare….

(Hoover Insitute, “Defining Ideas: The Surprising International Consensus on Healthcare“)

Gay Patriot ends the beginning of this post well:

…In the pre-Reagan Era, the media was just as left-leaning and reluctant to discuss the poverty and oppression that permeated the Soviet Union. But there were enough people willing to talk about it outside the media for the truth to get out. The pervasiveness of social media should make it easier, not harder, for conservatives to get a message out around the media gatekeepers. Millennials should be told what happened in Venezuela after his ideological brother Hugo Chavez took over; they should be told how toilet paper became a black market commodity and supermarket shelves became bare. And they should be made aware that Sweden is not quite the utopia they’ve been taught it is, either.

Are Medical Insurance/Big-Pharma Company Profits… Evil?

R & D Costs for “Big Pharma”

This comes via ChEMBL-og:

Came across a link on Google+ to a post to a Forbes article (via Greg Landrum) and thought I would post a link here. It’s a simple economic analysis of the costs of Large Pharma drug discovery. Very simple, money in vs. drugs out. There is however a lot of complexity behind the numbers, for example – quite a few of the drugs will have been licensed in, the transaction costs for these in-licensing events have probably been factored in, but what about all the other burnt capital in the biotech companies that supplied the in-licensed compounds – this will inflate the numbers further. Of course the majority of these costs are incurred on the failed projects, the wrong targets, the wrong compounds, or the wrong trials.

To put the AstraZeneca number of $11.8 billion per drug in some national context (equivalent to £7.5 billion) – this is almost 17 years of the entire BBRSC budget (£445 million in 2011), or only two drugs from the entire investment portfolio of the mighty assets of the Wellcome Trust (~£14 billion in 2011) – that’s right, not two drugs from their annual research budget, but two drugs by shutting down the investment fund and putting it all into drug discovery and development (at Astra Zeneca ROI levels).

Scary numbers, eh? Are public funding agencies up to the task? Do we really know what to do differently? There’s also a POST on the same Forbes article on the In THE PIPELINE BLOG.

(An updated Forbes article is HERE)

PASSES SENATE: Ca Senate Passes Single Payer…

…Still Has No Plan To Get $400B A Year For It (HOTAIR).

I bet people are scratching their heads thinking, “wait… 400-billion a year? I though it would be free?” Now it is headed to the Assembly:

  • …The measure would have died if it failed to clear the Senate this week. Democrats said they wanted to keep it alive as the Assembly tries to work out a massive overhaul of the state health care system.

More from BREITBART:

California Democrats made a surprise move late Friday to foil President Trump’s promise to repeal ObamaCare—by introducing a stand-alone, single-payer healthcare system in California.

The Mercury News reported that two California lawmakers Friday introduced legislation to replace private insurance with a government-run health care system covering all 38 million Californians—including its undocumented residents.

[….]

….After a week that has brought California’s crumbling infrastructure into focus—as back to back storms threatened the nation’s tallest dam in Oroville, California, and forced Gov. Brown to request Federal Emergency Funds from President Trump— Brown and Democrat legislators have come under scathing criticism for squandering money on benefits for illegal aliens and public sector unions at the expense of critically-needed infrastructure.

Only California Democrats would launch a new social program with no specific details or any identifiable funding source in a state that is perpetually broke, and where ObamaCare is unpopular with over 46% of voters—including a lot of Democrats.

Nicole Gelinas On Free-Market Capitalism vs. “State Capitalism”

In an excellent article entitled:

(Via CITY JOURNAL), it is noted [well] that what many people THINK is the free market is anything but that:

…Free-market capitalism isn’t the same thing as radical libertarianism. Stan Veuger, an American Enterprise Institute scholar and economics lecturer at Harvard, dismisses what he calls “the anarcho-capitalist ideal”: an economy with no regulations and zero taxation. “There are places like Somalia that score well” on such purist definitions of free markets, he points out. To work well, capitalism needs “an environment where people can concentrate on being productive,” rather than, say, having private armies to assure personal safety. Free-market capitalism requires laws and rules, more than ever, now that more people live in close proximity in dense cities than ever before. Human activity leads to disputes, and disputes can be solved, or at least moderated, by resolutions that govern behavior. We often forget that markets don’t make broad public-policy decisions; governments do. Markets allocate resources under a particular policy regime, and they can provide feedback on whether policies are working. If a city, say, restricts building height to preserve sunlight in a public park, free-market actors will take the restricted supply into account, raising building prices. This doesn’t mean that the city made the wrong decision; it means that the city’s voters will risk higher housing prices in order to preserve access to sunlight. By contrast, a city that restricts housing supply and restricts prices via rent regulation is thwarting market signals—it takes an action and then suppresses the direct consequences of that action.

[….]

In critical areas of the economy, though, markets are in retreat. Behind the veneer of free-market governance is a deep expanse of government involvement in massive areas of the economy, such as the housing market and health care. People don’t make decisions on housing and health-care concerns every day, but when they do, they would benefit from the information that markets provide about whether they can afford a large house or whether a particular drug is worth the price. Government distortion of these key markets has scrambled these signals.

An annual congressional report, “Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures,” gives insight into how Washington manipulates supply and demand in these sectors. Consider house prices. This year, Washington will pay homeowners $99 billion in forgone taxes to borrow money to purchase or refinance a house or to sell that house and reap the profit. Americans will buy or sell about $600 billion worth of houses this year. Government subsidy, then, represents nearly one-sixth of this market. The federal government also provides a guarantee for most mortgages, thanks to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-supported mortgage companies that benefited for decades from an implicit government guarantee before they got an explicit guarantee during the 2008 financial crisis.

These subsidies have fired the growth of the housing industry. Between 1975 and 1979, the U.S. Treasury paid out $102.6 billion in mortgage-interest breaks in today’s dollars. Between 2015 and 2019, the Treasury will pay out $419.8 billion in such tax favoritism—a more than fourfold rise, nearly ten times the population increase. The hike is particularly extraordinary, considering that in the late 1970s, the annual interest rate on a mortgage was 9 percent, twice what it is today. Taking today’s lower rates into account, Washington has increased the mortgage subsidy more than eightfold.

It’s no surprise that mortgage debt has soared, to $9.5 trillion, from $2.6 trillion in inflation-adjusted dollars in 1981. Back then, mortgage debt constituted 31 percent of our nation’s GDP. Today, it makes up nearly 53 percent. McCloskey, who thinks that free markets are generally healthy, acknowledges that “there are examples of the price signal not coming through.” The mortgage-interest deduction is “a silly idea,” she says, yet “very hard to change.”

Indeed, government subsidy is a critical factor in whether families can afford to purchase a home, and what kind of home, how large, and in what zip code. The home-mortgage deduction, then, helps determine how people live—yet we barely notice. Few of us consider how the government shapes one of the biggest decisions we’ll ever make, or how the U.S. government’s presence in the housing market maintains the value of our homes.

Housing subsidies that distort individual decisions also affect the biggest investment market in the world: the American housing market is worth $27.5 trillion—more than a tenth of the world’s $250 trillion in total wealth. The government, not capitalism, has determined the value of this market, which, in turn, helps determine the value of other markets: money that goes into this 11 percent of the global asset market can’t go into the other 89 percent. Home values also affect consumer spending. Someone whose home value is rising will feel freer to take on credit-card debt, for example.

Perhaps American house prices should be lower, and people should put their savings into companies that create products and jobs. Or perhaps house prices should be higher, accounting for a growing population, and people should live in smaller homes, spaced more closely together. In turn, perhaps the price of Chinese stocks would be higher, reflecting future growth, if Chinese investors did not divert money into U.S.-backed American housing debt. No one knows, because market signals get obscured.

One can agree or disagree with government jiggering of the housing market. What one cannot do is call it “free-market capitalism.” It is better described as democratic socialism. Americans have embraced government control of one of the world’s most important economic activities.

Free markets are under attack in health care, too, and the trend began long before Obamacare. Critics of our dysfunctional health-care system often blame capitalism for its excesses and distortions. But the health-care “market,” like the housing market, is responding rationally to government signals.

Washington provides massive tax breaks to health care. This year, as noted in Congress’s tax-expenditure report, the government will provide $143.8 billion in federal tax breaks for employers’ coverage of workers’ health insurance—more than the housing-tax break. The health-care subsidy has increased ninefold after inflation since the late 1970s. This tax break means that workers don’t see the full cost of their health-care coverage and thus cannot respond, when the price of health care rises, by demanding lower costs.

In providing Medicare to seniors and Medicaid to poorer people, Washington is the nation’s largest health-care customer, accounting for more than 30 percent of the United States’ annual $3 trillion in health-care spending. The largest customer in any market affects the entire market. Medicare and Medicaid stipulate how much the federal government will pay to hospitals and doctors for visits and surgeries. If hospitals and doctors can’t recover their costs and make an adequate profit under this price schedule, they charge private customers more. Medicare also distorts the price that drugmakers can charge for prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies know that their biggest customer is the government of the world’s richest sovereign nation. They have no way of setting market prices.

This past summer saw a health-care episode that, depending on your point of view, might have looked like an example of successful free-market capitalism or uncontrolled capitalist greed. Drugmaker Mylan said that it would increase the price of a decades-old product, the EpiPen allergy shot, to $600. That was the latest in a string of price hikes that have made the EpiPen 400 percent more expensive than when Mylan purchased the product a decade ago. Mylan has quintupled EpiPen’s revenues during that period, Bloomberg News reported, partly through savvy marketing. At one time, doctors prescribed EpiPens only to people with histories of severe allergic reaction. Now, people with more moderate allergies ask their doctors for EpiPens as a preventive measure.

The would-be free-market defense is that Mylan is making a decent profit, giving some people what they need (a lifesaving drug and medical device) and giving others what they want (a sense of security). Under this argument, Mylan can take that profit and invest it in new drug development. The would-be free-market criticism is that Mylan is enriching its executives by taking advantage of people who have no choice but to buy this product.

The reality: Mylan doesn’t operate in a free market, so one can neither praise nor blame markets for the EpiPen price. Mylan could increase prices and sales over a decade because its “customers” weren’t directly paying—most people buy their EpiPen through subsidized private insurance or through Medicare or Medicaid. Mylan could also boost EpiPen sales by petitioning the government for special benefits. Through lobbying, as Bloomberg notes, the company pushed 47 states to stock the pens in schools. And when federal regulations decreed that people should carry EpiPens in packs of two, the company stopped selling single EpiPens.

Lastly, Mylan lacks a competitor. If Mylan were operating in a competitive market, it could not have imposed these price increases, regardless of whether it wanted to invest the profits in new drug research or line its executives’ pockets. If Penguin Books tried to charge $300 for a copy of A Tale of Two Cities, another bookseller would price the tome at $8, and that would be the end of that.

Just as political forces helped shape Mylan’s pricing, politics, not markets, made the company retreat from its latest price increase. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton singled out the drugmaker as “the latest troubling example of a company taking advantage of its consumers.” But Mylan wasn’t exploiting consumers; it was only responding to perverse government signals.

Just as in housing, one can agree or disagree with the U.S. government’s policies in health care. One can argue that the government should pay high prices for drugs to signal to global investors that they can expect big payoffs for taking risks. Or, one can maintain that the government should use its negotiating power to lower prices, as European nations do. One cannot claim that either policy is a free-market one; both are social-democratic positions.

The government’s hand is increasingly busy in other areas of society, too, preventing market signals from coming through. In life’s decisions, getting an education is right up there with buying a house or choosing the right cancer medicine. Yet prospective students don’t determine the free-market value of a particular school’s curriculum through the amount that they are able and willing to pay. Instead, the government distorts this market. Washington provides $2.1 billion a year in tax subsidies for student loans. Just as important, it keeps the interest rates on these loans low by directly lending money to students. This cheap money has inflated the cost of education by giving students more borrowed money with which to pay and by removing any incentive for schools to control expenses. Over the past decade alone, the amount of debt that students owe has more than doubled after inflation, from less than $600 billion in 2005 to $1.4 trillion in mid-2016.

Just as in health care, America saw a striking example of how government, not the market, governs education over the summer. Just before the start of the fall term, ITT, a for-profit college with 35,000 students, said that it was going out of business. It wasn’t for a lack of customers; rather, it was for a lack of federal money backing those customers. Washington had demanded that the company pay much more to participate in the federal student-loan program, to account for, as the government put it, “significant concerns” about ITT’s “integrity, financial viability, and ability to serve students.” The college couldn’t pay, and it shuttered its classrooms. When a school cannot stay open without ceaseless infusions of government-guaranteed tuition payments, it is not operating in a free-market environment (and neither are its for-profit and nonprofit competitors). Just as with housing and health care, one can agree or disagree with government control of the higher-education market. One just can’t call it a free market….

(read the WHOLE article… it is worth it)

Is the Increase of Women In Medicine Good or Bad for Society? (Dennis Prager)

Dennis Prager deals with the outcomes of forced fairness, pointing out that this egalitarianism never produces equality or “good” for society on a whole. In my in-depth dealing with the mantra/myth of the glass ceiling, I quote that older NYT’s and L.A. Times articles mentions in the above audio:

(NYT – 2011) …..But the productivity of the doctors currently practicing is also an important factor. About 30 percent of doctors in the United States are female, and women received 48 percent of the medical degrees awarded in 2010. But their productivity doesn’t match that of men. In a 2006 survey by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges, even full-time female doctors reported working on average 4.5 fewer hours each week and seeing fewer patients than their male colleagues. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 71 percent of female pediatricians take extended leave at some point — five times higher than the percentage for male pediatricians.

This gap is especially problematic because women are more likely to go into primary care fields — where the doctor shortage is most pronounced — than men are. Today 53 percent of family practice residents, 63 percent of pediatric residents and nearly 80 percent of obstetrics and gynecology residents are female. In the low-income areas that lack primary and prenatal care, there are more emergency room visits, more preventable hospitalizations and more patients who die of treatable conditions. Foreign doctors emigrate to the United States to help fill these positions, but this drains their native countries of desperately needed medical care.

If medical training were available in infinite supply, it wouldn’t matter how many doctors worked part time or quit, because there would always be new graduates to fill their spots. But medical schools can only afford to accept a fraction of the students who apply…..

(LA TIMES — 2011) ….The answer, they speculate, is that women are choosing lower-paying jobs on purpose because they offer greater flexibility in hours and are generally more family-friendly. The researchers acknowledge they don’t have the data to prove that this is the case, but the data they do have is consistent with this theory.

If so, they say, that would be a victory for women (and even men.) Studies show that many doctors are burned out and would rather take jobs that allow them to have a good quality of life. Now — thanks in large part to the growing ranks of female doctors — such jobs are available. They just come with lower salaries.

“Instead of being penalized because of their gender, female physicians may be seeking out employment arrangements that compensate them in other — nonfinancial — ways, and more employers may be beginning to offer such arrangements,” the researchers wrote…..

Government Run Health Care Postponed Operation for 9-months~Death Ensued

Here is a great example of what we should expect from government run healthcare, via NewsBusters:

Long Wait for Operation Fells UK Health Director

James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal editorial page caught this story about Britain’s National Health Service.

“A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation–at her own hospital,” London’s Daily Mail reports:

Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery.

Her devastated husband, Jim, is now demanding answers from Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust–the organisation where his wife had served as a non-executive member of the board of directors.

He said: “I don’t really know why she died. I did not get a reason from the hospital. We all want to know for closure. She got weaker and weaker as she waited and operations were put off.”

It would be cruel to put this down to karma, so instead we’ll just note that it can’t possibly be true. After all, as New York Times star columnist Paul Krugman has observed, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”

Will the progressive lefts health care plan allow for choice or job growth?

In the above video we see Obama saying the following:

“IF you are already getting health insurance on your job, then, that doesn’t change. Health insurance reform passed was passed six months ago. I don’t know if anybody here has gotten a letter from their employer saying, ‘you have to go on government health care’….”

This statement is just false. I have posted in the past on this topic of companies dumping their plans because it will be cheaper for them just to dump their employees onto the government plan. Here is a recent example exemplified over at HotAir – 3M to dump retirees from medical coverage:

Remember when Barack Obama repeatedly promised that no one’s current coverage would have to change if Congress approved the health-care overhaul he demanded?  When the ObamaCare bill passed, the Associated Press suddenly discovered that the change of tax law that would supposedly generate billions of dollars to pay for the costs of the bill would also drive companies to dump retirees from their existing drug coverage and push them into Medicare.  Minnesota-based 3M became one of the first large corporations to do just that — and push retirees off of all their plans as well:

3M Co., citing new federal health laws, said Monday it won’t cover retirees with its corporate health-insurance plan starting in 2013.

Instead, the company will direct retirees to Medicare-backed insurance programs, and will provide reimbursement for that coverage. It’ll also reimburse retirees who are too young for Medicare; the company didn’t provide further details.

The company made the changes known in a memo to employees Friday; news of the move was reported in The Wall Street Journal and confirmed Monday by 3M spokeswoman Jackie Berry.

The ObamaCare bill created a fund to subsidize employers who didn’t dump their retirees, but the WSJ notes that it simply wasn’t enough to change the negative incentives created by the government interventions:

The changes won’t start to phase in until 2013. But they show how companies are beginning to respond to the new law, which should make it easier for people in their 50s and early-60s to find affordable policies on their own. While thousands of employers are tapping new funds from the law to keep retiree plans, 3M illustrates that others may not opt to retain such plans over the next few years. …

Democrats that crafted the legislation say they tried to incentivize companies to keep their retiree coverage intact, especially until 2014. The law creates a $5 billion fund for employers and unions to offset the cost of retiree health benefits. More than 2,000 entities, including many large public companies, have already been approved to submit claims for such reimbursement. 3M did not apply.

How did Democrats come up with the $5 billion figure for subsidies to protect retirees from losing their plans?  From the looks of it, they simply made it up.  They also didn’t do much calculation to determine whether the subsidies would actually incentivize employers into rejecting this strategy for cost savings.  To some extent, they may not have been able to make that calculation, because thanks to the massive amount of ambiguity in the bill, no one can really say for sure what the future costs would be.  And of course, that’s why 3M chose now to dump the retirees.

3m has 23,000 retirees, many of them likely to be living in Minnesota.  They’re also likely to vote in the upcoming midterms, perhaps even more likely now than ever.  That won’t be good news for House Democrats in the Minnesota delegation hoping to win a new term in four weeks.

We already know we will not know the ultimate costs… and going off of experience, we know all government programs are always more than what we are told:

This is a concern for the Dems and will be a losing issue (among the many others). Here are a couple examples of the impact this ridiculous bill has had on business: