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[flagged] Billionaires Want People Back to Work. Employees Aren’t So Sure (bloomberg.com)
150 points by aaronbrethorst 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments





What if, at the tail end of all this, a bunch of people find that they've tried remote work and decided: "Hey - this fucking rules!" In part because they've realized that they can complete their core work duties in less time, with less distractions, and zero commuting.

Maybe - just maybe - this could be the unplug that helps people prioritize the things that they enjoy over their work.

I recognize that's a viewpoint that represents immense privilege. I'm in a job where I'm capable of working remotely. But it'd be a neat thing for people like me to be able to leverage.


I think it's likely the exact opposite will happen. People are being thrown into seriously sub-optimal remote working experiences, and their productivity is likely to suffer for it. This will result in companies being less likely to consider remote working a viable path.

You can't overstate quite how sub-optimal.

I work almost completely remotely; my colleagues are as a result of this situation, and many of them having to try to work a daycare job at the same time with nurseries/schools closed.

I'm sure they don't think their experience is representative of normal remote working, but it certainly won't make anyone in a similar position think 'hey this is great'.


A lot of people are stuck in homes with no dedicated home office, with their kids running around since schools are closed.

I tend to agree unfortunately. I've spent 10+ years working remotely and the past two weeks have been brutal productivity wise now that my wife is working from home and both kids are home too. As a self-employed individual, it's worrying to me what the next 6 months of this will do to my output.

edit: and I feel bad for worrying because we're in a much better position than many others.


Having no kids, I can say I've got more done in less time in the last two weeks than any other two week period in the last two years...

Forced working from home while during a pandemic. It's nothing like working from home under more normal circumstances.

I live in one of the COVID-19 infection centers and I have to say I'm a little distracted by all of it. It's hard to focus when I'm worried about where I'm going to be able to get food and not being able to relax on the weekends because I can't go outside.

If productivity turns out to be similar (or better) despite this handicap, I'd be genuinely curious to see how companies respond!

I'm personally very pro-remote (have worked remote at corporate gigs before) and it'd be great to see more companies adopting it. There are some seriously big benefits and, if the tooling keeps improving, I think it could be a real competitive advantage for companies.


> If productivity turns out to be similar (or better) despite this handicap, I'd be genuinely curious to see how companies respond!

It won't. That's the problem. Being forced to do WFH unprepaerd + kids suddenly home + being in an actual pandemic, worried about the future, your family and yourself = productivity disaster. And it unfortunately will end up emotionally associated with WFH.


Also, I suspect many companies are going to see reduced turnover, and as a result are likely to shy away from anything that may have contributed, including WFH.

It's funny, I've been working remotely for the past 4 years and now more than ever, I miss going to an office and being around more people. Working remote has some amazing benefits, and I've certainly taken advantage of them, but eventually I've realized that decreased social interaction is something to consider. That said, I'll probably keep working remote.

I dream of a small office with a few people near to my home within cycling distance. If I have to choose between a big office and home I will choose home.

Same, would love to live in a community with businesses interspersed with homes and be able to bicycle/walk everywhere and let kids roam around without risk of being hit by a car.

Then I'm living your dream - my office is right-next-to-my-house. I use the door in my garden to cross over. More often I take the main front yard door just so I get to walk a bit (<100m door to door).

Right now, nobody is coming in, everyone's remote. I prefer to go to the office now. Tho it's only six of us developers (company is 17 people) sharing a pretty nice office in a modern building owned by the company, I prefer to work over the wire. Unusual, huh? I realized for me it's about flexibility, not distance.

I wish you get to live the way you want. Good luck, sir.


Yeah I think I'm in agreement with you... That's why I'm working on my own project, hoping to get it off the ground so I can set my own rules and do something like you describe :)

I used to have a membership to this small co-working space. I could walk there in 5 min from my apartment, had 24/7 access, free snacks and drinks, etc. Sadly, they ended up renting the whole space to one company.

I wonder how hard it would be to start a small, community co-working space.


We have a remote worker who's been doing it for 10 years now.

We hire an office in a building with other remote workers and small companies. So he goes to lunch etc with those people rather than us, but at least he gets a clear work/home boundary and social interaction when he feels like.


Startup idea: The Virtual Water Cooler

I think it’s called Slack.

True, however, sometimes Slack is like if someone put the water cooler in your office, and then started having meetings around the water cooler in your office while you were working and then expected you to be even more productive.

> In part because they've realized that they can complete their core work duties in less time, with less distractions, and zero commuting.

The first two depend _very_ heavily on both your home and office environments. It is certainly not true for myself.


Yes, but at the same time, it is absolutely, immensely true for me, and I doubt I'm in a minority small enough for OP's point to not have some merit.

Absolutely, I'm getting very tired of the constant hacker news posts telling me that working from home is the future, that I'm getting twice as much done in half the time. I'll tell you what I have, I have chronic back pain from my uncomfortable dining room chairs and chronic anger at the fact I can't get timely answers to my quesitons.

Some people like working from home, fine, but for many of us it's just not right.


Getting a good home-office setup is critical here. In my previous house I had a separate office and enjoyed working from home. In my current house we do not have a separate room (adding it now) and I can't get anything done there (doesn't help that the kids are home from school).

On the response times, if your office is one of constant interruption for that, then you can simply just have video conferencing on all day rather than just for meetings. This helps with "Hey Bob, what's the answer to this?". It has the same level of distraction as being in the office and just interrupting each other all the time. (which is awful for some, and useful for others)


Maybe just buy a decent chair?

I picked up a liquidation sale Aeron on Craigslist - totally worth it.

Also I’ve found it easier and faster to zoom since everyone is remote (don’t have to try and find an open meeting room).


For real, I also have chronic hip pain and bad ergonomics make it worse. I also bought an aeron for home and it's a life-changing chair. My company provides me with a high end steelcase leap in the office, which is another great choice if you can find a cheap one.

Better yet, switch to standing!

I tried that - really didn't like it.

I've been happy with the Aeron chair and getting up pretty often to wander around a bit.


Peculiar world view this. A good chair costs $300, and is tax-deductible. And you can pick one that fits you perfectly. Why are you under the delusion that your co-workers are there to service your query queue ? Figure out how to help yourself. Avoiding interrupting pesky colleagues is a major reason working from home is such a pleasure.

People defend this self-serving behaviour in the name of 'teamwork' and it needs to be called out.


> A good chair costs $300, and is tax-deductible.

No, if it's for remote W-2 work, it's not. If it's used exclusively for your own business, it is. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated home office deductions for people who are not self-employed.


Dang, that's correct. Man that sucks.

Still able to deduct those in Canada tho: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/individ...


You need to put some real money into good home office furniture, if you work there permanently.

I’ve said to numerous people over the last three weeks that the world is just not going back to the way it was after this is over. Nobody has really listened to or believed me. I’m glad I’m starting to hear more people saying the same thing.

Alternatively - what if we come out of this with a positive view of Medicare for All and labour unions to empower workers to reclaim their lives.

I hope this time at home "spoils" workers as to what they're missing out on in life due to working themselves to the bone so that they can reject calls to return to our prior broken society.


I agree. This is an opportunity to reshape society for the better.

It seems that remote and office work both have their pros and cons, and they are complementary. So how about a world where you can go back and forth? I've worked from home about once a week before the crisis, and I might make that twice in the future. At the same time I'm missing the ability to do sessions at a whiteboard and just learn what others are doing by just walking around, or simply having lunch with colleagues.

Once jobs can be sourced to anyone who can work from anywhere and businesses get it down to a "science", guess what: your job can now be replaced by anyone working from anywhere. In any country, with much lower wages.

No-one's skillset is that unique.


Including CEO's, boards and companies themselves. Once we get it down to a science we will just do it ourselves and not need a company to provide that service in the first place. Refrigeration put many companies that gathered ice from the Artic or Antarctic out of business. Interesting the Queen still gets her water this way.

My company threw in the towel as soon as this whole thing started and has since adopted a "remote first" ideology. This means a block for meetings from 12 to 1pm PDT with no meetings to accommodate folks with kids needing to feed them and allowing children in zoom meetings. It hasn't been exactly smooth sailing, but it's starting to work.

I'm sure the guys with the spreadsheets in the back would love to knock off that expensive SF office space as a line item.


This is doomed by the fact that children also stay at home :P

Not during normal times. ;)

Yeah, but I mean people (with children) don't get to experience what a normal time working from home looks like.

Interestingly enough, there is also now, with the explosion of co-working spaces, services for that part of the market that wants to work "in town" but without a commute to the "big smoke" (so to speak)

I wonder how WeWork will fare when an entire 2 generations of people realise they can work close to home and be more productive...


That's assuming people live "in town." Many don't and work out of a suburban/ex-urban/rural apartment/house where they admittedly tend to have more room.

Seriously hope you're right. But given that we're clearly in a distressed timeline, I doubt this will happen.

> "In part because they've realized that they can complete their core work duties in less time, with less distractions, and zero commuting."

Not me. I actually want to go back to the office, despite the hassle of commuting. Working from a jury-rigged home office is incredibly inconvenient.


virtual reality helmets could also have cameras to see outside and breathing filters.

I'm using my quarantine time to read Piketty's "Capital in the 21st century". I'm actually pretty sure I'm _not_ going back to work if it risks my health.

And it is obvious that the rentiers of our economy want the non-rentiers to go back to work. The rentiers actually have little to lose. The article states they might get sick, but if we're being realistic, they are very well sheltered against the collapse of the healthcare system when they would, unlike the rest of us.


Appropriate disaster reading :-). Others have pointed out how the black plague killed off a lot of serfs and really put a dent in feudalism because of it. It is all well and good to own a thousand hectares of land but without the serfs to work it, its just a nice park to go walking in.

Trouble is, that nowadays the serfs are in China. In the Middle Ages, servants would flee a lord that was too harsh. The Church and the towns with their rising merchant class would be another way out.

Instead we have healthcare tied to the job and the tech hiring cartel. Where is the revolution?


I see a number of serfs driving around my town partaking in the "gig" economy.

Moving from Deliveroo to Uber isn't an improvement, is it? You'll get shafted either way, but you can choose the colour of the shaft!

> Where is the revolution?

There was Occupy Wallstreet.

It's very interesting how government attacked it. Both internally and externally.

One lesson to learn from it is that a movement need few clearly defined goals. And needs to remove/distance any people who try to muddle with that (intentionally or not). Otherwise this will divide people on the inside, create infighting leading to disillusioned rudderless environment soon distant to self implode.


One of two books I plan to read as well! Starting with a re-read of Thomas Sowell's "Basic Economics" as a refresher on the field.

Hey, I'm reading that too. Definitely making me really rethink leaving my job as a teacher, where at least I'm doing something useful and not just making someone else richer, and which would give me the money for a modest house. The level of inequality is a disgrace, and I wish everyone would read that book.

Usually they don't say the quiet part out loud, and yet here we are.

We're incredibly fortunate in tech that we can do a large portion of work remotely, many people aren't so lucky. One would think that we'd value life above profit but lately that doesn't appear to be the case.


You’re lucky today. Tomorrow isn’t so clear.

Ad spends are dropping and dropping fast. Amazon is a retailer. Apple sells luxury goods. Cloud and Microsoft are dependent on big spends from enterprise.

All of this is at risk. Tech isn’t independent of the Main Street economy.


Nothing is independent from the economy, but somethings are less elastic. Apple might also be doing better than others right now because they have a ridiculously large cash reserve and can probably wait this out.

Certainly not independent but given the option of supporting people in a time of need and pushing them back to work and stressing the healthcare capacity of the county we certainly seem to be trending towards the latter.

i agree, i have been trying to help out anyone i can with bigger tips, gift cards from resturants, etc

i just feel like its not going to be enough.


I'm getting takeout, encouraging other people to get takeout and I run r/Gigworks.

(And I'm not a tech worker. I'm a dirt poor freelance writer, but I'm at least still working because I've done remote work for years.)

I'm trying to light my teeny, tiny little candle rather than curse the dark. The pizza place I've been going to regularly for carryout is doing a bit better than they were two weeks ago. I've discussed it with staff. They've said business is still light, but not scary like it was.


Upvoted.

I'm trying to light my teeny, tiny little candle rather than curse the dark

Thanks for that. It's apparently frowned upon in the tech community to have a positive attitude, but I really hate negativity. Find the good in the situation and work with it.


> Usually they don't say the quiet part out loud, and yet here we are.

I can’t wrap my head around this. Why would any sane person say this out loud, regardless of their opinions?

Don’t these people have PR consultants around? What am I missing?


>I can’t wrap my head around this. Why would any sane person say this out loud, regardless of their opinions?[...]What am I missing?

because, sadly, they know that they will not face any consequences for this in the US.

It's like Yuval Noah Harari being invited to dinners by the same tech titans he accuses of building a dystopia. The only thing they hear is that they're powerful.


As soon as the CEOs and Board Members are willing to shake the hand of everyone coming back into the building we can resume work.

The rich aren't going to be exposed to risks like the working folk whether they're at the office or not due to their normal distancing.


"For the rich it's like the trolley problem but the most important thing is saving the trolley."

Not even the trolley, just the shareholders of the trolley company (and not even all of them, just the preferred class).

There's a reason I like Mark Cuban. I'm glad he spoke against this insanity. For a billionaire, he's always taken great care of his players.

Except for the whole sexual harassment scandal a couple of years ago...

Elon Musk wanted employees to stay in the factory, working, while he himself ran into hiding. He doesn't want to be stopped, even if it means people will die on the way:

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4333698-tesla-elon-musk-win...


Risk vs. Reward. It's truly sad for those who can't work remotely and have to soon choose between risking their lives (or family members for that matter) vs. getting paid. Now that the stimulus is to be passed soon, I also wonder how many people would voluntarily quit and just file for unemployment. So many uncertainties ahead...

Since you can’t get unemployment after voluntarily quitting, the answer to that question is exactly zero.

Health and safety reasons is one reason you can quit and still get unemployment. I think Coronavirus falls into this category but I might be wrong.

There are a lot of factors at play here, and it's highly unlikely anyone has enough information to know the exact optimum response.

From a pure health perspective, physical isolation is taxing both physically and mentally. Not everyone has a home gym; is 6 months of sedentary behavior going to cause more cardiovascular complications than coronavirus in the same at-risk groups?

Economics also has health and well-being effects for the many people.

When we flatten the curve, we extend the length of sedentary behavior but reduce the number of people turned away from the hospital. However, as a previous article [0] describes, if we end up turning 90% of people away anyway, because the virus is just too contagious to control, will sedentary people have weakened immune systems or encounter other complications at a rate that challenges the benefit?

As another person who doesn't really know: if I were the feds, I would be using this time to mass manufacture masks and testing for every single American to wear daily, and once those were produced and delivered, reactivate significant parts of the economy, with voluntary precautions.

The mask culture in Japan may be contributing to the slower spread. It will go down as a great gaffe all the people who shamed others from not wearing masks in the western world.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22598009


> is 6 months of sedentary behavior going to cause more cardiovascular complications than coronavirus in the same at-risk groups?

Every shelter in place order allows people to leave their homes to exercise, and there are plenty of exercises you can do indoors.


Only the fortunate who have nest eggs saved up can say 'I'm not sure I'm ready to go back yet.' They quoted 1 server like he speaks for everyone.

tell that to the people who have families and been furloughed for 2 months or more. Here in Vegas I dont know one person who doesnt want work to start tomorrow.

this article reeks of so much privilege its insane. The billionaires will still be billionaires if nothing happened for over a year.

The rest of us without the opportunity to have nest eggs will be in poverty.


Although I don't care much about billionaires (I care about the thousands of people they employ though), I'm pretty concerned about small businesses. Many local non-network non-franchise businesses go bankrupt these days.

Maybe this will be the moment when we realize that we actually don’t need billionaires or the whole rentier class at all? That we could all be working half the hours for the same standard of living without them? That we are effectively just serfs toiling at their pleasure?

Seems like a pretty straightforward reason: billionaires have lots of people working under them, and they understandably want those people to work again for financial reasons. Definitely not a good idea to go back to work now, though; hopefully this quarantine brings people (socially, emotionally, not physically) together, and hopefully it lasts as long as is necessary.

Wow, back button hijacked for an ad. Haven’t seen that in awhile. What an annoying site.

No shit, it's not like we have no slave-owners today for lack of want, either.

Own and rent are two side of the same coin.

We have no slaves today because renting turned out to be cheaper than owning with advancement of infrastructure and technology.

We still use convicts as slaves. It's worth it only if someone else (in case of convicts, the government) covers the cost of ownership.


> We have no slaves today because renting turned out to be cheaper than owning with advancement of infrastructure and technology.

Nonsense, I have an embarrassing number of acquaintances who've admitted to wanting slaves and that they'd have them if it weren't illegal.

It's important to keep in mind that there's no shortage of people who'd be slave owners if only it were legal.

What you see in the prison system is a modern variant but only accessible to very few. Conventional slavery was damn near ubiquitous, accessible to many.

We have no slaves because it's illegal.


> Nonsense, I have an embarrassing number of acquaintances who've admitted to wanting slaves and that they'd have them if it weren't illegal.

Wanting if you don't have something and wanting if you have something is completely different thing.

Let alone the fact that even if you have it and want it, it still might be uneconomical for you.

You may want a pony. You may even want a pony when it shits on your floor. But it will still be financially bad for you when you have to pick up the bill to feed the damn thing.

We have no slaves because renting employees is cheaper and more flexible than keeping slaved. At least on average.


> Conventional slavery was damn near ubiquitous, accessible to many.

[citation needed]


For starters, in the early 1700s over 40% of NYC households enslaved people, not even in the south.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery_in_the_United_States#C...


I don't know how true that is, considering the link used as a citation for the claim is dead: https://www.thenation.com/doc/20051107/slavery_in_new_york

My biggest question is how a "household" is defined. Does it only count landowners? Landowners are significantly wealthier than the average citizen, so of course they would be able to afford more than most.

Also, are you aware that the population of NYC was under 10,000 until 1710? So even according to that stat, 4,000 people in one of the wealthiest cities in the country owned slaves. It doesn't seem like evidence that conclusively proves your point.

Got any other sources?


Frankly I find this subject far too depressing to read about for your needs.

I'm sure you're perfectly capable of google searches and reading about the history of slavery on your own if you're so interested.

We were taught this in school, that it was a very common practice with little to no barrier to entry in the early days, and wasn't even racially discriminated until rebellions started. There are even well-documented records of freed slaves becoming slave owners themselves, it was that trivially accessible and generally accepted.

My point was that slavery was accessible to many, contextually in contrast to prisons today, context your quote omitted. Slaves you'd acquire in units as small as an indentured servant, prisons are far more complex with substantial barriers to entry. In an environment of legalized slavery any household could easily get in on it, I can't even begin to imagine how I'd go about starting a prison yet it's presumably legal for me to try.


> Frankly I find this subject far too depressing to read about for your needs.

That's what you're going with? So what evidence are you basing your belief of of? Sounds like it's just a feeling.


It's not 1700 anymore. Infrastructure is order of magnitude better. Real estate is way more expensive. It's cheaper to rent exploited worker to clean than it would be to house the slave for that on average.

And...flagged off the front page with amazing speed! Nothing to see here!

How can a billionaire stay rich if we don't go back to work?

Money doesn't grow on trees. It comes from our bodies.


They can just exist and not do anything. I can't imagine most billionaires burn rate for daily expenses like food and essentials are beyond like 50k a year, if that.

Proportionally to me, that would be like if I withdrew a dollar from my bank account and lit it on fire once a year to cover all my necessities.


Money is just a way of taking note of how much of our civilization output each person has the right to.

Billionaires just used people to convince other people that they have right to exorbitant share of what we all make in total. Some good things might have been side effect of that process. Some bad too.


have heard these sorts of statements privately, but not publicly yet - interesting that we're now hearing them from US elites just as the US starts to seriously shutdown - makes me curious if other elites making the same sorts of statments in other countries

From what I understand by trying to "read the signs between the lines" (which means it can be somewhat off) one of the reasons Germany is reporting much less deaths is some attitude there that only those who didn't have other illnesses and died now are to be reported as Covid-19 deaths (there is even some critique of Italy for reporting their immense surge of deaths as due to Covid-19!).

Of course, the number of deaths that they can't report so will nevertheless go up there too, but they will claim that they are so superior compared to those Europeans southern from them, and they could propaganda their own population that "it's not so dangerous" (by misreporting those with "other illnesses" like hypertension etc) to go back to work as their country and health infrastructure is so superior.

The German main advantage is most of their cities being relatively small, so everything is "spread" more than in many countries, less chance for news like in Spain or Italy where the army had to carry corpses because there are too many. It will be more "a few here" and "a few there" etc.

I can't quote you some specific news, except some articles in French writing about German view, that I remember reading recently (but haven't saved the links) but at least, as one additional example, if I understood correctly, something I've got delivered from somebody I know, there's some German doctor for which is claimed that he is "epidemiologist" who gets more media presence just recently, claiming that "it's not worse than flu" and that the number of deaths in Italy and Spain is only "because they have bad hygiene." Of course he ignores the fact that there was already a peak of flu season in Italy around two months before, and that now there are there 50 times more deaths per week than then, and hygiene certainly didn't get worse 50 times in so short time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Is_COVID-19_like_a_flu%3F...

So stay tuned, if I get more info, and there's some possibility to comment, I will... Or maybe some other person who reads the European news more carefully (best more than one language) will be able to write more. But as this whole topic is already flagged here, don't expect too much here.


I don't understand why this is flagged. I've been thinking about this conflict since Trump said Easter.

I'm disappointed in this flagging - there are very vocal calls from some politicians and business folk to "get folks back to work". If we could flag and mute those politicians for spreading dangerous misinformation using unsupported claims that'd be great, but their words are out there and could drastically effect all of our well being.

This site is the mouthpiece of billionaire VCs who owe their wealth to lots of people buying into their system.

>“The more people are infected, the more likely it is that Blankfein and other billionaires will become infected as well.”

May be true, but at the same time

>Billionaires and other members of the elite have the luxury of social distancing while making money.


Some of them also have dedicated medical facilities.

Okay, so if we let the infection rip, what's their plan to deal with the massive wave of people suffocating on their own phlegm? Dig a trench?

They don't care. That's how they are billionaire and only thing that matter to them is get the revenue and get work done.

Not their problem.

Until someone they consider a peer gets it, and then they'll change their tune.

I know this won't be a popular take but I haven't seen any compelling data to indicate what we're dealing with is any more deadly than a cold. No one has any idea how many people have been infected by this virus. It is assuredly many many more than current tests have revealed as the only people being tested are healthcare workers and at-risk individuals. I wouldn't be surprised if over a million people in the U.S. have already had it, possibly many more. That would imply a "massive wave" of people in need of intensive care isn't coming. No more than come about during an ordinary wave of other coronaviruses.

Madrid is literally turning ice skating rinks into temporary morgues because they can't store all the dead bodies: https://news.yahoo.com/madrid-ice-rink-morgue-coronavirus-11...

edit: And South Korea has tested 345k+ and only 9k have come back positive: https://www.cdc.go.kr/board/board.es?mid=&bid=0030


The PCR test will only catch active infections. An antibody test would reveal if a person has ever been infected. I suspect that number in South Korea is much much higher.

So the dead piling up in Spain and Italy are apparently not compelling enough? I can't recall a common cold overwhelming medical facilities and emptying nursing homes like this. The thing that seems to elude the "it's just a cold" school of thought is that this is a cold for which there exists zero population immunity, unlike the existing coronavirus strains or even the flu.

"Zero population immunity" especially includes medical staff. I don't recall any cold season throughout which a country would be losing its doctors and nurses.

It won't be a popular take because there is little to no evidence to support this assertion.

There are sources out there you can trivially find to better inform yourself, please do so.

Please point me to a source which conclusively demonstrates the true mortality rate is higher than common influenza.

Like do we literally need to fly you to Italy to see the piles of bodies?

Comorbidity accounts for the vast majority of the deaths reported in Italy.

We cannot tell yet whether the total number who will die this season will be significantly greater or whether it is that the rate of deaths has increased.


It’s not going to be a popular take because it’s ignorant. It’s crushing health care systems wherever it spreads. The common cold doesn’t do that.

It’s possible the fatality rate is slightly lower than is commonly reported and the infection rate is slightly higher, but that’s not going to make a tremendous difference in terms of the number of deaths or in the impact it has on the health care system.


We do know though that the curve for number of infections is a logistic curve. And since we haven't hit the inflection point yet we know at a minimum (regardless of how many hidden/untested cases exist) we'll have twice the number of hospital cases than today (assuming action isn't taken to prevent it the current trajectory). Also the current strain is already a "massive wave" in locations hit by the virus longer. It's just that that massive wave is going to get worse https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/25/nyregion/nyc-coronavirus-...

We know what it looks likes for active infections we happen to catch with increased testing but there could have already been a peak of active infections and we would currently have no idea if it's behind us or not. We are totally ignorant as to what phase of the epidemic wave we are in.

Are you just militantly unaware of the news or something?

How do you explain hundreds of people dying every day in Italy?


You seem to be trying to suggest that COVID-19 is no worse than previous influenza epidemics. That does not seem to align with the facts on the ground. We are seeing historically high hospitalizations in many different countries, and certainly historically high rates of deaths. If your hypothesis were correct, we would have also seen this many times in the past.

We don't know what the mortality rate is because we don't know how many people have been infected.

It doesn't matter. Hospitals are being overloaded and people are dying in hallways for lack of care. Ever seen that at this scale in influenza epidemics before? Maybe not since 1918.

> Maybe not since 1918

1957/58 H2N2 Asian flu 2 million global deaths atrributed

1968 H3N2 Hong Kong flu 1 million global deaths atrributed


I'm aware. 70k and 100k people in the US died, respectively. This was far short of 1918.

But we know the absolute mortality because people keep dying by the thousands daily and we can measure that.

In Italy on average there are about 2000 deaths a day. Yesterday, there were 683 deaths attributed to Coronovirus.

In 2017 Italy had 25,000 deaths attributable to flu. And in the case of Covid-19, if a patient tests positive and they die it counts as a Covid-19 death regardless of whether or not Covid-19 is the actual cause of death. The majority of deaths in Italy right now are among the elderly with 3 or more comorbidities.

And 2017 had 365 days, so that amounts to 68 deaths a day. That would mean yesterday was 10 times worse than "flu"

They've got an ice rink in Madrid piled with corpses. Pretty sure that never happened from the cold.

The reason why the Spanish flu hit so hard in 1918 is that countries were not willing to quarantine people in fear that it would hurt their wartime economies.

Then those billionaires should pour some of their billions into research to find a cure. Even one that is not perfect, like the one we have for HIV/AIDS currently, should do the trick. A HIV positive going treatment still has the virus but the plethora of drugs it takes daily stops AIDS from developing. Just ask Magic Johnson, he's doing it for almost 3 decades now.

Some of us look after our employees.

Yea, I mean a lot of businesses are terrible, but there are good cases as well, including all those businesses that budgeted and paid for equipment to allow their employees to remote once this became a clear issue in early March.

“No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’” Patrick said. “If that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”

This is from Dan Patrick, Texas Lt Gov. who doesn't want to sacrifice their lives for S&P 500?


one way to fix the Social Security funding shortfalls...

Which is also completely ridiculous considering new deal, WWII command and control economy, korea/vietnam draft, and other various 'high alert' scenarios which have occurred while 'the America that all America loves' is a little locked down for a while

This is a generally unpopular opinion, and I don't know that I agree with it, but it does appear that the billionaires might be logically right from an ethical perspective.

It might cost more QALYs (quality-adjusted life years) to have an economic recession the size of 2008 than to have millions die from COVID-19: https://medium.com/@benfinn/coronavirus-how-much-is-a-life-w...


You are making the very false assumption that we have a choice between deaths and economic collapse. Like it or not, we are seeing faster growth rates than Spain. With our awful response, we could be easily heading for 2+ million deaths if hospitals get overloaded as expected. Workers will not show up anyway because it is dangerous for them and their families (this is already happening). This will cause the economy to collapse at least as bad.

Sacrificing grandma to Mammon is not the answer.


That really makes me think. What kind of fucked up third world country do we live in where all these apathetic people are willing to consider sacrificing their grandmothers just so they can have work to do in order to get by living?

What happened to revolution and eating the rich? Have we lost to the Mr. Money Mustaches of the world?


The United States of America

now (more) americans get to experience to misery, terror, and death that the u.s. has exported to to rest of the world in order to fuel its economic "growth"


It cuts both ways though. Mortality rates from unemployment are no joke.

That's so plainly a much, much smaller cause of death. I'd encourage you to examine evidence more in the future. Besides, mortality rates actually tend to decline during recessions. While the causes of this are still debated, it has been observed for a century [0].

Besides, as I was saying, we don't have a choice between deaths and collapse. You get collapse and fewer deaths or collapse and more deaths. We are choosing the former.

[0] https://fortune.com/2019/01/25/economic-downturn-mortality-r...


Please cite your sources. I'm not sure that historical analysis of the data supports your opinion. For instance: https://www.pnas.org/content/106/41/17290

The calculations in the article I posted suggest "that if there’s a recession as bad as the last one, it could be even worse for well-being than tens of millions of deaths."

So you think that even tens of millions of deaths would not be associated with a depression? That is incredibly preposterous.

As I said in the original comment, I don't know that I agree with the article. I'm just trying to engage with it logically.

I would imagine tens of millions of deaths might trigger a recession, but it's hard to say.

It seems that throughout history some pandemics have wound up being good for the economy: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22572317

Also, note that the quote "if there’s a recession as bad as the last one, it could be even worse for well-being than tens of millions of deaths" is not saying that there will be tens of millions of deaths. It's instead saying that the hit to well-being, quantified in QALYs, is greater than tens of millions of deaths.


This comment made my day, thanks.

There is going to be an economic recession regardless of whether you lock things down or not. Nobody is going to buy plane tickets, go on a cruise, or eat at restaurants when their neighbors are dropping like flies around them.

This choice between "lockdown and recession" and "no lockdown and no recession" is a false dichotomy.


I understand this argument, but the logical fallacy of emotional appeal is too strong on this one. It can't be the case where millions are better off dying. It feels so unjust. Even if the rest of us are slightly worse off, the lockdown means more life lived for all. I'm nowhere near crossing the bridge, but I imagine the last weeks or months of lives greatly matter to those who know their time is short.

https://history.stackexchange.com/questions/12297/how-many-p...

apparently outside suicides, deaths reduced overall


Recession in what? You can have recession in yaht and dog stylist industries without many ill effects.

Many businesses will be booming in pandemic. Just not the usual ones and that pains the owners of usual ones greatly.


This is not true, and is why the markets are crap. Everyone is buying much less. This means there is less demand still. Thus the economy contracts like dominos. This is literally how every recession in history has worked.

I know people are buying way more delivery services.

There's always certain industries that do well in every recession. That doesn't mean it's not a recession. North Dakota had something like a 1.8% unemployment rate in the depths of the Great Recession because the high oil prices (which otherwise exacerbated the recession) allowed the shale oil and gas boom. They were doing great, but the national rate was around 10%.

True. That's why we need basic income, because recession defined as more industries becoming more useless and less becoming more useful will occasionally happen for whatever reasons and hoping it never ever happens is not the best social harm mitigation strategy.

> Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, wants Americans to listen to epidemiologists instead. “Ignore anything someone like me might say,” Cuban wrote in an email. “Lives are at stake.”

</thread>


That's funny. Individually we don't have a lot of power, but when we work together we have lots of power. If only we had some mechanism to bargain collectively for our interests.

This shouldn't be surprising to anyone.

Billionaires are billionaires because of the extreme disproportionate gains by the few at the expense of thousands/millions.

They're used to seeing the many slave away for their interests.

Not seeing that happening now is throwing their view of proper world order into chaos and they're not used to be back in a position without control.


Billionaires also know that work does some damage to the workers. So working during pandemic is not qualitative difference for them, just quantitative.

Yup. You can almost imagine the pandemic being interpreted as worker churn rate going up on some spreadsheet.

Any person or group in the US can start a worker cooperative and run it as they see fit.

Are they competitive if they don't exploit their workers like companies do?

The idea is to pay the workers out of the profits that would otherwise go to the business owner. This doesn't increase the cost structure of the operation.

There's nothing non-capitalist or non-free-market about a worker collective. There are no laws against it. Nobody will try to stop you. You don't need a change in the government.

What are you waiting for?


Company owner can always ditch burnt out workers which is efficient for the company. I'm assuming it's not that easy in workers collective?

The workers can run the collective as they please.

No they can't because they have their individual self-preservation instincts that they can't disregard. Company owner can do that with ease.

No labor laws apply to worker co-operatives? That's surprising.

Since labor laws are meant to protect workers, what are you concerned about?

That is the what lies at the rotten heart of capitalism.

I mean, people say a lot of horseshit about what capitalism is or isn't ("I'm a capitalist because I'm for making money and profits.", etc), or creating a fake context where the only alternative is ownership by the state.

But at the end of the day it's about the worker employer relationship, period, end of story.


Its not a zero sum game. Many billionaires - including the ones referenced in the article - got that way by executing on ideas/products that improve society. Think of all the ways companies created by billionaires progressed our quality of life (yes even Bezos, Larry/Sergy, Gates, Musk, Zuckerberg, not to mention industries like food, pharma, agriculture, construction, transportation). The way we get to version of society where everyone can have a high quality of life (with socialism, UBI or whatever mechanism necessary) is to first let the current system create these efficiencies.

But the thing they all share in common is that at some point, they either have screwed over people or acted against the best interests of the general public.

Everyone having a high quality of life is inefficient, market-wise. Creating efficiencies involves taking away quality of life for many, and turning it into profits for the few.

I'm a little sad that I'm pointing this out but Trump is maybe the only politician in the entire US with big enough balls to stand up to billionaires (and really mean it) in this sort of situation if he wanted to.

Maybe this virus will kill enough baby boomers to balance the social security solvency and transfer wealth up a few generations.

I’d you don’t agree with me, than what makes what I said any different than the Topic of this thread.




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