1. These figures are only new claims as of 3/21, so the numbers will get worse.
2. This is ~2% of the estimated ~160-165M US Workforce.
3. This is nearly 5x (!) the prior record of 671K new jobless claims from 1982, and redefines the scale for jobless claims. 
4. This does not account for the countless gig workers that are part of the modern economy that likely did not file for unemployment since they were not covered prior to the passing of the senate bill last night.
This goes to show just how sharp of an impact the coronavirus pandemic has had relative to past recessions. Even the '08 Financial Crisis took MONTHS to unravel.
My wife managed to get her filing completed a little after 1am this morning. She was the only one of her 20 coworkers to successfully file, the rest are continuing to attempt to get the state web site to work today, while more people pile in.
These numbers are going to get much, much worse.
Now of course we don't know what the architecture of this system is and what the deltas in cost would have been to allow this to scale-out more - but I do know that all too often the more robust solution giving you much greater protection and lower cost down the road is often discarded if it costs even just 5%-10% more. Then the day comes when the people making these decisions get caught flat-footed and they try to blame everyone but themselves. It doesn't always happen like this - but it happens a lot.
He decides to do it again, this time with accounts payable, and is promptly fired.
So, probably like most software of this nature, the reason it's not scaling is simply because the people who made it probably weren't the greatest engineers on the block.
Consider: single auth across all the state's services, external APIs, identity verification, address verification, employer ID verification, federal/military ID verification, income/tax verification, phone verification, bank account information, translation into multiple languages, accessibility features, etc. Also, there's probably a lot of legacy infrastructure and process.
Also, if "ability to burst to 10x normal filings per week that might happen once every 40 years" wasn't in the spec, I think they were right not to engineer for it.
It sometimes borders on sealioning.
>IMPORTANT NOTICE: Because of the high volume of claims, we are asking that you help us help you and our greater community.
>If you need to file an unemployment claim and your last name begins with the letter A - M, file a claim on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, or after 12 noon on Saturday.
>If you need to file an unemployment claim and your last name begins with the letter N - Z, file a claim on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or before 12 noon on Saturday.
> Ooooh, like gas rationing in the 70s.
I wasn't born back then, but I heard about that being based on License plates at a few car meetups by the older guys in the group and I had the same thought when I heard that on CPR.
Odd, but it could work if you have total compliance; lets see how that pans out.
It doesn't take many resources to show the user a form, validate it, and save to a DB.
You are talking about comparing a basic web form with an application for unemployment benefits which must go into a federal tax database and be processed using a what I assume is a garbage mainframe system.
It not only needs to be validated, it needs to securely store records, be able to compare them, and hook up to the system that handles payments, etc.
They can't just circumvent it and dump it into some silly Amazon or MySQL database and call it a day. That would require the employees to basically copy and paste that data into the actual warehouse and considering they have 3+ million to go through as it is making it easy for them to process is just as important as allowing people to submit.
For the time being the correct response is a queue gate.
Stop being silly.
The reality of government paperwork systems on the backend is much, much closer to this hell and is part of why so many like myself ran screaming from public sector because when you see so many peers doing so well at FAANGS, why would you subject yourself to something that resists change and wants to keep it the same way? https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/federal-eye/wp/2014/03/2...
There is the option of going to some area with a much lower cost of living and trying to hire there, but the problem might be getting enough people together to form a team. If you can easily get enough people with skill and experience, the area probably has jobs for them that pay better, and if those jobs don't exist, it might be hard to find the people.
California is a huge state and the Bay Area is going to have drastically different stats for even the same industry comparing San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Luis Obispo (yep, there's software jobs there too).
Now, not so much, but if my circumstances change, then who knows?
What if the backend rejects the form? The user's already moved on before their form made it through the queue. So then you're stuck re-implementing all the validations the backend needs in order to give the user feedback (which you may not even be able to do) or trying to get the user to come back later to try again.
> Making the problem of getting the application through backend systems the states' to deal with, not the applicants'.
Reducing permanent staff involved in processing applications is probably one of the main reasons the automated system was built in the first place. If they still have to do that, then you might as well just replace the frontend with a printable PDF.
There is already processes (a workforce and/or outbound written letters) to reach out to applicants in the case of eg a dispute (terminated for cause vs laid off).
The point is that it's easy to say things should be easy when you don't know anything except the very surface details of the problem, and it's not your job to actually solve it.
Maybe the team that built the system in question were a bunch of dumb-dumbs who just needed a rockstar developer to show them how easy it is to scale, or maybe the problem is actually more complicated than it seems due some hidden complexities or constraints none of us actually know anything about (either technical or business).
Hence mainframe maintainers should really move to charging $1 million/year in a decade or two.
Once you have more people who can understand that there are scientific and moral issues with manifest destiny, and religion isn't going to solve global warming, there will be some shifts in the public discourse and public policies.
In the US, though, it's by-state.
If the form has to go into a mainframe well just set up an asynconous Queue
...okay, whatever you say.
I bet that's what the previous developers thought.
What happens if you need to validate the form data against an external service that's coming and going due to the traffic spike?
What if your database is rejecting transactions occasionally?
What happens when your backup process locks all the database tables?
How do you reject duplicate form submissions from people hammering the submit button? Do you query the database to find previous submissions?
What happens when a scriptkiddie decides it'd be fun to DDOS the site? How do you differentiate good traffic from bad traffic?
What do you do when the cloud provider runs out of space and you can't scale up any more (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22691926)?
You need to think of all of these things and many, many more to run a robust online service that can handle spikes hundreds of times bigger than the usual level. It's really not straightforward or simple.
When "hundreds of times the usual level" is still only 50 page loads per second, and 10 milliseconds of CPU per page would be extreme overkill for anything written in a reasonable way, it actually is straightforward.
(That is not to say it's necessarily the devs' fault.)
Aside from potentially having to interface with dozens of unreliable, painfully slow SOAP-based web services, everything is often hosted on creaking, over-subscribed VMWare hosts, in VMs that would be under-specced regardless.
There is also often a "governing body" that severely restricts your tech stack choices.
Want to use Postgres? Nope, our standard is SQL Server - 2008 edition, actually!
Want to use Python/Ruby/Elixir/Clojure/Kotlin? None of that hipster nonsense here, we use good ole Java/VB.NET here!
Message queue, you say? It's Windows Message Queue with distributed COM all the way down here!
"Containers"? What's a one of those? You'll get a crappy VM with 1 vCPU and 1GB of RAM, and you'll thank me for it! etc...
As a dev, it's horrible and soul-destroying to work under such limitations, but if you have no choice...
I have had to build python distribution completely in home/user-space in some cases, working on conservatively managed servers.
Queuing access to the form itself and telling someone to wake up at 4:52 AM so they can then merely access the static assets is a less-than-desirable user experience.
And now you've given a private company access to market-moving unemployment data. And a million other issues, especially legal ones.
The technology part in and of itself isn't that difficult, it's all of the constraints (and, often, mountains of laws) that are the bigger issue.
You’re assuming that the people who built it in the first place (or the people that may or may not be contracted to fix it later) know or care. Remember, this is government contracting we’re talking about - lowest bidder wins. How do you win the lowest bid? By doing it as cheap and quick as you can. That means hiring inexperienced/cheap developers who can build something that looks like it will work for far less money than you can build something that actually will.
I briefly interned with a state judiciary's IT department around 2015 and got to get lunch with the CIO. He described to me how most court filings in the state had been manual prior to 2008 when the mortgage crisis hit and judges in the tax courts got _slammed_ with cases surrounding foreclosures. This , in turn, drove a need to develop a platform to automate the process of filing a case. It started with the tax court and gradually expanded to automate filings for other court divisions as well (e.g. Family, Civil).
I wouldn't be shocked if the revelation of "holy shit no one can file for unemployment" drove such an investment. I honestly think the next generation of politicians should take a page from product owners by isolate some shitty process that they'd have jurisdiction over, and finding some way to automate it. Bonus points if it's right before a watershed moment- imagine if someone had considered the problem you described prior to the coronavirus epidemic.
Pennsylvania reported 378k claims.
California reported... 186k claims.
Yesterday, California's governor said they've received more than 1 million claims since March 13th (so, over a 12 day period from the 13th to the 25th). This DOL report covers March 14th through the 21st.
Are we to believe that the remaining 800k+ people all filed on March 13th, or March 22nd through the 25th?
But there's more. Utah reported an increase of only 9 claims compared to the week before. They went from 1,305 to 1,314.
Then, New York, where more than half of Covid-19 cases in the US are, reported only 80k?
I could believe it over the 22-25 stretch.
I assume some less computer-literate higher up thought that someone needed to be around to actually accept the form, same as in-person submissions.
Here we had state governments practically shutting down their economies overnight. Overnight, every restaurant in my state was no longer allowed to have dine in. Only maybe half in my local area stayed open for carryout, and at least 80% of those have closed in the few weeks since.
The speed at which this happened is astronomical, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be multiple times worse than 2008. Just that the onset was very quick.
This virus and fallout went directly to the main street economy (of the entire world at same time) and stopped it cold.
I think its entirely unknown what the ultimate ramifications are of this cold stop to the world economy. But I see no reason to think its not bigger than 2008.
The SBOs with resources will just have to continue paying rent out of pocket, or face liens against their personal assets.
My response to a landlord insisting on 100% rent for property, that just become non-revenue generating by order of the government, or else they will take my personal property? Force majeure, I owe you $0, this contract is null and void. Shall we re-negotiate?
Liens are going to require court judgements. That system is about to get plugged up with cases. Most SBOs and landlords are going to have to re-negotiate. Landlords will talk deferred rents and suggest SBOs get one of these SBA 3.75% loans, in order to make the landlord 100% whole, eventually. SBOs should seek better advice than that which comes from their landlord. SBOs could do much worse than mimicking the likes of Subway, Mattress Firm, etc. by insisting haircuts are coming, fast. And by much worse, I mean, paying the landlord 100% and making them whole.
I don't understand the vitriol towards landlords. Do people get angry at the bank for lending money so they can buy a house?
It's because real estate is - the vast majority of time - a tried and true way to accrue wealth, and it takes a least some measure of wealth (or a lot of personal risk) to get into it. People get angry when they see folks they think of as "less deserving" with money, and literally the only thing you need to get into real estate is money. So there are a lot of "dumb" people doing it, making a lot of money, seemingly for no reason other than they own the right building.
I've dealt with commercial landlords before and they can be ruthless. As a commercial tenant, you're most likely paying everything. Your rent (with yearly increases well beyond inflation), pro rata insurance, pro rata real estate and school taxes, common area maintenance (CAM) fees that can be thousands a month between all tenants for snow to get plowed ten times a year and the grass to get mowed.
If you're a low margin business it's easy to look at half your revenue leaving the door to your landlord who (in your eyes) has zero risk and provides no value and get angry. But I owned a brick and mortar business for 4 years and had 3 landlords in that time because they kept going bankrupt. So there's definitely some risk associated with it.
They were profitable where they were, but since the next guy raised his rents, then they jacked up their own rents.
This is what makes people angry at landlords. And often times, your rent increased, but your pay didn’t, so you get squeezed both ways.
Commercial leases have rent increases built into them that are agreed to by all parties. Nobody is getting a surprise by their rent going up, and they're typically negotiated and signed close to a year before becoming effective. If the rent is too much, you can move your business or find ways to grow your revenue. If there's nothing cheaper, then that's what the market has decide a square foot of commercial real estate in your area is worth. If your business doesn't support that, the market doesn't want your business.
We tell contract developers all the time "you need to charge more!" and "charge what you're worth!" but the minute someone does it to us we scream about how unfair it is and how the system is broken. I'm sure the guy selling widgets who has his WordPress guy charging him $125/hr thinks that's unfair, too. And I say that as someone who has been both the widget salesman and the $125/hr WordPress dev.
People are fearful and a lot of folks are supposed to be sheltering in place. Business are being told to do takeout only which is a huge difference.
I was in the restaurant industry during the last crisis. Lots of places stopped hiring and slowed down but business didn’t suddenly stop.
Yeah I've been doing a fair amount of takeout and places where you had dozens of people ... operating with two or three people now.
Sorry as many mentioned, yes the key ingredient is takeout: This is a fast casual italian / pizza restaurant. I find fast casual restaurants doing just fine in my area. It's traditional sit downs that are struggling.
Who is reporting profits are up?
Especially when you consider a lot of restaurants make a good chunk of their profit on alcohol sales. While many are offering alcohol to go, I think most of us are picking it up from the corner store instead.
A business that didn't have a robust take-out business prior to the crisis I would expect to fare worse. You'd have to do things like get the word out that you are a take out business for one... and some couldn't likely make that transition. Would you order fine dining take out? Sure the food might be good, but half the reason to go to a good restaurant, rather than a cheaper one, is the service.
Especially as folks get out of their homes and WANT to be out and about ;)
Now I'm curious about pizza places. Most pizza places offer seating. But I feel like Domino's might in fact be delivery-only.
You can't expect people to shelter in place indefinitely, and they won't.
Naturally people aren't going hole up for a year, but we have to stop acting antsy when we've been in our houses a week or two.
Edit: I'm assuming the government does its job and takes care of its people so that they can do the right thing here.
Unforunately, a very small portion of that money will go to individuals who have lost their jobs, and a very large portion will go to companies that were run on razor-thin balance sheets, ready to topple at the first sign of trouble. No incentives to run things properly the next time around, and limited help for regular people. While costing everyone a fortune in the form of inflation the next few years.
These aren’t the same. This shutdown (however justified) is because of the govt. If the government demands you shut down your business, or that you can’t go to work, you deserve to be compensated for that. If the government hadn’t mandated it, young people would still be out working and spending. Those businesses would be fine. If the govt wants to shut everything down, they have to pay people for it.
Especially since a lot of the companies are only asking for loans, not handouts.
It's natural to be antsy if you've lost your job, have no social safety net, and can't pay for food or your rent.
Either pay them to stay home, or don't be surprised when they leave to attempt to make a living to survive. They're already at risk of being homeless and destitute, so COVID matters much less to them. And I don't blame them.
What has led you to make this assumption?
The right thing for governments to do is to help mitigate the damage they've caused by ordering massive shutdowns. They can't do one without the other otherwise, indeed, it will be really bad.
Eventually we'll have a vaccine, and life can go back to normal (if we want). The main problem in the interim is keeping everybody from freaking out because the before-times social constructions weren't really set up for a global pandemic. But we can fix that if we want.
Don’t forget about food. There’s a lot of complexity and people involved in getting food from a farm to your local restaurants and grocery stores.
If it gets really bad and even a fraction of people in these industries stop working, stay-at-home life might get a lot less comfortable.
I agree there's a lot of complexity there. But it's still a relatively small slice of the population. A friend is a farmer; she's just carrying ahead farming. Compared with urban life, she's been "socially distancing" for years. For the more dense parts of the chain, we need to take other infection-prevention measures. But food production is already pretty good at keeping things clean, and the rest we can work on.
We are about to have millions unemployed. Any job vacancy will be trivial to fill.
I wouldn't be concerned about the food supply.
That said, it wouldn't hurt anything to start a "victory garden", it's the right time of year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden (but that's a good idea anyway, orthogonal to the virus.)
You just need to find the right event for comparison. In this case probably the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami or the 2011 East Japan Earthquake (Tsunami, Fukushima Nuke plant etc)
There, you had relatively short duration disasters where very soon afterwards, coordinated efforts were dedicated to putting the pieces back together.
Now, most of the press and leadership seems to be thinking only about how to manage the health related consequences of an ongoing crisis. I really don't hear anyone strategizing how to put the pieces back together or how to contain the crisis (note that I did not say contain the disease) so things don't fall apart so completely. There is a profound absence of thought amongst those in decision-making positions, at least insofar as I can see.
This more comparable to a nuclear bomb where the area is still radioactive and people cannot go back without PPE.
Edit: and like another reply said, this isn't local, so it's more like multiple nuclear bombs in multiple countries across the globe.
You (and others) are probably aware, but worth pointing out that these people still can not currently file for unemployment benefits until the house passes the bill, the senate approves any house amendments to the bill, and the president signs the bill.
The house isn't voting on this until tomorrow at the earliest, so there's still a ways to go.
There's probably others as well that have had their pay reduced, that are waiting to see what's going to be passed before filing for benefits. Anecdotally I know of some software engineers in this boat.
This should be normalized to be per-capita, comparing absolute figures is distorted by population growth. The US was only 230M people in 1982, 100M less than today.
After normalizing it's more like 3.9x.
I think we need to couple the two events a little more closely. The 2008 Financial Crisis accelerated inequality, political instability, asset inflation, and the rise of precarious work to such a degree that the damage of this hit is being greatly compounded.
To my mind, the hole that was the 2008 crisis was papered over and someone just came by and dropped a brick on it.
He also questions whether the US will be willing to offer the same condition-less USD-swaps.
: https://youtube.com/watch?v=OLfHpvJKNg0 is an interview where he explains his position.
I'm not going to disagree that there was a rise in precarious work, but I think many people don't realize how valuable having this work as option is.
Brazil has been economically struggling for almost a decade now, which is the same decade when this type of work appeared. For many people in Brazil this has been a godsend. It's provided an employment option where previously there would have been none. The option wasn't between precarious work and non-precarious work. It was between precarious work and no work.
Precarious work at least lets workers get back on the work ladder and just being on the ladder makes it easier to grab the next rung on the ladder and pull themselves up. It's especially valuable that the precarious work also tends to be flexible. This lets people study for new skills and go to interviews, which is something much harder to do with scheduled work.
The economic situation in Brazil would have been far worse if another million or more people doing this precarious work had been unemployed for the last decade instead.
You will see all kinds of arguments and researches, but actually nobody is really sure about what that point is, and if it is a net positive or negative for workers. To make it worse, Brazil is in a kind of unique situation because official work is extremely regulated, while precarious work is well accepted and widespread (and not as new as you think), so one can not even apply the lessons from most of the world.
moral bonus: ability to 'explain' it that is just because you can claim unemployment benefit.
For instance, if you manage a fund that sold substantially on the way down, you now have a great deal of cash you need to do something with. Considering a 'local bottom' has been found, you may be very interested in trying to re-enter the market now. The risk of waiting for a lower entry begins to compete heavily with the risk of missing a buying opportunity.
Edit: especially while the US corona curve is not showing any signs of slowing down.
Normally, when a company lays off workers, the market cheers, and the stock price goes up. Investors get to keep more of their money, and no longer have to pay out in expensive labor.
But this situation is quite different, in that the economy just came to a stop, for practically everyone. At some point, this has got to trickle up, and affect the larger corporations. People won’t fly, so airlines go bankrupt. Hotels go bankrupt. Travel Agencies go bankrupt. And on and on.
But of course, maybe Wall Street is expecting a bailout of the airlines, and other big businesses, so maybe that explains the optimism.
I like to think this event changes people's perspective on folks out of work in the US. There's a lot of recrimination, and even self loathing about being poor or out of work in the US. It doesn't seem based in reality and certainly isn't helpful.
Perhaps it is time we realize that much like a pandemic things in this world change fast and we need to be able to help folks who are out of work pick up skills quickly / retrain (and maybe retrain employers that people with a 'different' resume might actually be able to do other jobs) so that they can get back on their feet.
Maybe it won't be a pandemic but things are changing fast whole industries of people find themselves offshored, jobs change, etc. I think we need to plan for / get comfortable with the idea that on a smaller scale we should be ready to deal with such things dynamically over the course of people's lives with retraining, support for it, and etc. And maybe a workforce with a variety of experiences will be better for it.
Sure, just like the Depression did.
And just like the Depression, a few years of boom times afterwards and that effect will be negated until the next similar event.
I suspect this will ultimately lead to China as the new hegemon. We're seeing key advantages to the Chinese state that the US cannot adapt to. Decades of pushing the US government to work more and more exclusively in the interest of capital has lead to a completely impotent state that cannot take care of its people. Likewise we have a complacent populace who, as many here have argued, won't be able to endure extended isolation.
The pandemic is not just a rogue wave that has done some damage and we'll bounce right back. This event has shown deep systemic vulnerability to certain very real risks that the US is incapable of adapting too. And all these same risks are what leave us extremely vulnerable to other similar events like climate change.
The US will recover in a sense, but this is very likely the start of a long process of a major shift in global power, and the end result will look very, very different than the world of a few weeks ago.
When talking about efficiency, I think China might have the upper hand now - they are much more effective in discipline, they don't mind suffering things that are unacceptable for us, and look where they are with COVID - ahead of every-fucking-body else. West looks pathetically weak and ineffective compared to them. Maybe in 2 months things will look differently, but I don't see much data for that now.
China has been trying to increase its economic efficiency and discipline, but generally failing.
In the West, when they think of efficiency, they think of using robots and automation to remove human labor. Labor costs go down, quality goes up, profits go up. Get rid of pesky factory workers and their need for benefits.
The goal in the West, is to maximize profit, above all else.
Whereas with China, when they think of efficiency, they think of production output ratio in mass production. Meaning, how many people can they employ, along with automation and mechanization, in order to massively increase production output.
Humans are more adaptable than robots, and can be repurposed to operate another machine. Quality is not as high, but it may be acceptable. The gain is in mass market share, at a lower cost. And at some point, their higher end manufacturers will automate and compete on par with their western peers.
The goal in China, is to maximize output. Massive profits can come later.
That’s what happens when your people have almost no rights and you can literally weld their building doors shut. Their strength comes at a cost, and it’s the freedom of their people.
Edit: Also, China only matters because we allow them to matter. As soon as we wise up and let other countries start making our toys and phones, China will be screwed.
When the ruling class exploits the working class and suppresses their access to information and free speech, that doesn't mean they "don't mind suffering," it means one sector of the Chinese population has cannibalized another sector in order to build wealth for themselves. Much like what is happening in the US with the ultra-wealthy. It's not all rainbows and roses in China, in fact if you forgot, there is an active genocide in progress in that country.
I just saw how a video of Chinese doctors dressing up for a visit to a covid patient. My doctor wife just stared with open mouth - nothing like that is done here in Switzerland. They use super basic equipment, which is simply not enough to protect long term doctors exposed to patients. We simply don't have the mindset to handle this situation seriously. We will learn eventually, but it will be a painful lesson for our society.
As somebody on HN mentioned a few weeks ago, China defined its bottom with closure and quarantine, and now they are bouncing back. While west is still in free fall.
There’s no ambiguity. The only way “we don’t know” is if we chose to be ignorant.
They hold nightly pressers, dragged their feet on getting tests out, recently asked states not to publish their unemployment reports, etc.
China is an authoritarian country, and they've resorted to literally locking people into their homes until a quarantine period passes, arresting them, and beating them. Can you imagine if American police started locking apartment complex doors from the outside? I don't want to live in a country like that, even if it means we're worse equipped to deal with pandemics.
And let's not forget this whole thing started in China because their food safety regulations aren't adequate.
edit: ah yes, downvotes -- mash that disagree button
Not having tolerance for suffering. Lack of courage, destruction of masculinity.
P.S. people can downvote me as much as they want. But that is not going to change the facts.
Heck, as a center-leftish frequent critic of neoliberalism, I mostly agree with the statement: while who was hit hardest has some effect, differences in the trajectory of the rebound from the bottom tends to matter more for the post-crisis position than differences in the depth of the bottom.
It is absurd on its face to summarize Germany's ascendancy to "efficiency" and "innovation" when, you know, complicated geopolitics is a thing. It is literally fluffy propaganda.
No, efficiency and innovation are real things. Neoliberals tend to think that they are areas that neoliberal policy produces better outcomes on, and in the case of efficiency at least there is a strong theoretical case that this is true in a very narrow range of hyper-idealized conditions.
People who are not neoliberals often agree that efficiency and innovation are important (though perhaps not of as paramount importance as neoliberals tend to portray them), but often disagree with neoliberals as to the optimality of neoliberal policies at producing them outside of the kind of simplified conditions that dominate the first couple weeks of undergraduate economics classes.
People who are not neoliberals often agree that efficiency and innovation are important _up to the point where needs are met for all_. No leftist uses efficiency/innovation as a target (and if they do chase it for the sake of productivity they are by definition not left of capital).
Plenty of leftists, agree with neoliberals that utilitarian efficiency ought to be a key goal of an economic system. Leftists, unlike neoliberals, are unlikely to believe that the capitalist markets optimize for utilitarian efficiency, because, even aside from the general failures of the rational choice model due to imperfect information, etc. (which neoliberals often also discount), capitalist markets effectively weight individual utility differently based on the individual’s wealth.
2. I'm wondering what makes you think the US is incapable of adapting. Will we ever be able to do a China-style lockdown? Probably not, but that's a feature not a bug. There are other ways of dealing with a pandemic, and I sincerely doubt anyone from the west, or most of the east for that matter is going to be moving to China for their pandemic-response measures.
If anything I see this as a negative for China. The experience has revealed just how vulnerable China-dependent supply chains are, particularly for medications and medical devices. I expect both political and social moves to diversify away from dependence on China, which would hardly make them more of a Hegemon.
China has proven themselves massively resilient. Right now, they’re worried about reimporting cases from Europe and have covid largely under control. It would have been better to not get out of hand in the first place, but they’re the only country that’s demonstrated an ability to work themselves back out of the crisis once it’s unfolded.
Already, colleagues in China are returning to work, and I’ll be out of the office likely until May. China gave us weeks if not months of warning that we ignored, so it’s a little frustrating to see Americans and Europeans finger point when ultimately we’re responsible for our own shit.
If you look at China’s trajectory over the past ~15 years, it is obvious that the 21st century is theirs for the taking, as the 20th was for the US.
US adaptation will take the form of putting systems in place to prevent a re-occurrence. Of course we move too slow in the initial crisis, we always have. Any democracy moves slower than an authoritarian dictatorship in the moment, that's one of the trade-offs. It's frustrating, but a natural feature of the system, and pays dividends in the long-term.
China's trajectory over the past 15 years has been providing cheap labor to be the world's workshop. But that labor is no longer as cheap, automation continues to advance, and companies were already relocating their supply chains due to political/economic/IP theft concerns, Samsung being the most notable example. Now this? There will be a surge.
That and the Chinese's government's bottomless-loans-as-political-favor policy can't last forever. And thanks to the one child policy they're facing a major age and gender demographic crisis. China is also dependent on imports for food and energy.
They exist in their modern form at at the pleasure of the rest of the world. The foundation for their economic miracle was the west opening them up to world trade to distance them from the Soviets, and later cheap labor. It was never anything intrinsic to China or Chinese power. The moment they try to force their will on the world they'll find their ability to do so is short-lived.
I have a hard time seeing China emerging as a winner from this crisis.
Fingerpointing at China when they reacted far more decisively then the West did seems... A tad off the mark.
If this originated in Milan, Kansas, or Bangalore, we'd all be in the exact same boat today.
Hell, if the outbreak started in Kansas, we would probably have a hundred thousand dead by now, with our supreme leader still insisting that the virus will magically go away in three weeks.
For the first two weeks of January.
When they got to the point of locking down an entire city, it became pretty clear to everyone that it was a serious situation.
We looked at that, and did... Nothing.
It's apparently been memory-holed, but during this period it was the US media calling it "no worse than the flu", not the other way around.
* Shipping a laughably insufficient number of test kits that didn't work, while banning private labs from developing their own tests. We still have a crippling test kit shortage.
* Asking people traveling from China to self-quarantine, and not following up.
* No stockpiles of necessary medical supplies.
Getting called names has never stopped him from rolling out bad policy in the past. I don't see why it can be credited for stopping him from rolling out good policy this time.
They have the US by the balls.
The United States was built on the foundation of transportation (roads and highways), automobiles, mortgages, and travel. These industries built up the middle class, by providing jobs for home, and profits from exports to abroad. Then came tech and the massive windfall from that.
They essentially have the population of 4 United States, that they can essentially just compete internally among themselves, while still producing products for export to abroad.
They can just follow the same playbook here.
* Infrastructure, check, they have highways, airports, and also, high speed trains.
* Automobiles, check, they have the largest car market in the world. And they are continually working with, and learning from, their European partners. Eventually, they’ll get good enough to not need external partnerships.
* Mortgages, check, lots of high rises, since that’s the only way to house so many people.
* Travel, in progress, they’re working really hard to make a commercial airliner. This will take another 20 years, but Boeing messed up with their 737 Max fiasco, which may give them an opening sooner. But most of the parts to this airplane comes from American companies, so if Trump wants, then he can really crush their airplane independence dreams, at least for 10 years.
* Technology, in progress, they have mostly web companies, and application companies, but not yet core technology companies. They still don’t quite have CPU and memory chip companies yet, and they outsourced manufacturing to Taiwan. This is where Trump can really crush them, but again, at a heavy price, and only for 10 years.
In the end, anything is possible, but I highly doubt they are interested in squeezing the US by the balls anyways. They are finding it more profitable to maintain friendly terms with the US, and sell them cheaper trinkets, than taking a confrontational approach, and getting into a hot war, where nobody wins, except Lockheed.
China cares for its people by imprisoning them with brute technology and camps?
China's own population may be additionally disenchanted with a government unable to handle the situation without iron/hamfisted attempts to clamp down after ignoring the problem / sources for a long time.
These things take place over years, even decades. I do agree that the US hegemony may come to an end if things continue as is. But I don't think that means another becomes hegemon.
If it happens in East Asia, that would also be a recognition of their recent rapid improvement in STEM research that's not yet common knowledge, and not recognized by many general rankings.
An academic ranking with some objectivity has 5 Chinese, 1 Korean, and 1 Singaporean universities among global top 10 in biomedical engineering, for example:
A shift in perception among talents may start a positive feedback loop that propels innovation in East Asia (incl. Singapore) further. Today, many graduate students in top programs in the US are from Asia.
Over the long term, quality and rate of innovations are what determine global leaders (as a sibling comment suggests).
On a related note, if China wants to improve its STEM research prestige level, it needs to do something about the rampant fraud in research results that cause a lot of people to be highly skeptical of anything they publish.
If a vaccine developed in East Asia is either cheaper, more scalable, or more effective, increased self-confidence would mean many top students will choose to pursue graduate studies at home instead of the US. This is in addition to fear of being discriminated against because of the pandemic.
Given the number of top people in East Asia with strong quantitative skills, it would significantly shift research momentum to the east.
Actually Depression changed consumer habits for entire generation. People saved more, spent less, kept money under the mattress etc. Not a generation that you can kick-start an economy with.
I think lots of experiences like this with her led to me quite unfairly latching onto the "ok boomer" ageist wave. Time and Time again she would do things that would make me wonder "wtf did your generation learn from all the lessons you went through..."
I have such options, exercised them a few years ago when I was 'done' with a particular industry and I wanted to change (networking to web dev, I'm so much happier with my work now), but my ability to do so was largely because the job I had done was a pretty good job pay wise (so I could save) / I received a severance, etc. The jobs that are getting shutdown are different / the people I suspect have fewer options.... at least in the US.
This is exactly why social safety nets are limited in the US. A social safety net drives up wages. Workers no longer rely upon a job to the degree they did before.
So it raises wages and raises taxes, which raise cost for everyone else. It forces managers to actually pay a living wage and take care of employees, which hurts them because they can't treat people like shit to get good numbers to show their managers.
Australians love cafe culture and 6 months ago, if you opened a cafe in the Sydney CBD and if you could make good fast coffee, you'd have a great trade with good revenue to match. But now, those small business owners are going to lose business and homes.
And a lot of workers may come back, but they won't stay.
It's really really bad because we don't have a lot of industries that have openings that can just absorb new hires. Industry doesn't train up people any more, maybe that trend will revert but I really worry for a bubble of people in my community that may loose out and never get a strong footing back.
This event forcing America to adopt more progressive policies after experiencing suffering without them wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Sometimes things must get worse for them to get better.
Most of the legislation is temporary heading into an election. I suspect the GOP would be happy to cut that net ASAP and sadly their own voters would support it.
I suspect that they will both have failures and successes that will largely be localized and that we'll find out that those features that made a healthcare system robust don't correlate that much with being a public system or a market system. It will probably correlate more strongly with culture.
Note that in Italy and Spain, reverse triage is being done based on your at risk status, age, and other complications. If you're young and healthy, you take priority. I imagine the same will be done in the US, and those who are more likely to survive will be provided with ventilators and other medical equipment to survive, not those who can pay or with insurance; medical practitioners are making the call, not the chargemaster and CFO.
Public healthcare systems won't need a bailout, they're already government supported. We'll move money around on the nation state balance sheet and move on. Private systems though may not survive. That's culture though, so perhaps you're right.
Well, unless we libertarians were right all along and these progressive policies are unmaintainable over a longer period of time. At this point, I think we're about to find out one way or another.
That's a really vague statement.
"And do you know what would really help those people while they retrain for new jobs? A thousand bucks a month!"
Let's be real about what he put on the table.
I know its not a popular opinion, but when I see my Nanny wanting to get ahead by taking night classes, and those classes have her studying and writing 19th century poetry... I can't help but feel deeply frustrated by the disconnect. How could she possibly stay motivated to finish school, when its only giving her hoops to jump through and no practical skills to get into a better job? How could I convince her to e.g. take programming lessons from me, when society and her parents are telling her a college degree (that, at this rate, she'll unlikely obtain) is what will help her most? /rant
Absolutely and it goes beyond the profiteering that people typically rant about. The barriers to obtaining a degree for the sake of obtaining a degree are high in itself. Then we add bureaucracy and a bottom-up approach to teaching that I think excludes a good amount of potentially qualified people that would otherwise do great.
I don't think it's appreciated here on HN because a good chunk of the members have higher education degrees and can't see past their own bias, hence the down-votes and lack of actual responses. I've seen this topic appear before and with it comes condescending responses towards those that don't hold a degree. This was especially evident on the HN platform when people learned Edward Snowden was a drop-out.
The current attitude towards this is well rooted in society and still a hard one to break. Thankfully tech companies are starting to come around to the idea.
Ding ding ding. I've gotten my share of flak on a couple occasions for working in IT without a degree.
These people looking down on me are probably right that they're smarter than me and more knowledgeable than me and could probably code circles around me. I know I ain't getting a FAANG job any time soon. I know full well that there are gaps in my knowledge that someday I'd be interested in filling once I've got enough saved up to try college again. Doesn't mean I can't be productive, too, nor does it mean I can't teach myself what I need to know to get the job done. Maybe duct-taping systems together with MSSQL sprocs and proprietary programming languages/runtimes and shell scripts and CSVs ain't the most glamorous work compared to playing around with blockchains and neural nets and Jupyter notebooks, but it's work that needs done regardless, and I ain't too proud to do it, even if it's putting grey hairs on my head decades before they've got any business being there.
"Top-down" v. "bottom-up" is definitely a good way of putting it. The code I write ain't pretty, but it's gonna do exactly what I need it to do to solve the user's problem, and chances are it's solving problems for which there are no elegant solutions. It ain't gonna run like a Lamborghini, but that's okay; I just need it to run like a Tacoma.
Honestly I see that as something that isn't taught enough / we have a very structured system that is "here is how you're going to learn it... good luck" that doesn't provide a lot of options.
I do agree with the idea that your traditional 4 year college education system is poorly equipped to help redirect existing workers.
I also think about universal basic income and what life would feel like if I suddenly was left to my own devices and had the luxury to learn any subject I wanted, pursue new hobbies and crafts without dragging myself into work with stop and go traffic both ways, zapping my creative energy and making me a more jaded person day by day and the week progresses.
While I think the US response to Corona was slower than the response in my country I feel the US is the only country that's seriously discussing economic repercussions and debating the medical experts.
In EU (at least in my country) it's doctors running things and we are in "stop the pandemic at all cost". Everyone is in panic due to Italy situation. But doctors are only trained to see the medical side of the picture - and there is a point at which this approach to fighting the virus is going to have worse consequences than a full blown pandemic itself - I don't see anyone publicly discussing this point around here.
In Italy, where I'm in my third week being shut in, experts and doctors are being quoted tiredlessly by the news: the problem is that they're doing their job (which is good!) however they do not realize the impact of their suggested measures. Not their fault by any means, but:
a. They're effectively scaring the population (an WHO advisor here suggested 6-9 months lockdown, which is likely impractical and will have devastating consequences on the social fabric, even without thinking about the economy)
b. The politicians are so scared of the virus that they're completely abdicating their functions (in Italy the Parliament was closed for two weeks, and the judicial system has been completely shut down as well) and doing whatever they're being told.
If this virus was far deadlier and affected young people, I think the tone on this very site would change in a heartbeat.
Similar to what happened after the financial crisis with additional financial regulation.
I have no doubt another pandemic will happen, and we'll likely have forgotten what it's like, so having policies in place becomes even more important.
But that's only temporary.
It's like developers starting over and promising themselves that they won't accrue technical debt this time. And then life happens and you need to push that feature quickly and a few years down the line, you're sitting there saying "we need to start over, this is too much trash held together by hopes and dreams".
Companies will cut corners, because that's their main focus. Politicians will reduce regulations, because that's how they stimulate locale economy, and we're back at square one in no time.
The only lasting shift, aside from potentially more work from home, is people making sure they'll always have an extra package of toilet paper. They won't flee the cities (where viruses can spread much better), even though the rent is killing them, and they won't go into voluntary lock down the next time a thousand people die in China of some lung disease.
In fact, most of the hard problems the world faces will require investments that take longer than 10 years to return on.
The economy is important - but maybe our economy needs to be a little less growth oriented and a little more resilient.
> The economy is important - but maybe our economy needs to be a little less growth oriented and a little more resilient.
I absolutely agree, but I also believe that's not going to happen. And it's not because there's some cabal that won't let it, it's just that everybody wants more and I don't see that changing. Our economic setup with the constant demand for growth is just the result of that. I don't believe you can put the genie back in the bottle, few people are at a point in life where they'd be happy to stay at that level for the rest of their days.
This is pointless, circular logic. It is funded to be a threat to defend its interests, from threats, that may never materialize.
It will change in the right circumstances. We may be closer to them than most think.
That sure might change, and it won't be pretty for US citizens, but it will be great for plenty of countries. Until they get under China's rule, of course.
As soon as the government can detect a 16-times increase in the number of cases, act, and still be soon enough for the next 200-times increase not to be a tragedy, it is a good time to leave the quarantine. Right now Italy can't stand the first increase.
The good news is that each time the disease spreads, those numbers become smaller, the bad news is that we don't know by how much.
It won't be able to hold a long-standing quarantine. Probably a couple of months tops. That's not even mentioning the economy. As I said, endured isolation will have very bad side effects.
Yes, there are economic consequences, but the alternative is quite a lot of avoidable deaths.
As Bill gates said, we can't say- "Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner. We want you to keep spending because there’s maybe a politician who thinks GDP growth is all that counts"
The truth is that it seems our choice is relatively simple:
1) Allow the virus to spread rapidly, overload the health system, kill many people, until herd immunity is reached.
2)Do partial shut down measures, some partial efforts at testing and contact tracing, let the virus continue for a long time, and more slowly reach option 1.
3)Do strong shut down measures until the virus is able to be controlled by a strong testing+contact tracing regime.
Iran (seems to have?) chosen option 1.
Italy started with option 2, and will hopefully move into option 3.
Option 3 is the only acceptable option that doesn't destroy the economy and health systems.
Unchecked, 10 cases of this virus will turn into 100s of thousands. That is the same with 10 cases in March, or 10 cases in May or 10 cases in any month.
“That pile of bodies” is mainly the elderly and terminally ill, demographics that society already seems to have little problem ignoring. Even now the worry among most of the population seems to be that those demographics will overwhelm the health system, preventing everyone else from getting medical attention. But this could be solved by triaging, which is rumoured to already be the de facto standard in Italy (i.e. if you are over 60 and show coronavirus symptoms, other patients take priority over you).
The longer the lockdowns in various countries go on, the stronger I think societal pressure for solution 1) – with triaging to avoid overloading the health system – is going to get.
Considering the numbers of infected people confirmed alone and the percentage of asymptomatic cases contact tracing and testing sounds about as realistic as waiting on a cure.
How do we assess contingency levels, other than after-the-fact measure of fatalities? Contingency is highly variable across the country. Rural areas have a lot of personal distancing built in. Urban areas certainly aren't in China-style lockdown, or South Korea-style technology+culture distancing based on prior experience. Nationally, I think the U.S. is at best taking a "moderate contingency" approach.
Each state's governor has control over the contingency, short of the president declaring martial law. e.g. in Mississippi the governor has declared most businesses are "essential" and thus open for business, expressly contradicting local ordinances more strictly defining what is essential. We very likely will see localized variations in infection and fatality rates as a result of these variations.
Therefore I don't know whether the progression of the disease is even predictable.
That is what would happen if you just let the thing pass. Those charts of "squashing the sombrero" have the number of beds at a very low place compared to the expected hump of cases. On some of them you can barely even see the gap between the red line and the zero line, due to the scale of the hump.
Death rates would shoot up way above what is normal for the disease, people would die of all sorts of other preventable things too.
Some places' ERs are already at capacity, and there's no way I would go to one right now unless I was almost at death's doorstep. That's not necessarily a good thing if something happens that should normally require an ER visit.
Interestingly enough, questioning the health of that particular institution is much more taboo than most in this crisis. Given the practical importance of patient faith in the healthcare provider that may be reasonable, but for my money I'd like to be able to try and imagine a better healthcare system in a public forum without getting downvoted for criticizing its current incarnation.
You start rapidly building additional capacity to handle the load.
It won't be permanent. It will be like a forest fire and kill a lot of people and be horrible, but will eventually die down due to heard immunity.
You don't want people dying needlessly for half a year.
And while the overload is on, the economy will be affected, whatever the response is.
Here's a set of 3 questions that I think leads to a possible answer.
- How much would someone have to pay you to be put to sleep for 8 years, during which period you have no sensory input or output?
- Would you rather be put to sleep for 8 years now or at the end of your life?
- Do you have a preference over being put to sleep for the last 8 years of your life vs just dying straight up?
I think most people would be willing to go to sleep for 8 years for $2 million. And, most would prefer dying 8 years sooner over going to sleep now.
In other words, $2m > sleep for 8 years now > dying 8 years earlier == coronavirus victim
The moral dilemma is that we're asking one person to die 8 years sooner to create an outbalanced improvement in quality of life increase for someone else. That is, you're taking away well-being from one person to give to another. I think government officials implement policies that redistribute human well-being all the time, but it raises alarm bells when we start dealing with life and death.
The impacts of corona measures will lead to the economic slowdown and general reduction of wealth - for you this might mean that you lose your job, can't afford to buy a new apartment, car, furniture, electronics, clothes, etc. but for people that live close to poverty level that just got out of that place because of globalisation and increased economic growth this will result in less access to basic infrastructure, medications, food, development opportunities.
And that's not even touching the reduction in R&D and economic activity that would improve the lives of people. For example - consider risky tech companies like Tesla being wiped out by market conditions - who is going to do R&D in things like battery tech in an economy where people are pulling out of capital investment ? Even the established companies with cash reserves will scale back R&D. And this will happen across the board - which will in turn make future crisis more difficult to deal with.
You don't see people crowding onto fishing boats or hiking treacherous desert to escape Europe ($38k). We can probably afford to fall to that level. It'll be a major lifestyle adjustment, but a doable one.
Looking down the scale to Latin America: Chile, Panama, and Argentina are pretty okay (~$15k). Less so for your typical American middle-class suburbanite, but people have good lives there. Even Brazil is decent (~$10k). But once we start pushing into Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, etc ($6-7k) the natives start accepting pretty significant risks to get out.
US GDP per capita is about $60k. Although it will be a terrifying shock, we can probably fall to about 10% of that before things are truly desperate. But once we're talking about killing more than 90% of the economy: yes, people might in fact prefer death.
The medical experts do consider economic and market impacts, and there are alignments in governments how to balance everything. However, since this is an unprecedented health crisis with unknown ramifications, that is first priority. Many measures are to create wiggling room to handle what unknown unknowns may come down the road as well.
This shows us systemic vulnerabilities, and societies will be forever changed, probably for the better.
And the politicians in charge are too afraid to debate the experts and frankly lack any leadership at all in this situation - (with a few exceptions in other countries). Blindly listening to experts of one domain because you are afraid is not leadership, they are supposed to do balancing decisions - and from what I see in the media they basically delegated the government responsibilities - if they are discussing this they are certainly not making their discussions or reasoning public.
I often hear it framed as: "How much is a person's life worth?" or some general reference to stock values.
But when people say "economy" this is what it really means:
Cash flow, supply chains, jobs, bankruptcy, debt, poverty, famine and more than likely families breaking up (financial stress is the #1 cause of divorce) plus a spike in suicides.
That's the economic impact. And when the question of virtually guaranteeing that outcome around the world to a significant portion of the global population vs a risk of a negative outcome for for the percentage of people who are susceptible to serious issues from COVID-19...it gets a heck of a lot murkier.
There's not a heartless bad guy in this situation. Both outcomes are terrible and if you purely look at the number of people negatively impacted, the economic fallout of this approach with its cascading effects look significantly worse.
Not to mention what happens when you take into account the positive effects a recession and drop in production has to: air quality, worker health, general mortality, and climate change?
There is always a tradeoff.
The virus will kill X and reduce the quality of life for Y people. The economic disruption will kill Z people and reduce the quality of life for Z2.
There is a difference between trading my life, or trading a new laptop now instead of saving for it. That is what we are looking at here.
So even if my quality of life goes down, food/health/shelter contributes the majority to that, probably 85%. The rest is all worthless junk.
If the economy is failing to the extent that food is in short supply - that is different. There is no indication that will happen.
Economic conditions have real and immediate health consequences too.
For example, in 2010 US unemployment briefly grew about 6% to a total of 10% in the US and there were 40,000 additional deaths from cancer alone. When you consider heart disease, other indications, drug abuse, and suicide, the numbers are much greater. The often cited number of 40k for each percent unemployment may not be far off if these factors are taken together.
This trend also holds true in the OECD where social programs are more common because there are still budgetary constraints on centralized healthcare.
His parents had a house, with a yard. There was air conditioning, cable TV, and each child had his own room. I distinctly remember a nearly-server-class PC much better specced than anything my family owned (a dual-processor desktop in the 1990's!)
Poverty stats don't tell the whole story, especially if they're only based on income levels. A wage that would have you living out of your car in SF might allow a squarely lower-middle-class lifestyle in the rural Rust Belt.
It is a bit of a mystery to me why Congress isn't just providing better funding/financing for all the existing programs. I'm not sure why there should be new types of programs to help individuals. I'm deeply suspicious of efforts to prop up businesses, I'd rather have the focus be on individuals and let businesses figure out the best way forward. For some businesses bankruptcy might be the best solution because the business model has completely changed.
But the urgency and focus on economic measures in the US does have justification. Here in the US, we need things like free testing (already the case in most nations) and to handle the surge in unemployment (we have a system, is is just less robust than most wealthy nations, hence the very urgent need to dramatically expand it).
I made no mention of "which country is or isn't going to come out of this with the least amount of damage", only reiterated the well-known fact that the US has one of the meekest welfare states of any wealthy nation. That had not yet been mentioned in the thread and seemed extremely relevant.
So if you close all non-essential businesses, unemployment rises, which increases the likelihood of people losing health insurance, losing homes, not paying electrical bills, communication (internet / phone) bills, etc. If some people lose all those things and don't have access to them again for 2+ months, and have no other safety net, they might die. Doubly so considering the hospitals may be at capacity with COVID-19 cases.
So, what would be better - keep people at home and unemployed, where people die by lack of resources, or keep people going out where people die by spreading COVID-19?
The third options is to keep people at their residences but either pay them or reduce their bills / mortgages etc to 0 while COVID-19 blows over. But that could take 2-18 months. It was hard enough getting $1200 once for every American household - I doubt it will continue for another 18 months until a vaccine is developed.
The state helping the people to survive this crisis or not is a political choice.
The more difficult political problem is how the financial pain is going to be distributed and how we reboot the economy. How assistance is distributed, taxes are adjusted, or fiscal measures are taken is going to be very complicated with opportunities to create winners and losers based on the policies. So far I'm not particularly impressed by Congress in this area.
If any of the 40+ trials going on for drugs is successful and makes COVID-19 clinically manageable, it would improve the situation earlier than just waiting out a vaccine (which, like the drugs, may not work at all).
None of this is true because non-essential bills have also been shut down.
If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the spirit of this site when posting here, we'd be grateful. Examples:
"Comments should get more thoughtful and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive."
"Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith."
This is an unfair way to characterize this difficult issue.
In what way is the fact that there will be two different levels of economic costs in two scenarios a 'false dichotomy'?
Edit: I think this is worth clarifying. I may misunderstand you, but it looks like there are two errors in your post. The first is treating differing scenarios with differing outcomes as if they were the same, simply because they have some facet in common.
The second is a mis-use of the term 'false dichotomy'. If you believe that a choice between two options will have the same outcome, that is not a false dichotomy. A false dichotomy is a logical fallacy, a special case of the fallacy of exhaustive hypothesis. Here, one wrongly assumes that there are only two possible choices and uses this assumption to arrive at some seemingly logically derived conclusion.
My apologies if I've misunderstood your intended meaning from your short post.
It is indeed a false dichotomy. If anything, just irresponsibly letting nature run its course will be worse. Besides, recessions have been consistently associated with decreases of death rates. There is no evidence, and plenty of counter-evidence, that recessions cause increased death. Of course, we are getting a recession either way.
What do you think 'false dichotomy' means? How does it apply, here?
But nah, the "market" apparently entirely consists of assholes on Wall Street playing Capitalism II and lobbying governments for payouts. No way it has any real impact!
Paying rent and mortgage, on the other hand, isn't material. If you don't pay it nothing material changes - it's not an iron law of the world in the way that hunger is, evictions are a choice. Admittedly it transfers the problem to someone else, but if the solution to maintaining everyone fed includes them then they're not going to go hungry.
Financial conditions also have a time tradeoff. Reducing retirement funds affects material conditions in the future. Or the date at which people are able to retire.
If you had a button you could press which let you retire immediately, but (with probability P) took the life of some random person in the world, would you press it? With what value of P?
For example, in 2010 US unemployment briefly grew about 6% to a total of 10% in the US and there were 40,000 additional deaths from cancer alone. When you consider heart disease, other indications, drug abuse, and suicide, the numbers are much greater. The often cited number of 40k for each percent unemployment may not be far off if these factors are taken together.
Here is a Meta-analysis showing that the risk of death was 63% higher among those who experienced unemployment in the US AND Europe
You are delusional to think it is possible to suspend payments without printing massive amounts of money that will certainly lead to more death.
Currency inflation kills. Look at venezuela. You cannot shrug this off. At least consider the effects.
> By March 2009, it held $1.75 trillion of bank debt, mortgage-backed securities, and Treasury notes; this amount reached a peak of $2.1 trillion in June 2010.
That feels like a lot of liquidity to me.
Liquidity expansion through loans and purchase of credit and equity instruments simply isn't very inflationary. It can only cause real price inflation if the money starts chasing a shortage of real goods and services - which are currently being dramatically underproduced. If it does start causing inflation, the Fed can and will simply raise interest rates from their current near-zero level. Or fiscal policy can be used.
Venezuela is under sanctions which are intended to exacerbate the situation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_sanctions_during...
What the fed is doing is printing money now that will be destroyed later, or held in reserve. Either way, it is backed by actual financial instruments (whatever equity or bonds or notes they're buying).
We've done a middling job at making sure people have air and water, less good with food and even worse with shelter and medicine. But liquidity? That should be last on the list of things to worry about. It should always be last.
We should believe that some economic curses last multiple lifetimes.
Death is not a problem, everyone dies, nobody knows when they will. Could be someone pressing a button, could be a bus, could be old age. You can die tomorrow. But suffering, that really matters. I wouldn't make someone suffer, but if it's quick painless death... way harder question.
I just really dislike the focus on living rather than focusing on the value of life. I mean this in a pre-pandemic sense. Hearing people talk about fear of death, and yet accept a lifetime of meaninglessness.. just irks me.
Seeing that doing nothing will likely lead to lead to millions of deaths, how would the lockdown possibly kill more than that? Are you under the impression people will just willingly starve to death, or that fighting over food will get so bad that millions of people will die?
The lockdown is wasting months to years of billions of people's lives. That has to be equivalent to some number of deaths, hard to quantify how many, but it's greater than zero.
Also, a bad economy literally kills people by starvation albeit in foreign, poor countries that don't have food surpluses or the ability to print USD.
And if we locked down the global economy for a year or two until a vaccine is developed, yes it's not out of the realm of possibility that millions worldwide would die a result of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th order consequences of that decision. Look how many stress fractures are occurring after just a few weeks. You think they'll get better with time and continued stress?
Honestly I think the UK had the best original strategy of locking down the people most at risk, make sure they're taken care of as much as possible, and letting everyone else get herd immunity as quick as possible. But people weren't/aren't willing to accept that, and likely still won't for at least the next few weeks.
Finally, the UK changed their strategy away from sequestering the 70+ population because Imperial College told them that would only halve their death toll, and it would still remain solidly in the millions (for a country of 66 million).
But if we're just talking about the US: The range from the CDC models last I checked is anywhere from 163,000 - 1.7 million for a country of ~330 million.
By comparison the opioid epidemic alone has already killed somewhere between 100,000 - 200,000+ over the last 5 years. And that was largely the result of a kinder, gentler, less dramatic economic shock known as the 2008 recession and decades of preceding industrial decline.
We've already compressed shocks that took months in 2008 to weeks, not the least of which is the record unemployment filings in the posted article. Hence the largest stimulus package in world history being passed in days.
"The economy" is not some vague abstract number on the evening news, and economic shocks do kill people, it's just less tangible than a virus. If this continues for more than a month or two I expect people returning to work out of desperation and then receiving death threats for doing so, and things will get uglier from there if the lockdowns continue.
The problem in the UK is that they seemed to have no substance to the plan. Yes, hard lock down the people at risk, but where is the government response to make that possible?
If they had a well developed plan to carry out those words it might be worth doing, but they didn't and then caved when it was clear it was just rhetoric.
Please show us your calculations.
Or just a shortage in distribution mechanisms for it, because we are unwilling to consider emergency measures during an emergency?
Also: even that conversation seems like a huge false choice. Why not just give up on market capitalism for a few quarters and make sure everyone is fed/clothed/sheltered? It's not like houses disappear overnight if rent/mortgages aren't paid. And it's not like we've never suspended capitalism in the past -- the federal government put in price controls, effectively nationalized industries/supply chains, etc. during WWWII. And then we returned to capitalism afterward.
> But nah, the "market" apparently entirely consists of assholes on Wall Street playing Capitalism II and lobbying governments for payouts. No way it has any real impact!
TBF, those are the folks getting most of the economic relief so far. And not just from recent Congressional action. Somehow when it comes to ensuring liquidity in certain financial markets, the federal government can move mountains in minutes. But when it comes to people having a safe place to sleep and food to eat we're the mercy of the invisible hand.
Why can't e.g. HUD, unilaterally and without congressional action, create "liquidity in the housing market" by making enormous zero-interest loans to everyday folk whenever they feel like that's necessary?
People who trade in equities and bonds have enormously powerful economic backstops, which people who merely pay rents and mortgages and buy food do not have.
Society already does this with the automobile. 36,000 people die every year for the convenience of driving, which I feel is a completely reasonable tradeoff, and this is not a controversy, at least in the united states.
Unrelated but curious, why do you feel it's a completely reasonable tradeoff? In my mind, automobiles have led to a class (and historically race) divide which further segregates and polarizes sects of society.
As for whether I think it's a "reasonable tradeoff". I don't know, but maybe because it's not brought up as controversial by society. This is not a good reason, I suppose, but I haven't really thought about it. I guess I'm mindlessly mimicing the ethics of people around me.