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The neoliberal era is ending. What comes next? (thecorrespondent.com)
58 points by paulpauper on July 2, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 87 comments

This was posted here about a month an half ago. Unfortunately, this article causes comment sections to erupt into flames. I find it problematic since it spreads misinformation about economics as a profession.

Economist Russ Roberts does a great job addressing most of the points in this article [0].

Although Hayek and Friedman may have been intellectually very interesting, I have a hard time believing they had much influence on the trajectory of public policy (at least, not nearly as much as OP's article implies).

Speaking anecdotally, I studied economics in my undergrad, and I never encountered Friedman or Hayek in my curriculum. In fact, I can count the number of students I met familiar with their ideas with one hand.

[0] https://medium.com/@russroberts/the-economist-as-scapegoat-9...

>Although Hayek and Friedman may have been intellectually very interesting, I have a hard time believing they had much influence on the trajectory of public policy

Friedman was literally the economics advisor to Ronald Reagan, both in campaign and during the entire administration. All the "Reaganomics" policies of the 80s were greatly influenced by his theories. That's as much influence an economist could have on public policy besides actually being the president.

During the housing price bubble 2001-2007, the economics profession on the whole, lead by University of Chicago economists (which is where Friedman taught) told us everything was fine, due to efficient market theory.

People in the future will be asking themselves, how the whole 'school of Chicago economics' wasn't tried for crimes against humanity.

And I am not only talking for spreading this silly not notions of invisible hand adjusting markets and utopia will arrive.

Those people destroyed south American countries in their little free market playgrounds. And all they 'learnt' was that those models failed because the markets were not free enough.

IMO, the vast majority of HN is neoliberal in the traditional sense. Which we can oversimplify as "Liberal goals, Conservative means". In other words they wish to guide corporations and markets towards goals that traditionally would be provided by big government.

UBI is the ultimate neoliberal mechanism. Provide money directly to people to let the market work rather than a massive bureaucracy. Carbon taxes are also very neoliberal for a similar reason.

In fact, I think carbon taxes are the true neo-liberal litmus test. A socialist doesn't trust the market so thinks that heavy regulation is better than a carbon tax. Conservatives either disagree with the goal of the carbon tax or are just allergic to taxes in general. If you're pro-carbon tax you're probably ideologically somewhat neoliberal.

Politically neoliberalism was supposed to be this great compromise ground between liberals and conservatives that gave them both what they want.

In reality, it got totally co-opted by conservatives and corporate interests. It's way too easy to pay lip service to the "liberal goals" while concentrating on the "conservative means". Even somebody who truly has liberal goals in mind is only acting through the conservative means.

Ironically it's the conservatives who abandoned this compromise position first with the Tea Party and Trump.

Now neoliberalism is just a swear word that means "corporate shill".

One simple thing is for sure, if inequality continues to rise, or even just the perception of it, social unrest will follow. At some point, if you want a peaceful and free society, the low-income worker and up needs to feel that they can live a dignified life.

Remember the quote from the Communist Manifesto? "We got nothing to lose but our chains". At the time that was written it was certainly true for most workers, and we know of the revolutionary decades that followed. This perception can certainly take hold again, and there's no reason why revolutionary times wouldn't follow again.

You're being downvoted, but no-one cares to say why they disagree with you. FWIW, I think you're right that "there's no reason why revolutionary times [c]ouldn't follow again". History is strewn with revolutions, plenty of them (like the Russian revolution) motivated in part, or in whole, by huge issues of inequality. I don't see how anyone can conclude we'll never see another one, or that it won't affect us personally.

The NY Times and Business Roundtable addressed this issue last year. A society that values profits over people is a failed society.


Nearly 200 chief executives, including the leaders of Apple, Pepsi and Walmart, tried on Monday to redefine the role of business in society — and how companies are perceived by an increasingly skeptical public.

Breaking with decades of long-held corporate orthodoxy, the Business Roundtable issued a statement on “the purpose of a corporation,” arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers.

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” the group, a lobbying organization that represents many of America’s largest companies, said in a statement. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country

Neoliberal in the last 30 years meant corporation shedding any sense of Moral decency or obligation to its country and citizens. And sell its soul for the cheapest labor. This is how you end up with American companies purchasing hairs from Uighurs in concentration camps in China.

Neoliberal in the last 30 years meant laughing and deriding your fellow citizens because they lived in a state that was hollowed out by globalization and money concentrating in the states that exploited cheap labors.

Neoliberals are dead? Thank goodness!!! We welcome back nationalism

I'll wait for the vaccine to come out. Then we'll see if this article was just a stir in a pot or real deal. My bet is for stir.

Sure, something will change even after vaccine, but not to such significance as the article's author is saying.

This pandemic is a faint shadow of the real crisis that's coming, climate change. The idea that the world will just go back to normal once we have our miracle medicine is fundamentally flawed. That's because "normal" was a speeding freight train to environmental collapse. There is an opportunity in our current tragedy, for as sad as the COVID death toll is, it will be small potatoes to the crisis that's coming. Maybe this was unthinkable in the west until now, but how's your grocery shopping been over the past few months, seen any shortages? You ain't seen nothin' yet. No Ecosystem == No Soil == No Food.

+1, 100% agree on climate change. As for coming back to former 2019 status, I did said some changes will happen, just not that radical ones.

Hopefully this will include slow down of climate change. Some things are better even now, for example destruction of ozone layer and the hole over Australia/Antarctica, it's smaller now then was in 90's.

Reminder that Sweden, with their relatively lax COVD restrictions, are a month past no excess mortality: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-sweden...

There were a few places I went to in Europe (not Sweden, maybe one day) where I was absolutely shocked how high the level of trust was. If you have trust, you don’t need rules, because you tell people to be safe and wear masks and they do it because they want to beat the virus.

The US is the opposite. The results speak for themselves.

Yeah, that's how New Zealand got rid of Covid completely, trust in the government and science. But, the government didn't abuse that trust by being very transparent about the response, science, and data modelling.

And by "the results," you mean fewer deaths per million than Sweden (or France, or Italy, or the UK...)? https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deat...

You should read past the first page of that table. Germany and Denmark have 1/3 the death per capita of the US. The Czechs have 1/10 of it.

I’m not saying the US has the best outcomes. I’m saying European high-trust culture has nothing to do with the results. European countries have done much better and much worse.

They absolutely have, I didn't mean to suggest "trust is a magic bullet that solves your problems." Of course not, that'd be ridiculous.

I'm saying in a higher trust culture, you'll see better compliance on everything we ought to be doing even without imposing strict rules. That's an advantage, and it means how strict the rules are doesn't necessarily match how people changed their behavior.

That's all.

Excess mortality doesn't paint the complete picture anyway, although Sweden didn't go into lockdown they did require people to work from home if able which would have reduced mortality rates from workplace incidents, traffic, etc.

There was never a neoliberal era.

One example: financial privacy.

The AML regime started in the 1970s with the passing of the Bank Secrecy Act, and accelerated after the 911 attack.

Many developed countries instituted programs in the 1990s and 2000s to begin overtly mass surveilling all private economic interactions, or deputizing banks to do so. For example, FINTRAC was created in Canada in 2000.

Financial privacy is a cornerstone of financial liberty. Without it, power concentrates in the hands of the state, which is what we see, with Washington D.C. real median household income increasing 66% over the last 20 years, while the rest of the US saw it increase 5.23%.

Another example: healthcare.

Many developed countries created national healthcare programs in the 1960s, like the US with Medicare in 1966.

These programs steadily grew in size in the decades since.

Regulations in the US healthcare system steadily increased since the 1970s as well. This expansion of regulations was so significant that it caused the number of hospital administrators to increase 3,200% between 1975 and 2010, compared to a 150% increase in the number of physicians:


Yet another example: occupational licensing. Only 5% of jobs in the US in 1950 required an occupational license. Today that number is around 29%.

And another example: land-use rights. In major cities, regulations on land-use have accumulated since 1960:


>>As described by Glaeser (2014), since the 1960s coastal US cit- ies have gone through a property rights revolution that has significantly reduced the elasticity of housing supply: “In the 1960s, developers found it easy to do business in much of the country. In the past 25 years, construction has come to face enormous challenges from any local opposition. In some areas it feels as if every neighbor has veto rights over every project.”

No less than the White House's Council of Economic Advisors has blamed this rise in restrictiveness in housing in major coastal metropolises for rising rental rates, and spatial misallocation of labor, leading to lower wage growth and increased income inequality:


Government spending also massively rose, as a percentage of GDP, since the 1970s.

In the US, social welfare spending increased at an annualized rate of 4.8% between 1972 and 2011:


The end result is a much higher fraction of economic output being redistributed by government, and thus controlled by political forces.

In the US at least, any broad-based measure of how regulated the economy is, or how much of it is constituted by government spending, shows the economy moving away from market-based liberalism and towards centralized government throughout the last 50 years.

For the first time in almost a decade on HN I see ALL parent comments (six, as of now) greyed out. This can't be right... 32 comments stemming from these downvoted ones can't be a good sign for discussions. Sometimes economically/politically sensitive news are depressing in the comments section and I think we can do better. I don't even know how to comment about the article now, fearing random rage of someone else.


You are employing that "regular folks" shtick that is intended to denigrate everyone disagreeing with you as not-a-real-person.

It takes a certain panache (or ignorance) to use in a complaint about "demonisation".

Neoliberal doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. Most of the Americans who call themselves "conservatives" actually ARE neoliberals and don't even realize it.

>Conservatives get bashed on hacker news

I don't see any more "bashing" of conservatives than liberals on HN. You may perceive prevalent opinions as more liberal than conservative, and you may perceive prevalent criticism of things that are more conservative than liberal, but that's not the same as "bashing", and usually the topic is not even explicitly liberal or conservative (except by association). You should consider that this may be a victim mentality you're falling into.

> Conservatives get bashed on hacker news. We get it, there are plenty of neoliberals here.

“Neoliberals” are a (center-right) subset of conservatives.



I think you're letting negative emotions get the best of you - the existence of a prevailing opinion or a political leaning is not, by itself, "group think", and it's even further from "incuriousness", which is essentially just an insult if you don't know a person outside of their posts on one topic. The term "group think" is frequently reached for as an intellectually lazy self defense in places like forums where you can count the number of posts that "disagree" with you, which can trigger such defensive emotions.

You're doing what midwits on here typically do — namely, manipulating words directly instead of translating words into a model (operationalizing terms), manipulating the model, and translating back to communicate. The logocentrism of the innumerate. It's boring.

Even if you're right, supercilious putdowns only make things worse. Posturing as superior to the community you're participating in is in bad taste and at least as boring.

Would you please not use alt accounts to post like this?

"Turns out, high taxes need not be bad for the economy. On the contrary, high taxes can make capitalism work better. (In 1952, the highest income tax bracket in the United States was 92%, and the economy grew faster than ever.)"

If you ask most of the MAGA folk about what era they think America was greatest and most of 'em will cite the 1950s. When you point out what the tax rates were back then they're generally incredulous and figure you're making it up.

In 1912 the federal income tax rate was zero in USA

If you did even the slightest bit of research you'd understand that no one paid those rates.

The thesis of the article is, essentially:

> If there was one dogma that defined neoliberalism, it’s that most people are selfish. And it’s from that cynical view of human nature that all the rest followed – the privatisation, the growing inequality, and the erosion of the public sphere. [...] Now a space has opened up for a different, more realistic view of human nature: that humankind has evolved to cooperate. It’s from that conviction that all the rest can follow – a government based on trust, a tax system rooted in solidarity, and the sustainable investments needed to secure our future.

This is naive and, in my opinion, false. At the outset, I should say that I am a fan of Kissinger and his realpolitik, but even if I weren't, you needn't look further than China or Russia to easily counter that thesis. This idea of a kumbaya moment is cute and sounds good from the ivory tower of your typical Oxbridge academic, but the real world is nasty and grim. And people, for the most part, will act selfishly. Capitalism (and the markets) function based on the same premise. I don't really see that changing.

> The going assumption – on both sides of the political aisle – is that most wealth is “earned” at the top by visionary entrepreneurs, by men like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.

The air-quotes around "earned" are unfair. I mean, a ton of people use Amazon, or Facebook, or have Teslas, or what-have-you. Is Bregman trying to imply that this wealth isn't really earned? I don't really get it. Yes, there's a disparity, but I remain unconvinced that this disparity is somehow immoral. Bregman throws shade at Bezos but, as it turns out, Mazzucato (quoted by Bergman) mostly criticizes big pharma. There's a difference between tech and pharma, and the author disingenuously throws the baby out with the bathwater.

> At the outset, I should say that I am a fan of Kissinger and his realpolitik

Let me tell you a quick story. I have a branch in my family who was entirely wiped out (save for one boy) in the genocide in Timor-Leste, which killed 150,000 to 200,000 people (if that doesn't seem that much to you, the population of Timor was 688,000). That invasion was approved by the US (Kissinger and Ford met with Suharto on the eve of the invasion to give the OK), financed by the US, with troops trained by the US and armed by the US. The reason? The people of the freshly liberated country were on the verge of holding their first democratic elections, choosing a left-wing party, and declaring independence.

So pardon me if I'm not "a fan of his realpolitik". Disgusting mass murderers is what they are, it's not because they wore a suit that murder becomes something else. "Ivory tower" indeed.

My condolences.

I believe OP was supporting the idea of realpolitik as the theory which explains diplomatic relations. Whether the outcomes of this theory are just is not under consideration. The OP understands that nations negotiate under these realpolitik principles.

If I could venture a guess: what comes next is an era of some kind of communalism. In an era where natural resources are becoming expensive and climate change is becoming a daily reality, the way to maintain a high standard of living is through sharing things. You can see it happening through coliving spaces, coworking spaces, renewed interest in mass transit, and I think you’re going to see the growth of sharing economies of various kinds. This way to live abandons the total individualism of the market but without being a totalizing system like Soviet style communism. Obviously this is all guesswork on my part- but consider: this solves the problem of poverty (if most things are shared then they are available to all) it removes much of the overhead of huge militaries and policing (no poverty means much lower crime, and moving decisions down to the more local level removes incentives and opportunity for waging war), it allows a much higher standard of living with much lower environmental impact, if investment decisions are made on the communal level then financial engineering becomes much less prevalent- it just seems like localizing and democratizing decision making solves a lot of problems (no doubt it will create new ones but that’s the next generation’s problem). And as the article says, new ideas start on the margins and make their way inward, and I can tell you that these are the ideas on the margins right now.

Utopians like the author are simply unbearable. Socialist fail to see that business will dry up with making everyone comfortable and free market capitalist fail to see that there aren't many new frontiers to gain profit from to increase everyone's wealth. Growth and ingenuity is slowing in the only remaining frontier, the technology sector, as well. No growth lasts forever, the greater physical universe is bound to the stipulation of limited growth as well.

The west is in decline and it may take the rest of the world with it. If you want to survive learn useful skills, become more self-reliant, and protect you and yours. Utopia is impossible, unlimited wealth and happiness is impossible, matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred.

There's plenty of knowledge and technology left to discover, plenty of resources to transform, and plenty of space to grow into (including off-planet).

We just lack the will to do what's required because we're used to comfortable lifestyles and are unwilling to take risks.

> In the space of just three weeks, nearly 17 million people in the United States applied for economic impact payments.

Maybe that wouldn't have happened if the government hadn't forced businesses to close? As in, if you make it illegal to go to work, people will be without a job.

> In the 2008 financial crisis, it took two whole years for the country to reach even half that number.

Morale of the story: the government could in 3 weeks destroy the economy to a level that in the 2008 crisis took 2 years for the private market to achieve.

Scary, and I'm not sure it speaks for more government.

Unfortunately, this is not what the pro-state pro-intervention crowd that dominates HN wants to hear. I long for the old days of the libertarian hackers...

It wasn't three weeks of forcing businesses to close. It was three months of doing almost nothing to stop the spread, and decades of being socially unprepared for a crisis such as this.

Plenty of governments around the world took extreme measures, for months, to contain the virus, and saw massive economic damage in their country as a result of the measures.

So your American-centric, politicized explanation is misinformed.

Also, the US had more than three weeks of lockdowns.

>>and decades of being socially unprepared for a crisis such as this.

What kind of social preparations would have prevented the economic cataatrophe that occurred?

My response was to a comment on America's response, so yes, it was American-centric. That said, the lack in response also applies to Europe. The longer we waited, the harder it was to contain and the longer lock downs would need to happen, thus making the entire economic situation much worse.

> What kind of social preparations would have prevented the economic cataatrophe that occurred?

I never said anything would be prevented, but there's plenty lacking that could have helped. The people that are struggling right now were struggling before, this has just exasperated it immensely. Put it this way: it took weeks to get a single check out to Americans in need and they haven't seen anything since. Are these not things that could be improved?

Both could be true. Acting earlier could have prevented much of the economic damage, and the lockdowns could be causing them.

Taiwan and South Korea never instituted a lockdown. They instituted mask-wearing and aggressive contact tracing and did so early-on.

It could also be true that not acting early only leads to economic devasatation if the govermment's response to a high death toll is to institute lockdowns. In Sweden, the government did not respond to the high per capita death rate with a lockdown. In the EU and the US, most states did.

>Put it this way: it took weeks to get a single check out to Americans in need and they haven't seen anything since. Are these not things that could be improved?

So more personal savings is the kind of preparation that you're referring to, that would have lessened the damage? Well it's a well known fact in Economics that a social safety net reduces the personal savings rate.

One reason China has a personal savings rate of 40% is that it has very little in the way of a state-administered social safety net.

So to encourage people to better prepare with respect to personal savings, the West should have reduced its social welfare spending, instead of massively increasing it over the last 50 years.

Would it have been scarier to have let this virus rip through the population?

Since this isn't our first pandemic, it would be interesting to look back on the 1918 pandemic and the 1950s pandemic and see if anything can be learned from them. I don't have an opinion either way because I haven't studied them. But due to how drastically this situation continues to affect the entire world, I'm kind of surprised that I haven't really seen any mainstream comparisons.

How long did it last? What did they do? Was there a mass economic decline? If so, how could it have been avoided? If not, why not? Etc.

I suspect that because these questions are not being asked, it may be the case that there are things to learn which are counter to popular narratives. I could definitely be very wrong about that. But it might be worthwhile to explore.

One thing we learned from the 1918 pandemic is to not to give 40 mg of aspirin to people. One of the major causes of death during that time was bleeding out internally. We now know that 4mg is the max. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091002132346.h...

What caused the 1918 pandemic to become significantly more deadly in its second wave was the war inadvertedly forcing healthy asymptomatic carriers to stay in place, instead of preferentially spread their strain of the virus, while sending symptomatic carriers of the virus to hospitals which acted as conduits for transmission:


The one glaring difference from previous pandemics is that we are not quarantining our sick people from other members of their household, instead choosing to enforce "stay at home" orders. I'm not sure how much more evidence we need that this is a bad idea, particularly in multigenerational households.

You don’t have to look at 1918. You can just look at nearly every other country in the world and how it’s been impacted. South Korea, Italy, China, and so on are all reopening or have been reopened despite having been hit just as hard as the US in the beginning - they just acted much more swiftly in the beginning. The less action our government takes, the longer this is going to go on.

Sure you don't have to, but then you potentially end up with a bias and you definitely end up with an incomplete perspective, when completeness is defined by considering the complete set of experienced circumstances.

It may be the case that a hammer-like lockdown has largely stamped the virus out of many countries and that the US failed at that and is worse-off for it. It may also be the case that the US will build herd immunity faster and it the average infection rate and death rates will eventually converge to the same everywhere. We simply do not know yet, but people are judging as if we do.

If we look to the past, we may be able to gain insight into how it played out until completion and how it was or was not affected by regulation, local & international laws, and the layperson perspective. In the current instance, no country has yet played it out to completion so that is something we could not learn from other countries right now.

Just to give one counter-point:

Take New Zealand. Its geographical isolation, low population density and strict national lockdown and contact tracing, led to it eliminating the virus.

However, now it has a set of policies that increase its isolation, and is stuck with them until an effective vaccine or treatment is found:


In the absence of a vaccine, herd immunity is the only durable solution to the virus, and New Zealand is foregoing that solution to avoid a spike in deaths in the short term.

And indeed, the original plan, of 'flattening the curve' was tolerant of COVID19 deaths, and aiming for herd immunity.

But somewhere along the way, death from COVID19 became politically intolerable in the US, and now any rise in deaths leads to a call to re-lockdown, even when COVID19 cases are well below ICU capacity.

In 1918, the death toll spiked once people stopped giving a shit about self isolation, refusing to wear masks, etc. This is the same shit different day.

> Would it have been scarier to have let this virus rip through the population?

That's what is happening now in a lot of states that reopened. The lockdowns only delayed it. We wasted the opportunity of the lockdowns and didn't develop widespread testing, so as a result the lockdowns have done nothing except add government-enforced destruction of the economy on top of the damage the virus is doing.

The US has massively increased the amount of testing it's doing. It has some of the most widespread testing out there. Your media just kept on continually moving the goalposts on testing for stupid, partisan reasons whilst intentionally misleading you all about how America compared to the rest of the world.

Source? (Genuinely, could you link to an article comparing testing per 100k?)

Not easily. One of the ways the media maintains this illusion is by carefully avoiding comparing coronavirus testing per-capita once the US figures became too good. For example, if you Google for this you'll only find articles from mid-May like this one: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/12/health/us-coronavirus-tes... and even those carefully only compare to the countries which had more tests per capita in order to push the narrative the US is far behind everyone else.

Looking at the chart at https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, the US is 27th, with most of the countries above it being much smaller ones which are not an apples-to-apples comparison because there's more of them to cherry-pick and the wealthiest few can massively increase their per-capita numbers just by ponying up money and buying a disproportionately large share of global supply of consumables. The only large countries above the US are Russia (extremely fishy), the UK (whose press has been pushing about as hard on the narrative that our testing is behind the rest of the world as the US media has), and Spain. About a quarter of the countries above the US on the list don't even have 100k people, and only the ones I listed have much above 10 million. (New York State - population 19 million - would also easily beat the UK, Russia and Spain if it were a country.) It's also well ahead of the well-publicised testing success stories like South Korea and Germany.

Current testing rate in tests per day per capita is even more impressive: https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-testing

Incidentally, the US was one of the countries the UK press used to point at in order to convince us that our coronavirus testing was falling masssively behind the rest of the world and our government was failing us.

It might have been possible to curb the spread of the virus without drastic economic shutdown measures. Japan, for instance, was able to avoid such a drastic lockdown. However, Japan is not the US; it is very different in terms of geography, culture, and economy. Whether or not that kind of plan would have worked, the US response was (and is) suboptimal.

What if the virus really is a scam?

I mean, yes, it is killing some old people, but not all. And it is killing some younger people, but not all.

It’s mortality rate might be similar to the regular flu.

But the kicker, is that Spain just announced that they detected the virus in their frozen waste water from January 2019. This is almost a whole year before China even detected it in December 2019.

So it’s possible that this virus has been circulating around the world for a lot longer than we even realized. And if Spain’s announcement is legitimate, then, this means we have no clue where this virus could’ve originated.

People die. It's sad a fact of life.

Now people will still die + their families will be without a job.

This virus has a higher mortality than the flu, indeed. But the jury is still out to see if the current scenario will be better that the alternative (after you factor in suicides, depressions, overdoses, etc)

But personally, I would have much preferred to live in the alternative world where the virus would have spread freely and we'd already be in herd immunity (and with the economy not destroyed)

As long as nothing bad happened to you, right?

The mortality is around 1%. So in the US alone that would leave over 3 million dead. Due to this 50 state lukewarm solution I think we'll ultimately see 1 million dead. The economy is made up of people, by the way.

In addition to the mortality we're seeing people with permanent damage to lungs, kidneys, heart and other organs. There are people in their 20s and 30s who didn't have "serious" cases (as in they didn't need to be hospitalized) that are still having symptoms 3 months after onset that prevent them from working. There are estimates that up to 10% of people who have covid have symptoms lasting longer than 3 weeks. There could be additional economic consequences if a largish number of people end up with permanent disabilities due to covid-19.

From the get go, it was estimated that 80% of the world population would be infected within 18-24 months.

All the shutdown was intended to do was to "slow the spread" from the 18 months to 24 months, and to hopefully keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Once we knew how infectious it was, Covid was always expected to infect nearly everyone eventually, whether the economy was shut down or not.

The Chinese military has already given the go ahead to start injecting a vaccine developed by CanSino Biologics into military personnel. That's potentially 2 million people. https://fortune.com/2020/06/29/china-coronavirus-vaccine-mil... This vaccine has already gone through their phase1&2 trials. Whereas in the US a vaccine probably won't be available for about a year, it's quite possible that other countries will follow China's lead and accelerate their vaccine development & trials.

Slowing the spread was to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed (flatten the curve) but it was also to minimize the number of people infected before either a vaccine or effective treatments became available. In the US a vaccine is likely still a year off, but we already know more about how to treat this than we did 4 months ago. And in another 4 months we'll likely have even better treatments and protocols.

It's not inevitable that 80% have to be infected within 18-24 months. Other countries have slowed the spread with Hong Kong, S Korea and Taiwan being 3 of the more notable examples.

your moral high-ground has us increasing the powers of the government which is permanent. That's bad for everyone. Susceptible people could have stayed home, but now everyone else is paying for it.

> The economy is made up of people, by the way.

And there is almost always an economic boom after any plague or war. Vacuums get filled, create opportunity.

We don’t have to guess whether or not COVID-19 could be contained to a meaningful degree. The EU seems to be succeeding at it right now. The U.S. is digging its own graves (unfortunately literally in this case.)

If you think fear from COVID-19 would not have crippled the economy, well, maybe we’ll get the opportunity to see if that’s true in some localities. I’ll firmly bet on No, it totally would still, especially as the severity increases.

So far we are not digging more mass graves. While there is still some time for the lagging indicator to catch up, there doesn’t seem to be the massive deaths expected even though we have spikes.

The states caused our deaths. New York and others shoved the elderly (an at risk population) into nursing homes. This isn’t due to good or bad responses from the Feds. The state governments are what killed us. https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/02/opinions/steady-death-rate-co...

Ultimately the disease was going to infect us. The only question was “could we slow the spread of the disease in such a way that we don’t overwhelm the medical system?”

> If you think fear from COVID-19 would not have crippled the economy, well, maybe we’ll get the opportunity to see if that’s true in some localities.

Two reasons to believe fear of the virus would not have, by itself, crippled the economy:

1. If people were that afraid they would have been sheltering in place before the government ordered them to do so, but they were not doing that, and they only started doing that when the government ordered them to.

2. The behavior of people after the lockdowns ended.

>1. If people were that afraid they would have been sheltering in place before the government ordered them to do so, but they were not doing that, and they only started doing that when the government ordered them to.

People don't tend to fear something until it's tangible to them. When one of their family members or best friends gets ripped apart and then dumped into a grave, it will become a lot clearer very fast what kind of danger it can pose to oneself.

>2. The behavior of people after the lockdowns ended.

Some people are behaving that way, but I'm pretty sure it's mostly limited to America where we've decided wearing a mask is a political statement. (There are exceptions, but they are also often other places with similar or worse anti-science/medicine sentiment.) It's hard to even know what the outbreak would look like if both businesses and all ordinary people went back to normal. I know the economies have not recovered anywhere where lockdown has ended.

> I know the economies have not recovered anywhere where lockdown has ended.

On the other hand, we do know that the economies of countries that never locked down (Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Sweden) are doing better than economies in countries that did.

If countries that locked down are not recovering, that is likely a consequence of the lockdowns themselves. It's not a surprise that ordering everyone to stay at home would tank an economy.

Suicide dropped substantially during lockdown, a lot of people realised that there's more to life than the daily grind.

I can say from my experience that the economy runs a lot smoother and recovers a lot quicker if people aren't terrified about a pandemic causing them long term health implications and killing their family.

Companies are also taking steps to limit liability due to the virus, which also depresses employment and spending.

3 or 4 million people out of 350M would be expected to die. Maybe a bit of empathy would go a long way.

Perhaps it's more a damning evidence for the unrestrained capitalism you hold so dear, that it spells catastrophe and misery if people aren't unable to keep working their bullshit jobs in the middle of the most pressing public health crisis of the last 100 years.

>> I long for the old days of the libertarian hackers...

I share your feelings... I cam up in tech the early 90's, I can hardly recognize the hacker and free software communities any more

Very sad that authoritarianism is replacing individualism, free thinking and libertarian ideals that gave us soo much prosperity

> Very sad that authoritarianism is replacing individualism, free thinking and libertarian ideals that gave us soo much prosperity

Indeed, very sad. This is not what I signed for.

So I'm not sure I want to be in tech anymore. This is not my type of people, and not my ideals. I feel I was born too late to taste this spirit of freedom I can only read about, but not experience.

Are you kidding me? Did the government close down businesses for the heck of it, or by gross mismanagement, or... because there was a pandemic raging? If anything they've been accused of doing to little.

"Pro-state pro-intervention"? If there's anything even most hardcore (but sensible) libertarians think should be the job of the state would be catastrophe management (and defence against invasion and the like).

Just like anything, there are limits. I can empathize on your point about libertarianism, but in the case of a public health crisis versus individual rights, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Our government got that half-right and half-wrong, in my opinion. They did right by closing things down and creating ways enforce social distancing and masks protocols. They did wrong by spending more money propping up businesses as opposed to making payments directly to people. The extra unemployment benefit is a boon to most, but it runs out far too soon. The $1200 stimulus was far too little.

We need to incentivize not working, thus not spreading the virus, in the short term. We also should take this opportunity to force the Great Unwinding, let value-less businesses fail and the market return sane levels and not these QE-fueled, post-2008 crazytown numbers.

Worth repeating for those who aren't paying attention.

The virus has affected the economy. There was no escape from that. With no enforced closures people, for example, aren't going to restaurants because of the pile of bodies. Sociapaths may wish everyone ignored the piling up of the bodies and acted exactly as they would have without all those dead bodies but that's simply not how humans behave. Some fantasy that letting everything rip would have had the economy unaffected is just delusional.

So now we look at how to minimise the effect on the economy. (1) overreact early. (2) testing and contact tracing (3) quarantine (4) mask wearing. Taiwan. South Korea. Japan. Hong Kong. These are the models worth understanding.

The government does national defense. This fight against the virus that is killing us is national defense. The problem was hopelessly incompetent government. Becuase, as a libertarian, this is exactly when you need the government. There's literally no other option. It's the same as property rights enforcement. It's the same as pollution control.

As a libertarain I do not feel I have the right to discharge firearms at random in the street. I do not feel the laws against and punishments for doing so infringe on libertarian principles at all.

And so it goes for steps 1 through 4. Don't harm others for your own comfort. The end. Wear your mask when going inside anywhere that isn't your home like a genuine libertarian. This way we minimise the economic cost of the virus.

This way we save the most lives - more important to me.

(And maybe consider that being libertarian has nothing to say about being sociopathic, that's kind of the point, but we can choose not to be as well. That pile of bodies, each of them was loved and is a person who is missed. Taring libertarians as not caring about that at all s^%ts me. There are socialists who also don't care and irk me similarly).

There is a big problem with the argument that the virus would have destroyed the economy no matter what — look at how people are behaving in the places that have reopened. They were behaving that way before the lockdowns too. Restaurants are packed.

People just don’t want to hide in their homes from this. If they had been doing that, the lockdown orders would have been unnecessary and superfluous.

It’s fair to say that the virus would have damaged the economy, but it’s just not reasonable to believe that damage would have been as bad as, or worse than, the damage caused by the virus plus the lockdowns.

Taiwan did not lockdown and minimised the economic impact by not acting like a pack of muppets in office.

>Just how hard it is to change the world was brought home to me yet again by the book Difficult Women, which I read recently during lockdown. Written by British journalist Helen Lewis, it’s a history of feminism in Great Britain, but ought to be required reading for anyone aspiring to create a better world.

>By “difficult”, Lewis means three things:

> It’s difficult to change the world. You have to make sacrifices.

> Many revolutionaries are difficult. Progress tends to start with people who are obstinate and obnoxious and deliberately rock the boat.

> Doing good doesn’t mean you’re perfect. The heroes of history were rarely as squeaky clean as they’re later made out to be.

>Lewis’s criticism is that many activists appear to ignore this complexity, and that makes them markedly less effective. Look at Twitter, which is rife with people who seem more interested in judging other tweeters. Yesterday’s hero is toppled tomorrow at the first awkward remark or stain of controversy.

#MeToo is going to burn itself out. It's a witch-hunt. The only good that could come from it would be a society where failures aren't permanent brands, but I don't think that's going to happen. The twist that cancel culture prevents change is ironic. Then again, I wonder if the people who are super into cancelling were the type to revolt to begin with?

You're equating the "being difficult" of revolutionaries with the "being difficult" of rapists.

And, yes, these two groups do share the distinction of being publicly criticised.

But "let's just stop complaining" as a strategy to support the good revolutionaries, and to start doing so by giving sexual predators a break, is almost too incoherent to be intended in all its cynical might.

Plus, obviously, the "difficult revolutionary's" modus operandi is to complain/"cancel"/whatever: how, exactly, do you want them to be "difficult" and changing-things while not annoying you and refraining from exerting any power?

If you look closely you will find the state behind all major economical crisis. In 2008 the State incentive to give subprime loans to people lead to the disaster. If you have a truly liberal economy, without central banks, no poverty or economical problems should arise, especially in the tech era.

Do you mean truly neoliberal or truly liberal? Not that it matters much.

Blaming the state for something a bunch of bankers lobbied for is a bit rich.

You want to fix things in america? Take money out of politics. Get rid of the myopic two party system.

Political decisions arent on a sinle spectrum and ignoring this leads to an unavoidable escalating osciliation between too extremes when the majority wants anything but that outcome.

This is contrary to the historical experience of the United States in the 19th and early 20th century.

For example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panic_of_1873.

Especially in the tech era? What does that even mean... you can grind on sharing economy apps 80 hours a week? Or should every man/woman/child enroll in javascript bootcamps?

don't pandemics contradict that assertion?

> If you have a truly liberal economy, without central banks, no poverty or economical problems should arise, especially in the tech era.

What do you think a "truly liberal economy" means exactly? Liberalism is a political ideology, not an economic system.

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