I was going to make this Five Quick Things legitimately quick, but I failed. I’d say I’m sorry, but you know I’m not. Besides, there’s a lot going on and a lot that ought to be said.
So let’s get down to business.
1. This shutdown can’t continue. At some point it’s going to have to stop, and we’re going to have to go back to work.
The $22 trillion U.S. economy is the single greatest achievement in human history, but it’s more than that — it is the primary engine of human progress that has dragged the population of Planet Earth out of misery and want.
If that economy is destroyed by a viral plague emanating out of either a bioweapons lab or a barbaric farm-to-table “wet market” serving bats, pangolins, civet cats, and other exotic animals more fit for a Netflix series than local culinary experimentation, it will literally be the largest own-goal of civilization since the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s overreaction to that unpleasantness in Belgrade.
Part of the responsibility is ours, though you aren’t wrong if you assign most of it to China (more on that below). As Steve Skinner so aptly described it last weekend within these pages, we are massively overreacting to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
And there are real consequences to this. In two weeks, 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits. There are undoubtedly more to come, if for no other reason than that state unemployment offices are begging filers to fill out their forms online because they can’t process the current volume over the phones. In another two weeks the number will be 20 million if it isn’t more.
It’s worse than that. We’re losing businesses, significant businesses, and we’re going to lose more. Logan’s Roadhouse, the restaurant chain, just closed 260 units and let all their employees go. They’re finished. It’s only a matter of weeks before every department store in the country is gone, which will take down every shopping mall in America. The big-retail industry might have been on its last legs, but this will clearly finish it off. Oil and gas had problems owing to the predations of the Saudis and Russians before this mess began; now, people in the industry are talking about the carnage $8-per-barrel oil will do to domestic production. The construction industry is all but finished at the moment, and people in that industry are worried that with all the wealth this shutdown has destroyed, whether or not there will be enough capital to resume work and fund new projects.
The restaurant industry employs 14 million Americans, more than any other industry. Or, rather, employed 14 million Americans — because it certainly doesn’t employ that many anymore. And Logan’s Roadhouse isn’t the first, and certainly won’t be the last, of the restaurant chains, much less mom and pop establishments, that die off as a result of the shutdown.
Hotels, airlines, car washes, barber shops, nail salons, florists, gyms … the economic carnage of shutting down an entire country for two months is incalculable.
The New York Stock Exchange lost, per an Investor’s Business Daily story dated March 12, some $7.3 trillion from Feb. 19 to March 11. Things got worse from there, though stock indexes have generally rebounded and are hovering close to where they were on that date.
If you simply divide the $7 trillion by the number of Wuhan coronavirus deaths in the United States so far, 6,075 as of this writing, you come to more than a billion dollars per death just in the loss of wealth from stock prices. The real economic loss doesn’t come from shares trading lower — it’s far more human. It’s the loss of a job, of a livelihood, of a dream.
That number will certainly come down as the virus takes its toll. But the loss from the shutdown is more than just money. It’s the loss of our national spirit, of our capabilities, and, as noted in this space a couple of columns ago, it’s the loss of lives as well. You cannot turn all of America into the ghetto, the barrio, or the dead Appalachian town without suffering loss of life. Poverty and hopelessness are debilitating, dangerous things, and they must be stamped out — not chosen.
It’s clear President Trump understands this, whether or not those around him do. Soon Trump is going to have to step up and make a call in favor of the American people and lead us out of our self-inflicted national misery. If he doesn’t, the cure will surely be worse than the disease.
2. Shaddap, LaToya.
We’ll be very quick about this one, because it’s stupid enough not to deserve even this much notice.
But New Orleans’ mayor, LaToya Cantrell, a bona fide mouth-breathing moron who heretofore had as her primary claim to fame the distinction of being the only mayor in America willing to allow a moldering corpse to remain uncollected more or less in public view on a major city street for months, has been enjoying her 15 minutes of fame on the two usual-suspect poisonous cable news outlets for bashing Trump over not ordering her to shut down the city’s Mardi Gras celebrations.
Mardi Gras fell on Feb. 25 of this year. New Orleans has since seen a significant spike in Wuhan virus cases; the city proper has well more than 3,000 known cases and an official death count of 125 as of this writing. It’s said the nightly gatherings of revelers during that carnival season were a super-spreader event turning the Big Easy into the Big Sneezy. Cantrell took it on herself to dismantle the ubiquitous “tandem floats” this year after a pair of idiots managed to get themselves run over during parades, something she did without Trump’s help. Why she thinks playing Monday Morning Quarterback about shutting Mardi Gras down now is useful is explainable only by the usual analysis the reader doesn’t need me to spell out.
But the whole discussion is absurd. The first known coronavirus case in Louisiana came on March 9, two weeks after Mardi Gras. Anecdotally, people in that city had been complaining of a respiratory “crud” with symptoms quite similar to coronavirus for two or three months before then. Nobody identified it; all they knew was they were testing negative for the flu. To shut Mardi Gras down in mid-February would have been more or less unthinkable.
New Orleans doesn’t have much industry left. Idiot politicians like Cantrell, and the stupid policies they bring with them, have run off everything but tourism and hospitality. Take Mardi Gras away from that city and it’s a cross between Detroit and Mogadishu. Cantrell would be better off realizing that the timing was a rough break and quit trying to act like that clown mayor of San Juan after the hurricane.
3. Don’t blindly trust those death-toll numbers.
Thursday, Brit Hume got himself in a bit of trouble on Twitter when he shared a tweet analyzing the Wuhan coronavirus death-toll numbers based on the number of deaths of people who suffered from preexisting co-morbidity conditions.
Hume defended himself amply, and he’s correct. It’s fairly clear New York is inflating its coronavirus death toll by claiming people are dying from the virus when other medical conditions are what actually killed them.
This is becoming an issue elsewhere, as well. Anecdotal evidence is beginning to mount in that respect.
In New Orleans, a 17-year-old high school football player named Jaquan Anderson tested positive for the virus and died a few days later. But when the state of Louisiana listed him as a virus death, Anderson’s father protested, insisting that his son died of heart failure. The state’s death rate for a week has hovered at 4.5 percent or above, far higher than the national average, though it dived on Thursday when the state reported a new batch of 3,000 “positive” test results which had been “lost.”
We know this phenomenon is real. It started in Italy, when, as the scientific adviser to that country’s health minister noted, some 88 percent of deaths attributable to the Wuhan coronavirus were primarily caused by other co-morbidities. Italy set the standard for a great deal of the response to the virus here, and not in a good way.
Two weeks ago, the death rate for Wuhan coronavirus cases in America was around 1.1 percent. As of this writing, it’s just under 2.5 percent. Is that evidence the health-care system is being overwhelmed and can’t handle its current caseload despite the entire country mobilizing to fight the virus, or is it evidence that state health departments are realizing the easiest way to get a Major Disaster Declaration out of the federal government, which gives them 100 percent federal funding for their virus response, is to show as big a body count as possible?
It’s worth watching. Anyone with experience in how government bureaucrats work knows they will get in on any and every scam imaginable, and this is the best one to come along in years. Give credence to those death-toll numbers if you want, but know that almost none of them are independently verified, and they come from people with financial, if not political, incentives to make them look as awful as they can.
4. China is terrible.
That’s, of course — of course! — a “racist” statement. Though it’s directed at a government and not a race of people.
Communist China is the bane of society. You’d have to be blind not to see that now.
America, and Americans, have sacrificed a lot of our wealth and livelihoods to China in an effort to lift its people out of the murderous poverty inflicted on them by incompetent psychopaths like Mao Zedong and his successors. It was hoped, first naively by George H. W. Bush and then cynically by a bought-and-paid-for Bill Clinton, before their two successors simply gave in to a worsening status quo, that normalizing trade relations with the ChiComs would gradually result in tamping down the more noxious and nefarious aims of the ruling elite in that country. The Chinese would, it was expected, ultimately turn into Jeffersonian Democrats if we’d just buy their trinkets and cheap electronics.
Everything about that assumption has become a poisonous lie, and the virus, however destructive our overreaction, has exposed our 30-year flirtation with this regime for the disaster that it is.
Chinese dog food poisons our pets. Chinese drywall destroys our homes. China steals our intellectual property, it engages in predatory dumping in an effort to corner markets, it attempts to inflict its communist culture on us in countless ways. And now, whether through the wet markets or intentional or unintentional biowarfare, it has given the world this virus, which it refuses to take responsibility for. And even now the Chinese are outright lying about their own continuing problems with the virus, falsely claiming to have squelched their own outbreak while engaging in a vigorous disinformation campaign against us — a campaign our own media is participating in.
Enough. As Boris Johnson, Britain’s prime minister who himself is hacking up a lung with a case of the virus, recently said, the time of reckoning with the Chinese is coming. That reckoning doesn’t have to be kinetic or even loud; it simply has to be significant. Basing the supply chain in China must end, and reparations for the damage the ChiComs have done must be made. If they’re not willing to voluntarily offer them, whether in the form of debt forgiveness or cash payments, then vigorous tariffs to encourage the dissolution of that supply chain are warranted.
But divestment in China should be the No. 1 foreign policy priority of American political leadership from this point forward. If the Democrats aren’t on board with it, voters are very likely to punish them severely. Every one of those 6,075 people, assuming the numbers are accurate, the ChiComs are responsible for.
5. I’ve got a book coming out, and you can pre-order it now!
I’ve noted before that I’m now an author of novels. I wrote one, published last September, that has had some pretty good Amazon reviews from readers.
Well, I’ve got the sequel coming out starting next week. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon now. It’ll be downloadable on April 13, which is the day after Easter.
Better put, it’s Part 1 of the sequel. I’m experimenting a little here, as I’m publishing the book in four parts as e-books, spaced three weeks apart. When all four are out, I’ll then release it in paperback, and hopefully soon after, audiobook, format.
So what’s the book about? Here’s the elevator pitch:
Animus, the first novel, is the introduction of a story about two countries that have lived side-by-side in mortal hatred of each other for centuries. Ardenia, the larger country to the north, is an early Industrial-age Western democracy; in Ardenia they’re in the process of invention that characterized the late 19th century and early 20th century in America and Europe, though not necessarily in the same order things happened in our experience, for various reasons enabling your author to offering commentary about the role of politics and regulation in matters economic and technological.
Their southern neighbors the Udar are … less civilized. The Udar are a depraved, warlike people with customs and culture the Ardenians rightly regard as savage — Udar men are hunters and warriors and little else, leaving their women to handle all the other occupations, and the Udar don’t believe in representative government, private property, or even the nuclear family. They exist mostly as a collection of mobile warrior villages, owing complete fealty to an absolute ruler who isn’t just the king but also the high priest of their religion.
For hundreds of years the Udar have raided into Ardenia, and for hundreds of years the Ardenians have held them off after taking losses. The Ardenians being generally peaceful and industrious people, they’ve largely been content to play defense against their savage neighbors.
But as Animus opens, the Udar are coming across the border again, pillaging settlements and carting off Ardenian captives to be enslaved. One such raid sets in motion a rescue attempt that is the main story of the novel, but it’s only a small part of a massive invasion the villains have planned.
In Perdition, the new book that is rolling out starting next week, we see the full scope of the conflict — and how poorly prepared the Ardenians are for what’s to come.
I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it. And I’m also reliably informed you have an abnormal amount of time on your hands for quick reading. So feel free to download and enjoy!