About Me

In writing the "About Me" portion of this blog I thought about the purpose of the blog - namely, preventing the growth of Socialism & stopping the Death Of Democracy in the American Republic & returning her to the "liberty to abundance" stage of our history. One word descriptions of people's philosophies or purposes are quite often inadequate. I feel that I am "liberal" meaning that I am broad minded, independent, generous, hospitable, & magnanimous. Under these terms "liberal" is a perfectly good word that has been corrupted over the years to mean the person is a left-winger or as Mark Levin more accurately wrote in his book "Liberty & Tyranny" a "statist" - someone looking for government or state control of society. I am certainly not that & have dedicated the blog to fighting this. I believe that I find what I am when I consider whether or not I am a "conservative" & specifically when I ask what is it that I am trying to conserve? It is the libertarian principles that America was founded upon & originally followed. That is the Return To Excellence that this blog is named for & is all about.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Grading Our Governors - Report Of A Study To Reopen America

This post presents the results of the study entitled Reopen America – Grading Our Governors conducted by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity led by Art Laffer, Steve Moore, Phil Kerpen, & John Fund.  The report of the study was released on May 4. 
The report grades the nation’s governors on how they responded to the threat of Covid-19 taking into account the severity of the virus in each state.  The study examined the lockdown orders, business closures, the degree of punitive actions on enforcing these measures, & most importantly the start dates for reopening commerce in each state. 
With regard to the degree of punitive actions Michigan Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer leads the dictatorial pact pursuing politics & power when she allows people to launch their rowboats but not the same boat if it has a motor on it or when she allowed people to buy lottery tickets, liquor, & candy but not paint or vegetable seed that was cordoned off in the same store.  Whitmer generously received a “D” in these gradings since she ultimately rescinded the boat & paint mandates & reopened manufacturing including the automotive industry.

The emphasis of the subject study is on reopening the economy safely, smartly, & judiciously so as to end the economic destruction & despair from the lockdowns.  If the current course is not changed millions more will be pushed into unemployment, poverty, & loss of businesses forever.  The more you think about it, & see what is happening, the clearer it becomes that so much of our world is interconnected economically.  But it is interconnected from a public health standpoint also – the economic damage & adversity of financial ruin & deprivation that has been thrust upon people has led to suicides, depression, stress, heart attacks, spousal & child abuse cases, drug overdoses, & alcohol abuse.  See graphic below of examples of interconnection of unemployment & social problems included in the subject study.

An especially egregious example of a governor who was graded “F” in the report is Democrat Tony Evers of Wisconsin – the state Supreme Court had to strike down Evers’ order that shut down daily life in Wisconsin ostensibly to limit the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus despite so much evidence to the contrary, the April 7 primary election being the latest example @ the time.  More than 400,000 state residents voted in person on April 7 & about 67 of those who voted or worked the polls tested positive for Covid 19 thereafter, although some of the infections may have been the result of other exposures the Wisconsin Department of Health indicated.  It was not indicated how many of those who tested positive had mild or moderate symptoms or no symptoms @ all.  But using the numbers indicated means 1 out of every 5,970 people who participated in the election tested positive for the virus – the type of statistic that Evers & the other Democrat state governors are ignoring in their attempt to ruin the country for what they perceive as political gain over Trump in November.
The subject study revealed wide variations from state to state.  Some states, like Arkansas & Nebraska, never issued stay @ home orders or very modest ones, while others like California & NJ issued penalties, fines, & jail time for breaking curfews & lockdowns.
After considering all of the variables mentioned above the following nine states & governors received grades of A:  Colorado (Polis), Florida (DeSantis), Georgia (Kemp), Iowa (Reynolds), Nebraska (Ricketts), Oklahoma (Stitt), South Dakota (Noem), Tennessee (Lee), & Wyoming (Gordon). 
The following four states & governors received grades of F: New Jersey (Murphy), Pennsylvania (Wolf), Virginia (Northam), & Wisconsin (Evers).  Washington DC (Mayor Bowser) also was graded F.
The map below provides the grades for all the states.

The table below shows the percentage of deaths as a share of population by state (& DC).

The subject report says “The governors with A & B grades are already moving to restore freedom & opportunity & trusting individuals to follow best practices or isolate themselves based on their own risk assessments.  The D & F grade governors continue to arbitrarily ban activities without respect to any sensible risk versus benefit calculation & are therefore taking the largest risk of all – the risk of catastrophic economic collapse.”
What a terrible time for the country that we cannot come together even when a pandemic disease, economic collapse, & extinguishment of our liberties have simultaneously come upon us.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Government Response To Covid-19 Pertains To More Than Your Health

“. . . we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” – BO speaking in Missouri five days before the 2008 presidential election.  Judge for yourself how close the fundamental transformation that BO had in mind resembles the look of America in 2020.
During the first week in March the Wuhan coronavirus had gotten everyone’s attention & people started to self-quarantine &/or distance themselves from others, much like they do when they know someone has the flu or a bad cold.  About one third of the states shut down before there was any evidence of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in their state.  By mid-March the governors of NY, NJ, & other hot spots had shut their states down. 
And people accepted this for several weeks.
But little by little people also started to ask questions – like why are perfectly healthy people still in quarantine weeks after the original 15 day shutdown period ended?  Quarantine is a process that restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease, or were thought to possibly have been exposed, to see if they become sick.  Normally, a medical quarantine is a procedure limited to infectious people, not to whole populations.
The original goal of not letting Covid-19 overwhelm the country’s healthcare system looked to be achieved to people paying attention when there were excess ICU beds available all across America.  NYC, the hottest of the hot spots, sent ventilators to other states who were in need & the Navy hospital ship Comfort was never needed to anywhere near its full capacity for any healthcare reason after docking @ Pier 90 in Manhattan.  The U.S.N.S. Mercy docked in Los Angeles was similarly underutilized. 
Governments around the world relied on mathematical models that predicted the spread of the virus & led government actions regarding altering the course of the outbreak.  This effort was led by Neil Ferguson, a mathematical epidemiologist @ Imperial College London.  Dr. Ferguson specializes in the patterns of the spread of infectious diseases in humans & animals.
Ferguson plugged his assumptions into his model & in mid-March projected that the UK would experience over 500,000 deaths & that the U.S. would experience 2.2 million deaths – if either, or both countries took no action to stop the spread of the virus.
Well the action taken by the U.S. government – federal, state, & local as a result of Ferguson’s mathematical modeling – was to bring the American economy to its knees where it still resides.  Governors & mayors issued “Stay @ Home” orders mandating the shutting down of schools & businesses these officials did not deem essential.  This resulted in over 33 million people filing claims for unemployment insurance in the last seven weeks.  The first quarter 2020 GDP contracted @ a 4.8% annual rate even though only the last two weeks of the quarter were directly affected by the impact of the Wuhan coronavirus – & this is only the beginning of these kinds of numbers prompting many people to think the cure is worse than the disease.  A disease where 80% of cases tend to be mild or moderate or have no symptoms @ all.
In addition to the economic devastation described above there is the social side of the carnage that is taking its toll as the Stay @ Home orders are extended.  People are becoming lonely & depressed, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are held only on the telephone, & suicide rates are increasing as are drug overdoses.  People previously scheduled for elective surgery like a mastectomy or a heart operation are becoming especially nervous as these procedures are put off indefinitely.  People cannot even make an appointment with their doctor for an office visit or annual physical in many cases.  CVS/Aetna has warned of an impending surge in non-virus medical problems based on the trends they see in their businesses.

The American Catholic Thinker provides the statistics for the following two tables. 

It is not like Covid-19 is the only illness taking lives.  Please consider the following table as of March 28:

Although cumulative worldwide Covid-19 deaths have increased from 28,240 on March 28 to 274,655 as of Friday please consider this number to the others on the above table & the fact that 150,000 people per day die on Earth.  Covid-19 is getting out-of proportion consideration in locking down our economy.
But western countries, including the U.S., relied on Ferguson’s Imperial College Of London models even though their projections had been inaccurate in 2009 when Ferguson’s projection of 65,000 deaths in the UK due to the swine flu was overstated by 64,543 people (i.e., 457 people died of the swine flu in the UK).
Before further analysis of the numbers it must be understood that the numbers themselves have serious questions.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, & Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provided the incentive for hospitals to collect an additional 20% on top of traditional Medicare rates for Covid-19 patients covered by Medicare during the pandemic emergency & to be reimbursed for treating uninsured patients with the disease @ the enhanced 20% Medicare rate.  The CARES Act created a $100 billion fund, a portion of which, will be used to reimburse healthcare providers for the uninsured – but it remains to be seen if this is enough money to cover the uninsured plus the purchase of medical supplies & the construction of temporary facilities.
In short, the reported number of deaths attributable to Covid-19 are overstated if only because of the incentive of the hospitals, who are losing money because of the deferments of elective surgery as described above, to code deaths to Covid-19 – such coding that triggers the additional revenue for the hospitals.
On February 5 the Carnival Cruise Line ship, the Diamond Princess, had 3,711 passengers & crew quarantined in Yokohama, Japan because the vessel had earlier on the cruise in January found one person with Covid-19.  The ship looked like an incubator growing microorganisms of the Wuhan coronavirus with the confined spaces, contact between travelers from many countries, & the number of elderly people on board (half the passengers were 69 to 73 years old & the other half were 62 to 69) - all ripe to contract Covid-19.  Half of the crew were between 36 & 43 & the other half were between 29 & 36.  By late February testing determined that 634 were infected but 328 of those infected had no symptoms.  Six people died but 83% of the 3711 total people in this floating petri dish were not infected & 92% were either not infected or had no symptoms of Covid-19.
The Diamond Princess data gave many analysts further reason to doubt Ferguson’s model of 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. if nothing was done to prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.
But there is plenty of evidence that the Wuhan coronavirus is more widespread & has been with us longer in the U.S. than we were led to believe. 
It was originally believed that the first Covid-19 death in the U.S. was on February 29, later revised to two deaths on February 26.  But Santa Clara County, California found, as a result of autopsies, that two people who died on February 6 & 17 also were infected with the Wuhan coronavirus.  None of the aforementioned people who died in the U.S. in February had any known travel histories that would have exposed them to the virus meaning they are presumed to have contracted the virus in their communities. 
The first death in the U.S. on February 6 is indicative that the virus was present in the U.S. @ least by mid-January meaning that before social distancing was practiced & stay @ home orders were issued hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people had attended college & NBA basketball games, hockey games, the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl, Super Bowl parties, Broadway plays, movies, & had gone to restaurants & work.  In short, there was plenty of time for people to have been exposed to the contagious virus before we knew what was happening.
In addition, the Grand Princess cruise ship that departed San Francisco on February 11 had passengers who contracted Covid-19 during the cruise.
Stanford University conducted an antibody study, led by Dr. Eran Bendavid, an infectious disease specialist & professor of medicine with Stanford Health Policy, to better understand how far the Wuhan coronavirus had spread in Santa Clara County.
Antibodies are proteins made by the body in response to an infection – no antibodies, no infection from the Wuhan coronavirus in this case.  Having antibodies in the blood is useful in determining how many people have already been infected.
The Stanford study showed the results of 3,330 people tested on April 3 & 4 @ three locations across Santa Clara County using the latest antibody tests available & found that 48,000 to 81,000 people in Santa Clara County may already have been infected by the Wuhan coronavirus - 50 to 85 times more than the number of official cases @ that date.  This study provided a snapshot of how many people in the county already had been infected but weren’t seriously sick & didn’t even realize they had previously contracted the disease.
Dr. T.J. Rodgers, ever the scientist, ran a study to find out if lockdowns work to fight the spread of Covid-19.  Rodgers’ work counted deaths per million population for a fixed 21-day period, measured from when the death rate first hit 1 per million (i.e., 3 deaths in Iowa & 19 in NY).
Rodgers’ work revealed that states that shut down early had vastly different results – Oregon had 20 deaths per million after 21 days of shutdown & NY had 360 meaning other variables like population density & subway use were more important than how early the states locked down.
These results led to the comparison of deaths in states that shut down early to deaths in Sweden that didn’t impose a mandatory national lockdown – although many Swedes went to work every day they then self-imposed stay @ home & social distancing practices on themselves – how much better than the American heavy handed authoritarian approach that jailed people for going to work. 
Swedish schools were not shut down.
By Rodgers’ measure Sweden had a lower death per million rate than the six American states that locked down in three days by his measure as indicated above – NY, NJ, MA, RI, CT, & MI – or LA that locked down in four days.  Astonishingly,  88% of Sweden’s deaths were people over 70 years old.  See graphic below that shows cumulative deaths in Sweden as of May 8.

Now the above graphic for Sweden is very similar to the corresponding one for the U.S. – see & compare below.

Makes me wonder if we have gone about this all wrong.  Why were children with virtually no risk from Covid-19 sheltered @ home @ the great cost of their education – while seniors were not properly protected – or @ least protected way too late?
And even worse.  If the above information is known by you & me why haven’t our medical experts recognized this & changed direction?  The following graphic indicates, that based on data from 100 hospitals involving 1,000 patients, two thirds of Covid-19 hospitalizations in NY state have been people who stayed home under lockdown orders supporting Dr. Rodgers study described above.  And yet the lockdown orders continue.

Based on all of the above information there is no reason that people under 60 years old cannot resume a normal life while those 60 & older, especially the elderly that are medically fragile with serious underlying health conditions, wait for a vaccine or other treatment to be developed – that is unless the people who imposed the government lockdown of the economy, & are working to keep it locked down, are using the ensuing collapse of America’s free enterprise system as the latest contrived poor excuse to defeat President Trump in the November election as they continuously try to fundamentally transform the United States of America.