Feeding a Narrative

The last thing I thought I would be writing about after my previous post was a new basis for lockdowns. We don’t have to wait for a Biden Administration. No, we’ll be in the soup before the end of the year. I pointed out our hard lockdowns were a result of a startling report from the Royal College. Based on its model, it predicted 2.2 million deaths in the U.S. if we didn’t act fast. While many people immediately questioned the study on both the science and methodology, I wrote it didn’t pass muster based on common sense. How was this pandemic worse than the 1918 Influenza epidemic? The data even then showed the coronavirus was fatal to a much smaller segment of the population. Ignored were our medical advances over the last hundred years. Still, it spawned panic and the crushing lockdowns.

Here we go again. A new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington predicts 410,000 likely deaths in the U.S. by year-end. The cooler weather will explode cases and fatalities higher than experienced in March and April. The worst-case would be over 610,000 deaths. Less publicized is its best-case scenario of 288,000. To date, we have recorded about 190,000 deaths. Right now, we are running at under 1,000 deaths a day.

For us to arrive at the 410 figure, our daily rate would have to be running at least triple today’s rate by year-end. How likely is that? The IHME points to flu type diseases always being worse in the fall and winter. People will be forced inside where it would spread easier. Colder, drier weather can help viruses stay viable longer and proliferate more quickly. The start of school always increases the spread.

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Trapped by Your Narrative

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said he would do “whatever it takes” to combat the spread of coronavirus within the country — including locking down the U.S. if deemed necessary. “I would shut it down; I would listen to the scientists,” Biden told ABC’s, David Muir. This puts Biden firmly in the extreme lockdown camp. It goes without saying, he must believe the first lockdown worked or why else do it again. While the country struggles to open up and get people back to work and our youth in schools, the Democrats are seen as dragging their feet. The Democrats have settled on a Narrative. The lockdown came too late, but it was still worth it. If we open up too soon, infections will rise. Until we control the virus, we can’t worry about the economy because it can’t recover until then. Trump puts dollars before people. This Narrative is echoed nearly verbatim throughout the Left and their media allies. This is the Left’s Great Narrative Machine. So far, it seems to have solidly contributed to Biden’s poll lead.

The problem with a narrative is that it’s a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether actual or fictitious. It may tell a story, but the information may not be valid. If you present the Narrative as non-fiction and it doesn’t ring true, you’re in real trouble. Just look at the Left’s portrayal of mostly peaceful demonstrations for “Racial Justice.” When it came up against widely viewed scenes of looted shops, burned buildings, injuries, and dead bodies, the story was exposed as fiction. Biden’s ignoring the situation for months before he woke up resulted in quickly narrowing polls.

The Left’s narrative machine may be making another major mistake with their Covid-19 story. The Narrative supposedly is grounded in science.. “The Experts” support their shutdown agenda. The problem is that experts don’t always agree. We already know the pain of double-digit unemployment, businesses going out of business forever, and utter disruption of our lives. The cost of delayed medical attention, depression leading to more significant substance abuse, and suicide are becoming evident. The harm to children being out of school is still being assessed, but it’s sure to be massive.

Let’s not forget how we got the first shutdown. “Experts”using computer models predicted over 2.2 million deaths US deaths if we didn’t take lock-down. This wildly overstated the danger and was immediately challenged by others for basic errors. Still, combined with constant video of Italy’s single payer health system being overwhelmed with people dying in hospital hallways, caused panic. The misinformation has lived on. Even President Trump still says he saved millions of lives by shutting down based on the faulty models.We forget our lock-down was to prevent our medical system from being crushed. It was never to stay locked down till the virus was conquered.

However, the Narrative morphed into a choice between lives or the economy. This never made sense to many. I surely didn’t buy it. In my series on this blog on Covid-19, I based recommendations on the actual data. The numbers told us who was most at risk from the coronavirus. Based on what was known, I argued against a hard lockdown. I was hardly alone. The alternate recommendation was to adopt a more targeted approach to limit collateral damage. I’m not considered an expert by the elite. Just somebody looking at the generally available data and drawing what I think is are logical conclusions. However, there were plenty of “experts” that came to the same judgment.

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The Racist in the Room

I recently read Black students at New York University (NYU) are demanding separate living quarters. This brought back memories of the civil rights cause during my college years. It was in a land long ago and faraway called Northwestern University. In my years there 1955-59, Civil rights were at the forefront. Brown v. Board of Education had just been decided in May 1954, opening the floodgates against “Separate but Equal.” Northwestern had only recently dropped quotas in admissions. This was especially important to Jews and probably allowed me to be admitted. At the time, reformers felt allocations unfair, even unAmerican. People should be judged not on religion, Race, or sex, but on their own merit.

The next year, a picture was no longer required to accompany admittance applications. We felt this would make it harder to discriminate, especially against people of color. More students might go to a school that formally banned or limited them.

During my years on campus, we did away with the divided Greek rush. At the time, many national Fraternities and Sororities banned pledging people of specific racial and religious backgrounds. Greek houses were forced to remove these restrictions, or they would have to leave the campus. Jewish fraternities, heretofore rushed separately, were included in one combined rush week. Our house over the following years and most others became integrated. We felt this was a great accomplishment. This was college as it should be. Bringing people of different backgrounds and ideas together to broaden our outlook and improve our critical thinking. Bull sessions got a broader perspective.

One might ask why Jews and their organizations were at the forefront of these reforms? The simple answer is Jews were no strangers to discrimination. We thought the wider freedoms were spread, the better and safer it would be for us. Where it was legal to discriminate anywhere, it always adversely affected Jews. Best to get rid of the restrictions and let people be free to live and grow wherever. The more we mingled together, the more we would see each other as individuals. We might find we have more in common than what divides us.

It was in this vein, Jews were strong supporters of the Civil Rights Movement. They provided significant financial backing to the NAACP. My Aunt and Uncle were always holding fundraising meetings at their apartment. On-campus we did the same.

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Myths Lead to Bad Policy

What we think we know for sure may not be right at all. If this is the case, we will make policy based on the wrong facts and data. You might think this doesn’t mean you, but let me throw a few commonly held beliefs that aren’t true. These are ones in no particular order that irritated me this past week. Truth is especially crucial in an election year.

The Middle Class is shrinking. This is true, but not for the reason most people think. The implication is people are falling out of the middle class and ending up in the lower levels. The truth is both the lower and middle classes have shrunk. Where did the people go? To the upper-middle class. According to a study published by the Bookings Institute, since 1967, the upper Middle Class grew from 6% to 33%. in 2016. Instead of the dark world of falling or stagnant incomes, we keep hearing about, the truth is quite good. Those who think African Americans have been left out, their participation rose from 1% to 14% in the same period. Like the TV show, “the Jeffersons” many are moving up to the East Side. They finally got a piece of the pie. In any case, this should’ve been evident by observing more people buying better cars and bigger houses.

Automation Cost the U.S. more jobs than Globalization. We are manufacturing just as much as always. We’re just doing with more robots and fewer people. Elites have given this excuse for a dismal China Policy on both sides of the aisle. They claimed the Clinton Administration’s welcoming China into the World Trade Organization didn’t really do much harm to U.S.manufacturing workers. This argument has always seemed questionable. People across the rust belt said they were feeling the pain. Former Senator Rick Santorum even wrote a book, “Blue Collar Conservatives,” about what was happening in states like Pennsylvania. Few read it. Elites claimed the data said otherwise. One who did read the book was Donald J. Trump. He saw how these people suffering real harm. He fit into his Mercantilist economic view. He hammered Globalization in the ’16 election and won. The Rust Belt went for him. 

Elites claimed Trump conned the people with a lie. It turns out Santorum by listening to his constituents was right. A study by Susan N. Houseman, Director of Research at the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. Points out the data so many relied on was faulty. Instead of manufacturing remaining steady in the face of Globalization, she showed the data recorded healthy growth only by how one industry was handled. Computers led to distortion. Houseman provides us with two charts that tell the story. 

The automation argument was always dubious. How could we be so automated when we badly trail Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Germany in the number of robots in use? 

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Counting Your Chickens

The Democratic Ticket is now complete with the naming of Senator Kamala Harris as their Vice Presidential candidate. A large part of the press is looking forward to a Republican general election rout . Maybe it will work out that way. After all, we’re in a pandemic t caused depression. Fair or not, you can’t blame voters for lashing out and demanding change. Yet, the Democratic Convention next week may mark that party’s high point. The press and the Democrats might be fooled by their echo chamber. Just because they believe and promote something, doesn’t automatically make it accurate, Truth has a funny way of sneaking out.

Take the almost across the board press support of the idea Harris is moderate. Her most progressive in the Senate Senate voting record says the opposite. She outdistanced the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. If elected, she would be a heartbeat of a 78yr old away from the presidency. Biden doesn’t even have to die in office, just be unable to continue. Joe Biden’s announced plan is already far to the left. He has said he’ll be the most progressive President ever. Harris, if possible, would be even more so.

Up till the Coronavirus struck the US, the economy was firing on all cylinders. Presidents generally get re-elected in good times. With virtually everyone doing well, they don’t rock the boat mentality takes over. Now, with double-digit unemployment, the President is on the defensive. He’s the boss, and the buck stops with him. The whole world is suffering in some way from COVID 19. A few countries did better than others, but everyone is affected.

Trump was ill-served by the permanent bureaucracy. The CDC and the FDA initially handled testing for the virus in the worst possible way. We have never caught up. First, the same bureaucrats, pooh-poohed mask-wearing, only to do a one-eighty later on. To date, we have never provided the help needed to protect the most vulnerable. Far too many elderly and those with underlying conditions are still dying. These bureaucratic failures would’ve hobbled our response no matter who was President. Never the less, it happened on his watch.

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