Returning To A World Of Woe

On the third try, we finally took an Iceland cruise. The island lies closer to Europe, so we had several fellow passengers from the British Isles and the continent. Brits, especially, always are eager to talk. While we in the U.S. have increasing doubts about our institutions, Brits have similar concerns. The response to the covid pandemic is primarily to blame. The question on both sides of the pond was a complete shutdown necessary.

Readers know where I’ve stood on this issue since the series on Covid started in March of 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially favored an approach akin to Sweden’s; protect the at risk as much as possible but maintain everyday life. The dire predictions by the Imperial College echoed by the government’s medical establishment panicked Johnson into a reversal.

The same thing happened to Donald Trump. The funding of massive disruptions with vast public expenditure undertaken by both governments. Now we are evaluating the lost years due to our institutional actions. Did we follow the data? Were there better alternatives? It’s good to know we aren’t alone in our inquiry.

The astonishing reports on our loss in life expectancy and our children’s education greeted us on our return. No longer can we ignore the poor path our government elites lead us down. Indeed, a soul-searching dive into the many agreeing on courses of action with disastrous results is mandatory.

Instead, we see the same elites claiming we didn’t know what to do. Only later did we realize schools presented little Covid danger, and older vulnerable are more likely to die. Now we know we protect the at risk and go about our business. The latest CDC advisory is the opposite of the lockdown strategy. Has Covid gone away? It’s spreading, but nobody except China wants to repeat the lockdown foolishness. 

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A Little Respect for Older People

It’s nice to know President Biden had lifesaving Paxlovid as soon as he tested positive for Covid. Of course, President Trump got lifesaving infusions when he had Covid symptoms. Good for them. The reality for other people their age or older is quite different. The Trump Infusions became functionally available only after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis set up centers across his state. Observing Florida’s success in saving lives, other states followed. However, almost a year elapsed after Trump’s treatment before these centers opened.

Even though Paxlovid was approved last December, until recently has been challenging to obtain. Horror stories of people traveling great distances to fill a Paxlovid prescription abound. Things are better, but you still have to check around to find it.

For the average person, this may not seem like a significant problem. For octogenarians like my wife and I, it is a matter of life or death. Four out of five covid deaths occur over 65.

Maybe you can understand my dismay when I asked my doctor for Paxlovid to have for an overseas trip where the drug was unavailable and turned down. No prescription until you test positive. The drug may conflict with other medications.

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The Ukraine crisis is more evidence of incompetence. To deter Russian President Putin from an attack, continuing to expand the lethal aid deliveries started in the Trump administration is just common sense. Russia began to move forces to the Ukraine border last spring. Making Ukraine a much harder nut to crack could’ve raised the price of an assault to the unacceptable. Instead, we paused our lethal aid. Biden even O.K.’d the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to appease Germany and Russia.

The Trump era deliveries, especially the Javelin anti-tank missiles, allowed the Ukrainians to stabilize their eastern front. Adding anti-aircraft and anti-ship missiles could’ve raised the price of invasion higher than the Russians could afford. The prospect of a long sustained war for an economy about the size of Italy while under sanctions might not seem palatable to an aggressor.

Recently, we’ve resumed deliveries, but with the invasion already begun, it is far more challenging to get them in the hands of the defenders. Still, the Ukrainians are valiantly holding out. Think how much better their position is if we had sent arms earlier. Maybe there wouldn’t even be an attack. 

How could we have made such mistakes? One has only to look back at the Afghanistan fiasco. Could anything have gone worse? The same climate zealots who failed to acknowledge relinquishing energy independence had dire national security consequences are still calling the shots in Washington. The same people producing our greatest humiliation in decades are still in charge. Unbelievably, not one person in our national security establishment has lost their job. The better question is why we expected better.

I think this is evidence of a rot infecting our bureaucratic establishments. Look around. We spend more on healthcare than almost any other advanced nation. Yet, we will be suffering from our disastrous lockdowns far into the future. We relied on data from other countries, such as Israel, throughout the pandemic for accurate data. This is despite the billions given to these bureaucrats. Again most of the major players are still in place. 

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The Next Time

As lockdowns and mandates fade away, now is an excellent time to consider steps we should take the next time we face a pandemic. By all accounts, we got off to a terrible start and never got ahead of the disease. The media blames the Trump administration. But what exactly did Trump do wrong?

Where else to look for the answer than the New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist David Leonhardt. In a March 15, 2020 column, he listed all the things Trump should’ve done but didn’t. He should’ve listened to the “experts” because he did everything wrong.

He downplayed the pandemic and failed to provide for adequate testing. Even though he restricted travel between China and Europe, it was far too little and possibly racist. Were these Trump’s mistakes or failures of the Government medical establishment? 

The testing debacle resulted from the CDC and FDA developing their tests rather than being open to those created by others. Even if Trump knew what the CDC and FDA were up to, could he have ordered tests from private parties and other labs without cries of interference? The CDC test was flawed, setting us back, and we have never fully recovered. A terrible result, but not Trump’s.

The last thing a President should do is create panic. Trying to maintain calm while assembling the correct data is part of the job. The idea he was underplaying is contradicted by Dr. Anthony Fauci going on natioal TV on Fe. 29, 2020, and telling us there was no need to make any changes in our lifestyles. 

If there was confusion and a testing disaster, it came from our “medical experts.” Presidents rely on our top brass for military advice and readiness. Like any other president, Trump had to trust his medical team. That team even failed to provide enough PPE for a pandemic. Did the NYT expect Trump to count our N95 masks? 

Let’s not forget Trump used a different team for Operation Warp Speed to bring us vaccines and therapeutics in record time.

Who did our government medical establishment tout as one doing all the right things? Dr. Fauci lauded N.Y.Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in contrast to Trump as the one doing everything right. The media echoed his praise.

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We Need Change-Not Vindication

My series on Covid 19 started on March 20, 2020. It seems almost a lifetime ago when the US shut down “to slow the spread.” At the time, I looked at what was known and the data available and concluded a general lockdown was a terrible idea—a targeted approach protecting those at most risk and ending lockdowns before they did significant damage was the right way. Chapter and verse of my proposals to keep the nation, especially the schools, open while doing everything possible to limit the loss of the vulnerable are there for anyone to see.

The government bureaucratic establishment, relying on Neil Ferguson’s Imperial College model, came down solidly in favor of lockdowns and not for just a few weeks. They told us if we didn’t close down, millions more would be sure to die—anyone coming to a different conclusion labeled as favoring mass death. Even though many people quickly concluded the Imperial College model was defective, much of the world remained shut down.

This week a John’s Hopkins economic Metastudy concluded the lockdowns were a disaster. Researchers looked at 22 studies and found no gain while enumerating the massive costs. A .02% reduction in deaths didn’t come close to offsetting the enormous harm they caused. This study vindicates all those suffering establishment abuses for predicting this outcome and proposing a different path from the beginning.

Neil Ferguson of defective Imperial model fame and University of Oxford’s Seth Flaxman challenged the study. The latter is the lead author on a 2020 study that estimated that lockdowns had likely saved up to three million lives across Europe. So far, I haven’t found r any others.  Flaxman’s figures appear based on the Imperial Model.

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