Wednesday, April 29, 2020

On Matt Kenseth

A former NASCAR driver, Matt Kenseth, is returning to active driving in the NASCAR Cup series, driving for Chip Ganassi in the #42 car for the balance of the 2020 season, whatever that consists of. Kenseth is 48 years old, won the Cup championship once, retired in 2018 and is from Wisconsin. He is soft spoken, is a consummate gentleman, and I am delighted to see him back.

Matt Kenseth moved up into the Cup series the same year the Dale Earhhardt Jr. did and it was, of course, the latter who received all of the attention and hype. I was with a group of my fellow "racing nuts" one day back then and pronounced that not only would Kenseth win Rookie Of The Year, he would win a Cup Championship before Earnhardt did. I was both laughed at and sworn at, and regarded as both stupid and insane.

I was right on both counts. He beat Earnhardt for Rookie Of The Year by a substantial margin, and won the Cup Championship three years later, while Earnhardt Jr. has never come close to a Cup Championship. I am looking forward to seeing what he will do in Ganassi's #42 car, which is a very fast car.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Democrats are Awesome

Joe Biden is spreading the alarm that Donald Trump may try to postpone or even cancel the 2020 presidential election, and Democrats are outraged. They are threatening to impeach Trump for something that exists only in Joe Biden's imagination.

Democrats then cancel the New York state Democratic primary election, giving all of the NY candidates to Biden.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

More to Fear

The WHO now says that having survived the Wuhan virus, and having antibodies, does not mean you are immune. You can get it again. They do not say, but certainly want you to understand, that surviving it the first time does not mean you can survive it a second time. You are still going to die.

The concept of "herd immunity" which they have been promoting is therefore invalid. There is no such thing.

The "shut down until we have herd immunity" is also invalid. The shutdown must become permanent. All plans for reopening parks and outdoor recreation, and for restarting the economy must be cancelled. If they go forward, everybody will be sickened by the Corona virus and will die.

They also said that 2.2 million people in the United States were going to die of the virus by April 15th, so one might want to take their advice with a certain degree of skepticism.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Food For Thought

It's from the comic strip "Get Fuzzy," and it's amusing but not really all that funny. And then when you think about it...

"Are you becoming more annoying, or am I becoming less tolerant?"

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

What Kind of Immunity?

I swear, the next person who uses the term "herd immunity" to me in person is going to get punched in the face. The population of this nation, roughly 328 million people, is not a "herd."  That many cattle would be a herd, but that many people is a "population," or a "public," or a "people."

What would happen to a politician who referred to an election as "the voice of the herd"? What we need to develop is "population immunity."

Meanwhile We Need Testing

San Diego has reached the ability to test 3000 persons per day. That means that to test the entire 2.5 million people who live in the San Diego metro area will require 2.28 years. That's a long tome to keep the economy shut down. The problem is that any person testing negative will eventually need to be tested again, so... Shut down forever.

Nationwide, we are hoping soon to be able to test 150 per 100,000 daily. Sounds like a lot, but it translates to 0.15% of the population. So if we reach that goal (and it's a goal, we can only do 44 per 100,000 today), it would take 1.82 years to test each citizen one time. By that time there would be no economy to be restarted, and bear in mind that each person who tested negative would eventually need to be retested.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Burden of Debt, Part 1

Seldom has Dean Baker put so much self-justifying nonsensical rationalization in one article as he did a last Friday in a piece titled "Debt and Deficits with the Coronavirus.” He then compounded it with even more egregious nonsense in Sunday’s “The Washington Post’s Debt Cult.” The man has gone completely down the rabbit hole.

I will start with Friday’s follies, in which he starts by pontificating at great length (and incoherence) on the horror of the thought that the Fed might increase interest rates and why they should not do so. The Fed clearly has not shown the slightest intention since last year of raising interest rates, so he wins that round by default, sort of like urging the sun to come up in the morning. Good idea. Yea, he was right, it did.

Then he addresses the idea that the budget deficits are “overheating demand” and leading to shortages, notably of toilet paper. Right. Except that we ran short of toilet paper before the government started handing out money, so that weakens his argument just a little bit. Maybe more than a little. Perhaps we ran short of toilet paper in anticipation that the government… Never mind.

But he gets more than a bit incoherent again, saying that shortages, “would result in higher prices because the government is giving people money to buy these things, but the shortages would still be there without the budget deficits.” If you don’t follow that don’t feel bad, because no one else does either.

He follows that up with what he seems to think is a solution, saying that, “large numbers of people who are now getting unemployment insurance and other forms of income support in the shutdown period, simply would not be able to buy anything, thereby eliminating the demand and price pressure,” which doesn't address how demand (and prices) got so high in the first place. That’s called “circular reasoning,” and economists do it quite a lot.

He then tells us that he is going to address the issue of, “The other part of the big deficit story is that we are adding more than $2 trillion to the debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off, or so the story goes.”

Except he doesn’t, of course, because he address payment of interest on the debt (incoherently, of course) but never addresses “paying off the debt” part.

That's because, like most economists, Baker does not visualize government debt as something that is ever paid back to the lender. Economists live in their own reality. In our reality, if it doesn’t have to be repaid it’s not a loan, it’s an investment, and investment by definition means an ownership stake. How can one have an ownership stake in the United States government?

Well, it’s called “campaign contributions,” but that’s a different topic.

“First,” he says, “this is not a case of our children paying the money to us…” which actually is wrong. We are spending the money, and are receiving the benefit of having spent the money, and our children and grandchildren are paying the money back. How is that not them paying us the money?

(The answer, for Dean Baker, is that they are not paying the money back. No one is paying the money back. We spent the money with no intention that it would ever be paid back. What does that make us?)

“…it is a case,” he goes on, “of some of our children paying money to other of our children.” This is true, he profoundly observes, because, “At some point, everyone who is alive today will be dead.” Interesting. Who among us would ever have thought of that? I was wrong; the man is a deep thinker.

“At that point,” he goes on, “the interest will be paid to whoever happened to inherit the bonds. So, the burden created by the debt … is that most of our kids will be paying interest to the heirs of Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and other wealthy people.”

Dean Baker is one of the wealthy, so he’s quite happy that your kids and mine will be paying interest to his kids. You and I might not like that very much but, as he points out, we will all be dead.

And bear in mind that, according to Baker, “The burden of the debt, insofar as there is one, is the amount of money that we are paying out each year in interest to service the debt.” The debt itself, $24 trillion at this point, is not a burden. It is an irrelevancy and is of no concern to future generations.

Tomorrow I will explore Sunday’s exposition of incoherence and insanity, titled, “The Washington Post’s Debt Cult.” I read this shit so that you don’t have to.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Again, The Story Changes

When the shutdown started, we were told it was about “flattening the curve.” Not so much about preventing people from getting the virus as it was about stretching those cases out over a period of time so that our health care system would not be overwhelmed.

So now that the health care system has been rather massively underwhelmed and the number of cases is declining, we are told that the shutdown cannot be terminated because if we do then a lot of people will catch the disease.

That’s like running your furnace to keep your house warm in the winter and then, when the weather gets warmer, insisting that you have to keep running the furnace because if you stop you will bankrupt the company that provides fuel for your furnace.

(In case you’re missing my point, supporting the fuel company is not why you were running your furnace. You were doing so because the weather was cold, and now that the weather is warm you can stop.)

In the same vein, if we were doing the shutdown to avoid overwhelming the health care system, now that the health care system is clearly not overwhelmed, and clearly will not be, we can end the shutdown. But instead of ending it, government wants to continue it, and is now giving us a different reason for doing so.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

This Is Terrorism

Big headlines yesterday that "US Passes Italy's Death Toll." Many articles hyperventilating about how this country has now passed Italy in the number of deaths from the Coronavirus which is massively slaughtering our population.

They fail to point out that Italy has a population of 60 million to our population of 328 million, which means that on a per capita basis Italy is still at more than five times our fatality rate. That would not add to the amount of panic that the media is deliberately fomenting.

Deliberately creating fear in a society is, by definition, terrorism.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The Nonsense Continues

The current narrative now is that restarting the economy (ending the shutdown) will depend on the ability to do massive testing and, as usual, this narrative is not being questioned. It not only should be questioned, it should be laughed out of town. It is sheer nonsense.

They are talking about ending isolation and shutdown, which are for the purpose of preventing people from catching the disease, based on testing, which does not prevent people from catching the disease. Where do we get these idiots?

A person could be tested today, found to be free of the virus, and could become infected the very next day and proceed to infect dozens of more people. Again, where do we get these idiots?

If this shutdown were logical, which it is not, then lifting it would not become possible until we achieve a proven vaccine. That may happen a year from now, more likely 18 months or more, or it may never happen at all. This is a corona virus, as is the common cold, and we have no vaccine for the common cold.

We have a vaccine for the common flu, and two years ago it killed 60,000 people in this country. Covid-19 has killed 13,000 so far and is now forecast to top at 30-50 thousand. Is a Covid-19 vaccine (when and if we get one) going to cut that number to zero?

The media propagates utter bullshit about “herd immunity” based on testing, on the myth of a vaccine as miraculous absolute prevention of death, and the American people buy into it like sheep led to the slaughter because we have not been taught the ability to think for ourselves.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Fortunately, Profiteering Is Illegal

I bought a new kitchen faucet (Delta) six months ago, choosing it part because it stated that it was made in America. I paid $110 to have it installed.

It turned out to be a piece of junk. Temerature control is erratic, the pull down nozzle does not dock properly, and after just a couple months it would not shut off without slamming the handle. Now it does not shut off at all. I bought a new one (Moen) and now need to have it installed.

I called the plumbing company I used in the past and they charged $45 to send a tech out who would quote me a price and do the work. The price he quoted? $553 for a task that would take about 45 minutes. I told him to do something that is physiologically impossible for male, female or (in these modern times) nonbinary. He probably went home and tried to do it. Why not, he’s undoubtedly done it to a lot of other people, just as he tried to do it to me.