Category Archives: Economics

Animal’s Daily Municipal Meltdown News

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!  Also, make sure to check out the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians – this one discusses the great Winchester Model 52.

City Journal’s Michael Gibson chronicles the utter disaster that is San Francisco.  Excerpt:

Even before the current Covid-19 pandemic, San Francisco was a deeply troubled city. It ranks first in the nation in theft, burglary, vandalism, shoplifting, and other property crime. On average, about 60 cars get broken into each day. Diseases arising from poor sanitation—typhoid, typhus, hepatitis A—are reappearing at an alarming rate. Fentanyl goes for about $20 a pill on Market Street, and each year the city hands out 4.5 million needles, which you can find used and tossed out like cigarette butts in parks and around bus stops. The city’s department of public works deploys feces cleaners daily—a “poop patrol” to wash the filth from the sidewalks.

This is just a brief summary of the lack of hygiene and common decency. A reasonable person might declare an emergency, but in her first official act, Breed swore in Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s new district attorney, before a packed house at the Herbst Theater. “Chesa, you have undertaken a remarkable challenge today,” said U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a congratulatory video message. “I hope you reflect as a great beacon to many.” Boudin’s résumé boasts of a stint working directly for the late dictator Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, who turned a once-rich nation back to the dark ages. “We will not prosecute cases involving quality-of-life crimes,” Boudin promised during his campaign. He must have witnessed the success of that policy in Caracas, which was voted the world’s most dangerous city in 2018.

Even the sights and sounds of the city suggest a certain derangement. When the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system was first built in the 1970s, its designers failed to understand the acoustics between wheel, track, and tunnel. Since the nineteenth century, competent railroad engineers have known that a tapered, flanged wheel will handle turns better and generate less noise. For some reason, BART designers ignored this design in favor of a cylindrical wheel with a straight edge. Years of wear and tear have degraded the screech into a mad howl. According to a recent count by the San Francisco Chronicle, BART has lost nearly 10 million riders on nights and weekends because of the noise, grime, and lack of safety. It doesn’t help that it has also become a de facto shelter for drug addicts and the mentally ill.

The Old Man used to tell of visiting San Francisco briefly in 1945.  His one-day impression of that city was that it was a marvel, a booming metropolis, clean, shining and prosperous.  My Uncle George was stationed in the area in the early Fifties and spent a fair amount of free time mooching about the waterfront and in Chinatown, and spoke enthusiastically about what a great place the Bay Area was.

No longer.

Things were bad when I spent 2017 in the area, and the rot had spread as far as Silicon Valley, where bums sleep in the parks and along the trails and side streets are lined with parked RVs.  On our few ventures into the downtown area, we were treated to the sights, sounds and smells of Frisco’s bum, drug and feces-coated streets.  As Mr. Gibson points out, they have gone from bad to worse.

I’ve harped on this theme for some time now.  But it’s hard to watch what was one of America’s great cities descend into chaos; but holy crap, a DA who worked for Hugo Chavez?  That’s well past chaos and into enemy action.

It’s hard to find a good solution for San Francisco, where people keep voting in the lunatics running this asylum.  As Mencken pointed out, democracy is the idea that the people know what government they want and deserve to get it, good and hard.

San Francisco in particular and, honestly, California in general, seem determined to prove Mencken right.

Animal’s Daily Shooter’s Grill News

The Shooter’s Grill in Rifle, Colorado, is on my list of places to visit; while I’ve spent a fair amount of time mooching about in that general area, I somehow haven’t yet been there.  That has to change.  Now the Shooter’s Grill is open in defiance of a stay-closed order.  As of yesterday, they’re fighting to get their license back, as Garfield County is punishing them for their act of civil disobedience.  Now I want to visit them more.  Excerpt:

After a cease and desist letter, a temporary restraining order and being told by Garfield County Public Health not to serve customers on the premise, Shooters Grill owner Lauren Beobert decided to take it outside.

Dining, that is.

With most businesses continuing to adhere to public health orders from local and state governments and minimal vehicle traffic on Third Street Thursday morning, Boebert set up tables on the sidewalk and parking spaces outside of her downtown Rifle restaurant and began serving breakfast to customers.

“I’ve been patient, followed all of the proper channels, and provided service in a safe and responsible manner using the same guidelines as neighboring Mesa County restaurants. When that wasn’t good enough for our local officials, they issued a cease and desist,” Boebert said in a statement Thursday. “The fact remains that my staff needs their paychecks, so this morning I moved my tables out onto the city street and opened back up for business.”

State and local orders prohibit restaurants from offering food or beverages for on-premises consumption, as well as movement in and out of restaurants by the public until May 27.

That’s six days from today; we’ll see what happens.

It’s also important to note that the Shooter’s Grill owner, Lauren Boebert, is running for Congress.  We wish her luck; unseating Scott Tipton would be a considerable and long-awaited coup for the Colorado GOP, which has been in a circular firing squad since Governor Bill Owens left office.

From the linked story

I can’t see how the government’s actions here square with the Fifth Amendment:  No person shall… be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.  Business owners all across the country are being deprived of property in the sense that their businesses are being shuttered and their income cut off; there has been little if any “just compensation,” nor could government at all levels combine make “just compensation” for the billions of dollars lost by businesses like the Shooter’s Grill.

With no more time wasted camped in New Jersey, Mrs. Animal and I will have more weekend time in our own Colorado, and I will have more time to resume my role of being a semi-notorious local political gadfly and general pain in the ass to local pols.  One of the things we need to do is drive to Rifle (a three hour or so drive) and offer our support in person to the Shooter’s Grill – holstered revolvers and all.  I’m certain they will eventually re-open, and we’ll be there.

Political support in the form of bloviating on a blog is great, but support is best expressed in the form of currency.  So that’s what we’ll do.  We can’t vote for Mrs. Boebert for Congress, but we can support the Shooter’s Grill, and it’s past time we did so.

Animal’s Daily Times They Are A-Changin’ News

This just in from Conrad Black over at American Greatness:  The Changes to Come.  Excerpt:

Readers will recall that the Democrats charged out of the gate on the issue of taking science seriously and reacting comprehensively; the president picked up the gauntlet, brought prominent scientists forward, and “flattened the curve.” The Democrats wallowed in glee at the almost instant increase (in a month in fact) of unemployment by almost 30 million.

The president and the Republican leaders in Congress brought forth very generous and relatively simple financial assistance packages and the Democrats jumped aboard, trying to lard the payments with concessions to organized labor and the green terrorists, which the Republicans generally resisted.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was confined to his basement in Delaware and all he had to do was put on a shirt and Skype into members of the Trump-hating media. The fact that even this proved a syntactical challenge to him indicates the level of embarrassment self-distancing spared him.

The national Democratic leadership locked arms and deployed their media acolytes in support of a prolonged shutdown where virtually everyone in the country would be tested and those who test positively identify everyone they have been in contact with in the last two weeks and those people are chased down and the hunt for the last bacillus of coronavirus is pursued throughout the country to every attic, basement, homeless shelter, and rustic cabin. The president, under this scenario, would, in the greater national and human interest, commit political suicide like a kamikaze in a good cause, and patiently explain to the next scores of millions of Americans thrown out of work by the Pelosi-Biden-Schumer counter-virus strategy, that their sacrifice is noble and inevitable.

What a godsend the coronavirus crisis was supposed to be to a political party that struck out corrupting the upper ranks of the Justice Department and the intelligence services with a fraudulent narrative about illegal election-rigging with Russia, and struck out again with a fatuous presidential impeachment for unimpeachable acts with no serious evidence that the president committed the accused acts anyway.

Now, this week, people seem to be deciding they’ve had enough.  There have been protests, and there is now and will be increasingly, defiance.  Civil disobedience is an American tradition, after all, and the citizenry is increasingly reacting to the lockdown with those four words, the most powerful words in political discourse:

We will not comply.

In reaction to this virus, we are doing inestimable harm to small businesses, to supply chains, to the very muscle and bone of the economy.  But a principle of free markets lay in creative destruction; new businesses and new opportunities will arise, if only the various power-grabbers in government are made to understand that they’d best not interfere with the recovery.

There may well be  sea change coming.

This situation could end poorly, with petty dictators managing to hold on to the largely unConstitutional authority they’ve seized.  I hope that the opposite holds true; I hope that Americans realize they’ve had a taste of what life in a police state looks like, complete with secret surveillance and the friendly neighborhood Stukach.  Maybe – just maybe – people will develop a taste for liberty again?

Either way, I expect the next twelve months will tell the tale.

Bob Dylan called it almost sixty years ago:

Rule Five Fiscal Disaster Friday

The Imperial City’s debt load has shot past $100 trillion, (here’s the source) and nobody much in any of the three co-equal branches of the Imperial Government appear to give even one little shit.  Excerpts, with my comments:

The U.S. Treasury has published a major report revealing that the federal government has amassed $103.7 trillion in debts, liabilities, and unfunded obligations. To place this unprecedented shortfall in perspective, it amounts to:

  • $315,315 for every person living in the U.S.
  • $806,181 for every household in the U.S.
  • 4.8 times the size of the U.S. economy.
  • 29 times annual federal revenues.
  • 91% of the combined net worth of all U.S. households and nonprofit organizations, including all assets in savings, real estate, corporate stocks, private businesses, and consumer durable goods such as automobiles and furniture.

Holy crap.  Holy crap.  We are so, so hosed.  And it’s absolutely, unarguably, batshit insane that we’ve gotten to this point.

The new data reflect the government’s finances at the close of its 2019 fiscal year on September 30th. Thus, they don’t include added spending that has been passed and proposed to support individuals, businesses, and the general economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yeah, well, so what?  What’s a few more trillion between friends?

This official report is mandated by a federal law that requires the Treasury and White House to produce a full accounting of the government’s “overall financial position” by no later than March 31st of each year. Beyond the national debt, it also includes the government’s explicit and implicit commitments. This method approximates the accounting standards that the federal government imposes on publicly traded corporations.

Here’s the big difference, though:  Publicly traded corporations are held accountable for fiscal shenanigans.  They are held accountable by their Boards, by their customers, and eventually by law enforcement and the courts.

The government, one could argue, is held accountable by the voters.  But as long as the voting public includes (at least) a plurality of voters that vote for nothing more than an ever-increasing fire hose of Free Shit, without any knowledge nor concern about the coming debtpocolypse, this insanity will continue unchecked.

And note President Trump’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis:  Throwing trillions of debt-funded dollars at it.  The President is certainly no fiscal conservative.  On spending issues he’s basically what he was most of his life, a moderate Democrat.

Unlike higher estimates of the federal government’s fiscal shortfall that extend indefinitely into the future, these figures only include Americans who are alive right now. Thus, they estimate the burden that today’s Americans are placing on future generations.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again:  We have mortgaged our grandchildren’s futures, and history will rightly damn us for it.

Although the report discloses information of crucial import to U.S. citizens, Google News indicates that no media outlet has informed Americans about it since it was released on February 27th.

Of course not!  Not only do most Americans lack the economic knowledge to comprehend how awful this is, most don’t care; add to that the fact that most legacy media talking heads are statist jackwagons who enthusiastically support endless spending on Free Shit.

The article here concludes:

While some believe the U.S. government can spend and borrow with abandon because it is so large and can print money, one of the most established laws of economics is that there no such thing as a free lunch. The prolific economist William A. McEachern explains why this is so:

There is no free lunch because all goods and services involve a cost to someone. The lunch may seem free to you, but it draws scarce resources away from the production of other goods and services, and whoever provides a free lunch often expects something in return. A Russian proverb makes a similar point but with a bit more bite: “The only place you find free cheese is in a mousetrap.”

There’s another economic principle in play here:  Stein’s Law.  This states, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”  This insane roller-coaster of spending is going to have to stop at some point, and what happens then?

What happens to our major cities when the flow of Free Shit is cut off?

What happens when pols realize there is no more money spigot with which to buy votes?

What happens when Imperial subsidies stop?

What happens?

Sooner or later, we’re going to find out.  And what happens won’t be anything good.

Animal’s Daily Supply Chain News

Don’t miss the latest installment of the Allamakee County Chronicles over at Glibertarians!

This recently in from the folks at Forbes:  New Data Shows U.S. Companies Are Definitely Leaving China.  Excerpt:

Global manufacturing consulting firm Kearney released its seventh annual Reshoring Index on Tuesday, showing what it called a “dramatic reversal” of a five-year trend as domestic U.S. manufacturing in 2019 commanded a significantly greater share versus 14 Asian exporters tracked in the study. Manufacturing imports from China were the hardest hit.

Last year saw companies actively rethinking their supply chain, either convincing their Chinese partners to relocate to southeast Asia to avoid tariffs, or by opting out of sourcing from China altogether.

“Three decades ago, U.S. producers began manufacturing and sourcing in China for one reason: costs. The trade war brought a second dimension more fully into the equation―risk―as tariffs and the threat of disrupted China imports prompted companies to weigh surety of supply more fully alongside costs. COVID-19 brings a third dimension more fully into the mix­, and arguably to the fore: resilience―the ability to foresee and adapt to unforeseen systemic shocks,” says Patrick Van den Bossche, Kearney partner and co-author of the 19-page report.

The main beneficiaries of this are the smaller southeast Asian nations, led by Vietnam. And thanks to the passing of the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, Mexico, for all its problems with drug cartels, has become a favorite spot for sourcing.

Pay special attention to that last sentence; that’s the real prime pickle in the barrel.  China’s reticence in spreading the word about COVID-19 is the last straw in a bale that’s been weighing down the camel’s back for some time now.  As the linked article continues, one of the primary beneficiaries of this will be our southern neighbor:

Mexico is the China of the Americas.

Kearney introduced its Near-to-Far Trade Ratio (NTFR) this year. It tracks the movement of U.S. imports toward nearshore production in Mexico. The NTFR is calculated as a ratio of the annual total dollar value of Mexican manufactured goods to the U.S., divided by the dollar value of manufactured imports from the Asian 14, including China.

Since 2013, the NTFR has hovered steadily between 36% and 38% —meaning for every dollar of U.S. manufacturing goods from Asia, there were approximately 37 cents worth of manufacturing imports coming from Mexico.

That changed with the USMCA.

Mexico has gone from 38% to 42%. On a dollar-value basis, total manufacturing imports from Mexico to the U.S. increased 10% between 2017 and 2018, from $278 billion to $307 billion, and by another 4% between 2018 and 2019, to a total import value of $320 billion, based on the Kearney report.

Now, think about our ongoing problem with the southern border.  Neither of our major political parties seem to want to do much of anything about the flow of illegal immigrants, but it seems to me that one of the best ways to reduce that flow is to have a Mexico with plenty of good-paying manufacturing jobs to offer.

We’re already seeing the start of this.  I’ve been in a few massive manufacturing facilities in Reynosa and Guadalajara.  The folks working in those plants, generally owned by American companies, were well-paid (by the standards of the region) and had benefits their American counterparts lack, such as free cafeteria lunches and an on-site medical clinic.

I’m liking this trend.  I’m liking that even some folks in the Imperial government are talking more incentives to encourage it, although I’d much rather that they butt the hell out and let companies decide for themselves where to open plants; these are, however, the conditions we’re faced with.

And honestly, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Chinese Communists taken down a peg or two.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

This piece on 5 Major Paradigm Shifts The Wuhan Flu Crisis Has Revealed Americans Need came out late last week, but I didn’t have time to digest it until the weekend.  Here are the two things I found most interesting, with my comments:

When the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic arose and began spreading, for weeks the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sought to cover it up, with deadly consequences for the world. When communist China was blamed, it not only refused to take responsibility, but slandered America for pointing the finger, to the point of calling the United States culpable as part of a disinformation campaign.

The CCP even threatened, via a state-backed publication, to cut off essential medical supplies should Americans continue speaking openly and honestly about the CCP’s role in creating the crisis. Then the CCP cynically tried to act as a savior for the crisis it created.

Every day this pandemic persists, and long after it is neutralized, we must remember the CCP bears by far the greatest responsibility of any party for this pandemic. If the CCP is not made to pay in a meaningful sense for the global catastrophe it caused, it will continue to act with impunity in its quest for hegemony, guaranteed.

This pandemic should represent the most tangible sign yet for all of America that we must decouple from communist China in every strategically significant sector. We cannot put our survival in the hands of a hostile adversary.

President Trump’s 2016 campaign was focused in large part on bringing our manufacturing sector back home.  While I’m not a fan of government at any level mandating how businesses run, I do see plenty of talk now about how big companies are re-thinking their supply chains in light of what is happening right now.  And, frankly, that’s the smart thing to do.  Keeping the supply chains closer would lessen the impact of the recurrence of this kind of event.

Then there’s this:

While a society-wide shutdown certainly represents the most extreme kind of financial shock, nevertheless, the devastating impact of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic accentuates the problem of our largely debt-based economy in both the public and private spheres.

At the governmental level, the fact that we are likely to completely blow out budgets that were already so bloated as to ensure interest payments on the national debt would soon swamp all spending besides entitlements shows the extent of our profligacy and misplaced confidence we can debt-finance the U.S. government forever. There appears to be zero national will to deal with runaway spending and the runaway deficits and debt it creates.

But the reality is that in the next major crisis, we will be in an even worse financial position. What will happen if multitrillion-dollar relief bills are simply not tenable at that point?

What the hell?  What do you mean at that point?  It’s not tenable now!

The national debt is already past the point of no return.  The Kung Flu pandemic has lots of folks out of work and many more worried about money, and I can understand the pressure pols feel to do something.  But what they are doing is throwing money at the problem, and the only thing that is staving off inflation is the Fed keeping interest rates at near zero, which discourages saving and drives people into equity markets, which looks good on paper but is likewise inflated beyond any actual worth…

A big part of our national economy is a house of cards.  We still have companies that make things, and we still have a fairly decent business environment; but if that house of cards collapses, it’s going to bring plenty of otherwise-sound enterprises with it.

If that happens, forget viral pandemics.  We’ll have bigger problems.

Animal’s Daily Fricking Fracking News

Fracking is an unalloyed good thing, so it’s not surprising both of the daffy old men running for President on the Democrat ticket want to do away with it.  Excerpt:

Fracking is seen as a critical issue to many Democratic voters in the presidential campaign. Bernie Sanders opposes any fracking. Joe Biden, on the other hand, said he would not support a nationwide ban on fracking, but would ban gas drilling on federal lands. 

Actually, most fracking is done on private and state lands, not federal lands, and thus would be difficult to stop. Today, thanks to such drilling in shale deposits spanning from Pennsylvania, to Ohio and Texas, natural gas dominates electricity production in the U.S. What’s more, the rise of gas in energy production is the reason why the U.S. is reducing carbon emissions faster than any other country.

So, why do so many want to ban the use of fracking? The short answer is that fracking opponents believe that electric power should only be produced without carbon or other emissions. We can discuss some ways to minimize such emissions.

Let’s start with coal, which for many years produced about 50 percent of the electrical power for America. But with the start of fracking about 20 years ago, the use of coal has steadily moved down to about 25 percent of America’s electricity use.

Huge amounts of carbon emissions are reduced in the U.S. simply by switching from coal to gas plants. Since 2010, hundreds of coal plants have closed, and others are expected to be retired in upcoming years.

Don’t read the comments, by the way.  The commenters on The Hill frequently seem to be competing to be the first to reach Tard Factor Eight.  It’s maddening and serves no good purpose.

It’s utterly baffling why Groper Joe and the daffy old Bolshevik would be taking this stance against fracking.  That places them firmly against cheap energy, warm homes in winter and cool homes in summer, jobs, lowering carbon emissions, and economic growth.

Why not just run against hot dogs and apple pie while you’re at it?

But, by all means, the Trump campaign should be encouraging this.  Running against the very industry responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in places like Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan should be a sure-fire way to carry those states this November, right?

Right?

Now that I think on it, The Hill’s comment population isn’t the only group attempting Tard Factor Eight.  The Democrat Party seems to be reaching for the same goal.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Last Friday, as usual, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. went off to the local grocery store nearest our temporary New Jersey digs to do our normal weekly trading.  As discussed in yesterday’s post, there was, of course, an epic amount of panicky pants-shitting on display.  People were loading up entire shopping carts full of bottled water, apparently not realizing that it’s a virus, not a hurricane, and viruses almost never shut the water systems or electricity off.  Paper products were not to be had.  Frozen and other prepared foods were taking a beating.  What utter stupidity.

With that said…

On To the Links!

Just call him Czar Vladimir I.  Somewhere, Joe Stalin is smiling in admiration.

How do they plan to ban fossil fuels?  Short answer:  They can’t.  Not without some yet-to-be-discovered hypothetical dramatic new technology.  More on this tomorrow.

The Weld County (CO) Sheriff may be challenging Colorado’s rather idiotic red flag law.  This should be interesting.

Three Colorado counties have announced “You know what, fuck the First Amendment!”  Look, avoiding large gatherings, cancelling get-togethers, this is absolutely the prudent thing to do.  But no level of government can mandate that we do so.   Why?  This is why:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Immunizations.

And also this.  The proper response to government overreach like this is, of course, “fuck off, slavers!”

Meanwhile, the reaction to this virus has things shutting down all over.  Reducing interactions is how you beat this thing.

This guy may be the most rational and measured person at any level of government right now.  I’m not sure what that says about everyone else in the Imperial City.

Last Sunday evening saw an epic bout between a daffy old Commie and a senile old man.  It was the Special Olympics of political debates.

I… didn’t understand much of this.  Then again my science background is in biology, not physics.  Ask me to explain allopatric speciation, ring species or r-selected and K-selected reproductive strategies and I’m your guy.  Quarks and dark matter?  Not so much.

Well, this doesn’t sound ominous or anything.

Don’t panic.

This Week’s Idiots:

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) is an idiot.  Twice over, in fact.  Honestly, who keeps sending these lackwits back to Congress?

Bill De Blasio is an idiot.

Champaign, Illinois Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen is an idiot who needs to read the Bill of Rights, to learn how big an idiot she is.

The New York Times’ Charles Blow is (again) an idiot.

And So:

I expect the next few weeks will give us plenty of opportunities for facepalming and bemoaning the stupidity of some of our fellow citizens.  Over the last week or so I’ve been disturbing my own dear Mrs. Animal by facepalming so repeatedly that it is sounding like a round of applause at the Royal Albert Hall.

But that’s OK.  Here’s some bonus totty from the archives to cheer us all up:

And so, we return you to your (probably isolated) Wednesday, already in progress.

Animal’s Daily TP News

Be sure to catch the latest in my Gold Standards series over at Glibertarians.  This week:  The .30-06!

The ongoing coronavirus freakout/pants-shitting has inexplicably encompassed water and toilet paper.  Excerpt:

OK, I can understand face masks and hand sanitisers walking off the shelves, as these are the crucial tools in containing the spread of the pandemic. Most face masks – as with so many other products in our shops – are made in China and in the current crisis conditions any new and additional supplies won’t make it out of the country, so whatever is already here is it. And it isn’t, as masks have been the first item to disappear from retail outlets from your local pharmacy to a Bunnings store.

I can also understand the non-perishable food supplies. Even though Australia could be quite self-sufficient if need be (minus the out of season imported fruit and veg), possibly people are stocking up not so much in fear the food will run out but out of reluctance to go out in the public in a few weeks’ time should the situation really turn into a zombie apocalypse. In any case, there is nothing wrong with having a well stocked pantry.

Where I start to no longer understand the consumers is bottled water. We are fortunate to live in a developed country where one can safely drink from a tap. There won’t be shortages of drinkable water under any circumstances – except for a complete societal collapse – and coronavirus is not a water-borne pathogen like those causing cholera or typhoid. If you are still paranoid, you can boil your water before ingesting (just make sure you cool it down).

Look, there are reasonable precautions, and there are unreasonable precautions, then there are ridiculous paranoias.  The hoarding of bottled water and toilet paper is somewhere between the latter two of these, leaning sharply towards “paranoia.”

This is a virus, not a hurricane or earthquake.  The power and water are going to stay on.  Stores will be restocked.  It’s just freaking idiotic to think that you won’t be able to get toilet paper a month from now.  A week from now may be problematic – but only because of precisely this kind of paranoid stupidity from the idiots who are stocking up with entire cartloads of bottled water and toilet paper.

The linked article includes this gem:

Water.

Personally, of course, what I find the most ironic about the current situation are the memories it brings back of growing up in communist Poland, when in the early to mid-1980s you really had to queue up for toilet paper (or “srajtasma” as it was colloquially known – a shit tape), mostly unsuccessfully, because of the endemic shortages, unless you “knew people”, which my father fortunately did and so we never lacked in the basic sandpaper-grade, deep grey-shaded, uneven shaped rolls that in truth looked like slightly wider (and depressing) versions of party streamers. The fact that the socialist government couldn’t even provide the workers in their paradise with something as basic as toilet paper has since then become both a historical joke as well as a serious emblem of the failings of planned economy where, as the saying goes, everything is planned except for the economy, as this nostalgia-inducing archival news story from 1984 (!) reports:

For once President Reagan was not blamed by communist authorities for the latest woe facing Poles — an official shortage of toilet paper.

Poles have been promised an extra roll this year to meet demand.

Yes, socialists and communists always fuck up supply.  But we aren’t (yet) a socialist country.  Stocks will be replenished, and probably pretty quickly.  Relax, folks.  Have a drink (something that will calm you down; not necessarily water.)  Calm down.  This too shall pass.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Meanwhile, the pants-shitting over COVID-19 continues, all out of proportion; The New Criterion‘s Heather Mac Donald tells us why.  Excerpt:

The number of cases in most afflicted countries is paltry. As of today, 127 countries had reported some cases, but forty-eight of those countries had fewer than ten cases, according to Worldometer. At this point, more people have recovered from the virus than are still sick. But the damage to people’s livelihoods through the resulting economic contraction is real and widespread. Its health consequences will be more severe than those of the coronavirus, as Steve Malanga shows in City Journal. The people who can least afford to lose jobs will be the hardest hit by the assault on tourism. Small entrepreneurs, whether in manufacturing or the service sector, will struggle to stay afloat. Such unjustified, unpredicted economic havoc undermines government legitimacy.

President Trump has been criticized for not being apocalyptic enough in his press conferences. In fact, he should be even more skeptical of the panic than he has been. He should relentlessly put the coronavirus risk into context with opioid deaths, homicide deaths—about sixteen thousand a year in the United States—flu deaths, and traffic deaths. One might have thought New York governor Andrew Cuomo a voice of reason when, a few days ago, he tried to tamp down the hysteria in a press conference, saying: “This is not Ebola, this is not sars, this is not some science fiction movie come to life. The hysteria here is way out of line with the actuality and the facts.” And yet since then he called a state of emergency in New York, and he and Mayor Bill de Blasio have all but shut down the New York City economy. They, like most all U.S. politicians nowadays, have shown an overwhelming impulse to be irrationally risk-averse.

Rather than indiscriminately shutting down public events and travel, we should target prevention where it is most needed: in nursing homes and hospitals.

And now we see why toilet paper and bottle water have been flying off the shelves.

Critical Shortages.

There really has been very little discussion of the actual, comparative scope of the coronavirus issue.  For one thing, the very use of the term “coronavirus” seems new and scary to people not familiar with viruses; some 10-15% of the upper RI issues we call “the common cold” are caused by coronaviruses.  It is, after all, a type of virus, not a specific virus; the COVID-19 is just one member of that family.

The primary message from all levels of government should simply be “observe the same precautions you observe every cold and flu season.  This, too, shall pass.”

But no.  It’s all to panic time.