Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19

We read a lot in the news about the new Wuhan coronavirus and the illness it causes (COVID-19), but some important points often get left out.

[1] COVID-19 is incredibly contagious.

COVID-19 transmits extremely easily from person to person. Interpersonal contact doesn’t need to be very long; a taxi driver can get the virus from a passenger, for example. The virus may be transmissible even before an infected person develops symptoms. It may also be transmissible for a few days after a person seems to be over the virus; it is possible to get positive virus tests, even after symptoms disappear. Some people may have the disease, but never show symptoms.

[2] The virus likely remains active on inanimate surfaces such as paper, plastic, or metal for many days.

There haven’t been tests on the COVID-19 virus per se, but studies on similar viruses suggest that human pathogens may remain infectious for up to eight days. Some viruses that only infect animals can survive for more than 28 days. China is reported to be destroying paper currency from the hardest hit area, because people do not want to accept money which may have viruses on it. Clearly, surfaces in airplanes, trains and buses may also harbor viruses, long after a passenger with the virus has left, unless they have been thoroughly wiped down with disinfectant.

[3] Given Issues [1] and [2], about the only way to avoid spreading COVID-19 seems to be geographic isolation. 

With all of today’s travel, geographic isolation doesn’t work very well in practice. People need food and medical supplies. They need to keep basic services such as electricity and garbage collection operating. Suppliers of food and other services need to come and leave the area and that tends to spread COVID-19. Also, the longer a geographic area is isolated, the larger the percentage of the people within the area that is likely to get COVID-19. The problem is that the people need to have contact with others in the area for purposes such as buying food, and that tends to spread the disease.

[4] The real story regarding the number of deaths and illnesses seems to be far worse than the story China is telling its own people and the world.

The real story seems to be that the number of deaths is far greater than the number reported–perhaps 10 times as high as being reported. The number of illnesses is also much higher. At one point, facilities doing cremations in the Wuhan area were reported to be doing four to five times the normal number of cremations. Some of the bodies in the Wuhan area now need to be sent to other areas of China because there is not enough local cremation capacity.

China doesn’t dare tell its people how bad the situation really is, for fear of panic. They want to tell a story of being in control and handling the situation well. The news media in the West repeat the stories that the government-controlled publications of China provide, even though they seem to present a much more favorable situation than really seems to be the case.

[5] Our ability to identify who has the new coronavirus is poor.

While there is a test for the coronavirus, it costs hundreds of dollars to administer. Even with this high cost, the results of the tests aren’t very reliable. The test tends to produce many false negatives. The virus may be present somewhere inside the person being tested, but not in the areas touched by swabs of the throat and nose.

[6] Some people get much more severe symptoms from COVID-19 than others.

Most people, perhaps 80% of people, seem to get a fairly light form of the COVID-19 illness. Groups that seem particularly prone to adverse outcomes include the elderly, smokers, those who are obese, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or poor immune systems. Males seem to have worse outcomes than females.

Strangely enough, there is speculation that people with East Asian ancestry (Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese) may have a higher risk of adverse outcomes than those of European or African ancestry. One of the things that is targeted by the disease is the ACE2 receptor. The 1000 Genome Project studied expected differences in ACE2 receptors among various groups. Based on this analysis, some researchers (in non-peer-reviewed studies, here and here) predict that those of European or African ancestry will tend to get lighter forms of the disease. These findings are contested in another, non-peer-reviewed study.

Bolstering the view that East Asians are more susceptible to viruses that target the ACE2 receptor is the fact that SARS, which also tends to target the ACE2 receptor, tended to stay primarily in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. While there were cases elsewhere, they tended to have few deaths.

Observational data with respect to COVID-19 is needed to determine whether there truly is a difference in the severity of the illness among different populations.

[7] China has been using geographical quarantine to try to hold down the number of COVID-19 cases. The danger with such a quarantine is that once the economy is down, it is very difficult to come back to the pre-quarantine state.

Data shows that China’s economy is not reopening quickly after the extended New Year holiday finished.

Figure 2. China daily passenger flows, relative to Chinese New Year. Amounts are now down more than 80% and have not increased, even as some businesses are theoretically reopening. Chart by ANZ, copied by WSJ Daily Shot Feb. 17, 2020.

Figure 3. China property transactions, before and after Chinese New Year. Chart by Goldman Sachs. Reprinted by WSJ Daily Shot, Feb. 17, 2020.

All businesses will be adversely affected by a lack of sales if they need to continue to pay overhead expenses. Small and medium-sized businesses will be especially adversely affected. Bloomberg reports that if a shutdown lasts for three months, there is a substantial chance that these businesses will run through their savings and fail. Thus, these businesses may be permanently lost if the economy is down for several months.

Also, restarting after a shut-down is more difficult than it might appear. Take, for example, a mother who wants to go back to work. She will likely need:

  • Public transportation to be operating, so she has a way to get to work;
  • School to be open, so she doesn’t need to worry about her child while she is at work;
  • Masks to be available, so that she and her child can comply with requirements to wear them;
  • Stores providing necessities such as food to be open, or she may be too hungry to work

If anything is missing, the mother is likely not to go back to work. Required masks seem to be a problem right now, but other pieces could be missing as well.

Businesses, too, need a full range of workers to restart their operations. If the inspector doing the final inspection is not available, the business may not really be able to ship finished products, even if most of the workers are back.

[8] A shutdown of as little as three months is likely to be damaging to the world economy.

Multiple things are likely to go wrong:

(a) Commodity prices are likely to fall steeply, because of low demand from China. Oil prices, in particular, are likely to fall steeply, perhaps to $30 to $35 per barrel. Besides cutbacks in oil demand from China, there is the issue of a general reduction in long distance travel, because of fear of traveling with other passengers with COVID-19.

(b) US businesses, such as Apple, will find their supply chains broken. They won’t know when, and if, they can ship products.

(c) Debt defaults are likely to become more common, especially in China. The longer the slowdown/shutdown lasts, the greater the extent to which debt defaults are likely to spread around the world.

(d) The world economy is likely to be pushed into recession, without an easy way to get out again.

[9] The longer the shutdown lasts, the more likely there is to be a major collapse of the Chinese economy. 

In the event of a long-term shutdown, it would seem likely that, at a minimum, a new leader would take over. In fact, there would seem to be a significant chance of major changes within the economy. For example, the provinces of China that are able to restart might attempt to restart, leaving the more damaged areas behind. In such a case, instead of having a single Chinese government to deal with, there might be multiple governmental units to deal with.

Each governmental unit might consist of a few provinces trying to provide services such as they are able, without the benefit of the parts of the economy that are still shut down. Each governmental unit might have its own currency. If this should happen, China will be able to provide far fewer goods and services than it has in the recent past.

[10] Planners everywhere have been guilty of “putting too many eggs in one basket.”

Planners today look for efficiency. For example, placing a large share of the world’s industry in China looks like it is an efficient approach. Unfortunately, we are asking for trouble if the Chinese economy hits a bump in the road. Using just-in-time supply lines looks like a good idea as well, but if a major supplier cannot provide parts for a while, then having inventory on hand would have been a better approach.

If we want systems to be sustainable, they really need a lot of redundancy. Redundant systems are not as efficient, but they are much more likely to be sustainable through difficult times. There is a recent article in Nature that talks about this issue. One of the things it says is,

A system with a single cycle is the most unstable because the deletion of any cycle-node or link breaks the sustaining feedback mechanism.

“A system with a single cycle” is basically similar to “putting all of our eggs in one basket.” “Deletion of any cycle-node or link” is something like China running into coronavirus problems. We probably need a world economy that consists of many nearly separate local economies to be certain of long-term world economy stability. Alternatively, we need a great deal of redundancy built into our systems. For example, we need large inventories to work around the possibility of missing contributions from one country, in the case of a problem such as a major epidemic.

Conclusion

The world economy may become very different, simply because of COVID-19. The new virus doesn’t even need to directly affect the rest of the world very much to create a problem. The United States, Europe, and the rest of the world are very much dependent on the continued operation of China. The world economy has effectively put way too many eggs in one basket, and this basket is now not functioning as expected.

If China is barely producing anything for world markets, the rest of the world will suddenly discover that long supply chains weren’t such a good idea. There will be a big scramble to try to fill in the missing pieces of supply chains, but many goods are likely to be less available. We may discover quickly how much we depend upon China for everything from shoes to automobiles to furniture to electronics. World carbon dioxide emissions are likely to fall dramatically because of China’s problems, but will the accompanying issues be ones that the world economy can tolerate?

The thing that is ironic is that it is possible that the West’s fear of the new coronavirus may be overblown–we really won’t know what the impact will be with respect to people of European or of African descent until we have had a better chance to examine how the virus affects different populations. The next few weeks and months are likely to be quite instructive. For example, how will the Americans and Australians who caught COVID-19 on the cruise ships fare? What will the health outcomes be of non-Asians being brought back from Wuhan to their native countries on special planes?

 

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2,589 Responses to Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Air France-KLM, Qantas, and the global container shipping company Maersk have become the latest businesses to warn about the financial impact from the spread of coronavirus.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/20/coronavirus-hit-airline-shipping-industry-china-flights

    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “Flight cancellations caused by the coronavirus outbreak will likely lead the global air transport industry to shrink for the first time since the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, a trade group warned.”

      https://www.businessinsider.com/iata-airlines-warn-coronavirus-recession-shrink-2020-2?r=US&IR=T

      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “Container shipping from Chinese ports has collapsed since the outbreak of coronavirus and has yet to show any sign of recovery, threatening weeks of chaos for manufacturing supply lines and the broader structure of global trade.

        “Almost half of the planned sailings on the route from Asia to North Europe have been cancelled over the last four weeks. A parallel drama is unfolding on routes from the Pacific Rim to the US and Latin America.

        “Lars Jensen from SeaIntelligence in Copenhagen said the loss of traffic is running at 300,000 containers a week. This will cause a logistical crunch in Europe in early March even if the epidemic is brought under control quickly.

        ““The dominoes are toppling through the whole chain…”

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/02/20/dominoes-falling-global-shipping-covid-19-continues-grip-chinas/

      • I can believe the airline industry will shrink. According to the article:

        The bulk of that impact is expected within the Asia-Pacific region, where IATA said it forecasts a staggering 8.2% year-over-year reduction in demand.

        I expect that the reduction in demand will be even more than 8.2%.

    • Robert Firth says:

      How about closing the door to suicide bombers, knife slashing fanatics, and gang rapers of underage girls? But of course, that would not be “politically correct” What part of “Salus populi suprema lex” does Her Majesty’s government not understand?

      • Malcopian says:

        “How about closing the door to suicide bombers, knife slashing fanatics, and gang rapers of underage girls?”

        Agreed. Hear, hear!

    • On the plus side:

      If the UK has a high unemployment rate, it offers the possibility of more availability of jobs requiring low skills. These jobs will probably continue to pay badly, however. (The “worth” to employers of these jobs is not very high.)

      Unemployment rate likely to fall.

      On the minus side:

      Some jobs may go unfilled: Crops may not be picked; elderly may have fewer caretakers. The country may lack fishermen and builders.

      Structure of UK workforce will go even more toward high-priced services and away from low-paid work, whether service or basic production of food.

      UK economy will become even less able to continue on its own, without imports of many kinds.

      Workers will focus on every more complex (and unsustainable) solutions to problems, with more STEM scientist looking at pie-in-the-sky solutions.

      These new workers will not have many babies. Will likely not fix the baby shortage problem. Population will fall, making it hard to fund retirement benefits for elderly.

      • john Eardley says:

        Gail, the UK has an unbelievably low unemployment rate and the highest employment rate ever. It’s currently a job creating machine. The problem with importing cheap labour is that it does not help the current workforce, particularly the low pay, low skilled. Rather it helps the corporations, the tax man and those with capital who wish to buy services.

        • Xabier says:

          The Polish building workers, though are not cheap, just reasonable, and work much harder than the Brits who are masters of slow-motion.

          Moreover, the government plan is to allow EU building workers in, if they are contracted to…..corporate employers!

          Sheer nonsense.

          • john Eardley says:

            Polish workers do not work harder than UK workers. Its just that the hard working Brits are doing something else of more value.

            • Xabier says:

              I disagree, based on observation. You seem to have little idea of reality.

            • Xabier says:

              Plumbing, electrical work, repairing a roof, etc, are all very high value jobs – guess, what life is like if they are not done…..

              I have no time at all for the sort of people who despise skilled manual workers.

      • rufustiresias999 says:

        Yes crops haven’t been picked in 2019 already. So what, no more cider in English pubs?

        Millions of apples left to rot in UK as Brexit uncertainty worsens EU fruit picker shortage

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-no-deal-fruit-picking-apples-national-farmers-union-eu-workers-harvest-a9163781.html

        https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/oct/11/tonnes-of-crops-left-to-rot-as-farms-struggle-to-recruit-eu-workers
        A

        • Robert Firth says:

          A problem entirely of Britain’s own creation. The local workforce has been utterly demotivated by two things: welfare, and trade unions. The former makes it easy not to work; the latter make it easy (and in some trades imperative) to do as little work as possible. Abolish both, and the work ethic that got us through WWII will come back quite quickly. But of course that is “unthinkable”, because the intelligentsia, the academics, and the utterly treacherous mass media will scream like stuck pigs, from the safety of their closed gardens.

          By the way, I find Maltese workers excellent. Just hire a local firm, close the deal with a handshake, and pay cash on the nail. That way, we both avoid the corrupt bureaucracy and its over regulation, and can keep above us the umbrella of a mostly free market.

          • john Eardley says:

            Absolute nonsense. You don’t have full employment in a country of demotivated work shy workers. What you are highlighting (and is assuming the norm) are simply the ‘dregs’ of society who are not actually employable.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Thank you, John, and I believe we are on the same side. The UK counts as unemployed those who are looking for work but have not found any. It does not count those who are not looking, for instance because they would rather sponge off welfare. And I agree that many of those who do not work are pretty much unemployable. In some cases because they belong to a culture that is hostile to any kind of work ethic.

            • In the US, with low minimum wages that vary somewhat by state, there are people who have tried to get a job in the past, but have found the jobs they can get do not provide enough “net benefit.” The hours are too short, and come at inconvenient and frequently changing times. There are extra expenses that need to be considered, such as the cost of commuting (with no public transportation), the cost of special clothing, and the cost of child care or elder care that the would-be worker formerly was providing. With contract jobs, there may be no workers’ compensation, so if there is an injury, it is the worker’s problem.

              I don’t blame them for dropping out of the job market.

              There are also handicapped people who cannot even find volunteer work to do.

          • Xabier says:

            The Polish workers I employed -all excellent and very polite, I almost had to force them to take breaks -told me that they had been persecuted by British builders, who would phone the building regulators and claim that the Poles were ‘breaking the rules and dangerous’!

            Some people just don’t like honest competition.

      • Xabier says:

        The UK is currently in full employment, but with stagnated wages for most, and poor productivity.

        The Eastern European workers above all, but also those from the whole of the EU, have been very valuable, skilled and good workers, completely essential in some sectors. In the building sector, they provided competition for over-charging and greedy UK building workers,who can be incredibly arrogant and often very difficult to hire, above all for smaller jobs.

        You are correct in that the UK government wants to make it a high-skilled, high-wage economy with greater productivity.

        Pretty much divorced from reality and, as you correctly point out, making it even more of a services-dependent economy lacking resilience.

        And while kicking out the decent Europeans, we get to keep the African and Asian criminal gangs and ghettos full of educational failures – who will not be ‘up-skilling’, but have the highest birth-rate in the country. Smart move….

        • Niels Colding says:

          There will always be a rest group of lazy, extremely fat or sick people who will not or cannot work and it is almost impossible for a 56 year old (Danish, English, German ..) woman to compete with a 28 year old Romanian girl who furthermore finds the servicejob at the hotel well paid and quite easy to fulfill perfectly. There is nothing you can do to a young man or women who prefers to enjoy life with beers and drugs. And there is nothing you can do to convince hardcore followers of islam that they are obliged to do their work share in the country which they have honored with their present. Some Germans speak of Bevölkerungsaustausch – it is absolutely a no go theme right now but will eventually expand from a tiny minority to a much broader segment of European countries. But there is really nothing you can do.

  2. Dennis L. says:

    Are we seeing and understanding this?

    Socially if this is true, along with the windpower fantasy, we are putting ourselves into corners.
    Africa is having a heck of a problem with locusts and farming. I know, it is overreach, too much stress on the system, but they are people; I am pessimistic that being a hunter gather is much fun, indeed I suspect it is almost constant warfare.

    https://www.europeanscientist.com/en/features/europes-anti-science-plague-descends-on-africa/

    In the US the week link will be the farmers themselves, there are too few, it is too efficient. Lose a farmer and his family in my case over 1000 acres does not get planted, harvested. There is no backup labor pool, the countrysides are bare of people, the lights have literally gone out as evidence. There are many examples on Youtube of families running 3500 acres, often with a father and two sons along with the occasional hired man, many of whom are “mature.” Lose a few, just one from each family and things don’t get planted on time, yields go down. It is not only economics, it is eating. Socially, I don’t see many women physically farming they tend the house and family, that is a very important role, the days can be long and a good meal goes a long way, a smile doesn’t hurt either. But the heavy, dirty work that goes with a farm, it belongs to the men, a very small group of men. Should they get sick, it all stops; they work through minor aches, ills, etc., but not through a virus. It takes a very strong, cohesive group with resilience

    I don’t think it is the material aspect which will bring things down, it may be the social organization of our times. Economics is people centric, without people it is ecology which self organizes very well, even through an occasional asteroid hitting earth.

    No one saw this virus coming, perhaps it is not the virus which will be a issue, it is the social disorganization that results from it, there are too few nodes in the network.

    We have a great many policy wonks, sitting around oval tables with bottles of water(plastic no less) thinking great thoughts, abstract thoughts with no comprehension how those ideas work in the real world. Their ideas do not work with wind, solar, I strongly doubt they work with food. We have had so many years of plenty, we have forgotten times of want. If the virus in China spreads to the farms, then there will be very serious issues, the factories may not open for some time.

    Dennis L.

    • Xabier says:

      Here in the UK many farm workers are contract workers from Eastern Europe: and the government has just said it will send all of them back, not needed – only ‘high-value’ immigrants wanted.

      What is higher in value than getting the harvests in, I wonder?

      I did once see one pretty and rather small lady driving a very big tractor, but they are mostly men it is true in the age of big machines.

      Farming has become so efficient it is no longer resilient: in the only quite recent past, even if the master of a farm died, the male and female hired workers could have got the harvest in, and so on.

      Now, what value has all that big machinery if vital spare parts are not available from China, or if logistics collapse?

      • Well, the real situation is more like that uninterrupted fossil energy inputs into farmland had created a monster of dead astroturf substrate layer to grow things on. If you cut these inputs it will all just fall apart, food shortage ensues. The only solution is to bring people back to work and live on the land with corresponding relatively small leveraged output, i.e. available surplus. Obviously, there is whole nexus of political-socioeconomic arguments why this is not desirable (also as preemptive measure), it will come only out of desperate urgency and necessity, unfortunately. Yet, the know how is out there, if applied we could easily land on some re-mix of 16-19th century living standards, which could be acceptable. But instead sudden shock therapy will push it way down to way earlier epoch easily..

        • 300 yr ago about 98% of workers were land-related in some way

          now 2% are

          that is the painful arithmetic we must work out

          • Dennis L. says:

            Yes, and if only 10% of that 2% become incapable of work, it is a problem that is still multiplied by 49, machines don’t run themselves, it takes time to learn how they work, where to lubricate them on a daily basis so they do not fail.

            We assume dirt is dirt but a single farm when mapped for yields exhibits considerable variation. Mike Bloomberg was wrong about making a hole in the ground, first there needs to be a knowledge of what and where to make the holes and what to put in them. Even historically there were most likely variations in seeds, what works best where. We have technology which makes it easier although there is a tremendous amount of data to analyze and employ. Recall, the feudal lords kept the peasants home to work the farms, the nobles did the noble thing and took a horse riding into fame and glory, or was it gory?

            Farming is and has been just in time, every twelve months stores run out or very low, miss one year and things become very challenging, very quickly.

            Farming is not less people intensive, it is much more skill set intensive, the skills are concentrated in a very small group of people, it is a localized group of people who learn to understand their soils, their climate, their markets, their seeds, their inputs. If livestock are involved they become veterinarians, lose a calf and mom really is a cost until another calf comes along, or she becomes a steak. If a calf is born in a field at night, the farmer may well go out, put the calf over his shoulders and bring it to someplace warm, it is money for necessities. Do this for forty years and the back hurts. Large feeding operations work well, but we are seeing a great many virus issues with animals, birds, pigs, etc. It is possible we will not see the real issue come until perhaps sixty days before as with the corona virus and December 1, 2019 give or take a few days.

            With manufacturing, we did not see the disruption coming, we are less than 90 days into it and most of the major manufacturing center of the world is closed with incredible efforts underway to deal with the issue. Were it not very serious, a nation would not be virtually shut down, it appears Korea may have similar issues.

            I read widely, maybe some of you saw this coming, predicted, etc., but it seems to me that this one came out of the blue, it was not the machines, it was not the oil, copper, iron, etc., it was the people, something has gone wrong in a very major way and I don’t think we really understand the underlying issues.

            Dennis L.

            • Even people who write about collapse didn’t have epidemics near the top of their concerns. I know I didn’t. If we would have a problem, I was thinking it would be because our antibiotics didn’t work any more. But viruses are a problem, too.

            • Robert Firth says:

              Dennis, there was indeed someone who saw this coming: Thomas Hardy.

              Only a man harrowing clods
              In a slow silent walk
              With an old horse that stumbles and nods
              Half asleep as they stalk.

              Only thin smoke without flame
              From the heaps of couch-grass;
              Yet this will go onward the same
              Though Dynasties pass.

              Yonder a maid and her wight
              Come whispering by:
              War’s annals will cloud into night
              Ere their story die.

              For me, at least, a message of hope.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Only a man harrowing clods
              In a slow silent walk
              With an old horse that stumbles and nods
              Half asleep as they stalk.

              Talking about the Great British worker again, I see.

            • Xabier says:

              Pandemics have occasionally been mentioned here, but really there is nothing one can usefully say about them until they hit. Unquantifiable.

              Oddly, the idea was much on my mind last summer, for some reason.

        • We don’t have the organization or skills to go to 16-19th century living standards, I am afraid.

          However it works out, women will need to have more children and men will be more valued for the physical strength. This will mean big changes from what “modern” society today values.

          • peatmoss says:

            It will take some time for our species to adapt. More brawn less brains. I look at the kind of labor being performed 100 years ago… I know some tough dudes loggers miners. I dont think they could perform that labor. Me I run a chainsaw for 4 hours and Im done. 🙂

            • Xabier says:

              True: stamina comes from doing tough work with only hand-tools from a young age – it;s very different to ‘gym-fit’.

              I have just the same build as the Basque mountain loggers in the old photos, but could I do it? No way!

              They just exude toughness and endurance in every limb.

              Their old motto was ‘A man should be like a stone’; and the proverb’ Good times are good, but just bloody well get on with the bad ones!’

              Not the sayings that come from easy lives…..

          • peatmoss says:

            Tough learning curve. Very tough. Perhaos we could enter a “no species left behind” program . 🙂

          • rufustiresias999 says:

            We don’t have the stamina.

          • info says:

            For women to have more children they will have to marry younger and more of them have to do so.

        • Xabier says:

          I’ve often viewed the valuation of so-called ‘prime agricultural land’ in the UK with some reserve, as we know how much it has in fact been degraded since WW2 and the advent of poisoned industrialised farming: sterile, compacted, eroding and productive only with a flow of external inputs.

          There is certainly a strong belief in the perpetual capacity of the UK to import sufficient food if it is rich enough -sheer delusion for which a heavy penalty will be paid one day, and maybe not so distant.

      • I saw an article today saying the opposite is happening today in the US. From the WSJ:

        Trump Administration Plans to Raise Seasonal-Worker Cap
        Additional 45,000 guest workers will be allowed to return to U.S. this summer

        The announcement may be a little premature, however. The article reports:

        Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf “has made no decision yet on the issue,” a DHS spokesperson said. “Any numbers reported on at this time are being pushed to press by junior staff who are not privy to all of the discussions taking place.”

        The seasonal worker program, known as the H-2B visa program, enables U.S. employers to hire as many as 66,000 foreign workers a year, with the allotments split evenly between the winter and summer seasons. Congress permits the Department of Homeland Security each year to raise that cap by as many as 64,000 additional visas.

        • peatmoss says:

          Seasonal Mexican workers are some tough people. Their endurance is right up there with military personal. The border is getting sealed and workers come in legally under h2bs. Wheres the problem?

        • Chrome Mags says:

          “Trump Administration Plans to Raise Seasonal-Worker Cap
          Additional 45,000 guest workers will be allowed to return to U.S. this summer”

          I wonder if that’s because fewer migrants are making it through the border and farmers need them to work the fields. Hard work no one else wants.

    • The article talks about “fact-free claims pushed by activist pushing political agendas.” I think practically every debate is filled with these fact-free claims. The argument in this article is about which, if any, pesticide to use in Africa. Local people really cannot afford these pesticides. I was struck by these paragraphs:

      Copper, in its various compounds, is considered “natural” and thus is approved for organic production, but it is highly dangerous to humans and destructive to biodiversity. It accumulates in the soil and is a known carcinogen. In 2015, the EU put copper compounds on its list of “candidates for substitution” — meaning they are “of particular concern to public health or the environment.” The EU would have banned the substances long ago, except that organic growers, who dump them on their fields in truly astounding quantities, couldn’t survive without it.

      Banning safer, more efficient modern pesticides, like locust-fighting fenitrothion, but allowing copper is a craven way for the organic interests to wipe out the competition. . .

      Europe is rich enough to decimate its own agriculture and become even a larger net importer of food than it already is. For Africans without such a luxury, this is a matter of life and death.

      We have a huge issue of overshoot everywhere. Dumping more chemicals on (including copper-based chemicals) sort of temporarily fixes the problem. Whether the chemical is a “modern pesticide” or long-standing one, there are problems involved.

  3. Pingback: Easily Overlooked Issues Regarding COVID-19 | Real Patriot News

  4. Pingback: Economic Virus | Do What's Right

  5. peatmoss says:

    Im sure everyone has seen this. ZH kicked permanently off twitter for it which gives it some credibility to my mind.
    https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/did-china-steal-coronavirus-canada-and-weaponize-it

    • I think I saw this before, but it is interesting to look at it again.

      I started to put something about the possibility of the virus being something that escaped from a lab, but decided not to “go there” in this article.

      • peatmoss says:

        Discussion about the possibility of this particular origin seems to be censored. The zh article has some interesting facts. You are wise to avoid this topic IMO but it is also good to be informed. The origin doesnt matter as much as the situation. Twitter didnt want the article going “viral”. HAH. 🙂

      • Xabier says:

        Wise: you might get demonised as a ‘fake news conspiracy-theorist’ and attract most unwelcome attention.

        • Hide-away says:

          Zero hedge gone from Twitter, Chris Martenson gone from Wikipedia, the old pattern of shoot the messenger is alive and well.
          Only those in charge are allowed to know the real situation. I wonder how many billionaires have moved to their bunkers for a holiday. Perhaps this virus is the real reason they built them in the years since SARS.
          Conspiracy? No, possibly just logical thinking about an overcrowded world.

  6. Chrome Mags says:

    That’s a good video about Corona Virus; a plane landed in Turkey was turned away, and a bus load of passengers in Ukraine was rumored to have 5 people on board with the virus and a riot formed. Situation in South Korea gets worse.

  7. Pingback: Feb 21, 2020; 2019 nCoV Update, Code Yellow, Its looking as Bad as first Thought. – Aporia Cafe

  8. Pingback: Easily overlooked issues regarding COVID-19 | Heinrichplatz TV

  9. Dennis L. says:

    Reply to up comment by Robert and poem by Thomas Hardy.

    I need to go back and read Buck’s “The Good Earth” which ironically is about China. The ending of your poem as I understand it is about the love between a man and a woman and their oblivion to the war (WWI I assume) around them.

    This world we are so fortunate to inhabit has been around a long time, Xabier has concerns regarding the soil quality remaining, ah, we have had glaciers, they move and mix the soil in many ways, sometimes one needs to move the farm. With luck, Hardy’s man and woman might be able to start again, or if older, perhaps help their children begin anew and thus be both useful and find further happiness.

    Dennis L.

    • Xabier says:

      See the myth of Ragnarrok and the regeneration of the gods, parts of the earth,(not the whole) and mankind after the cataclysm.

    • Robert Firth says:

      Agree, Dennis. The rich farmland of Northern Europe was created by the glaciers. Rich farmland in some other places, such as Sicily, was created by volcanos. I remember visiting the Sicilian plain, “that fair field of Enna”, and found it just as Milton described. (Paradise Lost, Book IV line 268)

      Life is more than resilient; it has learned how to profit from adversity and turn it into plenty. It seems we prefer to turn plenty into adversity.

Comments are closed.