COVID-19 and the economy: Where do we go from here?

The COVID-19 story keeps developing. At first, everyone listened to epidemiologists telling us that a great deal of social distancing, and even the closing down of economies, would be helpful. After trying these things, we ended up with a huge number of people out of work and protests everywhere. We discovered the models that were provided were not very predictive. We are also finding that a V-shaped recovery is not possible.

Now, we need to figure out what actions to take next. How vigorously should we be fighting COVID-19? The story is more complex than most people understand. These are some of the issues I see:

[1] The share of COVID-19 cases that can be expected to end in death seems to be much lower than most people expect.

Most people assume that the ratios of deaths to cases by age group, computed using reported cases, such as those included in the Johns Hopkins Database, give a good indication of the chance of death a person faces if a person catches COVID-19. In fact, the cases reported to this database are far from representative of all cases; they tend to be the more severe cases. Cases with no symptoms, or only very slight symptoms, tend to be missed. The result is that ratios calculated directly from this database make people think their risk of death is far higher than it really is.

The US Center for Disease Control has published Planning Scenarios, based on information available on April 29, 2020.* Using this information, the CDC’s best estimate of the number of future deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms is as follows:

Ages 0 – 49    0.5 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

Ages 50-64    2.0 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

Ages 65+       13.0 deaths per 1000 cases with symptoms

The CDC’s best estimate is that 35% of cases have no symptoms at all. Thus, if we were to include these cases without symptoms in the chart above, the chart would become:

Ages 0-49   0.5 deaths per 1,538 cases (including those without symptoms), or 0.3 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

Ages 50-64  1.3 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

Ages 65+    8.5 deaths per 1000 cases with or without symptoms

A recent study of blood samples from 23 different parts of the world came to a similarly low estimate of the number of deaths per 1000 COVID-19 infections. It reported that among people who are less than 70 years old, the number of deaths per 1000 ranged from 0.0 to 2.3 per 1000, with a median of 0.4 deaths per 1000.

The same paper remarks,

COVID-19 seems to affect predominantly the frail, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized – as shown by high rates of infectious burden in nursing homes, homeless shelters, prisons, meat processing plants, and the strong racial/ethnic inequalities against minorities in terms of the cumulative death risk.

[2] There seem to be things we can do ourselves to reduce our personal chance of serious illness or death.

General good health is protective against getting a bad case of COVID-19. Thus, anything that we can do in terms of a good diet and exercise is likely helpful. Staying inside for weeks on end in the hope of preventing exposure to COVID-19 is probably not helpful.

Continued exposure to huge amounts of disinfectants and hand sanitizers is likely not to be helpful either. Our bodies depend on healthy microbiomes, and products such as these adversely affect our microbiomes. They kill good and bad bacteria alike and may leave harmful residues. It is easy to scale back our personal use of these products.

There are recent indications that vitamin D is likely to be protective in reducing both the incidence of COVID-19 and the disease’s severity. Web MD reports:

Several groups of researchers from different countries have found that the sickest patients often have the lowest levels of vitamin D, and that countries with higher death rates had larger numbers of people with vitamin D deficiency than countries with lower death rates.

Experts say healthy blood levels of vitamin D may give people with COVID-19 a survival advantage by helping them avoid cytokine storm, when the immune system overreacts and attacks your body’s own cells and tissues.

While we don’t know for certain that vitamin D is helpful, there is certainly enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that it would likely be worthwhile to raise vitamin D levels to the amount recommended by the National Institute of Health (30 nmol/L or higher). People with dark skin living in areas away from the equator might especially be helped by this strategy, since dark skin reduces vitamin D production.

Masks seem to be helpful in preventing the spread of infection. A person’s own immune system can handle some level of germs. If two people meeting together both wear masks, the combination of masks can perhaps reduce the level of germs to within the amount the immune system can handle. Our immune systems are built to handle a barrage of small attacks by viruses and bacteria. Continued “practice” with relatively low combinations of good and bad bacteria (as occur with masks) will tend to build up our bodies’ natural defenses.

We see dentists and dental hygienists wearing face shields. These shields are readily available over the internet and can be worn with a mask or by themselves. We don’t yet know precisely how much protection they provide, but early models suggest that they can be helpful in two directions: (a) preventing the wearer’s droplets from harming others and (b) reducing the droplet exposure from others. Thus, they may be a worthwhile way to reduce exposure to the virus causing COVID-19, even when others are not wearing masks.

[3] The medical community’s ability to treat COVID-19 cases keeps improving.

There seem to be many small changes that are improving treatment of COVID-19. If patients are having trouble getting enough oxygen, having them lie on their stomachs seems to increase their blood oxygen levels. The cost of this change is pretty much zero, but it keeps people out of the ICU longer.

Originally, planners thought that ventilators would be needed for patients with COVID-19, since ventilators are often used on pneumonia patients. Experience has shown, however, that oxygen plus something like a CPAP machine often works better and is less expensive.**

The simple change of not sending recuperating patients to nursing home-type facilities for the last stages of care has proven helpful, as well. Many of these patients can still infect others, leading to infections in long-term care facilities. Tests to tell whether patients are truly over the disease do not seem to be very accurate.

Last week, it was announced that treatment with an inexpensive common steroid could reduce deaths of people on ventilators by one-third. It could also reduce deaths of those requiring only oxygen treatment by 20%. Using this treatment should significantly reduce deaths, at little cost.

We can expect improvements in treatments to continue as doctors experiment with existing treatments, and as drug companies work on new solutions. Looking at cumulative historical mortality rates tends to overlook the huge learning curve that is taking place, allowing mortality rates to be lower.

[4] More doubts are being raised about quickly finding a vaccine that prevents COVID-19. 

The public would like to think that a vaccine solution is right around the corner. Vaccine promoters such as Anthony Fauci and Bill Gates would like to encourage this belief. Unfortunately, there are quite a few obstacles to getting a vaccine that actually works for any length of time:

(a) Antibodies for coronaviruses tend not to stay around for very long. A recent study suggests that even as soon as eight weeks, a significant share of COVID-19 patients (40% of those without symptoms; 12.9% of those with symptoms) had lost all immunity. A vaccine will likely face this same challenge.

(b) Vaccines may not work against mutations. Beijing is now fighting a new version of COVID-19 that seems to have been imported from Europe in food. Early indications are that people who caught the original Wuhan version of the COVID-19 virus will not be immune to the mutated version imported from Europe.

Vaccines that are currently under development use the Wuhan version of the virus. The catch is that the version of COVID-19 now circulating in the United States, Europe and perhaps elsewhere is mostly not the Wuhan type.

(c) There is a real concern that a vaccine against one version of COVID-19 will make a person’s response to a mutation of COVID-19 worse, rather than better. It has been known for many years that Dengue Fever has this characteristic; it is one of the reasons that there is no vaccine for Dengue Fever. The earlier SARS virus (which is closely related to the COVID-19 virus) has this same issue. Preliminary analysis suggests that the virus causing COVID-19 seems to have this characteristic, as well.

In sum, getting a vaccine that actually works against COVID-19 is likely to be a huge challenge. Instead of expecting a silver bullet in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine, we probably need to be looking for a lot of silver bee-bees that will hold down the impact of the illness. Hopefully, COVID-19 will someday disappear on its own, but we have no assurance of this outcome.

[5] The basic underlying issue that the world economy faces is overshoot, caused by too high a population relative to underlying resources.

When an economy is in overshoot, the big danger is collapse. The characteristics of overshoot leading to collapse include the following:

  • Very great wage disparity; too many people are very poor
  • Declining health, often due to poor nutrition, making people vulnerable to epidemics
  • Increasing use of debt, to make up for inadequate wages and profits
  • Falling commodity prices because too few people can afford these commodities and goods made from these commodities
  • Gluts of commodities, causing farmers to plow under crops and oil to be put into storage

Thus, pandemics are very much to be expected when an economy is in overshoot.

One example of collapse is that following the Black Death (1348-1350) epidemic in Europe. The collapse killed 60% of Europe’s population and dropped Britain’s population from close to 5 million to about 2 million.

Figure 1. Britain’s population, 1200 to 1700. Chart by Bloomberg using Federal Reserve of St. Louis data.

We might say that there was a U-shaped population recovery, which took about 300 years.

A later example that almost led to collapse was the period between 1914 and 1945. This was a period of shrinking international trade, indicating that something was truly wrong. On Figure 2 below, the WSJ calls its measure of international trade the “Trade Openness Index.” The period 1914-1945 is highlighted as being somewhat like today.

Figure 2. The Trade Openness Index is an index based on the average of world imports and exports, divided by world GDP. Chart by Wall Street Journal.

Many of the issues in the 1914-1945 timeframe were coal related. World War I took place when coal depletion became a problem in Britain. The issue at that time was wages that were too low for coal miners because the price of coal would not rise very high. Higher coal prices were needed to offset the impact of depletion, but high coal prices were not affordable by citizens.

The Pandemic of 1918-1919 killed far more people than either World War I or COVID-19.

World War II came about at the time coal depletion became a problem in Germany.

Figure 3. Figure by author describing peak coal timing compared to World War I and World War II.

The problem of inadequate energy resources finally ended when World War II ramped up demand through more debt and through more women entering the labor force for the first time. In response, the US began pumping oil out of the ground at a faster rate. Instead of depending on coal alone, the world began depending on a combination of oil and coal as energy resources. The ratio of population to energy resources was suddenly brought back into balance again, and collapse was averted!

[6] We are now in another period of overshoot of population relative to resources. The critical resource this time is oil. The alternatives we have aren’t suited to fulfilling our most basic need: the growing and transportation of food. They act as add-ons that are lost if oil is lost.

If we look back at Figure 2 above, it shows that since 2008, the world has again fallen into a period of shrinking imports and exports, which is a sign of “not enough energy resources to go around.” We are also experiencing many of the other characteristics of an overshoot economy that I mentioned in Section 5 above.

Figure 4 shows world energy consumption by type of energy through 2019, using recently published data by BP. The “Other” combination in Figure 4 includes nuclear, hydroelectric, wind, solar, and other smaller categories such as geothermal energy, wood pellets, and sawdust burned for fuel.

Figure 4. World energy consumption by fuel, based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy.

Oil has been rising at a steady pace; coal consumption has been close to level since about 2012. Natural gas and “Other” seem to be rising a little faster in the most recent few years.

If we divide by world population, the trend in world energy consumption per capita by type is as follows:

Figure 5. World Per Capita Energy Consumption based on BP’s 2020 Statistical Review of World Energy

Many people would like to think that the various energy sources are substitutable, but this is not really the case, as we approach limits of a finite world.

One catch is that there are very few stand-alone energy resources. Most energy resources only work within a framework provided by other energy sources. Wood that is picked up from the forest floor can work as a stand-alone energy source. Wind can almost be used as a stand-alone energy source, if it is used to power a simple sail boat or a wooden windmill. Water can almost be used as a stand-alone energy source, if it can be made to turn a wooden water wheel.

Coal, when its use was ramped up, enabled the production of both concrete and steel. It allowed modern hydroelectric dams to be built. It allowed steam engines to operate. It truly could be used as a stand-alone energy source. The main obstacle to the extraction of coal was keeping the cost of extraction low enough, so that, even with transportation, buyers could afford to purchase the coal.

Oil, similarly, can be a stand-alone energy solution because it is very flexible, dense, and easily transported. Or it can be paired with other types of less-expensive energy, to make it go further. We can see our dependence on oil by how level energy consumption per capita is in Figure 5 since the early 1980s. Growth in population seems to depend upon the amount of oil available.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the economy is a self-organizing system. If there isn’t enough of the energy products upon which the economy primarily depends, the system tends to change in very strange ways. Countries become more quarrelsome. People decide to have fewer children or they become more susceptible to pandemics, bringing population more in line with energy resources.

The problem with natural gas and with the electricity products that I have lumped together as “Other” is that they are not really stand-alone products. They cannot grow food or build roads. They cannot power international jets. They cannot build wind turbines or solar panels. They cannot put natural gas pipelines in place. They can only exist in a complex environment which includes oil and perhaps coal (or other cheaper energy products).

We are kidding ourselves if we think we can transition to modern fuels that are low in carbon emissions. Without high prices, oil and coal that are in the ground will tend to stay in the ground permanently. This is the serious obstacle that we are up against. Without oil and coal, natural gas and electricity products will quickly become unusable.

[7] A major problem with COVID-19 related shutdowns is the fact that they lead to very low commodity prices, including oil prices. 

Figure 6. Inflation-adjusted monthly average oil prices through May 2020. Amounts are Brent Spot Oil Prices, as published by the EIA. Inflation adjustment is made using the CPI-Urban Index.

Oil is the primary type of energy used in growing and transporting food. It is used in many essential processes, including in the production of electricity. If its production is to continue, its price must be both high enough for oil producers and low enough for consumers.

The problem that we have been encountering since 2008 (the start of the latest cutback in trade in Figure 2) is that oil prices have been falling too low for producers. Now, in 2020, oil production is beginning to fall. This is happening because producing companies cannot afford to extract oil at current prices; governments of oil exporting countries cannot collect enough taxes at current prices. They hope that by reducing oil supply, prices will rise again.

If extraordinarily low oil prices persist, a calamity similar to the one that “Peak Oilers” have worried about will certainly occur: Oil supply will begin dropping. In fact, the drop will likely be much more rapid than most Peak Oilers have imagined, because the drop will be caused by low prices, rather than the high prices that they imagined would occur.

Amounts which are today shown as “proven reserves” can be expected to disappear because they will not be economic to extract. Governments of oil exporting countries seem likely to be overthrown because tax revenue from oil is their major source of revenue for programs such as food subsidies and jobs programs. When this disappears, governments of oil exporters are forced to cut back, lowering the standard of living of their citizens.

[8] What our strategy should be from now on is not entirely clear.

Of course, one path is straight into collapse, as happened after the Black Death of 1348-1352 (Figure 1). In fact, the carrying capacity of Britain might still be about 2 million. Its current population is about 68 million, so this would represent a population reduction of about 97%.

Other countries would experience substantial population reductions as well. The population decline would reflect many causes of death besides direct deaths from COVID-19; they would reflect the impacts of collapsing governments, inadequate food supply, polluted water supplies, and untreated diseases of many kinds.

If a large share of the population stays hidden in their homes trying to avoid COVID, it seems to me that we are most certainly heading straight into collapse. Supply lines for many kinds of goods and services will be broken. Oil prices and food prices will stay very low. Farmers will plow under crops, trying to raise prices. Gluts of oil will continue to be a problem.

If we try to transition to renewables, this leads directly to collapse as well, as far as I can see. They are not robust enough to stand on their own. Prices of oil and other commodities will fall too low and gluts will occur. Renewables will only last as long as (a) the overall systems can be kept in good repair and (b) governments can support continued subsidies.

The only approach that seems to keep the system going a little longer would seem to be to try to muddle along, despite COVID-19. Open up economies, even if the number of COVID-19 cases is higher and keeps rising. Tell people about the approaches they can use to limit their exposure to the virus, and how they can make their immune systems stronger. Get people started raising their vitamin D levels, so that they perhaps have a better chance of fighting the disease if they get COVID-19.

With this approach, we keep as many people working for as long as possible. Life will go on as close to normal, for as long as it can. We can perhaps put off collapse for a bit longer. We don’t have a lot of options open to us, but this one seems to be the best of a lot of poor options.

Notes:

*The CDC estimates are estimates of future deaths per 1000 cases. Thus, they probably reflect the learning curve that has already taken place. It is unlikely that they reflect the benefit of the new steroid treatment mentioned in Section 3, because this finding occurred after April 29.

**I have been told that disease spread can be a problem when using CPAP machines, however. Using ventilators at very low pressure settings seems also to be a solution.

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , , by Gail Tverberg. Bookmark the permalink.

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.

2,824 thoughts on “COVID-19 and the economy: Where do we go from here?

  1. “Pakistan’s financial woes are going from bad to worse as the national fiscal deficit surges to over 7% of gross domestic product (GDP) and could breach 9-10% as state revenues dry up amid Covid-19 economic devastation.

    “That’s raising questions among analysts and business executives of whether the country is headed towards a budgetary blowout-induced financial collapse.”

    https://asiatimes.com/2020/07/pakistan-on-brink-of-covid-19-financial-collapse/

      • What???!!!!

        I would have expected something bad but that is beyond…beyond I don’t know what!

        • It is a puzzling story, for sure.

          I may be missing something but wouldn’t it be self-defeating, perhaps even suicidal, to fake one’s way into a job as a pilot?!

          • Perhaps being a pilot isn’t as tough as we’d otherwise believe (for a majority of the everyday, let-autopilot-fly-the-plane situations, anyway)?

            My buddy has been playing flight simulator games for at least a decade – wonder if he could fake his way into a pilot job? Though, not sure how many pilots we’ll be needing in the future with coronavirus and financial collapse and all…

            Cheers,
            -GBV

            • As part of the hiring process at US carriers, all applicants for pilot positions are tested in a simulator to make sure that you are who you claim to be. The simulated aircraft is entirely hand flown. They don’t let you turn on all that gee whiz stuff. And while the simulator can’t fly, it will quickly determine if you can. Nintendo pilots would not stand a chance of passing the sim check.

              Cheers, D3G

          • There was a fake book restorer, of all things, going around 10 years ago.

            He’d turn up with lovely books restored or bound by someone else, get work on the strength of it and then return wholly ruined books to the dealer.

            Quite mad, I suppose.

            But I was rather taken aback when people suspected I hadn’t done my own samples, as imposture in a craft would never have occurred to me.

            • Could a fake book restorer also be a restorer of fake books?

              Apparently, fake Books are collections of songs with a notated melody line, chord symbols, and complete lyrics. According to a blurb I read, these books are the mainstay of professional musicians, and once you’ve learned how to use a fake book, you’ll enjoy a new level of playing experience.

      • Bizarre! But people will do whatever they have to do to earn a living. Perhaps if they are clever, they can learn to understand the basics.

  2. “A review of the bank-specific results published by the Fed using February’s pre-pandemic assumptions shows that some large banks would be operating with thin capital margins even under those more benign scenarios.

    “For instance, Goldman Sachs’s supplemental leverage ratio dipped as low as 3.5%; Morgan Stanley, 4.5%; JPMorgan Chase, 5.1%. Unfortunately, we don’t know how these and other large banks will fare under the more-distressed conditions caused by the pandemic.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2020-07-07/fed-s-bank-stress-tests-weren-t-transparent-about-pandemic-risk

      • Have a paid-up Whole life insurance policy with Nationwide (who bought out the original Provident Mutual Company), whose Chief Economist I last heard was my old college classmate David Berson, the same guy I asked during our 2006 college reunion how Fannie Mae ( where he was Chief economist at the time,) was doing. His reply: “Oh Fannie’s fine. Doing well.” We know what then happened.
        I now wonder if I should just cash this out along with my Provident Variable Whole Life (again bought out by Nationwide) I bought back in 1988. Combined death benefit from both would be about 250K to my 16 year old daughter, but cash value may be 80K. (Haven’t looked at their CV in years.) At 65, and a black sheep of the medical profession who can no longer work, I am worth more to her dead than alive. I never thought I would be looking at things through such a grim distorted lens, but being out of work and a useless eater really is depressing.

          • There is a second hand market for unwanted life insurance policies which may pay out more than cashing it in.

            • My impression is that the reason they pay out more is because the buyers generally have diseases which are expected to end in death in a matter of months. The proceeds are needed to pay for hospital expenses.

              If you are in good health, I wonder if you could get a good “deal.”

        • I expect that taking money out of the whole life policy might make sense now, given how much the situation has changed.

          A major question is what you do with the proceeds. I am not sure gold and silver coins are the only solution. Arguably, you could buy large boxes of Latter Day Saints storable food, and keep them. Some people want to invest in land and planting equipment. Or guns and ammunition, to keep others away. Or $20 bills, hidden under your mattress. It is a question of what will work when, but I honestly don’t know the answer.

          We can guess that Social Security and pension plans of many kinds will not last for many years. But they may last for a while, if debt and more debt is used to try to fund them.

          Will your daughter outlive you? In a collapse, it is not obvious.

          My advice has been to first spend whatever is needed/useful today. Of course, trips are pretty restricted right now, and big gatherings get to be problematic too, especially if they run into New York Covid-19 14-day quarantine requirements.

          Beyond this, my advice has been to diversity. Some in bank accounts, and perhaps some in other types of assets. It is up to you.

          • “We can guess that Social Security and pension plans of many kinds will not last for many years. But they may last for a while, if debt and more debt is used to try to fund them.”

            I just signed up for early retirement just for that reason and I know several others who have already done that and are going to do the same.

          • “Arguably, you could buy large boxes of Latter Day Saints storable food, and keep them. Some people want to invest in land and planting equipment. Or guns and ammunition, to keep others away. Or $20 bills, hidden under your mattress. It is a question of what will work when, but I honestly don’t know the answer.”

            A mixture of all these things (and more – don’t forget water purification, and also upgrading your practical skills) would be good, and would also be true diversification, not the faux diversification pushed by the financial industry.

            Cheers,
            -GBV

        • Hubbs, I wish you good luck in finding some honest and rewarding work to keep you occupied. That’s the best medicine for your current symptoms.

          When you write “I’m worth more to her dead than alive”, I am reminded of that Jimmy Stewart movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Perhaps the corniest film ever made, but very uplifting just the same.

          As Clarence (the angel) says in the film to George, who has gotten into deep money troubles and tried to drown himself in the river, and subsequently been shown what the town would be like if he’d never existed: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

  3. “Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Seleshi Bekele has pointed an accusing finger at Egypt over recent unrest…

    “The government says the neighbouring country’s motive was to stop Ethiopia from continuing with the Grand Renaissance Dam project… Construction of the mega dam has sparked tensions with neighbouring countries that are downstream on the Blue Nile.”

    https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/news/africa/ethiopia-blames-egypt-over-unrest-vows-to-fill-mega-dam–1446814

  4. “Bond investors are losing their appetite for South African debt after the government increased issuance a second time this year to help plug a yawning budget deficit… some analysts questioned whether investors have the stomach to continue absorbing the pile of new debt at a cost that’s still low enough for the government to afford.”

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-07/debt-sale-may-tell-if-investors-can-stomach-south-african-glut

        • Right. And that review will need a big committee and they will of course all require new Range Rovers to get about doing their investigative work.

          • If they are smart about it the committee will be made up of underrepresented people.
            Any criticism of their salary or work (what reviewing will they need do if it’s already very obvious food production will be inadequate in the future??) will be construed as a hate crime. Above them will be a layer of administrators who make even more money for doing nothing and no one will complain because they will be invisible.

  5. “Big and mid-cap firms globally are expected to slash capital spending by an average 12% this year as they reel from the fallout of lockdowns and other measures imposed to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, analysts’ estimates show…

    “The predicted cut is bigger than the 11.3% decline that occurred in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.”

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-companies-costs-graphic/companies-seen-slashing-capex-12-this-year-deeper-than-in-2009-data-idUKKBN2480YH

    • A bunch of mostly well-known and well-to-do anti-Trumpers have signed a letter lamenting the lack of tolerance and the growing signs of totalitarianism on their own side. But of course, goes without saying, it’s all Trump’s fault. This lot are absolutely pathetic! Dr. Frankenstein’s monster is turning on its master. The revolution is devouring its own children. At times like this, we need to make sure we have plenty of popcorn in stock.

      “In these desperate times, I feel the two actions that are essential are to take courage and to pray.”

      —Ira Katz

      Read this one and the articles linked to for a dose of realism.

      https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/07/ira-katz/the-end-of-modernity/

      • The author says “I feel like I am participating in a kind of giant Milgram experiment where the population of the world (at least the developed world) is being socialized into unthinking, fear inspired obedience.”

        Absolutely. Very good article. Especially to the point is the unthinking trust in government of people who – in IQ terms – are intelligent.

        There is something going on in such minds – the minds of the prosperous goodthinkers who work in these systems – that I do not understand. Is it self-interest? Is it just an act? Don’t they care? They must see what is happening, surely. Do they think that they are invulnerable? Do they believe that if they cooperate with the revolution, then the revolution will not eat them?

        But revolutions always eat plenty of their own. Always.

        • Marx confessed to Engels that he dreamed of being a part of a world revolution that ‘would in turn swallow me up and destroy me’. Pretty perverted stuff! Maybe it added drama to a dull life.

          As for what is happening now I really can’t say.

          No doubt they cannot imagine that they too could one day be victimised for one tweet or unacceptable word, and they are of course people who have never experienced persecutioof any kind of hardship at all.

          My sister re-tweeted a call for the ‘extermination of the whole white race’ with full approval, even though she was calling for her own murder. Although I suppose a breeding programme would get rid of us?

          It’s like religious insanity, hating yourself for some primal ‘sin’. But without giving up all your worldly wealth or whipping yourself every day – so comfortable and easy.

          One thing we can be sure of is that economic collapse, poverty and bad diets will reduce brain function and send people half-crazy.

          • Please tell your dear sister from me that the only truly white people are the albinos, who are among the world’s most persecuted minorities, while “the whole white race” is merely a meaningless social construct. It covers people exhibiting a very wide variety of skin tones and includes everyone from the Jews to the Irish these days!

            • Those Irish, they’ve sure got rhythm! Enough to make whitey very envious.

          • Hey, you have an ignorant-SJW-feminazi-black-culture-obsessed-white-man-patriarchy-loathing sister too? Well whattya know… that makes two of us 😀

            So difficult to deal with such disparity of values within a family unit. I’m constantly saddened by the fact that my dear sister seems to be more concerned with the plight of special interest groups, her gender, and “social justice” than the well-being of her male family members (I swear that my father and I would have to be dragged off to a gulag to die before she’d realize the consequences of the ideals she champions, and even then I’m not sure she’d get it).

            Thus my hope that collapse comes quickly, lest all this madness is allowed to be dragged out for so long that it starts to violently divide families en masse…

            Cheers,
            -GBV

            • Indeed, the whole radical Left loony litany, in a demonstration near you! I sympathise deeply.

              I stand condemned as the fascist patriarchal elder brother – by default simply because ‘If you are not one of us, you are against us.’

              The irony is, of course,that in an earlier age I would have counted as rather Left-wing: welfare state supporting (for decent people); pro-Union (intelligent ones that is), anti-plutocrat, etc.

              She used to be well-read, very bookish, but now her reading habits are confined to the latest rabid tract or pseudo-‘herstory,’ in a self-indoctrinating bubble. There is a whole lava flow of this rubbish for young people to drink up and go mad on.

            • GBV, yesterday’s email update from my granddaughter reported that she had just finished Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War, and was considering making her own regency style dress. There are only three gifts you can give your family that will endure: love, nurture, and education.

            • I would pay good money to watch a Regency-costumed version of the Peloponnesian War. A love story is just what Thucydides needs to bring the story to life.

          • The left mindset is completely rotted by guilt feelings and sheer stupidity, and a grotesque hypocrisy on top of that. I am sure that most people who shout “BLM” don’s t have any black friend and would suffer a disgust if their children wanted to marry a person of color.
            Likewise my leftist friends who advise for the rescuing of all that Mediterranean “refugees” only do it because they don’t feel their nice jobs are endangered by these refugees. It’s easy to defend “correct” ideas when you pay nothing for them, when who wiil do the paying will be the others, the unskilled workers. Dumb hypocrytes.

        • “Ceux qui lancent les révolutions sont toujours les cocus de l’histoire”, said Daniel Cocu-Bendit.

          • “Ceux qui lancent les révolutions sont toujours les cocus de l’histoire”

            What have cuckoos got to do with it?

            • Cocu in french means “cuckold”.

              cocu, cocue
              adjectif et nom
              (de coucou, la femelle de cet oiseau ayant une réputation d’infidélité)
              Qui est dupé, trompé : Dans toute cette histoire, tu as été le cocu

            • So the phrase means: Those who make the revolution will always be betrayed (ie, made cuckold) by it (and by History)

          • “Two years in college. Why do you ask?” said Alan Alda in “Canadian Bacon.”

    • The Herd Instinct is successful in part because a lone individual gets 100% of the predator’s attention. In a herd of 10, each individual has a 90% chance of not being the predator’s focus. Herds, flocks, schools, tribes, etc. are a successful form.

      As populations increase, Alpha individuals emerge. We see the “pecking order” in chickens. Daisey was the Alpha of my goat herd. She led and the herd followed. The other goats fought among themselves but none ever challenged Daisey.
      Tribes have Chiefs. With the development of agriculture, we got Kings and Emperors, etc.

      Whereas the ability to observe one’s environment and respond successfully is the key to survival, with the rise of Chiefs and Kings there developed a second necessary observation and that was to see the desires of the Alpha.

      It may be obvious that the Sun rises in the east, but if the King says it rises in the west and that you are either “with him or against him”, the truth must be adjusted. There had always been the “empirical truth” but now we also have a “political truth”.

      When the King states his truth and it does not conform to your empirical observation, you can challenge the King or you can agree to what ever he says. If challenging the King is not a viable option then you must convince the King that you are “with him”, regardless of the empirical truth that you have observed.
      This requires that you be able to act like something that you are not. Dramatic acting ability is held in the highest esteem in our culture.

      Another response that developed to avoid conflict between the empirical truth and the political truth is to not make the empirical observation in the first place. There was selection for eliminating the empirical observation ability so as not to challenge the political truth. We don’t need to see the empirical truth. We only need to see what the King wants the truth to be.
      Political truth has overcome empirical truth. We are in the correction.
      Form Follows Function.

      • Yes, we are in the era of political truth. Intermittent electricity is supposedly equivalent to dispatchable electricity, at least in the eyes of liberal politicians. We don’t need to worry about the long transmission lines that intermittent electricity needs, or the fires that these lines cause. Economies never collapse; instead prices can be expected to rise to encourage more production and more substitution.

        If we just lock down the economy for a bit, COVID-19 will go away and never come back. The economy will bounce right back again afterword.

      • I have the impression from Jared Diamond, as well as others, that some primitive groups can be terrorised by their shamans.

        He refers to one who was a murderer, but the tribesmen wouldn’t touch him because of his powers.

        So, we have another ‘truth’: holiness, or contact with the spirit world and presumed ability to harm people thus.

        Which in a way brings us round to Wokesterism, and their increasing power to curse individuals, intimidate them and destroy their lives.

        Now, where’s my spear,and does my feather look good in my hair today?

        • “Shamans” have many possible counterparts in our society. We may think first of the clergy, but these often lack the charisma we associate with shamans, and may derive their authority from a central institution (the manager at a fast food franchise is not like a chef de cuisine). New Age trance channelers and TV evangelists are closer. Remember that Shamans also heal diseases (e.g. by entering spirit worlds to return souls that have wandered away). give advice on various subjects using divination, and may have a leadership function. But we don’t think of them in the same category as doctors, economists, or politicians. Maybe we should.

          • Absolutely, beidawei. The titles may change throughout history, from civilization to civilization, but the underlying functions don’t. On shepherding the people:

            “Understanding the Common Knowledge Game has been the secret of successful shepherds since time immemorial, in business, politics, religion… any aspect of our lives as social animals. The only difference today is that technological innovation provides a media toolkit for modern shepherds that the shepherds of the Old Stories could only dream of.
            This is why sitcom laugh tracks exist. This is why performances, whether it’s an NFL game or Dancing with the Stars, are filmed in front of a live audience. This is why the Chinese government still bans any internet pictures of the Tiananmen Square protests, with their massive crowds, more than 20 years after they occurred. This is what John Maynard Keynes called the Newspaper Beauty Contest, which he believed (and demonstrated) was the secret to successful investing through the 1930s. This is how Dick Clark built a massive fortune with American Bandstand. He didn’t tell Middle America what music to like; he got a crowd of attractive young people to announce what music they liked (‘it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, I give it a 94, Dick!’), and Middle America took its cues from that. Not only is that all you need to motivate sheep, it’s far more effective than any efforts at direct influence.
            This is why executions used to be held in public and why inaugurations still are. This is why Donald Trump cared so much about the size of his inauguration crowd. This is why he’s always talking about the viewership and ratings of his televised appearances. Trump gets it. He understands what makes the Common Knowledge Game work. It’s not what the crowd believes. It’s what the crowd believes that the crowd believes. The power of a crowd seeing a crowd is one of the most awesome forces in human society. It topples governments. It launches Crusades. It builds cathedrals…”

            https://www.epsilontheory.com/sheep-logic/

        • Among the Zulu, at least at the time of Shaka Zulu, the tribal leaders would be lined up and the medicine man would pass along them to “sniff out” a witch. Witches have a particular smell. Everyone would participate in this activity freely and those accused of being a witch would accept the (fatal) accusation with resignation, not denying it, but only wondering how they had become witches.

          Madness such as we are seeing today also reminds me of the Anabaptists of the Munster Rebellion. That was yet another corrupt communist nightmare.

          The city was under Anabaptist rule from February 1534, when the city hall was seized and Bernhard Knipperdolling installed as mayor, until its fall in June 1535. It was Melchior Hoffman, who initiated adult baptism in Strasbourg in 1530, and his line of eschatological Anabaptism, that helped lay the foundations for the events of 1534–35 in Münster.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C3%BCnster_rebellion

          The wikipedia version of events in Munster is very mild indeed compared to accounts I have read elsewhere.

          • Check out this modern witch hunt. Imagine triggering a whole boatload of Karens simultaneously (first 1 min. of this video gives a taste).

            Interview with the male victim here (19’) if you want more:

            There are more clips of other crazy accusers elsewhere, and for real masochists the entire 4-hr. Zoom mtg. video is online, as well.

            I don’t know why I am drawn to watching this train-wreck.

    • We now have two different ways of thinking. The article you link to follows the belief of the rich: We have moved into a new era; we don’t need many police; all people are pretty much alike, if we just treat them right.

      Then there are the pragmatists. We never really made it so the world where everyone is equal. Now there definitely is not enough to go around. We cannot waste valuable resources in forever fighting COVID or promoting ideals that cannot really be the case now. We need to look around at the world we really have today.

  6. Of course I’ve already taken a very modest position on the monetary system, I do take the position that we should just end the Fed. — Ron Paul

  7. How ironic, that in order to save ourselves, we are once again bending over backwards to kill off the rest of life on the blue planet.

    Coronavirus: ‘The masks you throw away could end up killing a whale’
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-53287940/coronavirus-the-masks-you-throw-away-could-end-up-killing-a-whale

    Walking around the streets of Aberdeen, which I do most nights for exercise, face masks and plastic gloves are now two of the most common items of litter on the streets. I pick up most other plastic rubbish I see, but usually not gloves or masks since I don’t wear gloves myself.

    • Take-out food generates a huge amount of litter in the United States. Food a person cooks themselves, or eats within a restaurant, are much less of a problem.

      • Same here, takeaway food and drinks containers. So many plastic bottles/cups. And now, gloves and masks.

  8. ” WHO acknowledges evidence that virus may be airborne

    The World Health Organization has responded to an open letter from more than 200 scientists calling for recognition that COVID-19 may be airborne.

    Speaking at a media briefing on 7 July, Professor Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO Technical Lead, said: “We acknowledge there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the COVID-19 virus.

    • Therefore, the high priests want all Church of Science parishioners to wear masks as part of their COVID-19 mass ritual.

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