We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

We would like to think that we can eliminate COVID-19, but doing so is far from certain. The medical system has not been successful in eliminating HIV/AIDS or influenza; the situation with COVID-19 may be similar.

We are discovering that people with COVID-19 are extremely hard to identify because a significant share of infections are very mild or completely without symptoms. Testing everyone to find the huge number of hidden cases cannot possibly work worldwide. As long as there is hidden COVID-19 elsewhere in the world, the benefit of identifying everyone with the illness in a particular area is limited. The disease simply bounces back, as soon as there is a reduction in containment efforts.

Figure 1. One-week average new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel, Spain, Belgium and Netherlands. Chart made using data as of August 8, 2020 using an Interactive Visualization available at https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/ based on Johns Hopkins University CSSE database.

We are also discovering that efforts to contain what is essentially a hidden illness are very damaging to the world economy. Shutdowns in particular lead to many unemployed people and riots. Social distancing requirements can make investments unprofitable. Cutting off air flights leads to a huge loss of tourism and leaves farmers with the problem of how to get their fruit and vegetable crops picked without migrant workers. If COVID-19 is very widespread, contact tracing simply becomes an exercise in frustration.

Trying to identify the many asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 is surprisingly difficult. The cost is far higher than the cost of the testing devices.

At some point, we need to start lowering expectations regarding what can be done. The economy can protect a few members, but not everyone. Instead, emphasis should be on strengthening people’s immune systems. Surprisingly, there seems to be quite a bit that can be done. Higher vitamin D levels seem to be associated with fewer and less severe cases. Better diet, with more fruits and vegetables, is also likely to be helpful from an immunity point of view. Strangely enough, more close social contacts may also be helpful.

In the remainder of this post, I will explain a few pieces of the COVID-19 problem, together with my ideas for modifications to our current strategy.

Recent News About COVID-19 Has Been Disturbingly Bad

It is becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is likely to be here for quite some time. The World Health Organization’s director recently warned, “. . . there’s no silver bullet at the moment and there might never be.” A recent Wall Street Journal article is titled, “Early Coronavirus Vaccine Supplies Likely Won’t Be Enough for Everyone at High Risk.” This article relates only to US citizens at high risk. Needless to say, creating enough vaccine for both high and low risk individuals, around the world, is a long way away.

We are also hearing that vaccines may be far less than 100% effective; 50% effective would be considered sufficient at this time. Two doses are likely to be needed; in fact, elderly patients may need three doses. The vaccine may not work for obese individuals. We don’t yet know how long immunity from the vaccines will last; a new round of injections may be needed each year.

new report confirms that asymptomatic patients with COVID-19 are indeed able to spread the disease to others.

Furthermore, the financial sector is increasingly struggling with the adverse impact shutdowns are having on the economy. If it becomes necessary to completely “write off” the tourism industry, economies around the world will struggle with permanent job loss and debt defaults.

Shutdowns Don’t Work for Businesses and the Financial System 

There are many issues involved:

(a) Shutdowns tend to lead to huge job loss. Riots follow, as soon as people have a chance to express their unhappiness with the situation.

(b) If countries stop importing migrant workers, there is likely to be a major loss of fruits and vegetables that farmers have planted. No matter how much money is printed, it does not replace these lost fruits and vegetables.

(c) Manufacturing supply lines don’t work if raw materials and parts are not available when needed. Because of this, a shutdown in one part of the world tends to have a ripple effect around the world.

(d) Social distancing requirements for businesses are problematic because they lead to less efficient use of available space. Businesses can serve fewer customers, so total revenue is likely to fall. Employees may need to be laid off. Fixed costs, such as debt, become more difficult to pay, making defaults more likely.

Shutdowns cause a major problem for the economy, because, with many people out of the workforce, the total amount of finished goods and services produced by the economy falls. Broken supply lines and reduced efficiency tend to make the problem worse. World GDP is the total amount of goods and services produced. Thus, by definition, total world GDP is reduced by shutdowns.

Governments can institute benefit programs for citizens to try to redistribute what goods and services are available, but this will not fix the underlying problem of many fewer goods and services actually being produced. Citizens will find that some shelves in stores are empty, and that many airline seats are unavailable. They will find that some goods are still unaffordable, even with government subsidies.

Governments can try to give loans to businesses to help them through the financial problems caused by new rules, such as social distancing, but it is doubtful this approach will lead to new investment. For example, if social distancing requirements mean that new buildings and vehicles can only be used in an inefficient manner, there will be little incentive for businesses to invest in new buildings and vehicles, even if low-interest loans are available.

Furthermore, even if there might be opportunities for new, more efficient businesses to be added, the subsidization of old inefficient businesses operating at far below capacity will tend to crowd out these new businesses.

People of Many Ages Soon Become Unhappy with Shutdowns

Young people expect hands-on learning experiences at universities. They also expect to be able to meet possible future marriage partners in social settings. They become increasingly unhappy, as shutdowns drag on.

The elderly need to be protected from COVID-19, but they also need to be able to see their families. Without social interaction, their overall health tends to decline.

We Are Kidding Ourselves if We Think a Vaccine Will Make the Worldwide COVID-19 Problem Disappear

Finding a vaccine that works for 100% of the world’s population seems extremely unlikely. Even if we do find a vaccine or drug treatment that works, being able to extend this solution to poor countries around the world is likely to be a slow process.

If we look back historically, pretty much all of the improvement in the US crude death rate (number of deaths divided by total population) has come from conquering infectious diseases.

Figure 2. Crude mortality rates in the United States in chart from Trends in Infectious Disease Mortality in the United States During the 20th Century, Armstrong et al., JAMA, 1999.

The catch is that since 1960, there hasn’t been an improvement in infectious disease mortality in the United States, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Society. As progress has been made on some longstanding diseases such as hepatitis, new infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS have arisen. Also, the biggest category of infectious disease remaining is “influenza and pneumonia,” and little progress has been made in reducing its death rate in the United States. Figure 3 shows one chart from the article.

Figure 3. Mortality due to influenza or HIV/AIDS, in chart from Infectious Disease Mortality Trends in the United States, 1980-2014 by Hansen et al., JAMA, 2016.

With respect to HIV/AIDS, it took from the early 1980s until 1997 to start to get the mortality rate down through drugs. A suitable vaccine has not yet been created.

Furthermore, even when the US was able to reduce the mortality from HIV/AIDS, this ability did not immediately spread to poor areas of the world, such as Sub-Saharan Africa. In Figure 4, we can see the bulge in Sub-Saharan Africa’s crude death rates (where HIV/AIDS was prevalent), relative to death rates in India, where HIV/AIDS was less of a problem.

Figure 4. Crude death rates for Sub-Saharan Africa, India, the United States, and the World from 1960 through 2018, based on World Bank data.

While the medical system was able to start reducing the mortality of HIV/AIDS in the United States about 1996-1997 (Figure 3, above), a 2016 article says that it was still very prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. Major issues included difficulty patients had in traveling to health care sites and a lack of trained personnel to administer the medication. We can expect these issues to continue if a vaccine is developed for COVID-19, especially if the new vaccine requires more than one injection, every year.

Another example is polio. A vaccine for polio was developed in 1955; the disease was eliminated in the US and other high income countries in about the next 25 years. The disease has still not been eliminated worldwide, however. Poor countries tend to use an oral form of the vaccine that can be easily administered by anyone. The problem with this oral vaccine is that it uses live viruses which themselves can cause outbreaks of polio. Cases not caused by the vaccine are still found in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

These examples suggest that even if a vaccine or fairly effective treatment for COVID-19 is discovered, we are kidding ourselves if we think the treatment will quickly transfer around the world. To transfer around the world, it will need to be extremely inexpensive and easy to administer. Even with these characteristics, the eradication of COVID-19 is likely to take a decade or more, unless the virus somehow disappears on its own.

The fact that COVID-19 transmits easily by people who show no symptoms means that even if COVID-19 is eradicated from the high-income world, it can return from the developing world, unless a large share of people in these advanced countries are immune to the disease. We seem to be far from that situation now. Perhaps this will change in a few years, but we cannot count on widespread immunity any time soon.

Containment Efforts for a Disease with Many Hidden Carriers Is Likely to Be Vastly More Expensive than One in Which Infected People Are Easily Identifiable 

It is easy to misunderstand how expensive finding the many asymptomatic carriers of a disease is. The cost is far higher than the cost of the tests themselves, because the situation is quite different. If people have serious symptoms, they will want to stay home. They will want to give out the names of others, if they can see that doing so might prevent someone else from catching a serious illness.

We have the opposite situation, if we are trying to find people without symptoms, who might infect others. We need to:

  1. Identify all of these people who feel well but might infect others.
  2. Persuade these people who feel well to stay away from work or other activities.
  3. Somehow compensate these people for lost wages and perhaps extra living expenses, while they are in quarantine.
  4. Pay for all of the tests to find these individuals.
  5. Convince these well individuals to name those whom they have had contact with (often their friends), so that they can be tested and perhaps quarantined as well.

Perhaps a few draconian governments, such as China, can handle these problems by fiat, and not really compensate workers for being unable to work. In other countries, all of these costs are likely to be a problem. Because of inadequate compensation, exclusion from work is not likely to be well received. Quarantined people will not want to report which friends they have seen recently, if the friends are likely also to lose wages. In poor countries, the loss of income may mean the loss of the ability to feed a person’s family. 

Another issue is that “quick tests” are likely to be used for contact tracing, since “PCR tests,” which tend to be more accurate, often require a week or more for laboratory processing. Unfortunately, quick tests for COVID-19 are not very accurate. (Also a CNN report.) If there are a lot of “false positives,” many people may be needlessly taken out of work. If there are a lot of “false negatives,” all of this testing will still miss a lot of carriers of COVID-19.

A Major Benefit of Rising Energy Consumption Seems to Be Better Control Over Infectious Diseases and a Falling Crude Death Rate

I often write about how the world’s self-organizing economy works. The growth in the world’s energy consumption since the advent of fossil fuels has been extremely important.

Figure 5. World Energy Consumption by Source, based on Vaclav Smil estimates from Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects, together with BP Statistical Data on 1965 and subsequent

The growth in world energy consumption coincided with a virtual explosion in human population.

Figure 6. World Population Growth Through History. Chart by SUSPS.

One of the ways that fossil fuel energy is helpful for population growth is through drugs to fight epidemics. Another way is by making modern sanitation easy. A third way is by ramping up food supplies, so that more people can be fed.

Economic shutdowns lead to reduced energy consumption, partly because energy prices tend to fall too low for producers. They cut back on production because of unprofitability.

Figure 7. Weekly average spot oil prices for Brent, based on data of the US Energy Information Administration.

Given this connection between energy supply and population, we should not be surprised if shutdowns tend to lead to an overall falling world population, even if COVID-19 by itself is expected to have a small mortality rate (perhaps 1% of those infected). Poor countries, especially, will find that laid off workers cannot afford adequate food supplies. This makes poor members of those economies more susceptible to diseases of many kinds and to starvation.

Epidemiologists Based Their Models on Diseases Which Are Easily Identifiable and Have High Mortality Rates

It is clear that an easily identifiable illness with a high mortality rate can be easily contained. A difficult-to-identify disease, which has a very low mortality rate for many segments of the population, is very different. Members of segments of the population who usually get only a light case of the disease are likely to become more and more unhappy as containment efforts drag on. Models based on very different types of pandemics are likely to be misleading.

We Need to Somehow Change Course

The message that has been disseminated has been, “With containment efforts plus vaccine, we can stop this disease.” In fact, this is unlikely for the foreseeable future. Continuing in the same direction that has not been working is a lot like banging one’s head against a wall. It cannot be expected to work.

Somehow, expectations need to be lowered regarding what containment efforts can do. The economy can perhaps protect a few high-risk people, but it cannot protect everyone. Unless COVID-19 stops by itself, a significant share of the world’s population can be expected to catch COVID-19. In fact, some people may get the disease multiple times over their lifetimes.

If we are forced to live with some level of COVID-19 (just as we are forced to live with some level of forest fires), we need to make this situation as painless as possible. For example,

  • We need to find ways to make COVID-19 as asymptomatic as possible by easy changes to diet and lifestyle.
  • We also need to find inexpensive treatments, especially ones that can be used outside of a hospital setting.
  • We need to keep the world economy operating as best as possible, if we want to stay away from a world population crash for as long as possible.

We cannot continue to post articles which seem to say that a spike in COVID-19 cases is necessarily “bad.” It is simply the way the situation has to be, if we don’t really have an effective way of containing the coronavirus. The fact that young adults build up immunity, at least for a while, needs to be viewed as a plus.

Some Ideas Regarding Looking at the Situation Differently 

(1) The Vitamin D Issue

There has been little publicity about the fact that people with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lighter cases of COVID-19. In fact, whole nations with higher vitamin D levels seem to have lower levels of deaths. Vitamin D strengthens the immune system. Sunlight raises vitamin D levels; fish liver oils and the flesh of fatty fishes also raise vitamin D levels.

Figure 8 shows cumulative deaths per million in a few low and high vitamin D level areas. The death rates are strikingly lower in the high vitamin D level countries.

Figure 8. COVID-19 deaths per million as of August 8, 2020 for selected countries, based on data from Johns Hopkins CSSE database.

The vitamin D issue may explain why dark skinned people (such as those from Southeast Asia and Africa) tend to get more severe cases of COVID-19 when they move to a low sunlight area such as the UK. Skin color is an adaptation to different levels of the sun’s rays in different parts of the world. People with darker skin color have more melanin in their skin. This makes the production of vitamin D less efficient, since equatorial regions receive more sunlight. The larger amount of melanin works well when dark-skinned people live in equatorial regions, but less well away from the equator. Vitamin D supplements might mitigate this difference.

It should be noted that the benefit of sunlight and vitamin D in protecting the immune system has long been known, especially with respect to flu-like diseases. In fact, the use of sunlight seems to have been helpful in mitigating the effects of the Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918-1919, over 100 years ago!

One concern might be whether increased sunlight raises the risk of melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer. I have not researched this extensively, but a 2016 study indicates that that sensible sun exposure, without getting sunburn, may decrease a person’s risk of melanoma, as well as provide protection against many other types of diseases. Non-melanoma skin cancers may increase, but the mortality risk of these skin cancers is very low. On balance, the study concludes that the public should be advised to work on getting blood levels of at least 30 ng/ml.

(2) Other Issues

Clearly, better health in general is helpful. Eating a diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables is helpful, as is getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. Losing weight will be helpful for many.

Having social contact with other people tends to be helpful for longevity in general. In fact, several studies indicate that church-goers tend to have better longevity than others. Churchgoers and those with many social contacts would seem to have more contact with microbes than others.

A recent article says, Common colds train the immune system to recognize COVID-19. Social distancing tends to eliminate common colds as well as COVID-19. Quite possibly social distancing is counterproductive, in terms of disease severity. Epidemiologists have likely never considered this issue, since they tend to consider only very brief social distancing requirements.

A person wonders how well the immune systems of elderly people who have been cut off from sharing microbes with others for months will work. Will these people now die when exposed to even very minor illnesses? Perhaps a slow transition is needed to bring families back into closer contact with their loved ones.

People’s immune systems can protect them from small influxes of viruses causing COVID-19, but not from large influxes of these viruses. Masks tend to protect against large influxes of the virus, and thus protect the wearer to a surprising extent. Models suggest that clear face shields also provide a considerable amount of this benefit. People with a high risk of very severe illness may want to wear both of these devices in settings they consider risky. Such a combination might protect them fairly well, even if others are not wearing masks.

Conclusions – What We Really Should Be Doing

Back at the time we first became aware of COVID-19, following the recommendations of epidemiologists probably made sense. Now that more information is unfolding, our approach to COVID-19 needs to change.

I have already laid out many of the things I think need to be done. One area that has been severely overlooked is raising vitamin D levels. This is being discussed in the medical literature, but it doesn’t seem to get into the popular press. Even though the connection is not 100% proven, and there are many details to be worked out, it would seem like people should start raising their vitamin D levels. There seems to be little problem with overdosing on vitamin D, except that sunburns are not good. Until we know more, a level of 30 ng/ml (equivalent to 75 nmol/L) might be a reasonable level to aim for. This is a little above the mean vitamin D level of Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

Social distancing requirements probably need to be phased out. A concern might be temporarily excessive patient loads for hospitals. Large group meetings may need to be limited for a time, until this problem can be overcome.



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.
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2,353 Responses to We Need to Change Our COVID-19 Strategy

  1. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Vote with your feet and make sure you have somewhere to run to after you dress up.
    Wealthy Nigerians are buying up passports for cash from Caribbean nations to beat visa rules
    That sharp rise reflects spiking demand among Nigeria’s wealthy private citizens who are increasingly tapping into “investment migration” opportunities from countries. The programs allow foreign nationals obtain fast-tracked citizenship and passports or permanent residency permits in exchange for specified amounts of cash investments. The payment for the passports can come in form of direct “contributions” to the development funds set up by the national governments or through investment in real estate projects which offer the promise of not just passports but also possible profits.
    With around 40,000 passports believed to have been issued through investment migration programs globally, citizenship by investment is now estimated to be a $3 billion industry. It is often favored by high-net worth individuals from countries with “weak” passports often from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and some Middle Eastern countries.

    Yes, A couple of websites advise doing just this as being prepared for a quick getaway.
    George Gammon on his site spoke of this and FerFal as he is known from Surviving Argentina also recommends having more than one Passport0Visa
    Suppose we shall see more of this as conditions deteriorate and people of means look elsewhere for a better nest
    I have a Passport, doubt I’ll seek another way out at my age, let the young folks deal with all the drama and commotions coming at us. See all the Civil unrest as prelude to what’s coming as the new normal.

    • Bei Dawei says:

      There are five Caribbean countries involved. The cheapest (if you’re single) is Dominica at about 100,000 USD. (NB: This is a different country than the Dominican Republic, which is not involved in CBI / CIP.) You have to pass a background check, and they can take the citizenship away later if you go and commit crimes somewhere (or are alleged to have done so). The other four are St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Grenada. If you have a family and you all want passports, then one of the other programs may be a better deal, but this changes from time to time so go check. In general you can either donate 100-200 thousand USD outright, or “invest” in government-approved real estate for several times that. You might lose less money by just giving them the money. There can be lots of smaller fees, too. The background check could cost tens of thousands of USD, for example.

      Vanuatu in the Pacific also offers a deal like this, but gets mixed reviews, and there have been some problems with it.

      All of these countries are what Andrew Henderson calls “Tier B” passports. (Tier A gets you access to the USA, Tier B to the Schengen countries–if you also get the UK that would be a B+–and Tier C is everything else.) I can well imagine some of the OECD countries deciding not to admit passport-holders from these countries who have naturalized, both because of terrorism concerns (the background checks haven’t always prevented mafia types from buying passports) and the issue of tax avoidance. In fact, people who buy these passports are already sometimes grilled by customs people in some countries. (“Did you buy this passport? What’s your connection to Dominica?”

      • Bei Dawei says:

        PS, If you’re willing to spend several million USD, then Malta and Cyprus have programs that will fast-track you into an EU citizenship. This comes with tax obligations, so you might want to think about whether this is really what you want. (In fact you should probably do that with any of these citizenships, whose tax policies vary somewhat.)

        Most of the customers for these things are Chinese and Russian citizens. Middle Easterners may be attracted to Turkish citizenship, which requires a 250,000 USD property investment, or a larger bank deposit. (Turkey’s passport is not great, but the country itself has more possibilities than many of these others.) Jordan and Egypt also offer CBI programs that nobody thinks are a good deal.

        Don’t confuse citizenship by investment with “Golden Visa” programs like Portugal’s or Greece’s. These can lead to citizenship a number of years later, but it’s not guaranteed–there are residency requirements, and you’ll have to learn the language. In Greece, people report that the bureaucracy has been refusing to naturalize people. On the other hand, residency without necessarily getting citizenship might be what a lot of people are really seeking, so don’t confuse the two.

        For most people, I recommend going the “normal” route of living in their chosen country for however long it takes (five to ten years, typically–less if you marry a citizen), learning the language, having a job, and staying out of jail. Keep in mind that a number of countries–for example, Germany and Japan–ban dual nationality. (They make exceptions, but probably won’t for you.)

        • Herbie Ficklestein says:

          Thanks for the review…very helpful😳
          My Sister has dual citizenship with Canada…..born in Toronto…
          But at our age….staying put

  2. Ed says:

    CV19 seems more like Easter Island, a cult, rather than a reason.

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      Actually, CV19 could care less what you or I think.
      Simply a virus replicating.
      Viruses are not alive.

      • Perhaps the term should be “able to replicate” rather than “alive.”

        • Robert Firth says:

          Viruses need a host in order to replicate, because they take over some of the host’s replication machinery. They are the zombies of the micro world. Rather like certain companies that need to infect deluded investors in order to grow, rather than growing from their own profits. The US shale oil industry, for instance, was a classic zombie pandemic.

          • Right, but some little pieces of viruses are not sufficiently complete to be able to replicate, even if a host were available. We don’t really know.

        • Kowalainen says:

          “Perhaps the term should be “able to replicate” rather than “alive.”

          Like, dunno, life? 🙂

      • Kowalainen says:

        I call BS. Viruses is as much alive and any other organism dependent on the processes of Gaia, the planets and star.

        The only thing that ever will be truly independent of an earthly ecosystem will be completely synthetic and self-sufficiently creating its own ecosystem in the absolute vacuum of space.

        • info says:

          Viruses are robots.

          • Lidia17 says:

            Humans are robots.

            • Robert Firth says:

              A topic explored in a charming children’s show called “Annedroids”. There is also an android in the Logan’s Run series, but his abilities seem rather limited.

              And I was going to add a brilliant and irrefutable defence of human free will, but decided not to.

            • Kowalainen says:

              Ah, yes, the comforting illusion of free will. 😉

      • Mike Roberts says:

        If “CV19 could care less” then it must be alive, otherwise it couldn’t care less.

  3. Azure Kingfisher says:

    From, “Can Contact Tracing Work At COVID Scale?”

    “Identifying contacts of new cases by itself doesn’t slow down the disease; those contacts must also take a transmission-busting action. For COVID-19, that action is an immediate self-quarantine lasting 14 days from exposure. This applies to all contacts—even those with no symptoms or a negative test. Most of these contacts won’t go on to get COVID-19 by the end of that period. These are regular people who will be asked to put their lives on hold for two weeks for the public good. That means staying home from work (and possibly losing income as a result), arranging for groceries and other necessities, and delegating childcare responsibilities. It is not an easy ask, especially for those in socioeconomically challenging situations.

    The US is currently reporting upwards of 20,000 new COVID-19 cases per day, and each case can average more than 30 identifiable close contacts. If these numbers hold, successful contact tracing could mean that, every day, hundreds of thousands of people would be asked to enter voluntary 14-day quarantines. If this is the case, the number of people under rolling quarantine on any given day in the US could easily run into the millions. In a country where quarantines are voluntary, the sheer number of people under quarantine combined with the onerous length of the quarantine period may encourage many to simply disregard quarantine recommendations, undermining contact tracing efforts.

    The United States is embarking on a monumental operational endeavor—creating, within a few short months, a nationwide contact tracing operation employing tens of thousands of people to chase the novel coronavirus and stop its spread. As we build out the tracing infrastructure to reach and guide individuals exposed to COVID-19, we must also remember to build the data infrastructure to learn from them.”


    This is disappointing. They’re creating an entire industry out of the scamdemic – apps, jobs, infrastructure, etc. Once all of this is in place there will be little chance of removing it. 9/11 brought us the Department of Homeland Security. COVID-19 is bringing us this.

    • Dan says:

      What do you think the U.s military is? It’s a jobs program nothing more. You could easily cut 70 percent of people. Wars in the future don’t need as many humans…

      • The US military, besides being a jobs creation program, is also a way to assert the US’s place in the world order, so that the dollar can remain high, and the US can continue to borrow money and do all of its financial manipulations. The US can continue to import more than it exports.

        • Tango Oscar says:

          Military has plenty of “good” or useful purpose behind it and is also responsible for a lot of research and development that goes on as far as medical procedures, satellites, aircraft advancements, and various technological developments. Think companies like Raytheon, Boeing, GE, Exxon, Garmin, and Halliburton as being huge beneficiaries of government and military advancements. Who do you think backs the US oil consumption up to the degree that it is? US Dollar world reserve currency and the military. Petro oil dollar dynasty via the military industrial complex about sums it up.

        • Dan says:

          Maybe so but we could still accomplish that with a lot, lot, lot less humans..
          Unless we do the carthagenianian solution….

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        That’s because the battlefield has changed. I remember when we used to “support the troops.” Now we “clap for healthcare workers.”

        The scriptwriters are replacing one villain (the terrorist) with another (the virus).

        We’ll have a new jobs program; and with it will come the normalization of rolling quarantines, increasing surveillance and the further erosion of privacy – among other restrictions belonging to the “new normal.”

        • Artleads says:

          Quite. For somebody to volunteer for testing they must have rocks in their head.

        • Dan says:

          Really? How much did we spend in Iraq and Afghanistan? My family has fought in every war this country has had…while the rich trust funders like George Bush and Donald Trump hide behind like cowards. My dad came back from Vietnam and no one gave a damn! Now its B.S patriotism or a marketing scheme…no different than the liberals and their Green washing! We should be sending people like yourself to the front lines…..so you can see it for yourself……I saw a lot of friends dads with missing limbs and craters in their back made by exit wounds as the bullets tore out of their bodies…the Vietnamese would manipulate their bullets so they would cause much more damage…There is a thing called mal investment and that’s what war is a misallocation of resources….unless you are talking about defending your country or killing all the people in another country and taking all their resources

      • Bei Dawei says:

        In a war, every soldier in combat probably has to be supported by about ten in the supply line and management. It’s worse for the navy and air force. Can automation reduce this? Maybe, but an easier way would be to fill non-combat positions with people who are unsuited for combat anyway–the old, handicapped, etc.

        • Dan says:

          Look we are not in 1940!??? Obviously you have not seen the Bombs we have these days. You could wipe out 1000 men at the blink of an eye

          • Robert Firth says:

            Which is why potential enemies of the US have been developing asymmetric warfare for the past fifty years. And doing very well, it would seem.

          • Kowalainen says:

            1000’s? Rather 10’s of millions. Thermonuclear devices.
            War is stupid. But indeed a great pastime for a rapacious monkey.

    • I agree this is crazy. I suppose this tracking program is primarily a jobs creation program for the many out of work.

      We don’t pay the people who are identified as having COVID for self-quarantining, so what can we expect? If they feel well, they will go about their regular lives, regardless of what we try to tell people to do.

    • Jean Wilson says:

      Its about control, not health. COVID stands for “Certificate of Vaccination I.D.”. Its so obvious.

      • Azure Kingfisher says:

        When the scamdemic was starting I came across a phonetic interpretation:

        See Ovid One Nine

        “Of things at strife among themselves for want of order due.” – Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 1, Line 9

  4. Tango Oscar says:

    Who’s watching the Federal Reserve announcement tomorrow? I hear rumors they will say they aren’t raising rates for 5 years or that they’re going to somehow let inflation run hot. I can’t wait to see what scheme they’ve devised this time or if they’re going to be even remotely truthful about the situation that we’ve backed ourselves into. Obviously subjects like the next hyper QE package, a digital dollar and UBI in some form could all be on the table. In previous speeches Powell has told congress pretty directly that they need to be super heavy on the stimulus and bailouts or this isn’t going to work. They have failed to do that so now it’s Powell’s move.

    • It looks like Powell’s speech is at 8:10 CDT. That is 9:10 EDT. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to deliver a speech entitled “Monetary Policy Framework Review” at the 44th annual Economic Policy Symposium – “Navigating the Decade Ahead:Implications for Monetary Policy”.

      London time, that would be 14:10 (2:10 pm)

  5. Herbie Ficklestein says:

    What will collapse first!?

    The Guardian
    Unless we change course, the US agricultural system could collapse
    Tom Philpott
    August 26, 2020, 6:15 AM EDT
    California’s agricultural sector has flourished from decades of easy access to water in one of the globe’s biggest swaths of Mediterranean climate. The Sierra Nevada, the spine of mountains that runs along California’s eastern flank, captures an annual cache of snow that, when it melts, cascades into a network of government-built dams, canals and aqueducts that deliver irrigation water to farmers in the adjoining Central Valley. In light-snow years, farmers could tap aquifers that had built up over millennia to offset the shortfall.

    But the Sierra snowpack has shown an overall declining trend for decades – most dramatically during the great California drought of 2012-2016 – and it will dwindle further over the next several decades as the climate warms, a growing body of research suggests. A 2018 paper by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers articulates the alarming consensus: a “future of consistent low-to-no snowpack” for the Sierra Nevada, the irrigation jewel of our vegetable patch.

    Related: Is the way cattle are grazed the key to saving America’s threatened prairies?

    Even as snowmelt gushing from the mountains dwindles, the Central Valley farming behemoth gets ever more ravenous for irrigation water, switching from annual crops that can be fallowed in dry years to almond and pistachio groves, which require huge upfront investments and need to be watered every year. As a result, farm operations are increasingly resorting to tapping the water beneath them. Between 2002 and 2017, a period including two massive droughts, farmers siphoned enough water from the valley’s aquifers to fill Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain three times.

    As the water vanishes, the ground settles and sinks in uneven and unpredictable ways, a phenomenon known as subsidence. By 2017, large sections of the Central Valley were sinking by as much as 2ft a year. In addition to damaging roads, bridges, houses, sewage pipes and pretty much all built infrastructure, subsidence snarls up the canals that carry snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada. Thus we have a vicious circle: reduced snowmelt means less water flowing through government-run irrigation channels, which pushes farmers to pump more water from underground, causing more subsidence that damages those channels and reduces their flow capacity, pushing farmers to accelerate the cycle by pumping more water from underground

    I’ve been reading this for decades Lester Browns State of the World series has been warning this every issue..yawn

    • Florida seems to have water problems also. This is one article I found:

      Florida’s aquifer is in crisis — but there’s still time to save it

      This depletion of groundwater is a problem throughout the state, with both southern and northern Florida experiencing shortages and environmental effects, according to The Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Many of Florida’s biodiverse ecosystems are dependent on freshwater to be clean of pollutants and at a certain water level to function. . .As the water drains out of the aquifer and the Everglades, saltwater begins to intrude into freshwater reserves.

      Crowl was not ready to make any predictions without continued monitoring in the future, but he did say “we are getting higher and higher concentrations in more and more of our wells where we measure saltwater intrusion. Watching the rate that’s happening is a little bit scary.”

      • Herbie Ficklestein says:

        Gail, this is a silent crisis here in South Florida that rarely is reported on here by the local media. The aquifer IS being reported came salt water IS contaminating the water supply on the coast People love their lawns, pools and flush toilets. Actually, recently channel 10 here has reported massive fish kills in Miami Bay due to run off of fertilizer from lawns .
        Lots of environmental degradation from overshoot. Just need a good clean out from nature…hurricane should do the trick..
        PS Florida is a BIG state with lots of freshwater lakes and stream’s, some parts care still unaffected

    • Robert Firth says:

      Yes; I noticed this some 15 years ago. As well as relying on fossil fuel, US agriculture relies mostly on fossil water. This is of course unsustainable, but (again) nobody seems to care.

      • In theory, it is possible to use desalination of sea water, pump the water to where it is needed, and add back the missing minerals. In practice, this isn’t really done. Israel is trying it without adding back the missing minerals, with adverse impacts on heart disease. The cost tends to be high.


        • Robert Firth says:

          Gail, Singapore did the same thing: took water from Malaya, purified it, and distributed it. The purification process removed all the trace elements, which made the water rather unhealthy. My morning cocktail was 50% grapefruit juice (rich in potassium) and 50% mineral water (rich in magnesium), and it served me well. Until after heart surgery, and two days recovering with wretchedly bad meals, my latest blood test showed me deficient in, guess what, potassium and magnesium. Sigh.

  6. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


    “President Donald Trump is weighing executive action to avoid massive layoffs at U.S. airlines if Congress fails to agree a fresh coronavirus stimulus package, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Wednesday.”

    which would be useless action that would not “avoid” massive layoffs, just delay them.

    Trump is no conservative in this quasi socialist-lite handout proposal.

    this of course would be the second handout in 2020 for airlines. Perhaps the lesson will be learned before a third handout.

  7. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


    “I wouldn’t be surprised if interest rates are still zero five years from now,” said Jason Furman, a former chief White House economist and now Harvard University professor.

    near zero rates are the only option.

    • Kowalainen says:

      Zero rates, negative rates, COVID-19, COMET-21, in that order.

      *Looking at the skies, longing for the final rain*

      Wanna bet against me? 😉

  8. covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:


    “There’s hundreds of thousands of people looking for suburban homes, and I would say it’s not as driven by the Covid situation as it is safety and law and order, and that is now pervasive across the big cities of the United States, sadly,” Sternlicht told CBNC’s Squawk Box.

    • Robert Firth says:

      “First the Dominant Minority attempts to hold by force—against all right and reason—a position of inherited privilege which it has ceased to merit; and then the Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession. Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation—and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands.”

      Arnold Toynbee, of course. Sound familiar?

    • I expect a second wave of selling will come from people being laid off from jobs and being forced to find cheaper accommodations, such as moving in with relatives. I am starting to see a little of that now in my neighborhood. When this gets going, it seems like it will cause even suburban property prices to fall. Perhaps small town and rural prices will hold their own.

    • Robert Firth says:

      三十六計走為上策 Avoid trouble by flight. (The Chinese talks of thirty six strategies; an allusion to Sun Tzu)

  9. Oh dear says:

    Polls continue to indicate that the British have increasingly had enough of the UK and want to break it up into independent countries. The tendency accelerated after the Brexit vote. Wales seemed to be the exception, which voted Leave along with England, but it too is now picking up.

    Support for Welsh independence has risen to 32% today, the highest ever level. Support for Scottish independence stands at 55% and English independence at 49%, while Irish unity has 70% support in ROI and 49% in NI.

    Particularly notable is 42% support among LP voters in Wales for independence, well above the national average. As in Scotland, LP is no bulwark against support for independence. In England, a majority of both LP and TP voters support English independence. Unionist parties cannot keep their own voters on board with the UK let alone anyone else.

    > New YouGov poll shows highest ever support for Welsh independence

    Almost a third of people in Wales said they would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow

    Almost a third of people in Wales would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow, a YouGov poll has found.

    Commissioned this month, the poll shows that 32% of voters would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum on independence for Wales – the highest figure ever recorded by YouGov.

    The last YouGov poll on Welsh independence was released in June and recorded a ‘yes’ vote of 25%, which itself was a record at the time.

    Over the course of two months, however, the number of people who would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum has gone up another seven points.

    Support for Welsh independence is highest amongst people aged 16-24, with 46% of people within this age bracket showing support for an independent Wales.

    The figure stands at 39% for 25-49 year-olds, 30% for 50-64 year-olds and 18% for people aged 65+.

    68% of people who voted Plaid Cymru in the 2019 General Election would vote ‘yes’ in a referendum, followed by 42% of Labour voters, 21% of Liberal Democrat voters and 11% of people who voted Conservative.

    Siôn Jobbins, chair of campaign group YesCymru, said: “Once again, this poll shows that around a third of the people of Wales who said they would vote would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow. That’s a massive increase in support from just a few years ago.

    “It also shows that support for independence is now mainstream and cross-party, with 42% of those who voted for Labour in 2019 saying that they would vote for independence if a referendum was held tomorrow.


    • the nations of Britain, and Britain itself hark back to a time that never was, but which the dream used to be, fed by right wing nutters who make promises of what the future will be if only we vote for it

      Much like the USA really

      Cities exist in the UK that were created and supported by local resources that fed communities.

      Those resources have gone, yet they still fantasise that their existence can go on into infinity

      • Oh dear says:

        That is an interesting take. Obviously the distinct nations of Britain go back very many centuries. The wealth and population growth of Britain was based on the industrial revolution, coal, steam, finance and the British Empire. The growth of British cities was anything but local, it was national and global. 80% of food is now imported.

        There certainly is an argument for regional parliaments within England to give democratic control to regional populations. UK development has long been centred around London and SE, to get the optimum return on investment, and the regions have long been neglected.

        The ‘conventional wisdom’ of the British state is that it is ‘too late’ to do anything about that. 9 out of the 10 poorest regions in northern Europe lie in UK. UK has the greatest regional wealth disparity of any EU country, with the City of London the richest and others among the poorest in northern Europe.

        So there certainly is a case for devolution within England but the break up of UK into its countries is going to come first. Then we can look at more regional and local democratic control. There is nothing ‘right wing nutter’ about that. There is support for independence across the spectrum, which is why it is a realistic prospect.

        • neil says:

          Go on, Welsh and Scottish – vote for poverty. You know it makes sense.

        • ‘independence’ requires a prefix== ‘energy’

          no nation region or city is independent without energy independence

        • Xabier says:

          Regional ‘parliaments’ in the UK would only replicate the clumsy, expensive and very corrupt Spanish system of Autonomous Communities, which I am very familiar with.

          The calibre of the politicians and their advisors would be even worse than at the national level, in all probability.

          Dumb idea, no thanks.

          • Oh dear says:

            Yes ironic, most of the Spanish that I know have a very strong instinct for a centralised state, much more so than the British. The present Spanish constitution was a reaction to the Franco years.

            The devolved parliaments in UK are very popular with the locals. They were developed in much calmer times than post-Franco Spain.

            Anyway, it will ultimately be up to the peoples in the regions what they decide to do, not any central state power, and that is how it should be. Now that is a bright idea – democracy.

      • Xabier says:

        Yes, Norman, spot on.

        That’s the general problem that afflicts civilisation in general, and industrial civilisation in particular: the unthinking desire to persist in locations that are no longer at all viable, begging for politicians to ‘create jobs’ and somehow magically bring wealth back.

        • Oh dear says:

          UK has seen huge job creation over the last decade and employment rates are at record levels – unlike much of the EU. Unemployment rates are horrific in the south and west of Europe, especially among the young.

          UK problems lie in the concentration of development around London and the SE, regional disparities and a centralised state that is largely unaccountable to the regions.

          Scots and Welsh consistently do not vote TP and yet they keep getting it as the government anyway – that needs to end, for their own sake.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Dark Norman is the best Norman.

    • Robert Firth says:

      I would be a most ardent supporter of Scottish and Welsh independence: provided that also cut themselves off from England’s money.

      • Oh dear says:

        Yes, Scottish and Welsh independence amount to English independence – up the SNP! But it has to be genuine independence with no further financial dependence on England. Most of us Englanders would go for that.

        Westminster would never give Englanders a vote on independence, so the best thing that we can do is to support the independence movements in the other countries. Literally, go on their websites and make donations.

        • Malcopian says:

          ‘But it has to be genuine independence with no further financial dependence on England.’

          That would be very mean. We English could at least give Scotland a ten shilling postal order every year. The Scots are very frugal and would make it last.

          • neil says:

            They’re pretty clever – they’ve managed to convince the world that something that tastes like a mixture of diesel and toilet cleaner is a quality product

            • Malcopian says:

              Yes, I’m not sold on Scottishry – kilts and tartan and thistles and ‘the skirl of the bagpipes’ – homely kitsch, as I call it. Not to mention haggis and deep-fried Mars bars. Oirishry is even worse, though. Then there’s the Scottish weather, even drearier than the English, and all those dull sandstone houses. Yet the Scots manage to stay cheerful despite all that.

          • Xabier says:

            I recall my Scots Highlander friend from student days carefully counting out 5 and a 1/2 pence in penny pieces in paying his small debt to me for some purchase.

            I airily said ‘Don’t bother!’, but, very earnestly, he stated that ‘every penny counts’.

            Which, of course, it does. Good lesson.

            • Malcopian says:

              True. Pennies make pounds, and pounds make stones, and stones make walls, and Walls make ice cream. (And sausages).

          • Robert Firth says:

            Heartily agreed. I volunteer to give Scotland a ten shilling postal order every year for the next ten years. All I ask in return is one of Nicola Sturgeon’s toes for each order.

    • Malcopian says:

      Increasingly I read the sentence in newspapers, ‘Scottish independence now looks inevitable’. And then there are all these opinion polls. But opinion is fickle, as we know.

      It’s actually very difficult for a modern Western country to break up. Those who have achieved it suffered either communism or occupation by the Germans in their recent history (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, USSR). But what is the Western experience? Look at Belgium, Quebec, Catalonia. For a while it looked likely in those places, but it never happened.

      Not that the breakup of the UK would worry me. I’m English, but there’ll always be an England, as the song goes. As Harold Wilson noted, though, a week is a long time in politics. Sentiments can change. Keir Starmer is enjoying a honeymoon period right now, though I don’t trust those beady eyes of his.

      But there is everything still to play for. The future is by no means settled. I do enjoy living in interesting times, though.

    • Unfortunately, no geographical area can really live on its own resources anymore, certainly not with today’s population. The “grass looks greener on the other side of the fence,” but it really is not. There are just different problems that new leaders can’t really solve.

      • Xabier says:

        Very true.

        Before the industrial and globalised age, one could establish a viable kingdom or republic by having a suitably productive peasantry, sufficient armed forces, a chain of fortresses, and the will and organisational capacity to fight off any threats.

        That simple age is long gone, but emotionally we haven’t caught up with reality of total inter-connectedness and dependency.

        • Oh dear says:

          Yep, and if Gail is right, those days will soon be coming back. I have been watching Merlin on Netflix and it is just like you describe. It looks quite quaint and pleasant – but then again, most of the scenes are set inside the castle.

          As you say, simpler times still appeal to us emotionally, the whole ‘romantic’ view of the past. We evolved for a lot longer under pre-industrial conditions and emotionally we are still somewhat adapted to the past.

          I was reading Nietzsche talking about this in BGE last night. He was very cynical about the ‘new Europeans’ and ‘we good Europeans’ as he put it. He saw it headed toward a tyranny over an excessively domesticated and tamed worker population – EU and neo-liberalism? It is the old Platonic ‘pessimism’ that democracy culminates in tyranny.

          One of the things that I like about Gail’s site, is that anything is possible – except a continuation of the present. It makes one think about moral and political philosophy, economics and the world in much less ‘normal’, constrained terms. There is an intellectual freedom to it.

          • Xabier says:

            There is an interesting article on the evolving disintegration of Columbia in The Guardian: various gangs and mafias trying to carve out their own mini-kingdoms – organised no longer on an idealogical basis, but just a raw struggle for power. Horrifying.

            • Oh dear says:

              Yes, I suspect that Nietzsche had a limited experience of that of which he wrote. Likely he was influenced by a ‘romanticism’ about the European Middle Ages. He was quite traditional, even reactionary in some ways.

              I read him talking about Mozart last night in BGE and he was a massive fan of Mozart over any of the following composers, who he went through one by one. Mozart was a culmination of centuries of European taste and he was full of ‘southern’ warmth, while the later composers expressed the turmoil and uncertainty of their times. He was well down on his old mate Wagner. Likely he would have seen modernist music as a complete collapse of taste that reflected capitalist social disintegration.

              It would be an mistake to assume that a naked ‘will to power’ would necessarily lead to the heights of culture of aristocratic Europe. It is just as likely to end up like Columbia.

              > The “good old days” are over – they sang themselves out in Mozart. How lucky for us that his Rococo still speaks to us, that his “good company,” his tender enthusiasms, his childish pleasure in Chinoiserie and fancy flourishes, his courtesy of the heart, his longing for the delicate and the amorous, for dancing and tearful moments of bliss, his faith in the south, might still appeal to some vestige in us! Oh, some day all this will be gone! – but who can doubt that the understanding and taste for Beethoven will be gone even sooner! – although he was only the finale of a transitional style and stylistic discontinuity and not, like Mozart, the finale of a centuries-old, great European taste. Beethoven falls somewhere between a brittle old soul that is constantly coming apart and an overly young, future-oriented soul that is constantly on its way. A dusk of eternal loss and eternal, wild hope lies over his music – the same light that lay across Europe when it dreamed with Rousseau, danced around the freedom tree of the Revolution and ended up practically worshipping Napoleon. – BGE 245

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              “Yes, I suspect that Nietzsche had a limited experience of that of which he wrote.”

              he also had a limited experience of Mozart and all the romantic composers who followed, certainly compared to our times where almost the entire history of music is on the internet.

              the younger Beethoven greatly admired Mozart, and perhaps if he had not died at age 35 in 1791, he might have dueled Beethoven into his 70s for superior composition.

              the earlier composer, Mozart, wrote in too regular of a style (for my tastes), a nice pleasant style that still appeals to millions of people.

              Beethoven had the big advantage of being later, and he opened up the emotion and power of early romantic composition.

              Mozart would have been much more amazing (to my tastes again) if he had followed Beethoven.

              But history only happens once.

            • Oh dear says:

              Nietzsche would have spent his entire life immersed in romantic music as a living tradition, so it seems hard to say that we have a better understanding of it because we have YT to look at.

              “emotion and power”

              No offence but I would guess that Nietzsche had a much better understanding of musical composition and appreciation than you, judging by his writings on the matter, not to mention his close personal friendship with Wagner. Correct me if I am wrong.

              Personally I have always adored Beethoven as practically a god of composition. I agree with Nietzsche that he was a ‘finale’, a master whose heights no one following got even close to. For me, romanticism peaked at its start with Beethoven and Schubert.

              That has always been the common understanding, but Classic FM constantly gets out the romantic library for its popular appeal on the car radio. It was bourgeois and popular in its day. I love romantic music but there is something of the artificial and sugary about much of it. Who can listen to Chopin’s nocturnes more than once a decade?

              There are many early, transitional composers who definitely are worth a listen though. The late romantics transitional with modernism are also interesting, like Reger. Who these days does not need a touch of modernism for relief now and then?

              I never considered either Brahms or Lizst to be worth listening to, though I have forced myself over the last year and it was not entirely without reward. Wagner and Bruckner were the last real greats in my opinion and Bruckner only for his symphonies.

              The entire romantic movement in culture expresses a wistful unhappiness with the direction of European civilisation under capitalism and it culminated in the fin de cycle and the collapse of aesthetics into modernism. The Viennese classicists will always represent a pinnacle of confident accomplishment across centuries – and yes, that includes Beethoven – no hint of disrespect from me to him.

              Btw. to be fair to Nietzsche, he did emphasise that the outcome of WTP would depend on the sort of souls involved and he never would have expected much from a gangster rabble. I did him a massive injustice that I retract. There has been quite enough easy disrespect for one day and the idea that I understand WTP better than him was laughably arrogant.

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              thanks for the thoughtful reply.

              “The Viennese classicists will always represent a pinnacle of confident accomplishment across centuries – and yes, that includes Beethoven…”

              it’s no surprise that there is disssagreement on the subjective appeal of music.

              I don’t see the artificial timeline with “pinnacles” etc though.

              the romantics built on everything that came before.

              the 19th century contains many more of the great musical triumphs than the seeds of the 18th century.

              Beethoven and Berlioz thru Tchaikovsky and Wagner and Mahler.

              but I do see the appeal of the easy listening safe nice 18th century classical.

              to be clear, I was meaning that Nietzsche probably would have thought differently about the romantics if he had heard virtually everything of significance from the 19th century, as we can now.

              all opinion and all subjective.

            • Oh dear says:


              Yes, I regretted not mentioning him, Rossini too. My listening repertoire is broader than I let on. I make a point of listening to all of the Western tradition of art music, from chant to the latest modernism. I spent the lock down doing just that. The Notre Dame and Franco-Flemish schools stand out in the early Renaissance period. All of it really. But I could not stand by and let Mozart be dissed.

              “the 18th century contains many more of the great musical triumphs than the withered, scented potpourri of the 19th century.”

              “but I do see the appeal of the easy listening safe nice 19th century romanticism.”


              Let us call a truce, I am not as partisan as I am making out and I apologise if I spoke harshly to you. It is actually quite amusing when music gets combative.

            • covidinamonthorayearoradecade says:

              you are quite diplomatic so thank you.

              one more thought: in these dark days of 2020, the Mozart style of music has an additional appeal as a soothing balm, as I’m sure it was to those who lived in the harsher conditions of the 18th century.

              I occasionally listen to Classical Radio, and the softer and sunnier pieces have stood out to me as appropriate for a listening audience enduring much stress.

            • Oh dear says:

              Btw. I listen to a lot more Haydn than Mozart. Likely his unsurpassed string quartets would appeal to you, they are as experimental as anything in the 19 c. but without the saccharine and the failure of form. Mozart and Schubert have always been seen as young man’s composers and Haydn that of a mature man. Women tend to go for the romanticism. : )

        • Kowalainen says:

          Don’t worry, techno-feudalism will be the norm. Once we get through this little fracas.

    • Xabier says:

      Highest support for nationalism among the worst-educated and least-experienced section of the population – no surprise!

      The nationalists promise them miracles – as everywhere – and they swallow it.

      In a few years time they will be lucky to have full stomachs, whatever flag is waving over their heads.

      • Oh dear says:

        Funny, that is what they said about Brexit voters and they still won, and now they practically control the UK government. Insulting vast swathes of the population does not tend to help a cause.

      • Minority Of One says:

        Once the fossil fuels have gone, some time this century, in the UK sooner rather than later, the population I should imagine will drop to less than 1% of its current level. No-one knows how to live in a world with no fossil fuels and the couch potatoes will just keel over (almost everyone) from hunger and disease.

        Talk of Scotland / England / independence in the future then becomes pointless. We are all headed for the same place.

  10. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Germany has scrapped plans to discuss Brexit at a high-level diplomatic meeting next week because there has not been “any tangible progress” in talks, the Guardian has learned, as Brussels laments a “completely wasted” summer.

    “EU officials now believe the UK government is prepared to risk a no-deal exit when the transition period comes to an end on 31 December, and will try to pin the blame on Brussels if talks fail.”


    • Harry McGibbs says:

      “The Irish Sea border means chaos looms, even with a Brexit deal.”


      • Harry McGibbs says:

        “A British private bank has written to its clients in France to say it will have to stop providing services if the UK and EU do not agree a banking arrangement before December 31.”


      • Oh dear says:

        There is a simple solution to that – Irish unity. Polls suggest that most Brexit voters could not care less about whether NI remains in UK. It might matter to some of them but most of us never gave NI a thought once a year before Brexit.

        The border in Ireland is a nuisance to everyone, English and Irish alike. NI is a drain on English tax payers and, let us be honest, the sectarian statelet has been a complete disaster for everyone trapped in it, with decades of civil war.

        The best course forward is to implement the decision of the Brexit referendum in full – a full and proper Brexit. It would be a disaster for democracy in Britain if a majority mandate, the largest vote in British history, was overturned without implementation.

        Then the other countries in UK can decide what they want to do. If they want to leave UK, and even rejoin EU, then that is fine with us. It is completely up to them what they do with their countries. All we ask is that our referendum is respected and we will fully respect their own referenda.

        If ROI and NI decide to reunite then we wish them all the best and we offer them our national friendship as they go forward as a united country. It would certainly be the simplest and best solution for England going forward.

        • Malcopian says:

          Yes, this makes sense. Splitting certainly doesn’t mean that any of the constituent nations believes that autarky or isolation is possible. They’d just be taking a little more autonomy for their nations.

      • Robert Firth says:

        Ah yes, the Guardian. Of all the “Project Fear” players the most shamelessly mendacious. And, as usual, simply unable to recognise that their cause is lost. We are taking back our country, and not before time. Get over it.

      • Robert Firth says:

        There will be no “Irish Sea border”. Goods will travel freely between NI and the mainland. It is the EU that will create chaos, by forcing Souther Ireland to create their own border. Perhaps the Irish will then realise that they are subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship, and recover their own independence.

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