Me : No. Congressional doctor has said 70 to 150M in the US could become infected - cnbc.com/2020/03/11/up-… - with a death rate of 3-5% then you're talking millions dead. Which is why isolation is so important ...
X : What if we've paid for our venue?
Me : You take the haircut in the name of public safety.
Me : Hmmm ... you'll be putting your financial interests ahead of public safety. If that's not a criminal offence it needs to become one rapidly.
X : You think I should go to jail?
Me : Not only that, I'd throw away the key.
Me : Well, we better start putting in support systems rapidly. This is at the heart of the issue, the whole "we" vs "me" culture.
X : How can we afford that?
Me : Wealth tax is a marvellous thing in times of emergency.
Me : Which bit about pandemic did you not get? It is reasonable for Gov to take draconian actions in such cases, that includes suspending the rights of individuals and that includes companies.
Me : What mass layoffs? You can't simply "layoff" people in China and the Gov changed employment legislation to restrict this further. If anything, the layoffs will be in the US which lacks such protections.
Me : Gosh, I live in the UK where we have severe debt problems and food banks. We are going to have to take a "we" focus i.e. Gov needs to build those support systems including many that have been dismantled over the last decade.
Looks like "herd immunity" - itv.com/news/2020-03-1… - is the play, a cute name for lots of people dying unless you have a bunker to hide in until vaccines are produced. Hmmm.
So, we are cattle? Great to know.
It is a gutsy bold move, one I certainly wouldn't contemplate because of the numbers. But if you've given up on containment (i.e. didn't really try) then it's just tweaking the edges whilst nature does its thing ...
Me : Wasn't I clear in my "only adult in the room" quip? No, there is no upside, it's truly horrible. We will need to have that long discussion with Government about social responsibility and why people matter more.
Me : True but I'd rather try to contain this as much as possible (see China) even if it does cost vastly more and sinks part of the economy (we can build support systems for people) and give time for a vaccine ...
Me : We don't have any guarantees that we can "manage" this effectively. However, it's the path we're on, there is no time machine to fix this but after we get through it, we need to have those discussions.
Me : I think it's a gamble. It's not a gamble I'm comfortable with. However, it's the path chosen. So we should accept this, adapt to it, take the precautions advised and carry on. Discussions on the right and wrongs can be left until later.
Me : Eh?
X : Saying 40 million will be infected in the UK.
Me : Ah ... that's the UK Gov strategy - ft.com/content/38a815… ... I'm not comfortable with the gamble instead agreeing with the WHO but this is the path we've chosen.
Me : No. I just happen to rely on the WHO (it has lots of experience) and China's proven containment.
X : UK is about flattening the curve.
Me : Ah yes, that wonderful diagram with two curves and absolutely no figures that everyone believes. Hmmm.
Me : I think I'm not hearing the WHO telling everyone to flatten the curve and go for herd immunity.
Me : I agree with slowing, with containment and with generally following WHO / China. Look, I'm a geneticist by training, not a virologist ... so if you want good advice then listen to a virologist - theconversation.com/coronavirus-ca…
So let us adapt to it and we can come back to the right and wrongs later.
Focus on the "we" and less on the "me". And later, let us talk about making that change permanent.
Me : Ok. It's like being on the Titanic with the UK Gov saying we're going to throw the Brits in slowly and see who floats whilst the WHO recommends lifeboats and China has already evacuated with helicopters.
Me : Eh? What? So the CSA et al talking about herd immunity for the last few days means the plan is not actually this?
X : It's more nuanced, more dynamic.
Me : Hmmm ... some transparency would be nice. My confidence is now rock bottom.
WHO - "You need to react quickly. If you need to be right before you move, you will never win. Speed trumps perfection. The greatest error is not to move"
Me : Well, the chief scientific advisor spent days talking herd immunity, then it's reported in the press - - now it isn't part of the plan or the plan is more nuanced or ... we shall see what tomorrow brings.
Me : ?
X : We have to focus on that as well.
Me : If necessary Gov can just nationalise key industries without compensation. This is a pandemic. Individual rights can be suspended and that includes the rights of companies / shareholders etc.
Virgin Atlantic boss asks voters (i.e. staff) to go on 8 week unpaid leave.
if some are going to be tossers then I suggest we rapidly introduce universal basic income with hard hitting wealth taxes.
However, two things that Gov needs to consider - rationing of essentials and universal basic income. With 50 years of market reforms, I do hope UK hasn't transformed from a nation of shop keepers to a nation of tossers.
Me : Well, I'm guessing that was part of the UK wide run on bog roll.
Me : An alternative narrative is you scared the public witless, you decide to copy what China is doing because frankly the other choice is daft and now you're just trying to pretend it's part of your grand plan and call it anchoring ...
Me : People often rationalise post event that something was part of their grand plan in order to justify a narrative of their own benign genius. Generally, benign genius can be found in fixing the problems rather than convoluted plans.
Me : I think it's a nice narrative but first I'm highly skeptical and its seems reckless. Second, China didn't just tell behind to behave differently, it introduced a massive testing and isolation regime that was highly targeted.
Me : Voting public have agreed to underwrite more debt for businesses to the tune of £5,500 per person? I don't mind if its advantageous loans or buying shares in companies through some favourable rights issue ...
Me : Stamped on the crates for the Italian supply of masks and other equipment -
Me : That's because they're leading the world in how to deal with this virus. The WHO rightly points to China as the example to follow.
X : US?
Me : Less so. I'm also not happy about the claimed "exclusive" attempts - nbcnews.com/news/us-news/g…
Me : Testing, testing, testing ... virus clinics, quarantine centres (rather than isolation in the family unit) and testing, testing, testing.
X : UK?
Me : You can get tested ... if you can afford it -
Me : As if I would know anything? Ok, so face masks are more about protecting others. I'm focused on social distancing / cleaning hands but will use face masks when Amazon start selling directly rather than buying from untrusted / dodgy vendors.
Me : Yes, along with the equally unhelpful "China virus" narrative. The origin is not important, this type of outbreak was inevitable. The actions taken to deal with it matter.
Needs that oodles of testing though. Feeling much more reassured now. A target of 50k fatalities over two years is far more comforting.
Me : The opposite. This is the start of a new renaissance where practices and policies will have to change as we are forced into a digital world by external forces. A world of virtual conferences, virtual tours and new systems of meaning ...
The transformations this will kick off over a decade will be dramatic. We'll have to stop thinking in very limited ways i.e. simply replicating the "office" online.
Just need to ramp up that testing and isolation. A 2 year program of adaptive suppression is just what is needed.
Me The economy will adapt, our practices will change and there really isn't a question here. If there is a question, it's why did we take so long?
Me : As I said before we need systems implemented immediately to support those who need it.
X : But how can we afford this?
Me : We can afford £480Bn to bail out the banks over a decade, we can afford to support our citizens ...
X : You haven't answered how to pay?
Me : Wealth tax, Gov bonds ...
X : Bad acting?
Me : Yes. 50 year ban on dividends / share buybacks for any corporation / executive found to be laying off staff when alternatives were possible ....
X : Serious?
Me : Yes, it's a pandemic. Citizens first. The measures can be very draconian.
X : Such as?
Me : Virgin Atlantic? Forced nationalisation of all Virgin companies. All executives banned for 50 years for holding directorship / shares in any company.
Me : No, you need a powerful message with immediate effect i.e. all the executives involved suddenly find all holdings in any company immediately acquired by Gov with no compensation with themselves barred from any holding or even operating in the UK.
Me : Yes, a symbol. A sacrificial lamb if you prefer. You encourage the right sort of behaviour but you have to be prepared or a least been seen to be prepared to deal with those who fall outside the bands of acceptable behaviour.
This (H/T to @Jon_Ayre) - - is what concerns me.
This prevents the disaster that COVID-19 could be but action is needed.
Me : Hmmm ... I do not understand some of the actions being taken. I do not share the President's confidence that he is doing a brilliant job. For me, there is too much focus on the market which is a tool of society rather than society itself.
The one thing I would hope is that the executive branch of both China and the US Gov stop the blame game going on. That does seem particularly unhelpful.
Me : Then you should be arrested, put in jail and the key thrown away. Isolation is not about protecting you, it's about protecting others, stopping chains of transmission.
Me : There are many shortcomings in this approach, however, what is encouraging is that people are trying to help. That energy, that effort, that desire to help just needs to be directed.
Me : For medals, huge numbers. For a reckoning .... a small number but I think most in the UK would have Richard Branson in that list. I doubt he will ever be forgiven.
Me : China has been experimenting with a minimum livelihood guarantee for over a decade. Search for dibao system. It's far from perfect ... but "yes" would be the answer you're looking for.
"You must stay at home" -
Good on @BorisJohnson
Me : I don't see any value in panic.
X : Aren't you concerned?
Me : Of course. I have concerns, I have fears ... I am after all human. But I don't rule my life by fears and concerns, I try to act in ways that I think will help ...
So yes, I'm glad by this bold move by the PM. It needed to happen.
Me : Gosh, there are so many complex parts to this and so many cascade effects that it simply wouldn't be helpful to talk about it. Let us simply say that I'm very glad that UK Gov is taking this positive sort of action.
Me : It's perfectly reasonable in my view. In fact, I would have preferred this earlier. I also want to see rationing and police / army on the streets enforcing.
X : You are kidding?
Me : No.
Me : No. Whilst most want to make the right choices, there are some that are misguided. Gov needs to act accordingly. I take the view that army joining the police on the streets combined with rationing would be bold but also reassuring moves.
Except ... the risks are far more than people realise. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of isolation and not fixating on the economy.
Me : That's not good, not good at all. What about redirecting effort, the online publishing side ... I am reminded of @timoreilly mantra of putting more in than you take out.
This is the time to be putting back in .
Me : If the virus is left uncontrolled, it's not just overwhelming of a health service, police etc and such loss of life that you need to worry about.
X : Internet?
Me : Are you kidding? Power generation and the stability of the grid.
Me : Try no running water. This is why you manage these pandemics, you just don't let it run out of control. Fixing the economy ... that's like No. 20 on the most important things to do list. It's also why when Government says "isolate" then bloody listen.
A path of adaptive suppression. Really top bar stuff. It's also why I get annoyed with muppets like Branson, Ashley etc.
Me : Yes. For almost two weeks, since about the 15th March, I view they have set off in the right direction with purpose. I applaud and encourage them. The seven weeks prior to that is another matter but now is not the time.
Me : ?
X : Will a recession harm more than COVID-19
Me : Only in neoliberal fantasies desperately arguing such. They unfortunately suffer from that common neoliberal weakness of "looking at data disagrees" - sciencedirect.com/science/articl…
Just look at the US. One of the greatest story tellers of modern history is running the country or is that ruining?
Common with business.
Me : On COVID-19?
X : Yes
Me : Much much better. The last two weeks have seen big improvements compared to the previous 7 weeks. Still weak on testing etc.
X : How about compared to China?
Me : After and around Wuhan lockdown? No comparison.
Kudlow has form ...
Me : Yes. On the 13th October. We took the decision to move to a virtual event on the 11th March - - after a week of wobble on my part.
Whilst the virus doesn't give two whoots over political persuasion - - in times of crisis then authoritarian regimes often look to engineer conflict.
Any past glimmer of US world leadership seems to be rapidly disappearing.
Anyway, I'm glad to see UK isn't involved in this finger pointing at China and all those diversion tactics.
Me : Yes. I'm not comfortable with this certificate idea and such social experimentation in the middle of a pandemic when a known path to control (Wuhan) exists.
Me : Look, we need to make toast! We don't need to re-invent the toaster and we certainly don't need our own iron mine.
X : But ...
Me : Stop! Buy a fucking toaster.
I'd rather us learn from China. Learn from Wuhan.
Leave such disasters to business, keep them out of Government. Learn from China.
Me : I think it's great for theatre. But powerful storytellers in environments with no effective means of challenging the stories they create are not a good combination when it comes to running peoples lives. I'm looking at Trump and ... well.
It looks like the propaganda machines are coming out in force trying to deflect blame.
This is not the time, this is not the way -
We've messed up badly. Ok, we're now making steps which are great but too much effort was focused on the economy.
Me : Raise capital through a rights issue.
X : Rights issue?
Me: It's the opposite of share buybacks.
Me : Not if we're using vaccines to achieve this. But that's not what people are talking about. For me, the uncontrolled "herd immunity" is the ultimate expression of wealth over people, the me vs we society. I do not agree with its use.
Me: China messed up early stages but US had more warning than China and it had China's playbook. Trump bares responsibility for any difference in the US caused by his decisions. China bares responsibility for early cover up.
Me : Did you see this in China? I would focus first on dealing with the pandemic - test, test, test and isolate. There are numerous ways of coping with economic impact i.e. redistribution through a significant wealth tax.
Me : Probably, "Passport immunity" is just a continuation of the ideas of "herd immunity" in all but name. It's another bad path - ditto lack of testing, lack of early action, lack of support for the poorest, too much focus on the economy ... long list.
Collectives whose values are shown to be clearly wanting often look for others to blame for this in order to deflect public anger rather than face up to their own shortcomings.
As long as we can have that honest conversation, learn from it and constantly try to improve then fine. Part of that will need to be the whole "Me" vs "We" question of how we run our society.
* Highest : scholars & bureaucrats
* Farmers & peasants
... and finally ...
* Lowest : People who just make money by investing including buying and selling things - merchants, traders etc.
Popn. 1.4 Bn
Forewarned by : 0 days
COVID-19 deaths : 3,300 and stable.
Popn. 66 Mn
Forewarned by : 5+ wks
COVID-19 deaths : 3,600 and rising.
Well, if we will insist on not following China's gameplay and making up our own. Slow handclap to the nudge unit.
Me : Why listen to science when you can manipulate or policy your way to a future? Pity the virus wasn't listening. When it comes to being ignored, try talking to climate scientists.
Me : Initial start was very poor, whole herd immunity daftness. I view recent focus on isolation as being positive. If they keep it under 20k deaths, it will be an exceptional job. So, very shaky start seems to have got better.
Me : There will probably be some adjustment. When I used to research China it would take many sources to get a reasonable picture. Be careful, there are people willing to provide you with a figure you want to hear.
Me : It's got electrolytes.
Me : It's not really about China, that's just a proxy. iI's about Confucian values. This is what underpins the difference between the collectives' (East vs West) approach to the economy, to COVID-19, to society in general.
Me : What was communicated was isolate the most vulnerable, attempt to mitigate the infection in the general population (flatten the curve) until herd immunity was achieved at which point the most vulnerable could be returned. It was daft.
Anyway, now is not the time. After, there needs to an inquiry.
Me : In a time of crisis, to overcome the desire to maintain your wealth and to take advantage of the situation (which is what many have done) and to realise it is better for society to give back at scale and quickly ... that is leadership. We over Me.
Thank you Wuhan. Thank you China -> bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-…
Me : Hmmm ...
a) China has undertaken a massive campaign to conceal deaths whilst warning the world over the dangers?
b)A small band of egotistical "leaders" in the West are looking for someone else to blame for their own failures?
c) sounds like squabbling kids, and doesn't address the problems we face.
X : That'll never happen.
Me : What, like Trump will never be president?
Meanwhile, in the UK - .... I suppose it's "nice" but not as nice as PPE and testing.
China is out of lock-down, the US doesn't know when this is ending.
Please learn from China. Test, test, test and isolate.
Keep safe. Keep that distance.
Me : I am but I'm old Labour. It's close to one nation. Many of my friends are Conservatives and we agree on many things. I don't see a problem with celebrating when they are right.
X : Keir?
Me : He has a lot to deal with but I'm hopeful.
Me : Corbyn was fantastic and incredible given the abuse that was thrown at him. I doubt many would have had his fortitude. Alas some in the party seem to have behaved in a truly appalling manner. Hopefully with Keir we can turn a new leaf.
Me : Reasonably? A bit of a poor start with all the herd immunity stuff, occasional slippage into that way of thinking, we're still lacking testing and PPE but overall ... not bad, steps are being taken.
It has recently become a lot more direct and challenging. Keep it up -> "You clap for me now – but give it a few months and it’ll be racism as usual" -> independent.co.uk/independentpre…
Can we please revoke Branson's passport and give to Abramovich instead? Just for the symbolism.
To the "tin foil hat" wearing republican right claiming it's all WHO mismanagement and a China conspiracy -
* detachment from reality and self.
* depressive symptoms with fears over the future and loss of status
* actions likely to cause self harm.
As time goes by, I worry about the mental health of the US nation as an entity in itself.
Me : Fair. But I wasn't considering long term issues of safety and psychological well being of a nation entity.
Me : No, quite the opposite. Bar the early stages, it seems to have recovered fairly well. There are some hiccups but that's unsurprising given the scale of what is needed.
Me : Yes. The early stages were shocking, head in hands sort of horror bad. I view the turnaround as quite remarkable.
Me : It's a country with a pleasant climate?
X : Covid?
Me : Hmmm. A bold experiment in laissez faire epidemiology involving the whole population without its consent?
X : Is it working?
Me : Not that I can tell. Bit of a disaster in the making.
Of course, China levelled off long ago but Sweden shows no signs of stopping. Pretty daft if you ask me but hey, it's a bold experiment.
Glad I'm not part of it.
Me : We had a shockingly poor start, following the same path as Sweden. At least we changed direction. I'm not convinced Sweden will be so lucky. It seems a hell of a gamble.
Me : China makes many mistakes from human rights to early responsiveness to covid to president Xi for life but overall the strategic play is exceptional and it beats a bunch of chinless wonders throwing toys out of the pram because they're not No.1.
Me : I'm quite positive about Dominic. He is no Deng Xiaoping but it could have been a lot worse.
It's very sad and was completely unnecessary.
Me : Many countries (US, Nato group etc) knew about COVID in Nov. Many didn't react effectively until mid March. Blaming China (which made early mistakes) is misdirection, trying to shift the spotlight off the real causes i.e. the inaction was all home grown.
Me : Unfortunately, yes. I would be grateful if no-one would mention to him that boiling things is also an effective mechanism.
X : As in boiling people?
Me : A quick dip in a high powered microwave? What could go wrong?
Me : No.
X : But Sweden is doing well.
Me : Hmmm.
X : You disagree?
Me : I think the Government is playing Russian Roulette. This could become truly horrible, end of nation sort of stuff.
X : You're wrong.
Me : Let's hope so. I wouldn't take the gamble.
* US doesn't have Labour. (UK Left)
* Democrats are like UK Conservatives. (UK Right, US Left)
* UK doesn't have republicans, a really rabid and extreme form of UKIP on a bad day. (US Right)
There are many systems including wealth taxes, universal basic income, enforced debt holidays, nationalisation and other means of redistribution which should be undertaken first.
Don't rush to re-open.
Me : Oh, but this is so spot on ... what some seem to be in a desperate rush to do is to put the old economy back to work before it changes too much. That seems to be the real fear. The economy itself can adapt.
Me : Fair point. UBI would be an incredibly useful way of releasing talent but I'd combine this with Gov directed investment i.e. some form of sovereign fund focused on small startups. The focus must be forward, not to the past.
Me : No. It's very one nation Tory but I suspect Gov is more neoliberal / Thatcherite.
Expect lots of bailouts for past giants under "market knows best" and one massive missed opportunity to rebalance society. China won't fail to take advantage.
Good letter by @Keir_Starmer -
Me : No. I would want to be more ambitious - a massive fund providing £50K investments to start any business in particular sectors designated for industrialisation. Not a loan but a joint venture.
Me : No. They're far too risk adverse and would seek schemes to profit from i.e. charging management fees, providing add-on services. It would have to be run by Gov, possibly through a nationalised bank.
Me : I would imagine it would be very problematic under state aid rules. And, don't get me started. We should have already left.
Me : Have you tried reading the book - medium.com/wardleymaps - and building one? It's free.
X : No but they're not obvious. I should just be able to read it.
Me : Do you think you were given a map as a child and just went "that's obvious"?