Culturalism · Federal Government

Of Masks and Men

Perhaps the most amusing aspect to the coronavirus panic has been the complete chaos in messaging around masks, varying from the fiercest concerns to passive indifference, at least until a change occurs. The government refers to it as “science-based evolution,” but we know better. Now masks are being required to enter public places, as if things suddenly shifted in that direction.

What makes it so fascinating is how authorities adapt and weave to escape responsibility. You might recall that I pointed out back on February 11th how a suspicious number of Chinese were being spotted wearing safety masks in public in response to the Rona. The normal reaction was to claim it was due to their experience with SARS, or simply a sense of precaution.

In the United States, our Surgeon General actually made the following tweet on February 29th:

Adams’ rage can be explained by considering the projected supply shortage, yet at the same time American firms were shipping MILLIONS of masks to China to help with their response. Of course it only took about a month for our man Jerome to produce this video:

Oh so now masks are more effective, or per chance he just wanted to demonstrate his mad KonMari skills with cloth origami. Around the same time, the CDC updated their own guidelines in support of wearing masks, I suppose because production might have picked up by that point.

Now that all is well in the world, we can go out, only face masks have become a requirement at most stores, because science. The same science that had no evidence before, but now does, because the government decided it exists. Maybe the next advisory will recommend wearing Trojans over the tongue to prevent ingestion of particles from a TikTok celeb.

Do you still trust science?

Is your degree worth it? · Is your major worth it?

Colleges Are Going Bankrupt

It’s a weird thing in many respects, but the COVID-19 panic-demic has helped highlight the profound weakness of the modern economy, and in particular those sectors which are still stuck in the Dark Ages. At the crown of this sordid pile would be institutions of “higher education,” such as colleges and universities.

The virus’ malevolent hamstringing of normal economic behavior means that schools which desperately held on to the brick and mortar model for years to keep the debt-financed tuition payments flowing now find it difficult to get paid – or secure payers in the future. They are finally coming to terms with the corrupt and usury-enslaving system which they helped propagate, and the image is a grim one.

Current reports suggest smaller liberal arts colleges will be the first to suffer, because they are “extremely tuition-dependent.”

Imagine that. Names of the at-risk parties included in various articles are Alma College, Albion College, The King’s College, Wheaton College, Mount Ida College, and more. The mighty (and rich) have fallen.

Part of the problem might be the higher education industry’s blatant lack of association with reality. According to a summary of author John Ellis’ insights into the university sector:

“American universities keep grinding out more PhDs (writing theses no one may ever read) than they have tenure-track teaching jobs so that an increasing number accept hourly wages as adjuncts and look forward to increases in the minimum wage.”

Exactly. These wage slave and government-funded institutions have never cared about the actual employment market, even as technology makes tenured professorships and secure faculty admin jobs a thing of the past. They were all in the money.

Sadly, the casualties of their folly will fall on the recent PhD graduates and support staff who have invested their time in hopes of a vanishing career. Even Harvard, with its $37 billion dollar endowment, is finding ways to shed low wage contract employees. But they STILL tried to get bailout money.

Speaking of bailouts, higher education will shortly be on the list. Moody’s has reported that over 30 percent of public and private colleges are already running deficits, and it will get worse as they come knocking. We just have to get through with pensions, the Post Office, Big Oil, and maybe healthcare too.

Life is good.

Federal Government

Politicians Are Never “Ready”

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York was just quoted saying his state is “not yet ready” for the anticipated coronavirus peak over the next week.

Newsflash: politicians are never prepared. Maybe it says something about the nature of government, although one would think “use or lose” federal budgetary strategies make an increased medical stockpile quite sensible. Instead, they whiz the money away on nothing and then claim there is a massive equipment crisis when things go bad.  

The bigger issue is this: no one gets rewarded politically for thinking ahead. Humans have been trained to expect a state-sanctioned RESPONSE, something to calm their nerves and fill the headlines. Thus being the dutiful worker ant doesn’t help where attentions are concerned.

Suppose Trump and Co. had 600 million reusable facemasks in storage, a containment plan ready to go, and “a hospital ship for every diversity region.” Would the media cheer? Might we count on Democrats to clap their hands? Probably not, because the issue itself would be less threatening. The politician is only paid election-wise for effectively putting on a show, not demonstrating foresight. If Trump’s reaction looks good, he will benefit, but otherwise his opponents win. Simple as that.

For all these reasons, individuals need to prepare. The government can do marvelous things, but it rarely thinks out of the box, or even about the future.

Culturalism · investing

How The Spanish Flu Hit Stocks

There’s been a gross deal of speculation about an (even bigger) Coronavirus outbreak, one that could cost countless lives and send the world economy into tailspin. It makes jolly good fodder for the internet activists of our time, but how accurate is the claim?

That depends. The folks over at Global Financial Data put together some nice info looking at the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed tens of millions of people. The first graph shows the various peaks of the outbreak those years ago:

Credit: GFD

Next we have a trace of the stock market:

Credit: GFD

As you can see, the market was not visibly impaired by the rise of the flu, although the period also encompassed part of World War I.  After the nominal end of the flu wave, which was relatively close to the finish of the First World War, the market experienced a period of handsome growth.

The applicability of the 1918 situation to today, or vice a versa, remains dubious, and yet it suggests that hysteria may not be the proper answer.

Culturalism · Personal Finance

The Masks of China

As some of you already know, Xi Jingping was photographed at the Beijing Coronavirus hospital wearing the transmission prevention mask which has become iconic during the crisis. This is while reports suggest he has failed to visit Wuhan, where the outbreak originated.

From what we can see now, there are a few possible takeaways:

1. The virus threat is not serious, and Xi simply has to put up the image of containment, in a (non-malicious) propaganda act.

2. A massive calamity is being covered up in China, but we still need take the Thomas Friedman approach, because their government is honest.

3. It’s the Russians.

Thoughts?