In her Wall Street Journal column, Peggy Noonan opines about how the “protected” don’t have to worry about the consequences of economic shutdowns.
“…Since the pandemic began, the overclass has been in charge—scientists, doctors, political figures, consultants—calling the shots for the average people. But personally they have less skin in the game. The National Institutes of Health scientist won’t lose his livelihood over what’s happened. Neither will the midday anchor. I’ve called this divide the protected versus the unprotected. …“
“It won’t be popular to call attention to the possibility that such actions might be an overreaction. But it’s a serious point, even if that sentiment has no hopes of carrying the day.
The federal government botched the early response to coronavirus, so why should we expect it to get its act together now? Whenever we are finally clear of this pandemic, we will need to study our response to understand what we did right and what we did wrong. With a virtually complete halt of the American economy about to begin, we should enter this phase with full awareness that it wasn’t the only choice available to us.
April 9, 2020. New unemployment claims surged to 6.6 million today in face of the COVID-19 shut down.
The joblessness rate will remain high until July when subsidies for non-work end.
Timing is key. The study of recessions shows us that employment usually rises (mysteriously) when unemployment benefits end. The connection should be obvious, especially for millions whose unemployment is more than their previous wages. This is the case for a family member of mine who is making $600 more per month now than before he was laid off.
This is why Germany’s approach during the recession of 2008 made sense. They paid employers to keep people on payroll. This had psychological and economic benefits.
Without question, remuneration/compensation to pay bills for those who’s jobs have ended due to mandated shelter at home and mandated closures (gov’t should reimburse those it shuts down) is justified. From the employer’s standpoint, unemployment benefits act like a tax on labor in addition to wages for each employee; they essentially have to pay premium to make it worthwhile for employee to return.
Sure, workers realize the benefits are temporary and many, if they liked their jobs, will return sooner if called back. And the astute workers will save the excess unemployment payments or pay off debt; most will spend it or, worse, incur more debt. History tells us that many will delay returning to work as long as possible if they are making more by not working. And who could blame them. This can force employers to hire possibly less qualified people at a higher wage than the value they produce.
And furthermore, history also tells us that as unemployment remains high, the political response is to extend the unemployment benefits longer, further prolonging recovery; and the cycle is perpetuated.
On the macro-economic level and policy level, this is why we need incentives to become a nation of producers and savers, rather than spender and debtors. From a tax policy perspective, we must stop punishing savings and investment and create incentives to save and proper disincentives for debt. This includes a “debt brake” for the federal government like they have in Switzerland.
Some other programs and studies that are being saved include the following:
FCC Unveils COVID-19 Telehealth Program, Updates Connected Care Pilot
The Federal Communications Commission is using $200 million in funding from the CARES Act to launch a new program to help providers access the broadband resources they need to support telehealth programs.
Wow, the government has discovered remote digital technology medical care! Although, maybe a little late. What would we do without those innovative minds in D.C. ?!?
But there’s a better solution that’s been up and running for more than a decade; private citizens being free to act and chose what services they value. It is a solution which occurred organically when an innovative supply side acted to solve other people’s problems within a cooperative marketplace driven by mutual benefit. It is called Direct Primary Care (DPC). And it is only possible because we still have some semblance of healthcare freedom within our society. No thanks to Washington, D.C.
But step aside, the FCC with money to burn is coming to the rescue after COVID is already in full crisis mode.
Never mind that Direct Primary Care physicians have routinely integrated remote care technology platforms into their practices for a more than a decade. And set aside the fact that revenue in a DPC business model doesn’t rely on office visits (the opposite of social distancing) to trigger a billable encounter, the claim against which is paid out of a grossly over-priced pre-paid 3rd party fund that we call health insurance. Instead, the Direct Primary Care physician is paid to be available to solve problems, answer questions, triage illness/injury, provide treatment and advice via the most appropriate venue for each patient.
And last, no disrespect meant to the media outlet below for featuring this story. They are just reporting the healthcare news, as is their mission.
“Economics studies human choice under scarcity. Humans must act in the present to provide for the future. Informed choice relies on market data in the form of prices—specific prices for specific things, as we assess various different means to satisfy our ends—that is what economics is about.
” “What a country wants to make it richer, is never consumption, but production. Where there is the latter, we may be sure that there is no want of the former,” said John Stuart Mill, citing Say’s law.
In a tune of rapid change and disruption, we need prices to do their job more than ever so the entrepreneurial process can work. High prices show which industries to move more resources into, and low prices show which ones to move resources out of to free them up for more urgent uses. From the point of view of consumers, high prices show us what we should cut back on, and low prices show where we can pick up bargains.
This process takes time. Interfering with this process just locks in shortages and surpluses.
So-called “stimulus,” just thrown at “the economy” to increase “aggregate demand” in the abstract, cannot work, when there are supply constraints in some industries and prohibitions in others.
Smoot-Hawley and the New Deal are hardly the only examples of government actions making a panic worse.
As Sowell explains, however, there was not an actual scarcity of gasoline. There was nearly as much gas sold in 1972 as the previous year (95 percent, to be precise).
It is no coincidence that crises—foreign wars, terrorist attacks, and economic depressions—have often resulted in vast encroachments of freedom and even given rise to tyrants (from Napoleon to Lenin and beyond). In his book Crisis and Leviathan, the historian and economist Robert Higgs explains how throughout history, crises have been used to expand the administrative state, often by allowing “temporary” measures to be left in place after a crisis has abated (think federal tax withholding during World War II).
Like an economic panic, pandemics incite mass fear, which can lead to flawed and irrational decision making.