Posted in CDC, Disease Prevention, Education, Free Society, Government Regulations, outcomes, outcomes measurement, Patient Safety, Policy Issues, Poverty, Prevention, Protocols, Uncategorized, Unsettled Science

Modelers Were ‘Astronomically Wrong’ in COVID-19 Predictions, Says Leading Epidemiologist—and the World Is Paying the Price | Jon Miltimore

Three months ago, Dr. John Ioannidis of Stanford University predicted dire social consequences if states enforced social distancing measures to curb a virus scientists didn’t yet understand.

“I feel extremely sad that my predictions were verified,” Ioannidis said in a recent interview with Greek media.

“There are already more than 50 studies that have presented results on how many people in different countries and locations have developed antibodies to the virus,” Ioannidis, a Greek-American physician, told Greek Reporter. “Of course none of these studies are perfect, but cumulatively they provide useful composite evidence. A very crude estimate might suggest that about 150-300 million or more people have already been infected around the world, far more than the 10 million documented cases.”

Ioannidis said medical data suggest the fatality risk is far lower than earlier estimates had led policymakers to believe and “is almost 0%” for individuals under 45 years old. The median fatality rate is roughly 0.25 percent, however, because the risk “escalates substantially” for individuals over 85 and can be as high as 25 percent for debilitated people in nursing homes.

“The death rate in a given country depends a lot on the age-structure, who are the people infected, and how they are managed,” Ioannidis said. “For people younger than 45, the infection fatality rate is almost 0%. For 45 to 70, it is probably about 0.05-0.3%. For those above 70, it escalates substantially…”

“Major consequences on the economy, society and mental health” have already occurred. I hope they are reversible, and this depends to a large extent on whether we can avoid prolonging the draconian lockdowns and manage to deal with COVID-19 in a smart, precision-risk targeted approach, rather than blindly shutting down everything…”

There’s little question that the lock-downs have caused widespread economic, social, and emotional carnage. Evidence that US states that locked down fared better than states that did not is hard to find.

Though not yet certain, the COVID-19 pandemic may well turn out to be another example of central planning gone wrong.

As I previously noted, it’s a sad irony that many of the greatest disasters in modern history—from Stalin’s “kolkhoz” collective farming system to Mao’s Great Leap Forward and beyond—are the result of central planners trying to improve the lot of humanity through coercive action.

“This is not a dispute about whether planning is to be done or not,” Hayek wrote in The Use of Knowledge in Society. “It is a dispute as to whether planning is to be done centrally, by one authority for the whole economic system, or is to be divided among many individuals.”

Source: Modelers Were ‘Astronomically Wrong’ in COVID-19 Predictions, Says Leading Epidemiologist—and the World Is Paying the Price | Jon Miltimore

Posted in Disease Prevention, Economic Issues, Education, Evidence-based Medicine, Free Society, Free-Market, Government Regulations, Leadership, Liberty, outcomes, outcomes measurement, Patient Safety, Policy Issues, Prevention, Uncategorized

Gov. Cuomo Admits COVID-19 Projection Models “Were All Wrong,” Yet Clings to the Central Planner’s “Pretense of Knowledge” – Foundation for Economic Education

“There are a lot of variables,” Cuomo admitted. “I understand that.”

But does he really? If he truly understood how infinitely complex social problems are, he wouldn’t act as if they can be solved top-down by politicians, bureaucracies, and a government-connected expert class. He would admit that all central planners can do is stumble around in the dark, breaking things and people.

And if he understood economics, he would realize that the complexity of social problems are such that they can only be managed bottom-up by local actors with local knowledge and skin in the game interacting with each other in a free society and a free market.

Posted in CDC, Education, News From Washington, outcomes, outcomes measurement, Patient Safety, Prevention, Uncategorized

Crucial Facts About COVID-19: Transmissibility, Death Rates, and Raw Numbers – Foundation for Economic Education

“…elderly people and those with chronic ailments are extremely vulnerable to COVID-19. Furthermore, the disease is highly transmissible, which means it could spread like wildfire and overwhelm hospitals without extraordinary measures to contain it. This would greatly increase its death toll.

However, such precautionary measures often have economic and other impacts that can cost lives, and overreacting can ultimately kill more people than are saved.”

The facts show that:

  • The death rate for people who contract COVID-19 is uncertain but is probably closer to that of the seasonal flu than figures commonly reported by the press.
  • The average years of life lost from each COVID-19 death are significantly fewer than common causes of untimely death like accidents and suicides.
  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is “very vulnerable to antibody neutralization” and has limited ability to mutate, which means it is very unlikely to take lives year after year.
  • If 240,000 COVID-19 deaths ultimately occur in the United States, the virus will rob about 2.9 million years of life from all Americans who were alive at the outset of 2020, while accidents will rob them of about 409 million years—or about 140 times more than COVID-19.

Posted in Access to healthcare, big government, Economic Issues, Government Spending, Government Stimulus, Health Insurance, Healthcare financing, Medical Costs, Medicare, Organizational structure, Philosophy, Policy Issues, Uncategorized

5 Charts That Explain the Student Debt Crisis – Foundation for Economic Education

The commonality between the insatiable rise in both healthcare costs and college tuition, post 1965, should be obvious:  Massive amounts of other people’s money in the form of government programs, payments, subsidies and loan guarantees; which economists call the 3rd-party payer effect.

As exposited in the FEE article below, the U.S. Higher Education Act introduced “incentives” into the market for higher education, encouraging both the supply side and the demand side to make decisions that they would not be as likely to make under “non-stimulated” market situations.

Similarly, the passage of Medicare in 1965 sent huge surge of money into the healthcare system. The predictable consequence of this massive revenue stream was an incentive for healthcare providers to enter the market and expand services at an unprecedented magnitude and rate.  Essentially, demand was spurred by new source of financing.  Amy Finkelstein, have done excellent work in this area.  Her work indicates that Medicare funding may have allowed hospital to spend 6-fold more than what individual levels of insurance would have predicted.  And that the spread of 3rd party insurance from 1950 – 1990 may explain about 50% of the increase in real per capita spending over that time period.



“As Bernie Sanders tweeted last year, the cost of education, in nominal dollars, has increased by roughly 3,800 percent since the mid 1960s.

What Sanders didn’t mention was that this was when the US Higher Education Act was passed (1965), which directed taxpayer dollars to low-interest loans for students pursuing college. This increased accessibility to higher education, but the flood of federal money also caused a surge in demand and costs.

The problem isn’t unsolvable, but it will require significant changes to universities and the federal loan program. “Free” tuition and student debt forgiveness will only make the problem worse.

Instead, as University of Maryland economist Peter Morici recently argued, market discipline must be brought back to our institutions of higher learning as part of any debt forgiveness.

While policy wonks offer no shortage of proposals for tweaking the federal loan program to improve it, perhaps the best solution would be to get the federal government out of the loan business all together.”

Posted in Bailouts, Dependency, Economic Issues, Entrepreneurs, Free Society, Free-Market, government incompetence, Government Regulations, Government Spending, Government Stimulus, Job loss, Keynesian Economics, Liberty, Organizational structure, Philosophy, Policy Issues, Uncategorized, Unemployment

Focus on People During Economic Crises, Not Macro-Statistics – Foundation for Economic Education

By Mark Hornshaw

“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.

Macro-statistics such as GDP and CPI, whether they are rising or falling in the aggregate, do not help much with this vital task. These statistics are compilations of vast amounts of data to come up with averages across entire countries and time-periods. It’s a dilution of the data, not an enhancement.

“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.

Government policy should be on mending holes in the social safety net, compensating those it has forced out of business and jobs, and reducing the tax and regulatory burden it places on businesses, workers and consumers as they try to adjust.

These are all microeconomic responses to relieve suffering and remove impediments.”

Posted in American Exceptionalism, American Independence, American Presidents, big government, Economic Issues, Free Society, government incompetence, Government Spending, Government Stimulus, Job loss, Leadership, Liberty, Patient Safety, Philosophy, Policy Issues, Rule of Law, Uncategorized, Unemployment

Panic Has Led to Government “Cures” That Are Worse than the Disease, History Shows – Foundation for Economic Education

Smoot-Hawley and the New Deal are hardly the only examples of government actions making a panic worse.

Thomas Sowell recounts several instances in which governments turned small problems into major ones by using blunt force—often price controls—to respond to public panic about rising costs of a given commodity.

One of the more famous examples of this is the gasoline crisis of the 1970s, which started when the federal government took a small problem (temporary high costs of gasoline) and turned it into a big one (a national shortage).

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).

Similar examples kind be found throughout history, from the grain shortages in Ancient Rome brought about by Diocletian’s “Edict on Maximum Prices” to the mortgage crisis in 2007.

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.

Posted in American Presidents, big government, Education, Free Society, Government Regulations, Liberty, Philosophy, Policy Issues, Representative Republic vs. Democracy, Rule of Law, U.S. Constitution, Uncategorized

Without Free Speech, All Speech Becomes Government Speech – Foundation for Economic Education

By Barry Brownstein

A new survey conducted in the United States by the Campaign for Free Speech found 51 percent of Americans agreed with this statement: “The First Amendment goes too far in allowing hate speech in modern America and should be updated to reflect the cultural norms of today.” 48 percent thought, and a majority of millennials agreed, “hate speech” should be outlawed. An astonishing 54 percent of millennials thought jail time should be the consequence penalty for hate speech. Hate speech was not defined in the survey.

In a future democratic socialist administration mired in economic collapse, is it a stretch to predict that protection of free speech will continue to wane making criticism of government policies verboten?

If disagreement over the number of genders can’t be tolerated, surely disagreements on a debt jubilee or a wealth tax wouldn’t be tolerated either.

Posted in Dependency, Economic Issues, Education, Free Society, Liberty, outcomes, outcomes measurement, Philosophy, Policy Issues, Uncategorized

If Only Economics Was as Easy as Rocket Science – Foundation for Economic Education

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University. His recent books include Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014) and Apostle of Peace (2013). He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

However, as America’s founders attested so vehemently, rights are at the core of social interactions and government, violations of which can justify revolution. And unlike the physical sciences, where the goal of language is precision, in the social sciences, the language (and thus analysis) is often quite vague and inconsistent (e.g., current versions of “social justice” are inconsistent with the traditional meaning of “justice”), making clear communication, much less clear analysis, far harder.

What is the upshot of all this? Economics is not like physical sciences, and reasoning and analogies based on them are often misleading in economics. Further, they can be dangerous to society, particularly in the mouths of those who wish to subject others to their command and control. That is why Friedrich Hayek wrote,

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

In other words, economics is a science whose principles and logic tell us why we cannot know enough to control people, even if we do know enough to control rockets.