Here is the short cut to the full COVID report for Friday.

Well, it seems that the “fourth wave” has begun. Versus the same day of last week, US new cases were up 21%, US hospital admissions for COVID were up 9%, global new cases were up 20% and global fatalities were up 26%.

India again shattered its previous record for the most new cases in a single day.

Michigan continued to top every state and every country in the rate of new cases per capita.

496 thoughts on “COVID update

  1. Thank you for writing about the minimum wage here, Adam T. I missed UncleScoopy’s remarks about it, and I am glad to know what well-informed and sensible people think about it.

  2. Greg Abbott . . . whatta guy. With such rank incompetence and disregard for human life, I fully expect him to be near the front of the 2024 GOP Presidential Sweepstakes.

    1. Look, disregard for human life, yeah, but incompetence? I doubt it. Roughly half the GOP, especially pols, sense which way the wind’s blowing, trim their sails accordingly. Many of the grass roots jumped on that bandwagon up to 4 years ago because tax cuts were high on their wish list. To the well-off, soaring stock indexes signal their chunk of the econ is doing fine. Did you fail to notice how heavily Trump weighted that?

      Yes, thanks to a lot of brainwashed chumps, the conservative base of Trump cultists are the lion’s share of the GOP. Those like Cruz who voted against rubber-stamping the electors on Jan 6 as well as the majority of the House GOP who voted not to impeach, are taking advantage of Trump’s support, but see him for the animal he is. That, I’m sure, is how they look at it.

      There’s one additional angle that goes unremarked about the “irrational”, “incompetent” moves of GOP governors & other actors. They’re aware the GOP’s steady line since Reagan that govt can’t work was a big lie. Sucker Dems thinking everyone shared at least the goals, compromised over & over. With the outcome that their well-meant do-gooding always wound up being half-measures. The rank & file quickly learned that the left’s approach was more symbolic than effective.

      The GOP is scared as hell about the prospect that Dems will be effective & get due credit. That Keynes econ will be proven right. Even the timing of these seemingly counterproductive actions suggests it: It’s a last-ditch attempt to sabotage the pandemic recovery for fear the econ might then rebound.

      Dems are finally starting to get it that compromise with bad faith actors takes the power out of their punches. But their misconception remains: What Dems see as everyone’s interest, including self-interest, is only their opinion. Albeit widely shared within their own bubble. Not everyone everywhere shares Dem goals & beliefs as universal. Not even when it comes to democracy itself & the principle of “one person, one vote”.

      1. There was a time when I would have seen your view as overly cynical and not giving enough credit to the good-faith beliefs of thoughtful Republicans.

        Yeah… not so much any more. I think you’re right on the money, or at least a lot more right than wrong. The Republicans seem to be locked into a situation where they constantly have to lie blatantly to their constituents to stay in power, and by necessity have to cultivate a constituency of suckers and rubes.

        To some extent this aspect has always been there, because one of the things Republican politicians and large donors believe is that taxes are too high on rich people, and this is not a popular belief among the American population. Not even close. So they constantly have to do this bait and switch where they rile people up with cultural grievances to get power, then use that power to enrich the wealthy.

        These last few years have been a painful process of scales falling from my eyes and truly understanding how many charlatans and flim-flammers are in the leadership class of the Republican party, and how many idiots and loons there are in this country.

        1. I agree with Don, and especially with his third paragraph. And I have been through the same awakening about Republican’s and many other American “conservatives”.

          I disagree with some of what MikeP says about Republicans trimming their sails because of what he himself points out: “thanks to a lot of brainwashed chumps, the conservative base of Trump cultists are the lion’s share of the GOP.” This seems to me to make it impossible for the GOP to move toward the political center or even common decency.

          Their ability to remain a significant force in American politics will rely on their ability to get people to believe lies. That is very dangerous for America; the attempted coup at the Capitol on 1/6 shows that.

          1. Shoot, Roger. It seems to me you’re often a bubble off of plumb.

            trim one’s sails: Modify one’s stand, adapt to circumstances, as in His advisers told him to trim his sails before he alienated voters and bungled the election completely. This metaphoric expression alludes to adjusting a ship’s sails to take full advantage of prevailing winds. [Late 1700s]

            That is, trimming their sails doesn’t mean pulling back or them being brainwashed too. They remain unmoved, but egg on the mythos that the base already believes in.

            Did you hear the hoary old joke about the Smart Pills? Patient goes to psych doc complaining about feeling dumb, doc gives Smart Pills. Patient complains again, not getting any smarter.

            “And you know what, these pills look a lot like rabbit droppings.”
            Doc: “See? Now you’re getting smart!”

            You bet, that’s exactly what I’m saying: It’s very dangerous for us!

            And it isn’t “impossible” for them to move to the center. They have zero interest in sharing ground with the left or even with moderates. Sure, they played the game that way as long as it meant they could water down every single one of the left’s attempts at good governance. Now the burden of proof’s on the other foot already & they can just coast. Are you well & truly out of bed yet, Roger? Or are you still asleep at the switch?

          2. Thank you so much, Adam. I always learn a fair amount from your posts. When you talk about stuff I know at least vaguely, it tends to jive with what you tell me. That’s all peachy. There’s much to respond to that I won’t be able to get to today.

            First, I do need to deny keeping my powder dry about the CBO score. It didn’t occur to me that anyone would bring it up. It shocked me the weight you seemed to be giving to their scoring. Both OMB & CBO are somewhat political beasts. In particular, they’ve been especially unreliable sources for the past 4 years. Thus, I’ve been discounting them. I was also distressed to learn how egregiously slanted the Tax Foundation turned out to be, making up fairy tales in support of the GOP’s big tax cut’s projected economic impact. They turned out to be dead wrong, too. Imagine that. And FYI, I did *read* the CBO’s work of fiction. I’ll come back to this, briefly.

            As I said, most of what you’re feeding me jives fine & I’m happy. We’re obviously not going to agree on the minimum wage. I could extend you the same wager I offered Scoopy. That’s how convinced I am that your opinion on this issue is so much less valuable than the rest of your knowledge, which is mostly deeper than mine (by far).

            As for the college econ experience, I have a fair amount of 2nd hand exposure to college & grad students experiences. Eg, on “Econ Jobs Blog” where students opine frequently, often quite un-PC-ly. I’ve read 1st hand accounts of what I’m claiming about how econ is taught. Not least, econ women bitching about their shabby experiences even in the most prestigious schools. So while I know next to nothing 1st hand, I have much to go on 2nd hand.

            My brief response on the CBO score is their bogus figure of 1.4M jobs should be spread over *5* yrs. Because it becomes $15 *after* 4 yrs. We need to give it 1yr at that level. That comes to monthly job reports of 23k to the downside. Not exactly chump change but monthly job losses are at or above that figure quite often. Notice I didn’t say net. I strongly doubt there won’t be even bigger job gains during this period. So I believe even if true this -23k will not look so awful in context. That said, if Brad’s right & the elasticity is only -0.15 worst case instead of -0.5 as CBO apparently wants to assume, that monthly impact would be only -7k, *nation-wide*. Now, that’s starting to look a bit like a drop in the bucket to me. And, that’s on top of my guess that the net will never fall on the side of jobs lost. I mean, if that does turn out to be true for 5 yrs running, you’ll have to grant that this was no trivial prediction.

        2. Your last paragraph describes the feeling of many educated people who love America. Pre-Trump, we thought that the far-right extremists were a tiny coterie of lunatics, and that Republican politicians were often honorable people with conservative positions, ala Barry Goldwater.

          That Goldwater/Johnson election is a good demonstration of the way things once were. The conservative Goldwater was a principled man who spoke with complete candor and was always willing to admit when he was wrong. The liberal Johnson was a slimy, lyin’, schemin’ bully who seemed to possess the lowest possible level of character that the American presidency could ever descend to (until a certain orange-faced fellow appeared on the scene).

          Goldwater and JFK were such good friends that they were planning to tour the country together and do a series of mutually respectful whistle-stop debates in the Lincoln-Douglas manner. Of course, Kennedy’s death scotched that snake, and the mutual respect was replaced by Johnson’s famous commercials portraying Goldwater as a maniac with a happy finger on the nuclear trigger.

          So it goes. The Republicans once had the high ground on character. The Democrats once had a firm grasp on the votes of the blue-collar workers. Things change. I get that. But what I don’t get is how I was willing to vote for a Republican for President as recently as 1988, and still respected guys like John McCain and Mitt Romney during a period that was just days in the past. How did that party turn from “conservative” to “evil” so quickly. How did that group of lunatics, a group that seemed like a tiny portion of the population, turn out to be somewhere between 35 and 40% of the electorate? How could their national leaders turn out to be so dishonest and corrupt?

          I suppose Trump really is some kind of messiah. Apparently he freed a lot of closet racists and fascists to come out into the open, and even to take pride in their ignorance, and in so doing he forced Republican politicians to follow him, because if they do not, they will face primary challenges from those who do.

          Not just challenges. Defeats.

          What scares me is that the Democrats may not be able to stem that ultra-right tide. They have the path – just be the party of common sense – but they are facing the same types of pressure from their own nutbag wing. This creates a dilemma that they may not be able to solve. They can embrace notions like slavery reparations, and therefore lose general elections by energizing the opposition and alienating the moderates; or they can come out against such ideas and lose general elections by alienating important parts of their own constituency, and therefore failing to turn out their own base. They face a future of hemming and hawing and dodging such questions. Can they do that forever?

          After this latest stimulus check, I’m almost ready to become a Republican. They are sending $2800 checks to couples making $149,000 per year. They are sending ME a $1400 check because I’m retired and in theory I have virtually no income (they don’t look at net worth). Hey, no problem. I will accept the money, but I will only use it stimulate the economy of Italy and Portugal.

          As somebody pointed out, they see a sick patient and are operating on him with a chainsaw instead of a scalpel. Sure, let’s get money to the people that need it. Bar and restaurant owners are devastated by COVID. Many unemployed people can’t get jobs because of COVID, and therefore can’t pay their monthly expenses. By all means, get money to people who need it for food and shelter. But let’s ease up on sending it to people who will use it to take an extra vacation.

          And as for tacking a minimum wage increase onto a COVID bill. Gimme a break. If you want to raise the minimum wage, create a bill for that purpose and debate it through, while studying all the repercussions. What will happen to all the middle-class people who own franchise fast-feeders and convenience stores, and will suddenly have expenses greater than their gross profits? Will you offer them some assistance? Because if you do not, they will fold, and then all those $15-per-hour jobs will be replaced by no jobs at all, and a trip back to the unemployment office. If you don’t plan to assist those small businesses, then maybe you need to raise the minimum wage gradually rather than instantly, so the small businesses can raise their prices gradually enough to keep their customers, and thus keep everyone employed in the long run. Or maybe you have to get the money elsewhere. I’m sure there are many other repercussions from a sudden, drastic increase in the minimum wage.

          Don’t get me wrong. I believe that every worker who busts his butt 40 hours per week should get enough compensation to allow for a decent place to house and feed his or her family, while still allowing him/her to set aside some money for entertainment as well as some savings for retirement and their kids’ education. That should be the goal of every developed and civilized society. But we have to think about where that money is coming from. If you tax the rich, or even the upper middle class to provide that money, I’m completely OK with it. Lower the withholding taxes and income taxes to zero on people making less than, let’s say, $40,000 a year, so that when they make $40,000, they actually have $40,000 to spend. Make up for that by raising the corresponding taxes (and other taxes) on rich people and large corporations. OK by me.

          But if you just force that poor schmuck running a 7-Eleven to go out of business because his labor line suddenly doubles, you aren’t helping anyone in the long run.

          1. I agree with some of what Uncle Scoopy says. There I things I don’t want to agree with, but I am willing to concede that he is significantly smarter and better informed than I am.

            I might suggest that the handouts of $1,400 and $2,800 to people who don’t need them that he mentions pale in comparison to the billions handed out by the Republicans to corporations in Covid relief, let alone the handouts to the rich in the Trump-era tax cut, but that may be a point that can be refuted too.

            Also, MikeP talks too fast for me to really grasp his posts, so I am not going to say anything more about them now.

          2. Republicanism works on low level knee jerks anecdotal emotions. Almost ready to vote against people getting checks when Trump JUST dropped the corporate tax rate 15% funneling millions so executives could use the breaks on tax buybacks, raise the price of their own compensation stock, and cash out in droves?

            The real problem is, we’re just a stupid tribalism species doomed to extinction because people can’t see beyond their nose with quick anecdotal responses based on ‘fairness’ of the economy.

            You’ll get 10 times the anger at someone proven to rip off the government for an undeserving small stipend than you will the systemic manipulation of trillions by the small group of people who own half the world’s wealth. Those who utilize their power and greed to steal more wealth and power through manipulation of the legal system, politics, technology, and carefully crafted intellectual property constructs that allow them to steal from others.

            But well, since people aren’t actually in the board rooms to SEE it, or spend the time on longform journalism as the very least – or research papers or books to see how it’s done – they don’t care. They care more about 144 characters and a kneejerk reaction to a 10 second GIF than the truth.

            Of all the bullshit I’ve never understood, IF this supposed ‘welfare socialist state’ existed – then why do the hell do the rich KEEP GETTING RICHER? Wouldn’t the bottom anchor most of the wealth, and not the top for the biggest differential in human history?

            A simple concept, but humanity is doomed to never learn it, or put the time in to understand how and why it happens. Why do that when you can sit on your ass and turn on FOX News and hear some white supremacist propaganda artist making eight figures a year yell at you about Dr Seuss?

          3. Thanks for that, Sir Scoopy. You are making commonsense errors. The same errors as right-wing economists who base everything they believe on theory. The kind of theory promulgated famously by Uncle Milty. Which he cleverly made very convincing by crafted stories (i.e., concocted anecdotes). Whereas left-wing economics is heavily invested in looking at real data. We are, after all, now living in the age of Big Data. So right-leaners consequently are indirectly relying on stories, while us sort-of-southpaws are taking our cues indirectly from facts.

            Thus, we have Matt Lewis, a mainstream media Bill DeeCee type, like Frum, Brooks, Kristol, Will, Stevens, well, there’s a long list on Wikipedia of anti-Trump conservatives specific to the 2020 cycle. He was mad as hell at Biden for promising inclusiveness & then throwing in that $15 min wage. I have 2 rebuttals to him. 1st, Matt thinks raising wages costs jobs & that’s the effect of min wage. Because he gets his facts from respected conservative experts.

            But the theory behind that hot take is Econ 101, not professional econ. In real life, the truth is more complicated, as it always is. But as it turns out, there’s lots of data on this & the reality just happens to be rather close to the left’s wishful thinking about it. Sure, downsides are possible, but that figure of $15 is actually in the not yet too dangerous range, where any negatives are likely to be mild, unlikely severe. In short, expected value of job loss is 0, or extremely close to. This is not theory. It’s fact.

            My 2nd rebuttal is broader. The reason the left’s experts are so data-driven is that’s a misnomer. They’re economists. Economics is almost another word for libertarian. They start to the right & only lessons from the real world shift them gradually to the left of center. The majority of “lefty” economists seldom venture too far in that direction. It’s just that they seem to be contradicting everything conservatives fervently believe practically 100% of the time. As many lefty econs are putting it nowadays, the facts have a liberal bias.

            And so it is with means-testing. Common sense turns out to be wrong. Economists have looked carefully at the costs & benefits. Take Soc Sec for example. Not means tested. There are caps on both how much you put in & how much you can get back out, in fact how much you get as a function of both input & age. None of that requires you to report either income or assets. Now, as it turns out, there are 2 big downsides to such detailed reporting.

            1) Administration. It takes a lot of bureaucracy to stay on top of that mass of data. Need I say more than “IRS”? 2) The burden is more manageable the greater your means. This inevitably leads to the folks you cut out being precisely those with the greatest need. Like, people whose income was too low to file didn’t get their universal flat dole from the CARES act. That was the fault of the income cap routinely supported by both left & right, but most fervently by the left. The difference now is that so-called “lefty” economists happen to have the ear of Dem pols including our POTUS at the moment. Guess what, all good conservatives still listen to their long-trusted experts, unaware that facts on the ground prove them so full of crap all these decades.

            Now, to your point that what the hell’s a wage policy doing in a disaster relief bill? OK, lessee, which side was it who raised the issue that pandemic countermeasures were killing the economy? Mostly, lefties have been shy about their emergency aid being confused with mere economic stimulus. This situation is not really comparable, after all, to what caused 2008’s recession. But the truth is, the recovery’s success will be seen in two ways: the pandemic stats you’re tracking; and the breadth & depth of the economic rebound. Seemingly irrelevant tack-ons like a min wage rise are actually pretty easy to implement & not costly, at least in terms of govt spending. It turns out min wage laws are essentially self-enforced by employers. The intended effect, that is also likely to occur, is more equitable splitting of the recovery pie. Better still, this is a “redistribution” that takes place *before* taxes. We make the economy itself do the adjustment naturally instead of taking away hard-earned income arbitrarily just so we can give it back in entitlements, to the “taker” class.

            Don’t get me wrong, there are job shifts (mostly lateral from one to another type at a similar wage level). But really quite modest, compared to the disastrous, evil picture typically envisioned by conservatives. The data economists do look not just at the bottom of the wage scale, either. They also looked for knock-on effects on wages & job loss at all wage levels. Even though $15 seems so big (over double what it is now) — it’s been artificially suppressed for years while the job market has actually been creeping up with inflation as the min wage stagnated — a big portion of that rise has the effect of simply reinstating the cost of living adjustments that normally would’ve been done had it not been for the obscene politics at play.

            To recap, paying you a windfall you don’t deserve SAVES MONEY, making the program cheaper to run & costing less to taxpayers than administering the exact same dole program but cheating you of your ill-gotten gains. And at the same time, it’s FAIRER where it matters most. Economics at govt scale is no place for amateurs. You’re well-meaning, but let’s face it, just as bad as your average, much-derided liberal. OBTW, “if you don’t plan to assist those small businesses…” WTF?

            Why the hell else do you think the tab ran up to that whopping figure? Exactly to factor in that kind of knock-on needs. There’s relief targeted to businesses big & small, to local & state govts, because they have more limited revenues & the most-harmed, neediest folks depend more on local programs than so-called “entitlements” (aside from the direct dole). There’s one other great thing that happens when money manages to get to poorer people: They spend it. You (and I), OTOH, can afford to just add it to your (my) savings acct or what-you(I)-will. The reason rich people’s money doesn’t trickle down is they don’t spend it. They don’t even hire more workers or raise wages. Because you don’t add plant or labor to create demand. You satisfy the demand you project. Since our economy is mostly driven by consumer demand, shoving excess money to business & the wealthy gets redirected to other purposes that turn out not to stimulate the economy. The term of art economists call such other purposes is “savings”. I don’t know econ half as well as Adam Tondowsky but I don’t think he’s straightened out either me or anyone else’s misconceptions half as much as we need straightening out, so somebody’s gotta try & fill in that gap. So I’m nominating myself. 🙂

          4. Mike

            Your math is wrong because you are looking at it in averages rather than in specifics. Sure, there’s no problem with Google paying $15.00 per hour to all its janitors and secretaries. They would probably barely notice it in their bottom line. For convenience stores, however, which is my area of expertise, the total labor costs are greater than the total profit before taxes. If you double those labor costs, you plunge the AVERAGE convenience store into loss. (Not the marginal ones, but the average.) I have never analyzed fast-feeders, but I’m guess they probably have a similar P&L.

            And you will literally double their labor costs. If you have businesses like c-stores where everyone makes less than fifteen dollars an hour, you can’t just raise everyone to fifteen. Your assistant manager, who was making $13.50 wants to know why his salary is now the same as the trainee, who was making $8.00. Obviously, everyone has to be adjusted.

            As I mentioned, there is a much better way to accomplish the same end. Eliminate all payroll deductions and income taxes for people making up to a certain amount, let’s say $30,000 per year. The result is exactly the same, but the money comes from people who can afford it rather than the poor schmuck barely scraping by as a 7-Eleven franchisee.

            While I’m on the subject, why is there a cap in the income subject to social security taxes? When I did not need it at all, my net wages always were much higher in the second half of the year, after I passed the SS cap. Eliminating that cap would probably go a long way to compensate for not taking SS out of the lower wage earners.

          5. OK, Roger makes a good enough pt. Tho arguably it’s a little bit whatabout-ish. Indy makes a number of pts I also agree with.

            I mostly agree with our Uncle Scoopy’s pts, too. But he’s showing a common tendency, that conservatives tend to suffer from to an even greater extent, of getting the wrong sign. In some cases due to a minor misconception about a deceptively simple-seeming but actually technical & significant pt. That in fact propels them headlong into that sign reversal. Sorry, I really don’t mean to sound so dismissive. But I look at it the way I do, because that’s the way I think I know what I’m doing, and it just turns out that I can’t see it your way. If I’m wrong, Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa.

          6. FWIW, my younger self was pretty right-wing. I mean I wasn’t very sophisticated & for me “rational” equaled libertarian. In that sense I’m exactly like Frum et al. Only, I’ve been getting clued & shifting gradually left for decades. These folks think they had an epiphany & suddenly see all. They’re barely started on a long trek with many misconceptions yet to knock over. Which generally takes quite a long time. Based mainly on my own experience, admittedly. But then I’ve also witnessed how resistant to change deeply indoctrinated people tend to be. I like to believe I’m just a smidge left of center. I might be wrong. But relative to me, most moderates are much more than a smidge to right of center. Because of the rightward pull of the Overton window, across these decades, they’re a lot more to the right end of the spectrum than they’re aware.

          7. OK, good. Thanks for your reply, Scoopy. I’ll start by admitting the obvious: I’m not an economist. I didn’t do this work. Wasn’t involved in these regions & cities where min wage went up. I trust economists who looked into what happened & did some stats. You showed me why opinions vary. Why controversy persists in the face of acceptable outcomes. We all have tunnel vision. You have your POV. I have mine. You think I can’t see the trees. You won’t look at the forest.

            Again, these data come from real life. Not theory. So, facts can be dug up. Min wage laws stick. They don’t get repealed. There are scofflaws. But bizzes like to be legit. Abide the law. IIRC, yes, bizzes did shut. Not many. A biz that’s otherwise OK adapts. Everyone gets hit by a new law. There’s other variables. Prices went up. Not by much. Inflation didn’t soar. Was there reluctance? Grumbling? Sure. Adjustments were made. Life went on. You say numbers lie. I say they don’t. People lie.

          8. Hi again, Scoops. Your counterproposal & substantive question merit answers.

            SSI is wise. Withstood the test of time. It’s a pay-in plan. Paid out accordingly. Pay in less? Get less out. Apply that to both your examples. $0 now = $0 later. As for no cap… Can we still cap payout? Go ahead. You make the rule. You’ll offend someone’s sense of fair. If no limit, how’s it work? The $ doesn’t come from this fake “trust fund”. It’s from present day pay-in. Deductions today pay retirees today. How would workers feel about their deduction going to millionaires? Right now. Today.

            As for income tax, it already has the weird structure it does toward the goal of what you suggest. There’s a no tax tax bracket. There’s EITC & child credits or deductions. Which is to say you have a good idea there. We should do more of that. But bear in mind the dark side of means-testing. It costs a lot & filing is a barrier to the poor & struggling. So much so that refundable credits go unclaimed by those most in need. That’s the appeal of UBI. That it could dispense with red tape & just go to everyone. I agree with economists who argue UBI could leave needs unmet if say, it got rid of SNAP. But not getting rid of SNAP would reduce conservative support for UBI. So, sure, there’s ideas. Good ones. Then, there’s politics.

          9. I’ll bet you $100, if the fed min wage goes up to $15 in the next 5yrs or sooner & 10% of 7-11s in the U.S. go out of biz, I lose. If present owners sell & new owners make a go of it & the store stays a 7-11, I still win.

          10. The math just doesn’t work. The average c-store owner/franchisee, assuming he works full-time and draws $30,000 in salary as his own manager, makes $45,000 per year pre-tax operating profit over and above that salary.

            The average labor cost for a c-store is $325,000 per year, including that manager’s salary of $30,000 and about $12,000 “burden” on the manager’s pay (other labor expenses like SS, unemployment, benefits, etc.) Let’s subtract that out since our hypothetical owner/franchisee is taking that salary. That leaves about $280,000 as the total cost of the hired hands, including labor and burden. The average c-store hourly salary is $11.00. If we raise the average salary to $16.50, assuming some of them will have to make more than minimum wage, the math is easy – just multiply all the current labor costs times 1.5. That means he will have an additional $140,000 in labor costs, leaving him with a $95,000 pre-tax loss rather than a $45,000 profit.

            Of course, he may be able to recoup some of that with price increases, and he’ll have to make some layoffs to pare his staff down to bare essentials, but he has no legitimate path to survival. On the other hand, if a minimum wage increase is gradual (or if government shoulders the burden of the increase), he can probably survive. If the increase happens overnight, the smartest ones will probably attempt to cash out any equity they may have before potential buyers realize that the entire business has become unprofitable.

            This is the only industry where I can give definitive answers. Fast food franchisees make a lot more money than c-store owners, but they also pay for many more labor hours, and I don’t know precisely how things will work out for them. I do know that they will have to pay the additional labor directly out of their own pockets, and those additional costs can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Unlike c-store guys, many of those franchisees are quite wealthy, but facing the instant loss of hundreds of thousands from their bottom lines will definitely force them to rethink their business models. If they currently pay an average of ten bucks an hour (thirteen bucks after “burden”), and have to increase to an average of $16.50 (twenty-one bucks after burden), then they will have to pay out about an extra eight dollars per hour per employee including the “burden.” I’m going to guess that they use no less than 600 labor hours per week on average, so that means the average fast food franchisee will pay out an additional quarter of a million in labor per year. A lot of those people on the top end make some hefty profits, but that’s a big bite out of anyone’s wallet. The guys on the lower end of the totem pole are struggling just to make ends meet, like c-store operators, and can’t survive the wage increase at all. They guys in the middle make somewhere between $65,000 and $150,000 profit (McDonald’s is at the high end of that spectrum, but McDonald’s is exceptional.)

            All of this means to me that a sudden and drastic increase in the minimum wage is not something that can be carelessly tacked on to another bill. It could be an extremely disruptive policy, so the consequences need to be studied carefully. As I noted earlier, there’s generally no problem with rich corporations absorbing the increases. I’m guessing that Google and Microsoft can pay their janitors $100 an hour without batting an eyelash, and even Amazon, with the zillions of people they employ, easily absorbed the blow of setting their own minimum at $15.

            But in the retail segment, a huge chunk of the raise will come directly out of the pockets of people who are not much better off than the people they employ. The c-store segment is, I admit, kind of insignificant. As outlets on the bottom shake out, the remaining outlets will experience volume increases without needing much additional labor, so the industry might lose only 100,000-200,000 jobs or so, which is a drop in the giant bucket of American labor. But when you start to add in other retailers and fast feeders, the consequences start to mount. Adam mentioned 1.4 million lost jobs, assuming a gradual increase to $15 over four years, so it would be more than that if the minimum is raised overnight.

          11. Mike P, I agree with much of what you say regarding economics in general, but on the specifics of the minimum wage debate, I agree with Scoopy. The CBO itself, i.e government economists, predicts an increase in the minimum wage to $15 over 4 years will result in job losses of around 1.4 million (that’s the median estimate.)

            I also agree with Scoopy’s alternative. I may have written about this here. The Canadian journalist Andrew Coyne, who happens to be one of the rare journalists who writes on economics to actually be educated in economics (he has a masters) has written a number of columns that some form of basic income makes a lot more sense than increasing the minimum wage.

          12. On the broader issue of economic theory. I agree that many people who have taken just first year economics (especially those with MBAs or Commerce degrees) tend to be right wing on economics. That is likely in part because those people tend to lean right wing, but I think it’s also in part because in the United States the first year macro and micro economics textbook mostly still in use were written by Greg Mankiw, who was George W Bush’s economics advisor. Greg Mankiw is another of the Never Trump Republicans.

            There are also many assumptions in that textook that are increasingly being questioned.

            In regards to economic theory in the United States, like many academic disciplines, it is influenced by current and recent passed events. From 1933-1980 with the Great Depression and the election of FDR, economics was dominated by Keynesians. The analogy was that macro economics policy was like physics or especially chemistry: if a change was introduced by the government, equations could determine the products of that change.

            Beginning around 1966 with the start of inflation and the big Republican midterm Congressional gains, academic economists began to debate whether they should be so certain about their equations.

            With the election of Reagan in 1980 and the rise of Monetarist economic theory, academic economists used the analogy that economics was most similar to biology: that just as with complex eco-systems, introducing large scale changes by the government would most likely cause significant unintended consequences and so, the best policy was hands-off, or laissez faire.

            In the 40 years since then, that has also largely broken down, both due to the advancements in economics knowledge, the big data and analytics, you mentioned, and the breakdown of right wing economic theory.

            One obvious example of that is ‘what exactly is a ‘fiscal conservative.’ The left wing period of 1933-1980 had lower government deficits and debts than the period from 1980-2020.

            With the exception of raising interest rates to combat inflation early in his term, Reagan’s economic policies of tax cuts, deregulation and anti union legislation have been increasingly regarded as ‘short term gain for long term pain.’ Even without the increase in knowledge from ‘big data’ many economists after about 2000 or so began to realize that the increase in income and wealth inequality was so great that the unintended consequences from attempts to address these things could not be worse than laissez faire.

            Now, many economists, especially younger economists, have extended the marginal analysis used in environmental economic theory to analyze policy proposals. This is known as the equimarginal principle: as the marginal benefit of a policy declines and the marginal cost increases, the appropriate level of government policy is where those lines on a graph meet.

            In the case of a basic income, that would be the point where the declining marginal benefit of increasing the income meets the increasing marginal cost of the taxes or forgone government revenue (in the form of a negative income tax) to pay for the benefit.

            I agree that different people have different self interests, but at the macro level, there is general consensus among economists and seemingly the public, that governments should ‘market failures.’

            That is a general term economists use to describe anything where the free market does not produce the optimal outcome. There are three broad categories of private sector market failures:

            1.where one side has more information than the other side (asymmetric information.) This is why government agencies like the FDA exist. There is a problem if the drug manufacturer knows that its drugs are harmful, but their consumers don’t.

            2.Market concentration. Monopolies and oligopolies produce inefficient outcomes most of the time. This is where trust-busting and public utilities regulation comes in.

            Regulatory capture and, more broadly, rent (profit) seeking, are two examples of how private businesses have evaded for the last 40 years or so, effective government regulation. It is frequently argued that the FDA has been captured by the industries that they are supposed to regulate.

            3.Negative externalities. Pollution is an obvious example of this.

            Part of the problem with an effective government here is that the right wing propaganda of the last 40+ years seems to be deeply engrained in many people. Many people still believe that decreasing taxes is inherently good for the economy at the macro level or that attempting to address global warming is going to be inherently bad for the economy at the macro level.

            As Reaganomics showed, in both of those cases, there is a short term gain to cutting taxes (for the wealthy) or to not regulating pollution, but equimarginal analysis in both those cases suggests they lead to long term pain.

          13. Thank you, Adam, for your 2 posts, especially the 2nd. On the fed min wage debate, I trust my usual econ popularizers. In this case, I have Brad DeLong & Noah Smith’s podcast:

            braddelong . substack . com / p / podcast-hexapodia-iii-e-minimum-wage

            (Brad has an odd habit in his headlines of writing “th” as a glyph called a thorn.)

            On this page, we see Brad’s slide on the CBO’s report where he expresses what I can only label incredulity:

            “I am disappointed with the CBO here. They nowhere say what they assume for the own-wage elasticity. But their estimates seem to assume an own-wage elasticity of -0.5. I think it is in the range of between 0 and -0.15. Where does -0.5 come from? I cannot follow the logic here at all.”

            I’ll come back to DeLong on the CBO report.

            Meantime, their guest expert was Prof A. Dub’e, who wrote a 2019 report for the UK govt assessing the wisdom of a further raise in min wage from 60% of median to 66%. Our median wage is something like $22. Thus $15 is a roughly similar target. Dub’e said he favors a raise but is somewhat agnostic as to the precise figure. That report is at:

            gov . uk / government / publications / impacts-of-minimum-wages-review-of-the-international-evidence

            A month ago, Brad wrote on his position on the min wage topic in some detail. In that post, he wrote the below paragraph opining the above on the CBO report but expressing not just disbelief, clear scorn for CBO director Phill Swagel. Trump appt-ee, served Bush, ties to Brookings, AEI, UoChi: safe to call a conservative economist.

            U.S. min wage: What should it be, technocratically?
            braddelong . substack . com / p / delongtoday-the-us-minimum-wagewhat

            Brad writes: “What’s the answer? Unfortunately, you cannot look at Phil Swagel’s CBO report for that answer. It says that the employment elasticity, the amount by which employment falls when the minimum wage rises, is -0.48. Or, rather, it does not **say** that. As Jordan Weissman wrote: “in a stark & slightly suspicious failure of wonk transparency, the CBO did not actually state outright the number they chose to use anywhere in their report.” It’s not a slightly suspicious failure, Jordan: it’s an unprofessional lapse. I expected professional behavior from Phil. How did they get to -0.48? Since they do not say that that is what they use, they choose not to defend it at all. Again, unprofessional. I know of no economist of note and reputation who believes that that is true in the range from the current minimum wage to $15/hour. I simply see no professional method at all here.”

          14. Adam: One more serious disagreement with your take on the Econ 101. The problem scarcely lies with the newbies. It’s the eminent lights who are so full of BS. Dogma that’s worked for them for ages. Their magic. Powerful incantations without substance or empirical evidence. (Discounting twisted defensive dodges that even newbies are able to see thru…) In truth, their mad science…

            Old masters so used to deference — reverence — that when persistently challenged to defend the indefensible claims they make, they accuse their questioners of bad faith & storm out in a huff. Back to the safety of their fortress redoubts. The truth about all this dogma is the reason it so resembles Econ 101 is it’s political. Uncle Scoopy & smart Americans everywhere command a fair amount of economic knowledge, mostly at the level of basic econ with a good amount of detail added thru experience — ample 1st & 2nd hand knowledge.

            Political arguments are tailored to reach this American. The reason the old masters are unwilling to argue freely is they have become mere political animals. In politics, you are punished for not sticking to the script. You must simply repeat your carefully crafted, tried-and-true sound bites, more loudly if need be. I don’t know about you, but to me their manner of argument closely resembles 8-year-olds in its mentality.

            The reason the newbies are carrying the tune they do is not their textbook’s undermining the wisdom of the lectures & discussions. It’s that they parrot the wisdom of their high-status priests elaborating at length on the true meaning of the textbook’s sacred scripture.

          15. Mike P, I don’t really agree with that. There are a few points here, I’ll see what I think of.

            First though, that’s interesting from Professor DeLong. I have a feeling you held back on his criticism of the CBO report, waiting to ambush anybody who brought up that report.

            As Admiral Stockdale said in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate: “I’m out of ammunition on this.”

            1.I agree that most people have a general understanding of economics, but that is mostly micro economics, which is what people personally live, and not macro economics.

            I personally think that macro economics is just common sense of following a process of cause and effect, but it does seem to stymie most people.

            The areas here are the false claims that ‘checks to rich people are just wasted because they just put the money in the bank and don’t spend it.’ True enough, but this has to do with the Keynesian concepts of ‘the marginal propensity to consume’ and ‘the velocity of money.’

            Unnecessarily complicated names which simply mean that
            1.people can do two things with money: save it or spend it. The spending is the marginal propensity to consume.

            2.When money is saved, the bank doesn’t lock it in a vault. They loan it out. How frequently in a time period that money is loaned out over and over again is the velocity of money.

            And, as I’ve discussed at length here, Donald Trump and other opponents of free trade are wrong when they say that America dollars going overseas to pay for imports are ‘lost.’ The people who receive that money (currency traders) sell those American dollars so that foreigners can buy either U.S exports or U.S capital.

            The best description I’ve seen of this process is from Tim Harford’s book The Undercover Economist. This process might at first seem random and bizarre, but it’s nothing more than common sense cause and effect.

            As is mentioned, this process only works exactly like this when all markets are perfectly competitive because imperfect markets skew the price signals a little because goods and services in these markets don’t sell at the point where supply meets demand. However, that doesn’t alter this description all that much.

            “What if other industries were also perfectly competitive? That would mean that for every product, the price equaled the marginal cost. Every product would be linked to every other product through an ultracomplex network of prices, so when something changes somewhere in the economy (there’s a frost in Brazil, for instance) everything else would change – maybe imperceptibly, maybe a lot – to adjust. A frost in Brazil, for example, would damage the coffee crop and reduce the worldwide supply of coffee, this would increase the price coffee roasters have to pay to a level that discourages enough coffee drinking to offset the shortfall. Demand for alternative products, like tea, would rise a little. encouraging higher tea prices and extra supply of tea. Demand for complementary products like coffee creamer would fall a little. In Kenya, coffee farmers would enjoy bumper profits and would invest the money in improvements like aluminum roofing for their houses, the price of aluminum would rise and so some farmers would wait before buying. That means demand for bank accounts and safety deposit boxes would rise, although for unfortunate farmers in Brazil with their failed crops, the opposite may be happening.

            That may seem like a ridiculous hypothetical scenario, but economists can measure and have measured some of these effects. When frosts hits Brazil, would coffee prices do indeed rise, Kenyan farmers do buy aluminum roofing, the price of roofing does rise, and the farmers do, in fact, time their investments so that they don’t have to pay too much.

            Pages 59-60 (paperback edition.)

          16. 2.I think this goes much further than economics professors. I might be biased on this, but especially on the right, there seems to be a willingness to believe myths and this is not just related to economics.

            I just saw on twitter today with the passage of the Covid relief, one right winger again posting the old line: ““A democracy…can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”

            – Alexander Fraser Tytler

            Of course, the actual evidence, at least in the United States, of over the last forty years is right wing politicians voting to cut taxes mostly on behalf of the wealthy. The average middle class voter may or may not be concerned about the deficit, but collectively they’ve clearly restrained themselves from attempting to bankrupt the treasury. Yet, this bullshit line is still routinely trotted out by right wingers whose politicians have nearly bankrupted the treasury.

            The other line off the top of my head routinely thrown out is ‘if a business was run like the government, the executives would be in jail.’

            To be sure, there have been the odd executive who has gone to jail, but it’s about as rare as a politician going to jail.

            However, as I said initially it isn’t just those on the right and it isn’t only those who have studied economics. It seems engrained in many people that tax cuts are inherently good for the economy or that cutting regulations is inherently good for the economy. I don’t accept any attempt to blame only economists for these myths.

          17. Thanks again, Scoopy. Your business acumen is quite impressive. OTOH…

            I don’t think even c-stores are as eager to buckle as you advise me. I do suppose owners become more likely to quit when unfairness impacts their business. But if the same storm hits everyone, motivation to adapt & not look more badly run than competitors kicks in. Or so I believe, about human nature.

            Another reason I’d still ask you to consider my wager offer is that I have an edge on you. Your emphasis on the folly of a sudden doubling tells me I know a thing you don’t. But I’ll tell you anyway. Shortly.

            BTW, what Adam says here seems to be true of you a bit more than me: “I agree that most people have a general understanding of economics, but that is mostly micro economics, which is what people personally live, and not macro economics.”

            Which is to say, you have an admirable picture of micro at a certain scale. I’d like to understand how much direct experience you have of stores on the verge of collapse. My own personal experience included lots of tech startups. Broadly, they hung on often for years in bad shape & jumped thru many hoops before finally throwing in the towel.

            And here’s a thing about me. As a STEM major, I learned to look down on my fellow students majoring in “communications” headed for jobs as journalists. Unlike maybe a lot of people, I try not to rely too much on the news. I’ve shown you that several times now. You’ll catch on someday.

            “If a minimum wage increase is gradual, he can probably survive.”

            “All of this means to me that a sudden and drastic increase in the minimum wage is not something that can be carelessly tacked on to another bill.”

            “Adam mentioned 1.4 million lost jobs, assuming a gradual increase to $15 over four years, so it would be more than that if the minimum is raised overnight.”

            What Adam mentioned was the CBO score (Congressional Budged Office).

            The reason CBO assumed a 4yr phase-in is they were scoring the bill passed by the House in Feb & sent on to the Senate titled “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021”.

            congress . gov / congressional-report / 117th-congress / house-report / 7

            Refer to Sec 2101 Raising the Federal Minimum Wage. This is the provision the Senate had to strike to meet Senate “budget reconciliation” rules.

            My summary: Bump up from $7.25 to $9.50 for year 1; then up $1.50/yr; til capped at $15. Tipped workers up from $2.13 to $5 yr 1; then up $2/yr til caught up; equal to general minimum wage thereafter. Annual COLA based on rise in median national hourly wage. This ends the evil political game: tipped wage was frozen in perpetuity, the general got stuck at $7.25 for years w/no COLAs (used to be ritual).

            If a law were named after me, I’d love it to be this: There’s no substitute for actually knowing stuff.

          18. Oops, sorry Adam, scanning visually backwards for a Reply button, I guess I missed one. You should search for a reply to you from me dated today March 12.

          19. Re: Adam T, March 10, 2021 at 3:41 am
            Re: rare econ journalists with econ degrees

            That’s not my experience. I guess you aren’t reading where I do. Like Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Economist, not to forget the NYT (I hate NYT, but that doesn’t extend to a particular aging columnist there).

            WSJ & Forbes are packed to the gills with rightwing ideologues. They aren’t always wrong, and I do like the WSJ’s compact presentation of important news, but they’re always slanted. Often they’re correct just because what they say is widely believed in business & it’s self-fulfilling religious faith. They’re also often wrong, seldom admitting it. Remind us of anyone?

          20. I can slip in 1 random note on the topic of pedagogy: What we’ve both observed about the basics of econ that many Americans have a good handle on happens to be why MMT can be a useful way to explain macro. IOW, it’s not a great fit for a professional economist’s toolkit. But much of a business economist’s job, as well as that of political economists, being communication, can make MMT a somewhat helpful different direction to get an idea across from.

  3. Wow. I don’t see anything dated after February 9. I guess we got tired of talking about Covid.

    I hope Tanner is all right.

  4. All of this couldn’t have heppened since Jan 20, I wonder what happened before that to cause this drop?

    1. Some of it is caused by an easing of the post-Christmas spike. Think of the first two weeks, approx Jan 9-22, not as a sudden downward turn, but rather as a return to the (already quite high) pre-Christmas levels.

      The decline since then is presumably related to vaccinations, or at least I have no alternate or supplementary explanation at the moment.

    2. No, still too soon to see vax effects. It’s social. Vax in CA is going very slowly. Supply shortages.

      Think about it. Surge on top of surge didn’t happen. People had thought they were experienced–savvy. Thought they could pull it off. Break the rules safely. The surge proved them wrong. They were chastened. At least, those who believed. Which is most of us. They backed off. Got careful again.

      I’m seeing lotta double masks in my county. That’s new. Cases cut in half. Precipitous drop in positivity–2 whole tiers. Widespread to substantial to moderate in 2-3 weeks.

  5. About that $30 home covid test. We need to get that price down & ditch the smartfone app. ANTIGEN TEST. Dammit.

  6. The US: “Wisconsin pharmacist who destroyed more than 500 vaccine doses believes Earth is flat, FBI says” Only in the US.

    1. Stuff it. You have your own collection of flaming loonies and fascists.
      Does the name Geert Wilders ring a bell? And even the beloved Queen Juliana had a wackola obsession with extraterrestrials and reincarnation.

      1. Can’t we all just agree that everyone is garbage (excepting, of course, commenters on this website, who are models of probity) and Covid just sets fire to them?

      2. Bill, the irredeemable awfulness of the United States is Tanner’s personal flat earth theory. Rational arguments about that are not going to get anywhere with him. That is why I approve of your telling him to stuff it.

        After granting that he is a model of probity, as Nature Mom suggests, of course.

      3. Everyone’s right, here. Especially Nature Mom. Yes, there are bad things anywhere. Wherever there’s relative freedom, there are outliers.

        But whatabout whatever Tanner’s country is a deflection. Misdirection is always the goal of any of the related rhetorical tactics, including the one where it happens to be holding up a mirror back at the accuser.

        I mean, the U.S. has problems right now. They’re big problems, not small ones. As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t care less about the problems in Europe or China. Well, I do care. But if America stays the way it is now, that’s the ballgame. If the Dems don’t get rid of the filibuster, little good gets done in the next 2 years. In the meantime, the GOP across the country keeps up the good work of rigging voting rules. So the GOP takes back the Senate. Then democracy dies in darkness. Ha ha. I just mean, it dies.

        So, don’t stuff it, Tanner. Make anyone here who’s a blind flag-waver sick of your anti-American negativity.

        1. Tanner is suggesting the USA is the worst place on earth. We are pointing out others that have the same issues. That does not seem like whataboutism to me. But if you feel America is the worst, feel free to actually make that case.

          1. Didn’t mean it to smell like that. My point is that there’s one (or, to your point, three) horse’s ass in any crowd. Probably some astonishingly cool people too, but they rarely make the news. This shouldn’t be generalized to an entire country, or its population.

  7. According to NBC news article posted to Fark.com on Sunday: “Protesters torch Covid test center in Holland on first day of curfew”.

    A) I am sorry to hear this is a problem in a place like the Netherlands.

    B) I await Tanner’s explanation of how this shows the US is awful.

    1. Per the GF, nothing yet in Haarlem where she lives but it’s been nasty in A-Dam. Whole thing started in a spot called Urk – which has now displaced Bergen op Zoom as my favorite Dutch place name.

  8. I’d like to add 2 updates with slightly softer takes on the new variants than my last. Afterward, if you’ll please forgive a couple of digressions tying off loose ends from closed threads.

    Troubling pattern of CoV mutants

    South Africa mutation may weaken effect of vaccines

    The term of art is antibody resistance. Anyway, it seems the thrust is, we might need to reformulate our vaccines to mop up hopefully smaller “aftershock” epidemics a few months later. IOW, 1 or more added rounds of shots.

    2. At the end of the Vox article there’s a typo “arm’s race”. My feeling is this sort of slip was rare in the heyday of print, but is all too commonplace now. In a direct quote, a speaker can’t misspell words. The reporter is to blame. In a like vein, MidCon deserves a Mrs. Malaprop Medal for his contributions to humor: “eutopia”, gotta say that’s good; and “both sides of the isle”. Gilligan’s, I presume.

    3. What bugs me about “unlikeable” is it’s passive aggressive. “X is unlikeable” isn’t the same as “I don’t like X”. This diff is insidious. The latter is mutual — just between us. X can say “I don’t like you either.” This isn’t a claim, really. Veracity isn’t in doubt. No evidence is called for. It stands at face value.

    But how do you counter the claim that you’re unlikeable? That’s an opinion, not a fact. But it’s unfair. The opiner has shed the onus. “Hey, I’m just the messenger.” The burden of proof falls on the receiver. Who’s placed on their heels. Forced to make a case in their own defense not to their accuser but relative to bystanders. In short, this move is dirty pool.

    4. About that rioter shot by a cop. The blame lies not with that officer. Security forces were outnumbered & unprepared — without nonlethal means. Individual cops didn’t know who was still in harm’s way nor whether any of the rioters might be armed.

    WaPo: Rioter shot dead in the act of Capitol B&E

    Rioter shot to death climbing thru smashed window

    Includes an eyewitness account by a Republican house member.

    1. MyKep, thanks for making all these good points. I do have a question about your point 4 – are people saying that the woman who was shot dead in the January 6 insurrection should not have been shot? I hadn’t heard that, and I am surprised.

      1. Yes&no. In ripples. No, AFAICT, most people aren’t saying not a “clean shooting”. Cop did his job. In the moment. Made a call. Like a ref. But yes, she should be alive. She should never have been there.

        Defenses should’ve been prepared. Nonlethal means should precede deadly force. The crowd should’ve been held at bay. Out beyond a wider perimeter. Intel should’ve been heeded. Then there’s the incitement. Gullible people were baited. Mis-led. By lies.

        In a wide angle lens, armed cops shouldn’t be our catchall problem-solvers. In gun training it’s said, never point a gun at a living thing unless you truly intend to kill it. (Set aside drug darts.) Cops should be a last resort. As enlightened minds say rightly of soldiers.

        If we can’t deal with a good citizen like Ashli Babbitt — who IMO was nuts — short of killing them, then arguably a “free country” is not possible.

        1. I agree, Ms. Babbitt should not have been able to get to where she was in a position to need to be shot. That is because of Trump and his appointees, IMO. They deliberately refused to mobilize against the rioters.

          As for your third paragraph, I further agree that armed cops should not be where so many problems get dumped. That is what “defunding the police” is REALLY about. Unfortunately, that label was a godsend to the right.

          Finally, per your last point, I think in a free country it is not practical to prevent people from committing suicide. Some people do that by forcing others to kill them in self defense.

          Changes there will await improvements in funding for mental health care and improvements in psychological science (or non-lethal weapons?), but it is hard to see how it can be stopped entirely in a way consistent with personal liberty.

          1. Yup. To amplify rather than disagree, gun-control advocates argue misleadingly in that statistically, the serious reason to have fewer guns in circulation isn’t violence but suicide prevention. Especially handguns. That’s the means of choice for most males. Any delay in doing the deed is often enough to halt the decision.

          2. Add: Another maxim we’re taught is there’s no such thing as an unloaded gun. Except for a brief moment after you’ve actually looked & know for a fact that the chamber, barrel & magazine are all empty.

          3. No, it’s that they don’t *stress* suicide. They talk about accidents & assault. Both of which are just blips compared to suicide. Often they don’t even *mention* suicide. Because suicide isn’t polarizing. It lacks the emotional/political juice they want to drive the issue with.

          4. BTW, I’d point out the distinction between “in that” in my original sentence & just a naked “that”.

          5. M: “arguably a “free country” is not possible.”

            R: “In a free country it is not practical to prevent people from committing suicide. Some people do that by forcing others to kill them in self defense.”

            1) That doesn’t rebut my claim. There’s no such thing as a free country. It’s an aspiration. My position contra extremists is that given we have conflicting aspirations, we can never get there. It’s good to have these aspirations. But realistic expectations will let us improve. Progress in our good directions is the most we should expect. We should appreciate what we’ve achieved. Not only bemoan our shortcomings.

            2) I had just talked about that very thing. That reducing guns in homes would in fact prevent suicides. Not all. But some. Your attempt to move the goalposts on me was well-meaning but if you think about it, my point was we obsess over the pathological cases, disregarding their rarity.

            Sure, it might’ve been much better had I been able to propose a way to reduce “suicide by cop” incidents to 0. Had I offered that & we did cut that to 0, that would still be far less impact than the reduction in boring suicides by more conventional means that gun control could do for us. But here, right here, we’ve just illustrated why that’s such a hard case to make. We can’t keep our eye on the ball.

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