Monday, April 6, 2020

Coronavirus may well become a disaster of historic proportions, but probably not in the way you imagine...


Today, on the 6th of April, 2020 the national death toll from Coronavirus is sitting at approximately 10,500.  My guess is that we're probably less than a week away from the oft discussed apex of the curve and whenever the end of this virus pandemic is eventually declared, the country will have suffered fewer than 50,000 deaths, possibly far fewer.  I could be wrong on both counts of course, and perhaps by a lot… but we’ll have to wait and see.

There are two questions that are resonating in my head about when this unprecedented overreaction is finally over.  The first is the economy.  How long will the economy take to rebound?  On the one hand, 60% of the economy is still functioning…  Supermarkets, hospitals, police stations, restaurants – of the take out or delivery variety – Facebook, Google, Amazon, Netflix, UPS, the military, gas stations, lawn maintenance, construction and many more pieces.  Nonetheless, a lot things are idled:  Gyms, movie theaters, schools, churches, dine in restaurants, countless small businesses, everything wedding related, the NBA, MLB, Golf, NASCAR and many other pieces.  Every one of those shuttered businesses, and many of those still functioning have a long list of suppliers - of both the service and goods variety - who have been impacted by this shutdown. Some of the businesses who have found themselves shuttered will never reopen.  Those that reopen will likely find challenges getting back on their game, not only from the perspective of the ramp up in demand from customers, but simple logistics and figuring out how to get their supplier pipelines moving as well. 

Whatever is the case, the economy will come back, and given the combination of government largesse and pent up demand, there could be a short term surge in many areas as people leap out of their homes and dash into coffee shops, restaurants and possibly stores.  The question is however, how long will it take to ramp back up to the point where we return to the trajectory we were on the end of 2019 and a $22 trillion economy, and what will that economy look like?

That last point brings me to the second of my questions… and the far more important one.  What will the economy and the country look like?  After Uncle Sam injects $2.2 trillion into the economy and the Fed greases the wheels to the tune of twice that, what will come of the free market?

Assuming that the economy doesn’t do a complete face plant, which I don’t expect but is a realistic possibility, Keynesians and progressives of all stripes are going to assert that if stimulus works during an emergency, we should use it – including guaranteed universal income – all the time.  Taxes could easily be raised on millionaires and billionaires to cover any outlays and the stimulated spending by the working class would help drive the economy.

Those faulty economics and their inflation and stagnation inducing polices are not even the biggest concern for the nation!  The real concern is that this staggering overreaction will have set a precedent.  Without a serious, demonstrated threat to the wellbeing of the nation as a whole, going only with models that predicted millions of dead, governments across the country have essentially quarantined more than 80% of the American population and 100% in the largest metro areas. 

Months or years from now, when history shows us that the Americans were basically quarantined, $10 trillion of stock market value was wiped out and trillions of dollars of economic activity evaporated almost overnight because of a virus that ended up taking fewer than 50,000 lives, what will politicians, activists and the media do for something like global warming, which we’re told for certain will cost the lives of tens of millions of people around the world?  Or how about the next Chinese virus?  I can hear the argument now:  “Covid 19 only killed 50,000 people BECAUSE of the lockdowns… This new XYZ virus is even more virulent and we need to do the same thing otherwise tens of millions of Americans will be dead within a month.”  Lockdown!  Shut down the economy.  Close schools, theaters and every other meeting place!  Churches too!  And churches that refuse refuse to comply with service cessation orders? Close them!  First Amendment be damned! 

Nor will it necessarily be a virus that causes the next lockdown(s).  How many times have we heard that the carnage from murder in cities like Baltimore or Chicago is an emergency or a crisis?  How much resistance would there be to mayors or governors deciding that they have the power to supersede the Constitution to deal with their “crisis”?  And pointing to the Covid 19 precedent as proof that they have the authority.  Second Amendment be damned! 

No longer will science have to prove that something is an actual threat to humanity or Americans or even a city or town in order for the government to mandate anything.  From forcing employers to hire certain workers, to compelling companies to make these or those products, from seizing assets to  coercing citizens to curtail activities protected by the Constitution… where does the line get drawn?  Make no mistake, precedent can be a bear, particularly in the hands of progressives who seek to use the power of government to undermine the individual rights of virtually every American, except of course, criminals.

Coronavirus may well turn out to be a disaster of epic proportions, but probably not in the way you imagine.  It very well may be the nose that allows the progressive camel of tyranny into the tent under which the American experiment flourished for so long.  And once the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Ralph Northam, Bill de Blasio and the rest of the progressive fascists on the left take control freedom as we understand it and the Constitution as a functioning document will be but mere memories.  “Constitution? Federalism? Individual liberty? Free markets?  Sorry, we’re temporarily suspending them… We’ve got a crisis to deal with!”