COVID Link of the Day

This survey of how people think about COVID is very enlightening. Nobody wants the economy reopened. In an opulent country with a finicky population unaccustomed to hardship, it’s very easy to spook everybody up with stories about an imaginary apocalypse. So we are stuck for now.

While I’m at it, I want to mention the folks who think the Great Depression with its unemployment rates is somehow relevant to our current situation. This type of analogy is useless. It’s a different economy, a different unemployment, and a different world. Unemployment of 20-25% exists today in economies of developed countries at their peak. And nobody gives a crap. COVID will help push the US towards the French or the Spanish type of economy: huge state protectionism, a gigantic class stratification (which doesn’t exist in the US to any extent like it does in Western European countries), no opportunities for immigrants (when today opportunities for immigrants are absolutely phenomenal and unparalleled in the US), and a less opulent lifestyle for everybody with more limited consumption options.

18 thoughts on “COVID Link of the Day”

  1. “It will take a while before Americans will feel safe resuming routine tasks, the poll found.” This is why the whole “let’s reopen the economy quick!” idea is pointless, regardless what you think of the merits. You could reopen every movie theater, bar, etc. in Ohio tomorrow, people wouldn’t go and the businesses wouldn’t be able to stay afloat.

    Anyway, this survey comports with my personal experience. Working class people I know aren’t enthusiastic to get back to work at jobs which they know will fail to provide them with masks, hand sanitizer, etc. The attitude is “why put myself and others at risk for a low paying job that ultimately serves no essential function and where my employers make it clear they don’t value me at all?”

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  2. Let’s first see if the US could reach Canadian levels of socialism, and then worry about it turning into France or Spain.

    —and a less opulent lifestyle for everybody with more limited consumption options.

    Not a bad idea, actually.

    I am also wondering what categories of opportunities and what categories of immigrants we are talking about? There is a significant difference in the level of openness to outsiders (but I’d say Canada is not worse than the US in this regard, so this kind of openness is not necessarily correlated with socialism), but purely economic opportunities?

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    1. If we take France as an example, they have about 25-30% of jobs that are permanent and have great conditions of employment. Those jobs are for friends and relatives of the people who already have them. The rest of the jobs are crappy part-time contracts with zero protections or chance of advancement. Immigrants never get into the first category.

      In North America, there’s nothing even remotely similar. If anything, it’s easier for immigrants to advance. Many don’t take advantage of the opportunity, of course. But the opportunity is there.

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      1. That kind of system can work if you don’t mind being a technological backwater. France mostly grew by copying more advanced countries. Even the famous French nuclear industry only works because they bought American technology.

        The Japanese also ended up with a huge youth underemployment problem after they finished catching up with the west and their economy stalled.

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      2. But what if we remove that French/Spanish strawman from our discussion? Let’s be realistic, the US will not get there (and it should not). What about roughly the Canadian level of social safety nets?

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        1. My father is almost 70 and he will keep working until the day he dies. This is because the Ministere de Revenue robbed him blind. (He went to court against them and proved they were wrong but it’s already too late). His pension is taxed and the government takes away more of it every year to punish him for working. And when he gets sick, he’s told to wait 5 months for an appointment.

          We all know whom these “safety nets” really help. They exist for the very rich and the very lumpen. People like us only get robbed to finance the whole gig.

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          1. In Canada, young people increasingly choose to lumpenize from the start. The only people who can be convinced to keep working and producing in this system are immigrants. So more abd more immigrants are needed. The immigrants’ kids or grandkids notice what’s happening and lumpenize. So more immigrants are needed to be duped into participating.

            This is the story of my friend who died in September. She’s an immigrant who went from working in a poultry factory and cleaning offices at night to getting a PhD and starting her own successful translation company. She worked like an animal her whole life. But her daughter, who was born in Canada, is a very typically Canadian lumpen. She picks up a job of a receptionist or waitress, works for exactly the number of months she needs to merit the unemployment benefit, leaves the job, stays on unemployment until it runs out, then repeats this whole cycle. She’s almost 30 and she has no interest in any other sort of life. This is not for lack of opportunities. The most recent employer begged her to stay, offered long-term career prospects, but she didn’t even consider it.

            This is a very widespread situation. I know the Canadian job market. The job recruiter I know is planning to go into immigration services because that’s what the job market demands.

            I don’t think the system I’m describing works. I don’t want it here. I don’t want to be robbed to make it happen. My effective tax rate in the US is 18%. My sister’s in Canada is 52%. Why would I want that here?

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            1. I thought your sister and her family would’ve immigrated by now and you would’ve brought your parents over from the way you describe Canada’s tax, welfare and medical system. I did not expect she’d switch over to immigration services from job recruiting.

              As for your friend’s daughter it sounds like something psychologically is going on and it’s more than just “working under the Canadian tax system is for suckers.” I’m surprised she isn’t nuts from boredom.

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              1. My sister has two small children. Only a total bastard drags them through immigration without some really dire cause. What I’m describing is a major nuisance but it’s not a catastrophe.

                And look, everybody has something going on psychologically. But it translates into this kind of lifestyle where this lifestyle is encouraged.

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            2. Canada has a very small population relative to it’s land area, so it may very well be possible for them to run their economy on immigrants. At least until the dependent population becomes too large and the system collapses like all pyramid schemes.

              The US has a much larger population, so it is unlikely that it would be possible to find enough immigrants to support the existing population.

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              1. Precisely.

                Canada is planning to triple its population through immigration in the next 50 years. That’s totally going to work. Until the kids and grandkids of those immigrants lumpenize within the existing system and then the whole process will have to be repeated. Hopefully, the habitable land will be much larger by that time.

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    2. “Not a bad idea, actually.”

      Speak for yourself. The three businesses I’m most worried about are the local consignment stores that furnish nearly every piece of clothing and every pair of shoes that I or my children wear. Those shops run on a very narrow margin, and we live on a very tight budget. If they go under, we’ll take a big hit, too.

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      1. And that’s exactly why I think we (or rather you, since we already have it in Canada) need more socialism (relatively speaking) – so that reducing opulence would be confined to the wealthy, and people like you would still be able to buy basic necessities.

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          1. OK, if I were to summarize your solution for Canada, it would be to reduce the taxes on the middle class and then reduce the social security nets that are abused by the poor.
            What would you do with the wealthy?
            Would you reduce Canadian safety nets to the US levels or is there some point in between that you prefer?
            Do you specifically believe that US medical insurance system is better, on average, than the Canadian one? By “on average” I mean not just for the middle class with good insurance that is partially paid by the employer*, but for average person, which includes the uninsured?
            * which, by the way, is lost once people lose their jobs.

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            1. Nothing in my story is abused and nobody is poor. The system is used exactly as intended. It has nothing to do with anybody’s safety. A relative got fired 3 weeks before quarantine. He’s still expecting any unemployment benefit. Or I guess he isn’t because he got so desperate that he found a job while in quarantine even though nobody is hiring. But he’s an immigrant. It would be nice if people like him could get some temporary assistance after paying out a packet in taxes. It would be nice if student scholarships from other countries didn’t get stripped bare and pensioners didn’t get robbed to keep up a growing lumpen class. These lumpenizing locals are in no way any more “poor” than the people who are robbed to keep them out of work.

              Canadian prescriptions for healthcare make no sense in the US with 30 million illegal immigrants and two million legal ones every year. It will be tied to employment because employers have already socialized every other cost of their exploitative labor practices. There’s got to be some minuscule part of the burden they carry. How would forcing me to pay for some bastard’s need to have an exploitable labor force that works for $5 an hour be a good idea?

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              1. There are so many countries who are doing this form of “welfare.” Why shouldn’t there be one single country that doesn’t? For those of us who are fine without all of this?

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  3. My sister has two small children. Only a total bastard drags them through immigration without some really dire cause. What I’m describing is a major nuisance but it’s not a catastrophe.

    And look, everybody has something going on psychologically. But it translates into this kind of lifestyle where this lifestyle is encouraged.

    I know lots of immigrants who worked like crazy and their kids didn’t lumpenize like your description of your friend’s kids. My first cousin’s once removed kids (grandchildren of immigrants) did not “lumpenize.” That’s why I say something psychological went on.

    What would be the dire cause, in your mind, to take (small) children through immigration? How small is too small? How big is too big?

    Another question: at what point on the Laffer curve do people vote with their feet and leave? If they don’t lumpenize or commit tax fraud?

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