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Tag Archives: COVID19

COVID’s effects on Europe

This article by Wolfgang Streeck for the New Left Review will be disturbing to many. But it is an interesting article, and well worth reading. I would take issue with one claim Streeck makes: that the “supranational extension of the debt state” he rightly considers the Corona Recovery Fund to be, does not entail a change in European institutions toward more “solidarity”. These transfers are financed by issuing European debt, but the way in which member states will...

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I, Vaccine: How to Appreciate the Beautifully Simple

What a marvelous spectacle we have enjoyed this week, as the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines began shipping from Pfizer’s facilities in Michigan. Watching the news with my pre-teen son, as those box trucks rolled away carrying such precious frozen cargo, he said, “Wow, I bet that truck driver feels pretty good about his job right now.”  I nodded and replied, “Well said, son. I think maybe this is something we can all feel good about.” Who can’t feel good about the...

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Great Moments in Central Planning

I told you so. I thought from the getgo that having the federal government, under Operation Warp Speed, monopsonize the COVID-19 vaccine and then use central planning to distribute it at a zero price, was a bad idea. I criticized the central planning way to distribute it in “Vaccines’ Last Hurdle: Central Planners,” Defining Ideas, December 4, 2020. I wrote: If Walmart or Amazon put out a plan to allocate vaccines, I wouldn’t be so concerned. The reason is that they...

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Lockdowns and Political Realignment

A few days ago the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed of mine, on the new Christmas restrictions that the Italian government passed for coping with Covid19. Here’s a link (gated). I am not a fan of the restrictions. Italians are no longer free to move through the country; they may travel only within their respective regions or between regions rated as having a similar risk status. Regions are classified according a “color code”, depending from their infection rate and...

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Dogs, Mountain Lions, and COVID-19

How dangerous are mountain lions? The data tell an interesting story. Since 1980, there have been only 13 attacks in all of California (where David and Charley live) and three people have died as a result. Compare this with attacks by dogs. Each year in California, about 100,000 dog attacks cause their victims to get medical attention. This means that California residents are approximately 180,000 times as likely to be seriously attacked by a dog as by a mountain...

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Are Kids Worth It?

Family life has long frustrated economists who struggle to measure the various utility functions involved in spending 18 or more years of one’s life changing diapers, listening to screaming fights, spending money on food and daycare and diapers and summer camps, and cleaning up vomit on road trips. A new paper by Ariel Karlinsky and Michael Sarel published in the Israel Economic Review helps clarify the picture of how much kids cost in immediate monetary terms,...

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Italy’s second lockdown

This short piece by Vaclav Smil asks why we do talk so much about the Spanish flu, as a benchmark for Covid19, whereas we do not compare it with influenza pandemics after WWII. Smil’s crucial argument is that, if we do not have good numbers for the Spanish flu, we do have very good numbers for more recent pandemics. He points out that: these more virulent pandemics had such evanescent economic consequences. The United Nations’ World Economic and Social Surveys from...

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Viral Silence

This semester I volunteered to teach both of my classes in-person.  I’ve also given four public talks in Texas, and one at GMU.  All of these venues had mask mandates.  And in each case, I noticed an eerie pattern: Almost no one talks to each other anymore!  In the past, I had to ask classes to quiet down so I could start class.  Now I usually face dead silence.  Public lecture halls used to overflow with the chatter of the crowd.  Now you can practically hear a pin...

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Krastev on Pandemic and Politics

On “Persuasion” (the newsletter-think tank launched by Yascha Mounk after the Harper Letter) there is an excerpt of Ivan Krastev’s forthcoming book, Is it Tomorrow Yet? Paradoxes of the Pandemic. Krastev struggles with the impact of the pandemic of different political regimes. His starting point is that “more than any other crisis, a public-health emergency can induce people voluntarily to accept restrictions on their liberties in the hope of improving their...

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Costco Joins the COVID Fight

There has been a lot of debate during this pandemic about the effectiveness of mask wearing, the risks involved with social contact and school reopenings, whether or not Vitamin D helps with COVID, and how much of this is all President Trump’s fault.  However, everyone seems to agree that more testing, particularly more available at-home testing, would be a huge step forward.  The problem, of course, is that the government hasn’t been able to provide the necessary...

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