Monday, October 26, 2020

Ridin' With Biden Is The ONLY Way To Dump Trump

With just a week to go until Election Day (November 3rd), we at the TSAP urge you all NOT to throw your vote away or choose not to vote!  Don't make the same mistake as last time, folks.  This means YOU, Bernie or Busters!  Yes, we know that Bernie was a better choice than Biden, just like he was a better choice than Hillary.  But we all saw what happened last time when you made the perfect the enemy of the good--we ultimately ended up with neither.

In most states, you have three options: Election Day voting in person, early voting in person, or mail-in voting.  There is really no excuse not to vote this year.

Republicans will try to cheat, of course, and suppress likely Democratic voters, but that only works when an election is close.  If all eligible voters actually voted for once, it would be an overwhelming blue wave, and the Republicans would not stand a chance even with all of the cheating in the world.  Seriously.

So go do your civic duty and VOTE!!!  Do it like your life depends on it, because in one way or another, sooner or later, it will.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Time Is Running Out To Avert A Lost Decade Of Depression

With the effect of the federal CARES Act stimulus bill currently wearing off and people running out of money even as there are still not enough jobs for those who need them, the American economy and the American people (especially the poor and most vulnerable) will be in for an even greater world of hurt for the foreseeable future if we don't act very, very fast.  And not just America, but the whole world in fact is heading for a similar fate as well.

Sit down.  We are essentially looking at the prospect of not just a recession or even a depression, but a lost decade or more.  Within a few years or so the top 1% will fully recover and then some, enjoying a second Roaring Twenties of sports, while the bottom 99% would be mired in a second Greater Depression for a very, very long time.  The ultimate K-shaped recovery.  And time is running out to prevent the worst from happening, with yesterday not being soon enough!

Thus, a very, very big stimulus is necessary right now to prevent a long-term, full-blown depression of epic proportions.  Depressions are fundamentally caused by a shortage of money.  After all, GDP is literally just a spending measure, and most of that is consumer spending and government spending.  The caveat, of course, is that not even all the money in the world could fill (and can barely even briefly paper over) the inherently massive hole left in a shuttered-by-fiat economy until after the economy is fully reopened, at least not for very long.  Thus, the TSAP recommends the following steps be taken, yesterday:

  • Expand the original $600 per week to ALL Americans period, not just those receiving unemployment benefits, no strings attached.  Anyone with an SSN or ITIN gets it.  Maintain such payments until at least January 2021.
  • Create a permanent UBI for all Americans, of $230 per week ($1000 per month) for adults and half that amount for children and young people under 18, for when the temporary extra $600 finally expires.  Again, no strings attached.
  • Pass the HEROES Act and all of its associated stimuli, not the cheap Republican knockoff version.  After all, without essential workers, civilization would have collapsed by now, so it is literally the LEAST we can do to thank them.  But failing that, at least pass SOME stimulus bill already!
  • Extend the eviction moratorium until January 1, 2021 or until enough of the funds from the above are disbursed into the pockets of the people so they can pay enough to avoid eviction, whichever occurs later.  Consider also cancelling (and directly compensating  landlords with federal funds) rent for all past due rent dating from March 1 until October 1.
  • More funding to shore up small businesses, which are the very bedrock of the economy.
  • Keep the US Postal Service running with whatever federal funds are necessary.
  • Increase aid to the states, and funding for hospitals as well.  And while we're at it, implement Medicare For All as well.
  • Pass the Essential Worker's Bill of Rights.
  • Three words:  Green New Deal.
  • And of course, open up fully and DON'T shut down again! Like, EVER.
As for the so-called National Debt, that is really a non-problem for a Monetarily Sovereign government like our federal government, since they can literally just print the money.  And right now we have far more to worry about from deflation than we would from inflation.  Even if inflation did occur, all the federal government would have to do is resolve the shortages in goods and services that caused it, by directly purchasing such goods and services at a premium and selling (or giving) them at a loss.  And failing that, the FERAL Reserve (which, we gotta say, has been doing the heaviest financial lifting in terms of shoring up the economy just enough to prevent a total collapse thus far) can always raise interest rates and/or the reserve ratio (both of which are at rock-bottom levels), sell bonds to shrink its massive balance sheet (Quantitative Tightening), and/or drain and sterilze excess bank reserves if and when the "inflation dragon" ever does rear its ugly head at some point.  Thus, it would really be a non-problem.

That is, of course, with that caveat again: as long as we still have an economy to produce sufficient goods and services to act as the de-facto backing of our currency.  Thus, the idea that we can somehow return to a prolonged lockdown and hope to print enough money to paper over such a massive hole in the long run is physically and metaphysically untenable, as Argentina is currently learning the hard way.  Over 200 days of lockdown (to one degree or another) and counting, borderline hyperinflation (again!), and yet still utterly unable to conquer the virus (though not for lack of trying).  If that's "success", we would really hate to see what failure looks like.

So what are we waiting for? 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The TSAP's Updated "Back To True Normal" Plan

The True Spirit of America Party (TSAP) has since April strongly opposed lockdowns, or at least those that were excessive and/or lasting beyond the initial "15 days to flatten the curve", and strongly supported a phased reopening sooner than later.   That does not make us "COVID deniers" or right-wingers or anything like that, just supporters of basic common sense and human rights.  We have always taken this pandemic seriously, and support following the actual science, but we know that panicking and throwing the wisdom of the ages out the window like most of the world did back in March (and many places are still doing) has proven to do far more harm than good.

We originally proposed four phases of reopening:   Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase Out.  And essentially all of the USA should have entered Phase Out by July 4, 2020 ("Reborn on the Fourth of July") at the latest per our original plan.

As of October 2020, the TSAP current supports the entire USA (all 50 states and all territories) to be in Phase Out.  Our current definition of Phase Out is roughly equivalent to Florida's current Phase 3 (i.e. everything reopened at full capacity, and generally pre-empting stricter restrictions at the local level), but with the following modifications:

  • Until January 1, 2021, a hard limit of 500 people should remain in effect for all non-business and non-school gatherings that do not have numbered seats.  Indoor or quasi-indoor gatherings shall have a limit of 50, albeit with some exceptions.
  • From November 4, 2020 onward, certain events that have numbered seats may exceed this threshold, provided that adequate physical distancing and airflow/ventilation are present, along with other precautions.
  • Just because 100% capacity is permissible, that does NOT mean that it is OK to exceed 100%.  Existing health and fire codes from before the pandemic should be strictly enforced.
  • Stricter restrictions may be imposed for limited times (two to three weeks) on local and carefully-defined "red zones" where significant local outbreaks are known to be occurring.  All areas are "green zones" by default unless such outbreaks are proven to be occurring.
  • In green zones, no mask mandates outside of healthcare settings, except perhaps very narrowly-defined ones such as public transit and polling places until January 1, 2021.  Otherwise voluntary.  Red zones can still have broad mask mandates lasting no more than a few weeks.
  • After January 1, 2021, no restrictions except in any bona fide red zones that remain.
It is long past time to phase out our COVID restrictions and return to the true normal.  And of course, refurbish the rule of law--something these arbitrary restrictions make an utter mockery of.

UPDATE:  See also here for a good piece on a rational reopening guide that fully respects individual rights, written by Megan Mansell at Rational Ground.  Additionally, the TSAP also recommends mathematically ending the "casedemic" problem by swiftly lowering the PCR testing cycle threshold to at most 34 amplification cycles, if not 30, to be considered positive, and also confirming all positives with a retest. Currently, many labs do as much as 40 or even more still, causing numerous false positives.

And speaking of Florida, more than a month after Florida went to Phase 3 on September 25, one can see from a cursory look at Worldometer that since then, their trends in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have been virtually identical to those of California.  That is, one of the currently most open states in the USA has virtually identical trends to the very least open state as of November. Ditto for wide-open Georgia with no state or local mask mandate and also (with the notable exception of unusually hard-hit El Paso) wide-open Texas with a mask mandate still in effect.  It's almost like the virus really doesn't care about our policies at all, at least in the long run.

Seasonality, however, does appear to be a very real, and razor-sharp, double-edged sword.  Perhaps the idea of allowing a "safe spread summer" (instead of artificially suppressing it and inevitably pushing it into the fall and winter) wasn't so crazy after all?

And as of mid-November, California's trends have actually become worse than Florida's, even shattering their own previous case records despite increasingly tight restrictions in the former and the latter still being wide open.  Really makes you think.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

The TSAP Supports The Great Barrington Declaration

More than six months after the COVID lockdowns and related restrictions began in March, it is becoming increasingly clear that that such an unprecedented "strategy" wasn't really the wisest idea, to put it mildly.  In fact, it was not even really a strategy so much as a panic move that was only supposed to last two or three weeks and was based on the (later revealed to be false) premise that it was somehow utterly necessary to keep hospitals from being overrun.  Fair enough, I guess.  But then they subtly moved the goalposts to a pipe-dream "zero COVID" strategy with no end in sight, which quite frankly makes about as much sense as a "zero flu" strategy.  If that isn't mission creep, I really don't know what is.  And such a sledgehammer approach really hasn't worked very well, and has had far too much collateral damage.  The "cure" was worse than the disease.

That's why a group of distinguished infectious disease experts (Prof. Sunetra Gupta, Prof. Martin Kulldorf, and Prof. Jay Bhattacharya) have come up with the Great Barrington Declaration, which calls for a change in strategy to what they call Focused Protection, in which young and healthy people (who are statistically at similar or less risk from COVID as they are from seasonal flu, traffic accidents, etc.) essentially go back to the true normal and build up herd immunity while carefully protecting older and more vulnerable people (who are at far greater risk) in the meantime, and still respecting human rights.

Sweden basically did such a strategy for the most part, as did some US states like South Dakota, and to a lesser extent Florida, Georgia, Texas, etc.  And despite being hit rather hard, they did not turn out worse than many of the strictest lockdown countries and states, but rather closer to the middle of the pack. Controversial and imperfect as that strategy may be, honestly in the long run it is really the only way out of this pandemic nightmare for good at this point, and we just have to accept that.  It is simply an inevitable outcome, and any safe and effective vaccine will come too late.  As for treatments, they apparently already exist, and many have existed for decades now.

(For more practically detailed versions of this general strategy, devised months ago, see here and here by Bill Sardi, as well as here by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai.)

Objections can be very easily debunked here, by the way.  It is not a left-wing vs. right-wing thing, or even solely for libertarians, as a strong communitarian case can also be made for such a strategy as well.  Thus, it is more properly thought of as a humanitarian imperative that transcends politics.

Thus, the TSAP hereby supports the Great Barrington Declaration, with the caveats that its words not be misinterpreted and that such protections of the vulnerable be largely voluntary, nuanced, and not too heavy-handed.  It's not that COVID-19 shouldn't be taken seriously (it should be!), but we need to keep things in proportion, as a disproportionate response does far more harm than good in the long run.

As the authors of the declaration so eloquently say, "Public health is not simply the absence of disease.  Together we can restore it in full.  Do it now!"  And we at the TSAP couldn't agree more.

So what are we waiting for?  Let's stop making the perfect the enemy of the good, and get real already.

UPDATE: Dr. Mikko Panunio of Finland adds that Vitamin D may very well be the silver bullet we've all been looking for, reducing not only death rates from COVID but also likely slowing the transmission of the virus as well according to recent studies, effectively creating a sort of quasi-herd immunity in the meantime.  Thus, recommending Vitamin D supplements to the general population would be an excellent and highly practical addition to the Great Barrington Declaration strategy for returning to the true normal sooner than later.  This advice echoes Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai's and Bill Sardi's advice (which also notably include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, zinc, quercetin, selenium, etc. as well as Vitamin D) given months ago.  Too bad it took over six months for such an idea to even begin to enter into the mainstream, as far too many lives have been cut short and/or ruined from both COVID as well as the wrongheaded countermeasures that did more harm than good.

And regardless, it bears repeating:  the critics' apocalyptic estimates of mass death that would allegedly result from the Great Barrington Declaration strategy relative to the status quo can be very easily debunked by noting that 1) the status quo at best delays the inevitable and still presents us with all of the exact same dilemmas the critics rail against, but with added collateral damage on top of it, and 2) yet another study confirms that the actual infection fatality rate of 0.1-0.3% is globally far lower than the doomsayers claim it is, more like a really bad flu season, albeit with very wide variation and nuance.  Even the WHO inadvertently admitted as much.  And as of October 8, the WHO did a startling about-face and now strongly discourages the use of lockdowns due to their truly massive collateral damage.

Most ironically of all, the Great Barrington Declaration strategy is not at all unorthodox, but rather simply a reversion to the scientific community's time-tested pandemic playbook which prevailed for nearly a century up until the powers that be panicked and summarily threw it out the window in March 2020.  And in that playbook, large-scale quarantines and closures were dismissed as ineffective and counterproductive for these types of pandemics.  It is only because the Overton window shifted so much and so quickly that yesterday's heresies became today's orthodoxies practically overnight.  And now is our chance to shift it back to its rightful place, and yesterday is not soon enough.

Please note that the authors of the GBD have added an informative FAQ for clarification and more detail.  It should go without saying of course, but neither the TSAP nor the GBD authors advocate or condone anyone deliberately getting infected or infecting others.  Fortunately, the idea that this is a widespread practice (via "COVID parties" or otherwise) is apparently just another urban legend.  Which is good, because we want the effective herd immunity threshold to kick in at as low a level as possible, with as little overshoot as possible, thus minimizing total casualties of all varieties.  So keep calm and carry on, but still keep washing your hands, don't touch your face, stay home when you're sick, stay away from anyone who is sick or thought to be infected, and all that jazz regardless.  That is, use common sense.

See also "A Rational Path Forward" by the folks at Rational Ground as well.

As for how long immunity lasts, see here.

2021 UPDATE:  See the rebuttal here to the specious claims against the GBD.