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Author Topic: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.  (Read 50221 times)

Ghostmaker

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #615 on: October 05, 2020, 09:00:20 AM »
I don't recall where I heard it, but somewhere I saw someone claim that while capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth, socialism/communism is the equal distribution of poverty.
It's a quote widely attributed to Winston Churchill.

A lot of the problem stems from the question of labor and its worth. Labor in itself has no intrinsic value; any value it possesses is derived from the results of said labor.


Pat

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #616 on: October 05, 2020, 09:34:47 AM »
A lot of the problem stems from the question of labor and its worth. Labor in itself has no intrinsic value; any value it possesses is derived from the results of said labor.
That's one of the root problems with socialism: It's based on the labor theory of value. Which is part of classical economics -- Adam Smith used it in The Wealth of Nations. But it was also the biggest failure of classical economists. None of their theories could explain why diamonds, which are fundamentally useless trinkets, are worth more than water, which is necessary to life. More generally, they couldn't explain why some things cost more than others, so they fell back on the idea that it was based on the amount of work it took to bring those things to market. Which is clearly wrong, because not only are workers with certain skills valued more than workers with other skills, but digging holes and then filling them again is work, but completely pointless (yes, I'm making a dig at Keynes).

More than that, accounting for different values of work, and even capital, doesn't really explain prices. That had to wait until the marginal revolution in the late 19th century, when they figured out prices aren't based on labor or capital, but on what the next person who buys something is willing to pay. If that theoretical person has plenty of water, then they're going to put a very low value on buying even more water. OTOH, buying diamonds, even at an exorbitant price, might start looking attractive, since their basic needs are already met. (Diamonds are also scarce, so supply & demand.) This is what economists mean when they talk about marginal costs, or the costs on the margin -- it's the price a person who hasn't bought something yet, but is next in line if the prices drop, is willing to pay.

This is also why a lot of calculations that just sum up values don't work in the real world. If the current price for something is $1 and you sold 1,000 in the last year, that doesn't mean 10,000 of the things are worth $10,000. Because the people who bought the 1,000 last year were the 1,000 people who valued it at $1 or more. If someone else out there was willing to pay $1 for it, you would have sold 1,001. The 1,001th person might be interested in the product, just not enough to spend $1. So to get 10,000 people to buy it, you need to lower the price. Therefore the value of 10,000 is not 10,000 times the current price. And to bring it back to labor, wages are just another price. They're set based on a worker's marginal value to the next employer.

The marginal revolution is the foundation of literally every modern school of economics, except socialism.

And for no particular reason, I segued into a basic economics lesson....
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 09:36:23 AM by Pat »

Ghostmaker

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #617 on: October 05, 2020, 10:16:43 AM »
A lot of the problem stems from the question of labor and its worth. Labor in itself has no intrinsic value; any value it possesses is derived from the results of said labor.
That's one of the root problems with socialism: It's based on the labor theory of value. Which is part of classical economics -- Adam Smith used it in The Wealth of Nations. But it was also the biggest failure of classical economists. None of their theories could explain why diamonds, which are fundamentally useless trinkets, are worth more than water, which is necessary to life. More generally, they couldn't explain why some things cost more than others, so they fell back on the idea that it was based on the amount of work it took to bring those things to market. Which is clearly wrong, because not only are workers with certain skills valued more than workers with other skills, but digging holes and then filling them again is work, but completely pointless (yes, I'm making a dig at Keynes).

More than that, accounting for different values of work, and even capital, doesn't really explain prices. That had to wait until the marginal revolution in the late 19th century, when they figured out prices aren't based on labor or capital, but on what the next person who buys something is willing to pay. If that theoretical person has plenty of water, then they're going to put a very low value on buying even more water. OTOH, buying diamonds, even at an exorbitant price, might start looking attractive, since their basic needs are already met. (Diamonds are also scarce, so supply & demand.) This is what economists mean when they talk about marginal costs, or the costs on the margin -- it's the price a person who hasn't bought something yet, but is next in line if the prices drop, is willing to pay.

This is also why a lot of calculations that just sum up values don't work in the real world. If the current price for something is $1 and you sold 1,000 in the last year, that doesn't mean 10,000 of the things are worth $10,000. Because the people who bought the 1,000 last year were the 1,000 people who valued it at $1 or more. If someone else out there was willing to pay $1 for it, you would have sold 1,001. The 1,001th person might be interested in the product, just not enough to spend $1. So to get 10,000 people to buy it, you need to lower the price. Therefore the value of 10,000 is not 10,000 times the current price. And to bring it back to labor, wages are just another price. They're set based on a worker's marginal value to the next employer.

The marginal revolution is the foundation of literally every modern school of economics, except socialism.

And for no particular reason, I segued into a basic economics lesson....
Yeah, but I think you got the particulars right. I've been working on reading Thomas Sowell's stuff, so some of this is pretty familiar.

Another angle to consider for labor is how much training and skill it requires. Artificially overpricing labor (via minimum wage) leads to such fun things as hiring illegals to pay under the table or the exploration of new systems such as automated cashiers. I am astonished we haven't had a resurgence of automats, to be honest.

moonsweeper

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #618 on: October 05, 2020, 10:21:37 AM »
We could get lucky and the increased interest in alternative schooling may break the union's back.
People are starting to realize how garbage the public education system has become thanks to online schooling this year.

It may be the one positive thing to come out of the WuFlu lockdown...
There's been a big surge in interest in home schooling. I don't have any direct experience, but from what I've heard, the tools for home schooling have really improved in the last few years. The resources and support available has gotten a lot better, so it's not as daunting as it once was.

One thing that has the unions upset is that the increased interest breaks down with the same general population percentages as our political parties. That means the increase is across political boundaries...
"I have a very hard time taking seriously someone who has the time and resources to protest capitalism, while walking around in Nike shoes and drinking Starbucks, while filming it on their iPhone."  --  Alderaan Crumbs

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"Government is the only entity that relies on its failures to justify the expansion of its powers." -- David Freiheit (Viva Frei)

moonsweeper

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #619 on: October 05, 2020, 10:26:12 AM »

And for no particular reason, I segued into a basic economics lesson....

That's ok.  If the current love of socialism/communism is any indicator more people could use it...
"I have a very hard time taking seriously someone who has the time and resources to protest capitalism, while walking around in Nike shoes and drinking Starbucks, while filming it on their iPhone."  --  Alderaan Crumbs

"Just, can you make it The Ramones at least? I only listen to Abba when I want to fuck a stripper." -- Jeff37923

"Government is the only entity that relies on its failures to justify the expansion of its powers." -- David Freiheit (Viva Frei)

Pat

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #620 on: October 05, 2020, 10:46:01 AM »
Yeah, but I think you got the particulars right. I've been working on reading Thomas Sowell's stuff, so some of this is pretty familiar.

Another angle to consider for labor is how much training and skill it requires. Artificially overpricing labor (via minimum wage) leads to such fun things as hiring illegals to pay under the table or the exploration of new systems such as automated cashiers. I am astonished we haven't had a resurgence of automats, to be honest.
Sowell's Basic Economics is a good starting point for anyone interesting in economics. Or Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson. Those are probably the two easiest entry points for a general audience.
https://store.mises.org/Economics-in-One-Lesson-FREE-P11168.aspx

Minimum wages are just a type of price fixing, and the consequence of price fixing is always shortages. When the government fixes the price of bread, the producers will make less bread, leading to bread lines. The same applies when you fix the price of wages; jobs will vanish.

Sowell in particular does a good job of laying out why this is especially bad for marginal groups. For instance, before minimum wages were first instituted in the 1950s, black unemployment was lower than white unemployment. But after the minimum wage was set, the unemployed rate remained fairly flat for white men, but skyrocketed among black men, especially the young. There are two reasons at play. One is racism on the margins -- if there are few jobs and lots of people applying, employers can be picky, even when it comes to factors that don't affect production. So they can toss all those black resumes in the garbage, even if that includes some highly qualified workers, and it won't hurt their bottom line. But before the minimum wage, you could pay black workers less for the same work, so there was a strong economic incentive to hire them. In other words, tight job markets encourage discrimination, while a high demand for workers actively discourages it.

Two is actual skill level. Blacks were generally less skilled than whites, at the time. So when the job market tightens, they're disproportionately affected, because the least skilled are the first to lose their jobs, and the last to gain new ones. This is worse that it sounds, because it has long term effects. Since young workers are the least skilled, they're hit particularly hard. If they can't get jobs right away, this prevents them from building their resumes and developing the job skills needed to become more highly valued workers. So the minimum wage didn't just prevent young black workers from getting jobs, it hindered their advancement. That reduced their lifetime earnings, which in turn affects things like the money they have available for things like healthcare and education for their kids, so the disadvantages are passed down from generation to generation.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2020, 04:08:09 PM by Pat »

DocJones

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #621 on: October 06, 2020, 03:01:48 PM »
The WHO is now estimating that 760 million world-wide have been infected with the Wuhan virus.
IF that is accurate and the number of confirmed deaths (~1 million) is accurate, then the fatality rate is only 0.13%.
The WHO estimates the seasonal death rate from the flu is ~1%.

You only have a 99.9% of surviving! 
Make your time now!
You are DOOMED!

Pat

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #622 on: October 06, 2020, 03:11:57 PM »
The WHO estimates the seasonal death rate from the flu is ~1%.
You added a decimal point. The case fatality rate for seasonal influenza is about 0.1%, but that's only based on the documented cases. The actual infection fatality rate is estimated at half to quarter that.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/antibody-tests-support-whats-been-obvious-covid-19-is-much-more-lethal-than-flu/2020/04/28/2fc215d8-87f7-11ea-ac8a-fe9b8088e101_story.html

Delete_me

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #623 on: October 06, 2020, 03:18:13 PM »
The WHO is now estimating that 760 million world-wide have been infected with the Wuhan virus.
IF that is accurate and the number of confirmed deaths (~1 million) is accurate, then the fatality rate is only 0.13%.

It's not. The WHO says you are off by double and then an order of magnitude: there are around 35  million cases, not 760 million. You can check their dashboard.

That makes the mortality rate 3%. That's actually very high for a rabidly infectious disease where we have therapeutics and basic treatments. Bubonic plague's mortality rate, when treated, is between 1% and 10%. (Now, when treated, COVID's rate is probably significantly lower than 3%, but I don't have that data easily on hand.)

Pat

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #624 on: October 06, 2020, 03:28:25 PM »
That makes the mortality rate 3%. That's actually very high for a rabidly infectious disease where we have therapeutics and basic treatments. Bubonic plague's mortality rate, when treated, is between 1% and 10%. (Now, when treated, COVID's rate is probably significantly lower than 3%, but I don't have that data easily on hand.)
That's way too high. Here's a source that collates the estimated infection fatality rates of COVID-19 from numerous studies in various countries:
https://swprs.org/studies-on-covid-19-lethality/
Ignoring the outliers (like Japan's 0.01%), most are in the 0.1% to 0.5% range.

Even the much cited and highly flawed Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz and Merone paper only claims a 0.68% global infection fatality rate.
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.03.20089854v4

Delete_me

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #625 on: October 06, 2020, 03:36:12 PM »
All I can say is look at the dashboard, since DocJones listed the WHO as his source. (https://covid19.who.int/)

Confirmed Cases: 35,347,404
Deaths: 1,039,406

That's about 3%. I make no claim to that being right or wrong, just that's what the raw math is. 

DocJones

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #626 on: October 06, 2020, 03:38:07 PM »
The WHO is now estimating that 760 million world-wide have been infected with the Wuhan virus.
IF that is accurate and the number of confirmed deaths (~1 million) is accurate, then the fatality rate is only 0.13%.

It's not. The WHO says you are off by double and then an order of magnitude: there are around 35  million cases, not 760 million. You can check their dashboard.

WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus


Delete_me

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #627 on: October 06, 2020, 03:43:19 PM »
WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus

Well then, I stand corrected.  That is their current estimate. I was operating off confirmed numbers instead of estimates and shouldn't have been for your claim.

Pat

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #628 on: October 06, 2020, 03:44:55 PM »
All I can say is look at the dashboard, since DocJones listed the WHO as his source. (https://covid19.who.int/)

Confirmed Cases: 35,347,404
Deaths: 1,039,406

That's about 3%. I make no claim to that being right or wrong, just that's what the raw math is.
You're making a mistake. You're confusing the number of confirmed cases with the total number of cases. The number you're deriving is the case fatality rate (CFR), not the infection fatality rate (IFR). The IFR is the real death rate, but takes population-wide tests to estimate. The CFR is available earlier, but it's not a very useful number. Particularly for a disease with a large number of asymptomatic cases, and where the symptoms can be very mild and are hard to distinguish from other diseases.

Delete_me

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Re: Covid, the "lockdowns" etc.
« Reply #629 on: October 06, 2020, 03:48:28 PM »
Yup, I see that now. Thank you for pointing it out.