Monday, May 4, 2020

It's the income lost from unemployment

About ten days ago I had written about a study that compared the usual death rate to the number of deaths over the last few months. This was done for several places around the world. The discrepancy was taken to be the number of deaths due to COVID-19 though it was frequently much higher than official reports. That report found at that time an additional 25,000 deaths worldwide that should be contributed to the virus.

Kombiz Lavasany tweeted similar analysis for America done by the Washington Post. The analysis suggests there are actually over 100,000 deaths attributed to the virus rather than the official 67,700.

Steve Cordero replied:
US counts flu deaths by including confirmed & attributable, but US is only counting confirmed for COVID19. So already COVID19 confirmed deaths blows away confirmed flu deaths. If we use the same methodology for flu, we're over 100K easy as article notes.

Anoa Changa of Prism and posted on Daily Kos talks about voter fraud. She starts by saying the GOP is conflating election fraud with voter fraud. Voter fraud is when a person tries to vote twice, tries to vote when not allowed (such as a non citizen), or tries to impersonate another person to vote (or vote again). Voter fraud is quite rare. Election fraud is trying to steal the election through various tactics to suppress the vote. The GOP is doing all they can to commit this sort of fraud. They’re trying to discredit vote by mail. And, according to Laura Williamson, a policy analyst of Demos, the GOP is weaponizing voter fraud claims to suppress the vote.

My friend and debate partner doesn’t see election fraud as likely as I do this November. However, a point that Changa is making, is that the GOP doesn’t have to commit election fraud, it only has to suggest it in enough ways that citizens no longer trust the outcome. If that is successful and the nasty guy doesn’t get enough votes the groundwork will have been laid for him to believably claim fraud. Even if there is none.

Another goal is to make voters feel the outcome is already rigged, so why vote?

Though voter fraud is quite rare various GOP governors or secretaries of state are creating ballot fraud task forces. These groups do two things. One is to justify voter intimidation on election day. The other is to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud.

Last Saturday on All Things Considered on NPR host Michel Martin talked to two economists, Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economics at The New School of New York, and James Broughel, a research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, about balancing the economy and public safety. The opening exchange pretty much sums it up:
MARTIN: So, professor Broughel, I'll start with you. Is there an actual trade-off in your view between saving lives and saving jobs?

BROUGHEL: A pandemic is somewhat different than a typical situation the government might deal with. If you looked at, like, for example, the 1918 Spanish flu, that pandemic hit working-age people very hard. And so those cities that shut down earlier tended to have faster economic recoveries in the longer run.

The current situation is a little bit different because it's primarily the elderly who are most at risk from the virus, so not necessarily young, healthy workers. So there is clearly some trade-off going on right now between the economy and lives, but it's not really black and white.

MARTIN: OK. Professor Ghilarducci, how do you answer that question? Do you think this is a trade-off between jobs and lives?

GHILDARDUCCI: No, not at all, actually. The shutdown has saved lives. And it also has caused unemployment. But the unemployment itself is not a problem. It's the income lost from unemployment. So as long as the Fed and Congress replaces that income from unemployment, then the loss to the economy will look a lot less than right now, when we have 30 million unemployed. Thirty million unemployed is very different when there's no income replacement, but now there is.

I totally reject the idea that we should count the value of lives of the elderly as somehow much less than the lives of healthy workers. I mean, I see where he's going there. But that's not the calculation that most countries or most governors are even making.
It's the income lost from unemployment… If the GOP wanted to protect the economy here’s how to do it.

In honor of Star Wars Day – May the Fourth be With You – the people at Biocomicals created a cartoon of two medical researchers wielding light sabers against the virus.

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