24 May 2020

Yet Another Non Sequitur in the Coronavirus Debates

Coronavirus 24 Comments

Steve Landsburg links to a Jeff Tucker article explaining that Woodstock occurred during a flu pandemic. Jeff writes:

The flu spread from Hong Kong to the United States, arriving December 1968 and peaking a year later. It ultimately killed 100,000 people in the U.S., mostly over the age of 65, and one million worldwide.

Lifespan in the US in those days was 70 whereas it is 78 today. Population was 200 million as compared with 328 million today. It was also a healthier population with low obesity. If it would be possible to extrapolate the death data based on population and demographics, we might be looking at a quarter million deaths today from this virus. So in terms of lethality, it was as deadly and scary as COVID-19 if not more so, though we shall have to wait to see. 

Now Steve uses the opportunity to explain the different responses as being rational (as is his wont).

But I just want to make a much simpler point: The rhetorical force of Jeff’s article is (my paraphrase): “Hey, we had arguably an even worse contagious outbreak back in 1968-69, and we didn’t shut the economy down back then. So why are we doing it now, for something that’s not killing as many people?!”

Do you see why that’s a weird argument, that (a) sounds awesome to people who already agree with Jeff on this but (b) sounds patently absurd to people who already disagree with him?

Jeff is showing that when the US didn’t lock down, more (adjusted) people died than is happening now, with the lockdowns. And that is somehow supposed to show the lockdowns are a bad idea.

If you don’t see why that’s a strange argument, try this one: “Surgeons didn’t wash their hands in the 1700s, and way more people died during operations back then compared to today. So why are we falling for CNN’s hype about ‘unsafe hospitals’ nowadays?”

Or if that’s too contrived, how about this?

“Antiwar activists are whining about casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq. But during the years 1968-69, about 29,000 Americans died in foreign war. We didn’t suddenly end the wars and bring the troops back home then, even though the death toll was much worse than nowadays.”

Before I end, let me say, as usual: I AM VERY MUCH AGAINST THE POLITICAL LOCKDOWNS. BUSINESSES AND INDIVIDUALS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO DO WHAT THEY WANT, SETTING POLICIES AND MAKING THEIR OWN ASSESSMENTS OF RISK.

16 May 2020

Murphy Twin Spin

Economics, Lara-Murphy Show, Money 23 Comments

==> My latest chapter in Understanding Money Mechanics, this one on Austrian business cycle theory.

==> Ep. 79 of the Lara-Murphy Show, where Carlos and I discuss whether the Fed’s inflation threatens the validity of IBC (the Infinite Banking Concept).

14 May 2020

Bob Murphy Show ep. 119: Guido Hulsmann on the French Lockdown, His Biography of Mises, and His Novel Theory of Interest

All Posts, Bob Murphy Show, Capital & Interest 1 Comment

An interesting discussion, I wish we had had more time. Video below, audio here.

12 May 2020

Contra Krugman ep. 223: Krugman unwittingly agrees Fed has driven stocks since 2007

Contra Krugman 1 Comment

I handle this one all by my lonesome…

12 May 2020

Funny Anecdote About “A Few Good Men”

All Posts, Humor No Comments

Kevin Pollack must have been fun on set:

07 May 2020

Bob Murphy Show ep. 118: David R. Henderson on the Anti-Stimulus Bill, and Organizing a Protest of the CA Lockdown

All Posts, Bob Murphy Show, Coronavirus, David R. Henderson 11 Comments

Here’s the audio, and video below:

01 May 2020

My Full Response to Neil Irwin / Skanda Amarnath

Economics 9 Comments

In BMS ep 177 I talked through this, but at mises.org I have a full response to their claims that the paradox of thrift shows it is literally impossible for everyone to save more. I simply offer some counterexamples.

30 Apr 2020

Bitcoin and the Theory of Money

Bitcoin 14 Comments

The latest installment in my series on Money Mechanics for mises.org.