Observations on the Great Hunkering (13)

Krazifornia’s Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that he is closing all the beaches in California this weekend, to which I say, Good luck with that. Here’s to hoping there is massive civil disobedience—a vivid demonstration of what self-government looks like, and the limits of diktats.

Newsom seems to be out of step with even the worst governors of other states. Even New York City, the most hard hit area, isn’t trying to close down Central Park completely. Moreover, you can pick up signs that elite opinion—that is, the superstructure of the decisions of followers like Gov. Cuomo—is starting to shift ever so perceptibly to opening the country back.

There’s no better sign of this than NY Times columnist Tom Friedman, who wondered in his Tuesday column whether Sweden’s much more permissive quarantine is a better idea than what we’ve done:

This strategy posits that most people under age 65 who get the coronavirus — if they do not have major pre-existing medical conditions — will either experience it as a typical or tough flu, or completely asymptomatically, and the number who will get so sick that they require hospitalization or emergency care will reliably be less than the number of beds needed to care for them.

So, if you do your best to shelter and sequester all of those over 65 and those with serious pre-existing conditions — notably heart and lung disease and diabetes — and let much of the rest of the population circulate and get exposed and become naturally immune, once about 60 percent of your population has gone through this you’ll have herd immunity and the viral transmission will be blocked. . .

The upside of Sweden’s strategy — if it works — is that your economy does not take such a deep hit from lockdowns. It is unlike the strategy of suppression pursued in cities across America right now — as well as around the globe — where, when the lockdown is over, your population largely has not developed immunity and so most everyone remains vulnerable to the virus, and to a second wave in the fall. . . I raise Sweden not because I think it has found the magic balance — it is way too soon to tell — but because I think we should be debating all the different ways and costs of acquiring immunity.

• With the new unemployment filings out today, over 30 million Americans have lost their jobs. That’s nearly 20 percent of the total workforce. I don’t see how this can be considered anything other than a new Great Depression. Will we come out of it quickly? No idea, but one thing I am sure of is that we should send the multi-trillion dollar tab to China.

Apparently the Trump Administration thinks so too:

U.S. officials crafting retaliatory actions against China over coronavirus

Senior U.S. officials are beginning to explore proposals for punishing or demanding financial compensation from China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to four senior administration officials with knowledge of internal planning. . .

In private, Trump and aides have discussed stripping China of its “sovereign immunity,” aiming to enable the U.S. government or victims to sue China for damages. George Sorial, who formerly served as a top executive at the Trump Organization and is involved in a class-action lawsuit against China, told The Washington Post he and senior White House officials have discussed limiting China’s sovereign immunity. . .

Some administration officials have also discussed having the United States cancel part of its debt obligations to China, two people with knowledge of internal conversations said.

I say all of the above.

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