Mask thefts and the anti-laser-pointer effect

When you play around with a laser pointer, cats (and dogs) will chase after the red dot. President Trump’s remarks that people may be stealing surgical masks from hospitals caused the opposite effect among the media — people immediately run as far away from the idea as possible. So after reporting on the possibility, they fling themselves into denying it as soon as the red dot appears on the story.

There are tons of reports about people stealing medical masks, but the media only turned it into something controversial after President Trump brought it up.

During his Sunday night press briefing, Trump remarked on the incredible news that at some hospitals, orders for masks have jumped from 10,000 and 20,000 to 300,000.

“How do you go from 10 to 20 to 300,000? 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000 — even though this is different. Something’s going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going?” he wondered. “So somebody should probably look into that.”

If these numbers are correct, and during the briefing, a mask manufacturer backed them up, something is obviously amiss. But because the national political media are unserious and pretty much useless, instead of looking into what could be a growing black market at the expense of human lives, they decided to freak out like the babies they are.

The far-left Washington Post shrieked (without evidence): “No, Mr. President, healthcare workers aren’t stealing masks. You failed them.”

The far-left MSN harrumphed: “President Trump … insinuated that staff may be stealing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic.”


So how far out of line is he? Turns out, it’s not that far.

To begin with, and without the media freaking out even a little bit, New York’s very own governor, one Andrew Cuomo, said the exact same thing more than three weeks ago:

“As fear over the new coronavirus in New York spreads faster than the outbreak, people have started to steal masks and other medical equipment from local hospitals,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Friday.

“Not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products,” Cuomo said at a press conference from the state capital in Albany. “I’ve asked the state police to do an investigation, look at places that are selling masks, medical equipment, protective wear, feeding the anxiety.”

News & Observer, March 19: “Hospitals across the Triangle say thieves are stealing masks, gloves and hand sanitizer by the box due to anxiety over the nationwide shortage of medical supplies.”

Business Insider, March 7: “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday that his administration had directed state police to investigate cases of the theft of masks and other equipment from hospitals and medical facilities, putting healthcare workers at risk.”

New York Times, March 19: ““We’ve experienced outright theft, with the general public walking into our building and walking right out,” said Bruno Petinaux, the hospital’s chief medical officer.”

And on and on and on, and not just in America…


Waste problems from wind and solar

In short, disposing of wind turbines is a significant problem, with negative impacts on communities and the environment.

It is reminiscent of the negative community and environmental impacts of solar panel disposal. Carolina Journal has reported for years about chemical waste components from used solar panels, including such things as gallium arsenide, tellurium, silver, crystalline silicon, lead, and also GenX and related compounds in solar panel components.

John Locke Foundation

It was inevitable that socialized medicine gave up on the elderly with COVID-19 — Bookworm Room

It’s no surprise that socialized medicine countries stopped treating their old people. Socialized medicine rations care even when there’s not an emergency. I was talking to a friend in Spain who has taken his 88-year-old mother into his home. His mother had previously been living in a retirement community near his house. There, as here,…

It was inevitable that socialized medicine gave up on the elderly with COVID-19 — Bookworm Room

Monday Thoughts (yes, the d*mn virus)

Yard Sale of the Mind

I need to post more frequently.

Hope you’re sitting down for this: enshrined in English and American tradition and laws is the idea that it’s not always a good thing to do what the experts tell you to do. This wisdom was hard-earned over centuries, as experts were discovered to be – still sitting down, right? – alas, human beings, subject to all the temptations, all the weaknesses, pride, vanity, greed, and fear that all other people are subject to. Therefore, when really important, life and death decisions come up, we don’t defer to experts.

We call this wisdom ‘the right to trial by a jury of your peers’. We do this, even though there is always a judge and a couple other lawyers, at least, right there in the room, with years of legal training and experience, who know the law far, far better than any of the…

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Four Ways to Judge Minimum Wage Laws

There are at least four levels on which the effects of minimum wage legislation need to be analyzed.

When employers are required by law to pay a higher wage, some workers in some workplaces will receive this higher wage. If you assume that these workers deserve this higher wage and will be made happier by it, then the legislation is helpful. This is the good intentions level of the policy.

1. Immediate Effects

When employers are required by law to pay a higher wage, some workers in some workplaces will receive this higher wage. If you assume that these workers deserve this higher wage and will be made happier by it, then the legislation is helpful. This is the good intentions level of the policy.

2. Demand Effects

When you arbitrarily raise the price of something, you reduce the demand for it. This is elementary supply and demand theory. For example, suppose a grocery manager in a market has set a price of $1.00 a pound on tomatoes that are turning overripe. A well-intentioned legislator feels sorry for these tomatoes and arbitrarily raises their price to $1.50 a pound. The result will be that customers buy fewer these of these tomatoes, and more will end up rotting in the bin.

The same thing happens with marginal labor, including workers who are physically or mentally impaired, or young and inexperienced. If you arbitrarily raise the price that must be paid for this labor, less of it will be purchased. Employers adjust by substituting labor-saving machinery, by hiring fewer but more productive employees, or by closing the business altogether. What started out as a good intention ends up hurting many of the very workers one feels sorry for, pushing them into unemployment.

3. Price Effects

To the extent that a minimum wage law does put more money in the hands of some workers, this money has to come from somewhere. At first glance, it might seem that employers will pay this extra out of their own pockets. The problem with this expectation is that in all economic arrangements there is a great deal of cost-shifting going on. Businesses adjust to increased costs by increasing prices. The restaurant that charged $5.00 for a hamburger will raise the price to $5.50 to cover the higher wages being paid.

As a result of this cost-shifting, the burden of paying for an increase in the minimum wage falls on everyone, including the low-wage workers one hopes to help—and on non-working poor we didn’t even stop to think about.

4. Social Effects

From a distance, a job may seem a mere transfer of money, but in practice it involves many social and psychological benefits. A recovering drug addict may need a temporary job as therapy, a teenager may need employment to develop responsibility and self-confidence, a senior may need informal work to gain companionship. For these workers, the benefits of a job lie beyond the money being paid. Forcing an employer to pay a higher wage can destroy such arrangements, eliminating the social benefits connected with them. In one case I’ve learned about, a program that had patients of a mental hospital doing gardening and beautification work on hospital grounds was closed down by state regulators because it violated minimum wage requirements.