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.”

Britbart.com

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.”

ibid

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…

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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

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.

TIMELINE: Trump Administration’s Actions To Combat the Coronavirus Pandemic

December 31: China reports the discovery of the coronavirus to the World Health Organization.

January 6: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for Wuhan, China due to the spreading coronavirus.

January 7: The CDC established a coronavirus incident management system to better share and respond to information about the virus.

January 11: The CDC issued a Level I travel health notice for Wuhan, China.

January 17: The CDC began implementing public health entry screening at the 3 U.S. airports that received the most travelers from Wuhan – San Francisco, New York JFK, and Los Angeles.

January 20: Dr. Fauci announces the National Institutes of Health is already working on the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

January 21: The CDC activated its emergency operations center to provide ongoing support to the coronavirus response.

January 23: The CDC sought a “special emergency authorization” from the FDA to allow states to use its newly developed coronavirus test.

January 27: The CDC issued a level III travel health notice urging Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China due to the coronavirus.

January 29: The White House announced the formation of the Coronavirus Task Force to help monitor and contain the spread of the virus and provide updates to the president.

January 31: The Trump Administration:

Declared the coronavirus a public health emergency.

Announced Chinese travel restrictions.

Suspended entry into the United States for foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

January 31: The Department of Homeland Security took critical steps to funnel all flights from China into just 7 domestic U.S. airports.

PJ Media

February 3: The CDC had a team ready to travel to China to obtain critical information on the novel coronavirus, but were in the U.S. awaiting permission to enter by the Chinese government.

February 4: President Trump vowed in his State of the Union Address to “take all necessary steps” to protect Americans from the coronavirus.

February 6: The CDC began shipping CDC-Developed test kits for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus to U.S. and international labs.

February 9: The White House Coronavirus Task Force briefed governors from across the nation at the National Governors’ Association Meeting in Washington.

February 11: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expanded a partnership with Janssen Research & Development to “expedite the development” of a coronavirus vaccine.

February 12: The U.S. shipped test kits for the 2019 novel coronavirus to approximately 30 countries who lacked the necessary reagents and other materials.

February 12: The CDC was prepared to travel to China but had yet to receive permission from the Chinese government.

February 14: The CDC began working with five labs to conduct “community-based influenza surveillance” to study and detect the spread of coronavirus.

February 18: HHS announced it would engage with Sanofi Pasteur in an effort to quickly develop a coronavirus vaccine and to develop treatment for coronavirus infections.

February 24: The Trump Administration sent a letter to Congress requesting at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the coronavirus.

February 26: President Trump discussed coronavirus containment efforts with Indian PM Modi and updated the press on his administration’s containment efforts in the U.S. during his state visit to India.

February 29: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed certified labs to develop and begin testing coronavirus testing kits while reviewing pending applications.February 29: The Trump administration:

Announced a level 4 travel advisory to areas of Italy and South Korea.

Barred all travel to Iran.

Barred the entry of foreign citizens who visited Iran in the last 14 days.

PJ Media

March 3: The CDC lifted federal restrictions on coronavirus testing to allow any American to be tested for coronavirus, “subject to doctor’s orders.”

March 3: The White House announced President Trump donated his fourth-quarter salary to fight the coronavirus.

March 4: The Trump Administration announced the purchase of $500 million N95 respirators over the next 18 months to respond to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

March 4: Secretary Azar announced that HHS was transferring $35 million to the CDC to help state and local communities that have been impacted most by the coronavirus.

March 6: President Trump signed an $8.3 billion bill to fight the coronavirus outbreak. The bill provides $7.76 billion to federal, state, & local agencies to combat the coronavirus and authorizes an additional $500 million in waivers for Medicare telehealth restrictions.

March 9: President Trump called on Congress to pass a payroll tax cut over coronavirus.

March 10: President Trump and VP Pence met with top health insurance companies and secured a commitment to waive co-pays for coronavirus testing.

March 11: President Trump:

Announced travel restrictions on foreigners who had visited Europe in the last 14 days.

Directed the Small Business Administration to issue low-interest loans to affected small businesses and called on Congress to increase this fund by $50 billion.

Directed the Treasury Department to defer tax payments for affected individuals & businesses, & provide $200 billion in “additional liquidity.”

Met with American bankers at the White House to discuss coronavirus.

March 13: President Trump declared a national emergency in order to access $42 billion in existing funds to combat the coronavirus.

March 13: President Trump announced:

Public-private partnerships to open up drive-through testing collection sites.

A pause on interest payments on federal student loans.

An order to the Department of Energy to purchase oil for the strategic petroleum reserve.March 13: The Food & Drug Administration:

Granted Roche AG an emergency approval for automated coronavirus testing kits.

Issued an emergency approval to Thermo Fisher for a coronavirus test within 24 hours of receiving the request.

March 13: HHS announced funding for the development of two new rapid diagnostic tests, which would be able to detect coronavirus in approximately 1 hour.

March 14: The Coronavirus Relief Bill passed the House of Representatives.

March 14: The Trump Administration announced the European travel ban will extend to the UK and Ireland.

March 15: President Trump held a phone call with over two dozen grocery store executives to discuss the on-going demand for food and other supplies.

March 15: HHS announced it is projected to have 1.9 million COVID-19 tests available in 2,000 labs this week.

March 15: Google announced a partnership with the Trump Administration to develop a website dedicated to coronavirus education, prevention, & local resources.

March 15: All 50 states were contacted through FEMA to coordinate “federally-supported, state-led efforts” to end coronavirus.

March 16: President Trump:

Held a teleconference with governors to discuss coronavirus preparedness and response.

Participated in a call with G7 leaders who committed to increasing coordination in response to the coronavirus and restoring global economic confidence.

Announced that the first potential vaccine for coronavirus has entered a phase one trial in a record amount of time.

Announced “15 days to slow the spread” coronavirus guidance.

March 16: The FDA announced it was empowering states to authorize tests developed and used by labs in their states.

March 16: Asst. Secretary for Health confirmed the availability of 1 million coronavirus tests and projected 2 million tests available the next week and 5 million the following.

“How Can you Talk Economics When People are Dying”: A Blast from the Past. — The Writer in Black

Some people have been “pushing back” against the panic over the Chinese Coronavirus (Winnie the Flu), noting the damage these overreactions are doing, and will continue to do, to the economy. But you know what else leads to people dying? A faltering, let alone crashing, economy. Which brings up this Blast from the (quite recent […]

“How Can you Talk Economics When People are Dying”: A Blast from the Past. — The Writer in Black

Coronavirus: Our new Age of Heroic Medicine is going to kill us all — Bookworm Room

Trump is right: We can’t let our response to coronavirus echo the Age of Heroic Medicine when doctors routinely killed patients on the way to curing them. During his Fox News town hall, Trump was explicit: He’s set Easter as his target date for taking America off of its coronavirus footing and reverting to business…

Coronavirus: Our new Age of Heroic Medicine is going to kill us all — Bookworm Room

The Top 10 Lies About President Trump’s Response to the Coronavirus

10. Trump downplayed the mortality rate of the coronavirus

9. Trump lied when he said Google was developing a national coronavirus website

8.  Trump ‘dissolved’ the WH pandemic response office

7. Trump ignored early intel briefings on possible pandemic

6. Trump cut funding to the CDC & NIH

5. Trump ‘muzzled’ Dr. Fauci

4. Trump didn’t act quickly and isn’t doing enough

3. Trump told governors they were “on their own”

2. Trump turned down testing kits from WHO

1. Trump called the coronavirus “a hoax”

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