Thursday, March 26, 2020

There are no good solutions

pessimal/pes im l/adj.[Latin-based antonym for optimal] Maximally bad. “This is a pessimal situation.” Also pessimize vt. To make as bad as possible. These words are the obvious Latin-based antonyms for optimal and optimize, but for some reason they do not appear in most English dictionaries, although ‘pessimize’ is listed in the OED.
Aesop writes about how everything seems to be going wrong about the response to the Kung Flu:
Pandemic suppression may indeed fail.

Probably because too little, too late, and kabuki theater screening at airports, when we should have shunted everyone into mandatory quarantine for 30 days before entry was allowed, starting in early- or mid-January.

If only the CDC hadn’t pooch-screwed the test kits so hard that the dog will never walk right again.
You're going to need a bigger blog post to list everything that the Fed.Gov, State(s).Gov, and Local.Gov are doing wrong, not to mention the Solons who run the Hospitals (and who are threatening to fire nurses who wear masks).

I would add to his list:
  • Failure to designate a single hospital in a city/region as the Kung Flu Medical Center, and isolating all patients (and a significant portion of the PPE) there.  At the very least this will slow the spread of the virus among medical workers and protect capacity for non-virus emergency care.
  • No centralized procurement of cloth masks (of course these are not as effective in preventing infection as disposable ones, but given the massive mask shortage a million cloth masks that can be washed in bleach daily isn't nothing.  Probably more important for general population and first responders, but not nothing.
  • No non-crappy models of Kung Flu disease spread.  Granted, all computer models are always wrong to a greater or lesser extent, but what we have right now makes the climate models look like Nostradamus.  Add in the terrible data being fed into the models and you are better off simply ignoring all model output.
  • The entire western world is being driven into a depression.  Millions are out of work, with more on the way.
  • The pain is falling disproportionately on the working poor.  Since a lot of these live in proximity to the Gimmedat community, their suffering will inflame anger in the group most likely to loot and riot.  I think we're two weeks away from the first big one, probably less than that.
  • The Fed.Gov is ramming through a $2T, 2000 page "bailout" law that is guaranteed to be larded with goodies for everyone other than the people who are most hurt by the shutdowns.  If 50% of this money does anything other than line the pockets of well-connected special interests it will be a miracle.  This by itself will do further damage to the economy, putting more people out of work or raising inflation (hurting the working poor).  Or both at the same time.
Quite frankly, I can't imagine how things could be worse.  Aesop's worst case scenario of a melt down in the medical community seems to be happening, and every government response I see looks like another toe gets shot off the Body Politick.


It may be that there just is no solution.  I wish I could be more optimistic, but I don't see anyone doing anything remotely sensible.


Adrienne said...

Mike Lyndell of MyPillow has turned over 75% of his pillow production to making cotton masks. A true patriot and Trump supporter.

I love MyPillow and I just got the sheets. Outstanding quality!

Tim Wolter said...

Bad, yes. But there is such a thing as relatively less bad.

Our economy will take a big hit. But which of our realistic rivals in the world will not take a bigger one? I think we peek out from the moderate ruin and rubble in our neighborhood.....and see that we are surrounded by the smoking craters of other economies.

All our faults aside we are just plain tougher than most folks out there. And have more reserves of food and energy. Our Brit cousins have a slight edge on us in dark humor but that's about all they have going for them.

These are times of creative destruction. We'll lose some good institutions. And shed ourselves of more bad ones.

We'll also lose some good people. Worst case scenario everyone gets infected in the next year and if you are over (90?...85?) you won't make it. That's individually and collectively tragic and a loss of much accumulated wisdom and experience. And damn near every man jack and woman jane of 'em would refuse to trade places with a younger person on their way to the final roundup.

What will our national character be in the wake of a medium level bad scenario? Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror recounts changes in Europe post Black Death but that's a bit too far distant. Perhaps the Roaring Twenties again. Sounds frivolous but don't forget that the people born in that time became Rosie the Riveter and the Band of Brothers.


Eagle said...

There may be a ray of light here, and it all depends on whether we finally decide to learn something from this situation.

The first lesson regards the importance of physical health.

We need to manufacture strategically-needed medical and food items here rather than depending on overseas suppliers.

The medical items begin with anything needed for medical care: PPEs, pharmaceuticals, and miscellaneous other medical equipment (hospital beds, surgical tools, ventilators and other electronics, etc).

The food items begin with a reevaluation of where we're getting food items from, their ingredients, and whether those locations set, enforce, and can prove adherence to food safety rules.

The second lesson is the importance of shielding the country from travelers who might unknowingly "seed" the US with a viral and/or bacterial agent that could cause widespread illness.

This may require keeping everyone aboard an incoming airliner long enough to conduct a brief medical test. We know that the first signs of this disease are a cough and/or a higher-than-normal temperature. New tests are being developed to provide virus detection within a half-hour. Eventually, those tests may be almost instantaneous using a drop of blood. It is these tests that should eventually be conducted on every passenger entering the US as a condition of entry.

We either get serious about protection, or we ignore it. There are no workable half-measures.

Adrienne said...

Lindell, not Lyndell

ASM826 said...

There's always worse. It may be coming. Obvious possibilities include civil unrest, breakdown of supply chain delivery of food and fuel, loss of the power grid and internet. Less obvious might include the release of another infectious agent, a deliberate of sabotage or war by a foreign power while we're responding to this crisis, or a natural event that further stresses our systems like an early major hurricane.

Aesop said...

I hate (no, really) to say I told you so, but...

I called this based on what I know about how we do things in this country, and from multiple years' time examining the total lack of preparedness for anything like this in the medical and preparedness community for going on 25 years or more. IOW, for my entire career.

Nobody in charge thought it would ever really happen, and/or never had any intention of paying for things as if it might.

And two years from now, everything we're learning will have been completely forgotten too.

Once in a very great while, fate smiles on us, and puts a Sully Sullenberger at the controls of the jet.
Far more often, it puts Gilligan at the wheel of the S.S. Minnow.

Borepatch said...

Adrienne, that's cool. We like him, and his pillows.

Tim, hope for the best; prepare for the worst. Tuchman's book was really good.

Eagle, there's going to be a lot more awareness of what's critical and where it's made.

Asm826, prepare for the worst, indeed. TQOTW isn't a big gun nut, but she wanted me to get the pistol from the gun safe. Might get the rifle too if things look spicy ...

Aesop, Nobody in charge thought it would ever really happen, and/or never had any intention of paying for things as if it might.

And yet we're spending $2T on a bunch of nonsense. You'd think we could get ready for next time. And Gilligan needs to put down the damn coconuts.

Richard said...

Good series over at Conservative Tree House about the food supply chain. Bottom line is that it is pretty robust. Lots of friction now because to the twin problems of panic buying and shutting down restaurants and other institutional feeders. The latter group produces 50% of meals eaten and much of this demand has been dumped on the supermarkets. They have entirely separate supply chains which are in the process of being diverted but this takes time. But there is plenty in the pipeline somewhere. Fuel is not only present but cheap now that Trump has leaned on idiot governors that had closed gas stations.

Of more concern is that the country has become even more divided which is saying something. We are closer to civil war than before.

Also there needs to be some reckoning for the big players who were instrumental in offshoring critical items to China. Show trials are probably too much but something like the Kefauver Committee may be in order. Make in bi-partisan with Ted Cruz and Elizabeth Warren as co-chairs. They both want to be President, like Kefauver and will play it for publicity and neither will be friendly to the CoC types.