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Random Thoughts

Letter to the editor of the Chicago Tribune

I just fired off this letter to the editor. Hopefully it gets printed and people don’t try to string me up for having lack of compassion for my fellow man. I just think that everything the American people and the federal government are doing is far in excess of what was required. Here is the letter.

Just about every step the federal government and the American people have taken to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak has been an unnecessary over reaction and will be more damaging to a greater number of people than those steps are meant to protect. Furthermore, the rush to cast aside free market principals in favor of central government control is disturbing in the speed in which it’s taking place as well as in the lack of resistance from the public and across well known pundits.

From all the reporting to date, about 80% of people that get infected experience little to mild symptoms. So mild in many cases that they don’t even know they have it. 15% get more serious symptoms that are the equivalent of a bad flu. The remaining 5% may need hospitalization but less than half of that are serious enough where they may die. The high risk group are those over 60 and those with compromised immune systems.

The advice for the majority of the population to stop their lives and hide will not do anything to stop the virus. In fact, this behavior may only stretch it out over a longer period of time. The proper advice is to have those in high risk groups take necessary precautions to protect themselves. 

Unless there is more than the public is being told with this virus it does not appear to be lethal enough for the government to shut down the US economy. I don’t want people to die. But I also don’t want to see businesses die and lives destroyed all across the country. Lives that otherwise would not have been tremendously affected by this virus. Instead of concentrating the response where it needs to be we’re spreading out the misery across all sectors of life. 

Our panic reaction is like amputating both legs in order to stop gangrene on one foot from advancing to the rest of the body. Will it fix the problem? Yes, but at what cost?

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Random Thoughts

We’re watching a live experiment in socialism versus capitalism

Toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer for some stupid reason are being bought up like tomorrow will never come. In a socialist society supply can’t meet demand because government controls the means of production and prices. In this case the government, in cahoots with large corporations, is applying implied price control and are also controlling the rate of consumption. What is the result? Shortages all across the country.

Some people saw an opportunity as soon as the nuttiness began to purchase large quantities of the goods that were being hoarded. The most prevalent example is this poor gentleman in Tennessee who saw an opportunity and tried to exploit it.

On March 1, the day after the first coronavirus death in the United States was announced, brothers Matt and Noah Colvin set out in a silver S.U.V. to pick up some hand sanitizer. Driving around Chattanooga, Tenn., they hit a Dollar Tree, then a Walmart, a Staples and a Home Depot. At each store, they cleaned out the shelves.

Over the next three days, Noah Colvin took a 1,300-mile road trip across Tennessee and into Kentucky, filling a U-Haul truck with thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer and thousands of packs of antibacterial wipes, mostly from “little hole-in-the-wall dollar stores in the backwoods,” his brother said. “The major metro areas were cleaned out.”

Matt Colvin stayed home near Chattanooga, preparing for pallets of even more wipes and sanitizer he had ordered, and starting to list them on Amazon. Mr. Colvin said he had posted 300 bottles of hand sanitizer and immediately sold them all for between $8 and $70 each, multiples higher than what he had bought them for. To him, “it was crazy money.” To many others, it was profiteering from a pandemic.

New York Times

Amazon and EBay discovered what he was doing and suspended his account thereby cutting him off from their customers. Who benefits from this? Amazon? EBay? Matt Colvin? The public that wants the products Mr. Colvin has in inventory? The answer is NO ONE. The products sit there on shelves instead of benefiting anyone.

Granted the government did not force Amazon or EBay to take the actions they did. Instead they took pre-emptive action before the public pressured government to step in accusing the companies of gouging.

The public is poorly educated on how markets should work and the simple laws of supply, demand, and scarcity. What should have happened once retailers noticed that people were hoarding certain products is to immediately start raising prices. The act of raising prices ensures that people only buy what they need. Thereby leaving more product available for everyone. That’s why stores are full of more products than we can buy in normal times.

But, because prices were held low and limits were placed on the number of items allowed for purchase items sold out all over the country. There was nothing stopping multiple people from one family to come into a store and purchase their limit. If you had the funds you could make the purchase. The most ludicrous example is the run on toilet paper. It’s difficult to explain the brainless action of hoarding toilet paper.

Anti-gouging sentiment only benefits the rich. They are the ones that can easily go out and purchase more than what they need leaving nothing left for people with fewer means. Imagine if a pack of toilet paper skyrocketed to $60.00. How many packs would people then buy? At least there would be product left on the shelf for the next guy with a dirty ass.

The basic lesson is that if you control prices and they are held artificially low due to government decree or anti-gouging pressure we end up with shortages where if prices were allowed to float there would be plenty of ass wipes purchase in the store rather than ass-wipes buying them up and keep them at home.