Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Will Anyone Be Held Accountable?

It was exactly one year ago that "15 days to slow the spread" was supposed to end.

It was also one year ago that I began to seriously doubt what we were being told and whether the cure being advocated might be worse than the disease.

What drove me over the edge were projections that Ohio's Governor and Public Health Director were using to justify the extension of the severe lockdown and school closures at that time. Mind you, at that time they weren't even telling people to wear face masks. They were telling people to not wear masks. A mask mandate would not be imposed in Ohio until mid-July.

Here is a graph of one of the models that these officials were relying on at that time. I published this originally in my blog post "Models and Reality" on March 29, 2020.

It was projecting that 100,000 Ohioans would be in the hospital by the middle of May if we used a shelter in place policy for the next 3 months.

The state's public health director, Dr. Amy Acton, stated that she was expecting 10,000 new cases each day at the peak in May and this was with the current Covid policies in place until then.

The same model that projected 100,000 hospitalizations by mid-May forecast 174,000 deaths from the Covid pandemic of Ohio's nearly 12 million people.

I wrote at that time that none of this passed the smell test for me. The data I was seeing thus far simply did not fit the narrative.

One of the data points that did not make sense was how cases could be surging in those 15 days when almost everything was locked down. At that time I could walk to a normally busy thoroughfare near my house and not see one car. 

It made no sense until the facts came out shortly after that showing 70% of the new cases were coming from nursing homes and prisons. Could it have been more ironic that both of these places were effectively locked down even before the pandemic began? 

A year later how accurate were those models?

We were told we were facing 100,000 people in hospitals at one time.

Over a year into the pandemic there have been 53,076 hospitalizations in Ohio IN TOTAL.

As of today, there are 978 people hospitalized in Ohio with Covid. That is 3.5% of total bed capacity

There have been 18,609 reported deaths thus far.

52% of those have been age 80 or older.

79% of those have been age 70 or older.

39% of the deaths are specifically related to those living in long-term care facilities.

Only 2% have been under age 50.

The numbers nationally are similar.

What have all of the lockdowns, school closures and government interventions cost?

That number is incalculable.

For example, try to put a cost on the mental health implications of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those mental health implications also tilt heavily to younger people.

There is evidence to suggest the mental health implications have been even more severe for teenagers according to this article in Healthline.

This data from the CDC on all-cause deaths is particularly concerning as we know Covid was not the cause of a spike in deaths for teenagers last year. Full details are not yet available for specific causes of death for 2020 but suicide has typically been the second leading cause of death for this age group behind accidents.


These are the total Covid deaths for ages 0-19 since 1/1/20 according to CDC data. Those excess deaths for teenagers did not come from Covid.


The costs that the federal government has expended in the Covid-19 response are known.

To date, $6.1 trillion has been appropriated over the last year by the federal government in Covid relief.

Let's put that $6.1 trillion in context.

It cost $4.1 trillion (in today's dollars) to defeat Germany and Japan in World War II according to this article from Moneywise.

America's final bill for the fighting in the Pacific and Europe was massive. In today's dollars, World War II cost $4.1 trillion, according to data from the Congressional Research Service.
That's about equal to the value of either of today's two largest companies — Apple or Amazon — four times over.
How does that compare to the cost of modern wars? A Pentagon report says the U.S. has spent "only" $1.5 trillion on America's longest war, the war in Afghanistan, plus related anti-terror campaigns in Iraq and Syria.

Let that sink in.

We have already spent 50% more "fighting" Covid than we spent in winning a World War.

Should we have taken Covid seriously when we first saw the reports coming out of Wuhan, China?

Absolutely. I wrote about that early in these pages. 

However, by this time last year it was becoming clear to anyone looking honestly at the data that the cure that was being proposed was much worse than the disease.

The costs of that cure are going to be with us with for a very long time.

The costs might also turn out to be much higher than we could ever imagine when everything is considered in the fullness of time.

Will anyone be held accountable for the poor projections, misinformation, incitement of fear and poor decision making?

Will anyone hold China responsible for their role in this? Whether the virus escaped from the lab in Wuhan or the Chinese merely covered up the early spread of the virus, the CCP bears a great deal of responsibility for what has transpired.

Will anyone hold Dr. Fauci or the CDC accountable for a string of bad decisions and poor advice to policy makers?

Will anyone hold the many Governors who put politics ahead of data and science?

Will anyone hold the many teacher's unions around the country who have sacrificed the children they are supposed to serve ?

Will anyone hold the mainstream and social media companies who have been more interested in promoting a narrative and censoring alternative viewpoints than objectively reporting facts and data that could have allowed all of this to be viewed in perspective?

A month ago Joe Biden called out Governors in states such as Texas, Mississippi and Florida by accusing them of "neanderthal thinking".

President Biden criticized states such as Texas and Mississippi for lifting Covid-19 restrictions, saying that we are on the cusp of being able to change the nature of the disease and that "the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

A month later what do the daily case numbers look like in Texas and Mississippi compared to mask mandate and lockdown states like Michigan, New York and New Jersey.



Perhaps Biden will be proven right in the end. However, if he is not, will he be held accountable?

Perhaps Biden's CDC Director will be right when she says she has a feeling of "impending doom" that we are on the verge of another Covid surge.

If that is the case, it would certainly not say much about her confidence in the Covid vaccines, the favorable seasonality trends we should soon see or any additional benefits from natural herd immunity.

In the ironies of all ironies category (or is it?), the CDC states that one of the signs that a person is having an allergic reaction to one of the mRNA Covid vaccine is a "feeling of impending doom".

When I first saw this referenced I thought it was satire. It is not.

You can see the CDC presentation at the link below. Go to page 23 of the presentation.  

"COVID-19 Vaccines: Update on Allergic Reactions,Contraindications, and Precautions" 

I guess we can safely assume that CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has been vaccinated.

What else do I know?

I do know what the recent trends have been.

This graph shows the national trends as well as what is going on in the so-called "science" states and the "neanderthal" states.

If you were an alien dropped in from Mars which states seem to have a better handle on the situation right now?

Source: The New York Times

New cases nationally have increased some in the last two weeks driven by states like Michigan, New York and New Jersey but they are still down by 2/3 since January. Deaths are down 23% over the last 14 days across the nation. They are down 70% since the peak in mid-January.

The observations I make in BeeLine are driven by the data I see in front of me.

That data may change and it may lead me in another direction.

I have misjudged a number of things over the last year. However, I never came close to being as far off as those "experts" who were modeling the impacts of Covid a year ago.

I expect my readers to hold me accountable if I give them bad data or conclusions from that data. At the same time, if I lead anyone astray there is not much damage I can do with the limited reach of this blog.

The same can't be said about the others I have referred to above. The decisions and judgments they make affect the lives, livelihoods and futures of millions of people.

Will any of them be held accountable for anything they have done or might still do in all of this?

Based on what I have seen in the last year, I am not optimistic.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

ID Idiocy

Democrats and others have become unhinged that Georgia has passed a law requiring voters requesting an absentee ballot to provide their drivers license or state id number in order to request a ballot. The new law includes other measures to insure greater election integrity such as locating voting mail boxes in more secure places and making it clear that voters may not be given anything within 150 feet of the voting location (food, water, gifts, campaign material etc).

This CNN analysis stated that "Georgia Republicans shocked the nation with the swift passage of the legislation" and the new law has placed "the rest of the national GOP at a crossroads, where its members must decide whether they are willing to belong to the party of disenfranchisement."

Joe Biden called the new law an "atrocity" and stated the Justice Department is "taking a look" at the measure.

Biden also called it an example of "Jim Crow in the 21st Century".

Major league baseball players have also joined in. 

MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark said players are ready to discuss moving the summer's All-Star game out of Atlanta after the state legislature passed an election reform bill restricting voter access.

My advice is that while the Justice Department is taking a look they might want to see what the current law in Georgia has been for those voting in person.

Anyone voting in person in Georgia has already had to produce a photo id in order to vote.

Below is a screen shot of the Georgia voter id requirements that have been in place for some time for in person voting.

Note that if you do not have another government id card you can get one for FREE.

In what universe does it make sense to require an ID when a living, breathing individual shows up to vote in person but nothing is required for an anonymous mailed-in absentee ballot that could be voted by anyone randomly? 

Joe Biden also might want to look at the voting requirements in his home state of Delaware if he is worried about Jim Crow in Georgia.

Unlike Georgia, Delaware does not allow absentee or early mail-in voting except in very limited circumstances. Georgia allows anyone to vote absentee without giving a reason.

Delaware also requires an ID to register or vote and also requires the last four digits of a voter's Social Security number on any absentee mail-in ballots.

Why isn't Biden complaining about Delaware's voter suppression?

As to those major league baseball players, are they aware that standard practice for every major league baseball team I know of is that a person needs a picture ID to pick up tickets at the ball park?

Here is the policy of the Atlanta Braves from its website.

Do they really think it is more crucial to have a photo id to pick up baseball tickets than it is to protect the integrity of the vote?

Of course, we all know how many other instances it is required that you must produce a photo id in our society today.

You have to do it to board an airplane, cash a check, buy alcohol or get a hotel room for the night to name a few. I have to show mine when I go to the doctor. 

In fact, a regular driver's license photo id will no longer even be enough to board an airplane in the United States beginning October 1, 2021 (extended from a year earlier due to the pandemic). On that date you will need a Real ID driver's license

This requirement of federal law requires all states to follow the same documentation rules in issuing driver's licenses. 

All states are now subjected to the same guidelines, which require a person to show up to a local DMV with documents that show their legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, two forms of proof of address, and citizenship or immigration status.

I ask once again. We now have all of these requirements to get a driver's license that will be required to be shown to board an airplane but it is voter suppression to ask someone for an ID to vote?

Of course, if you are an illegal alien you don't need any Real ID or any other identification to get on a plane these days.

The Biden administration is sending illegals to the airport in McAllen, TX with a note and sending them on their way to other parts of the United States with no ID.

It might be worth noting here that the same people who think it is not necessary for anyone to have to produce an ID to vote will also most assuredly be the same ones who will soon be arguing that it is absolutely required to have a "vaccine passport" if you want to travel, attend a sporting or entertainment venue, shop, or do anything else outside your home.

These are also the same people who don't want you to look at the physical or biological identity of anyone and refer to them as "he" or "she". You now should only identify people using "gender-neutral" language because the man or woman you see with your own eyes may "identify" differently.

If not, you are guilty of a micro-aggression. And no one wants to be accused of that these days.

Have we reached a point of maximum ID idiocy?

Don't count on it. 

The Democrats and Leftists are likely just getting warmed up.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Perception and Reality

One of the main reasons I write BeeLine is because I so often see facts that are so removed from the perceptions of the public.

I spend a lot of time providing facts, data and context around issues in which perceptions have become reality to so many people.

Nowhere has that been more apparent in the last year than with people's perceptions about the risks of Covid-19.

There is no better example than this recent survey which asked people what are the chances that someone with Covid must be hospitalized?

The correct answer is 1%-5% with the actual percent closer to 1% when taking account of the large number of Covid cases that were never confirmed by testing.

Look at the answers to the survey in the chart below.

Notice how political bias influences the answer. 41% of Democrats believe that more than half of those with Covid end up being hospitalized?

However, more people answered 50% and up than any other percentage with every political group.

Note as well that the media portrays Republicans as "Covid deniers", or worse, yet they have the best handle on the true facts.

How can perceptions be so far removed from reality?

The only answer is that perceptions have been shaped by a media and political narrative rather than real facts.

It would be easy to laugh this off as a bunch of misinformed and misguided individuals but these people in turn provide the political support and backing for continuing economic lockdowns, school closures and mandatory mask policies.

These are the same people who are trying to push to the front of the line to be vaccinated and will undoubtedly soon be arguing that everyone in the country needs to be inoculated with experimental vaccines that have only be authorized for emergency use. That includes school age children in which the hospitalization rate from Covid can barely be seen in this chart from the CDC.


In the meantime, deaths from any cause for those aged 0-24 in the United States have been falling for the last year despite the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic.

Have we ever seen anything resembling this in the history of mankind?


By the way, the word pandemic is derived from the Greek words pan, all, and demos, peoplemeaning literally that it affects all people alike. This has hardly been the case with Covid. 

Looking at the facts, what has been the justification to close schools and colleges over the last year?

Another subject in which you are most certainly going to find a wide disparity between people's perceptions and reality involves taxation.

Most believe that they pay more than they should as well as believe that those making more than they  don't pay enough.

A recent Rasmussen poll found that more than half of Americans believe that they are paying more than their fair share of taxes.

The same poll found that when asked the question how much taxes does a person pay who makes twice as much as they are, few thought the higher earners were paying at least twice as much in taxes.

Only 7% believed that someone making twice their income paid more than twice as much in taxes.


Of course, this perception could not be further removed from the facts.

The most recent IRS statistics (for 2018 tax returns that included the Trump tax cuts) show that the top 1% of earners now pay 40.1% of all federal income taxes. The income of this group represents 20.9% of all income.

On the other hand, the bottom 50% of income earners pay just 2.9% of the total federal income tax bill.

You can see just how progressive our federal income tax structure is by looking at average tax rates. Our highly progressive income tax rates insures that there is no way that someone making twice what you are making is paying less than twice the taxes you are. In fact, they are undoubtedly paying a lot more than twice what you are.

Let's look at some specific examples to see the federal income taxes owed at several income levels using the HR Block income tax calculator.

In all cases, I assumed a husband and wife who were both 45 years of age with two child dependents and household income consisting entirely of wages. I used the standard deduction for the first two income levels and I used itemized deductions equal to 10% of income for the two higher income levels.

I did not include any recovery rebate tax credits for any income groups but that would have represented a substantial tax credit for households making $80,000 and $160,000 in 2020.

You can readily see that a doubling of income means much more than a doubling of the federal income taxes paid.  

I could reduce the federal tax burden on the higher incomes if I assumed some of the income was capital gains or dividend income but I think you can see how far off the perception is about what the rich pay compared to the facts.

                                            Federal Taxes
$80,000 of income                 $2,229

$160,000 of income               $17,324

$320,000 of income               $53,909

$640,000 of income               $154,700

Yes, payroll taxes, sales taxes and property taxes are not progressive taxes but those with higher incomes will generally still pay increased taxes here as well in relationship to their increases in income.

Why then do people think that those who make more are not paying their "fair share" of taxes?

Again, it is based solely on a political narrative.

What is "fair"? Who decides? How much is too much?

We are likely to hear a lot more about this in the coming weeks as the Biden administration prepares a tax bill that will propose substantial tax increases on the "rich".

Pay attention to how they use the narrative but don't forget the basic facts.

One fact that I think is interesting but you will likely not hear anywhere else shows how removed from reality we are right now.

You could apply a 100% tax rate to the top 1% income tax earners and you still would not have enough money to pay for the recent $1.9 trillion Covid relief bill. (based on data in most recent IRS Statistics of Income)

That also does not include the $4.2 trillion in additional Covid relief that was part of earlier legislation over the last 12 months.

One thing is true.

Perceptions are so much better for the simple fact that reality bites so often.

This is such a time.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Who Could Have Predicted?

As a rule, I don't like making predictions.

It is too easy to be wrong.

However, Joe Biden makes it a lot easier for me to forget my rule.

For example, consider Biden's fall walking up the steps on Air Force One on Friday.

Who could have predicted that?

From my BeeLine post of November 9, 2020.

Biden is clearly past his prime and it is questionable whether he can withstand the rigors of being President. If you doubt that, consider how many times Trump stood up and took dozens of questions from reporters at Covid briefings or how many rallies he spoke at. 

Can you even imagine Biden being able to do that?

I am wondering whether Biden can easily climb up the steps to Air Force One?

I posted this picture showing how daunting the steps must look to the 78 year old Biden.

How did the White House explain the fall?

It was windy.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told White House pool reporters the president was “doing fine” after the fall.

“It was very windy. I almost fell coming up the steps myself. He is doing 100 percent,” she told reporters. “He’s doing fine. He’s preparing for the trip just fine.”

Let it not be forgotten that Biden broke his foot back in December in what we were told was a mishap occurred when Biden tripped over his dog after pulling the canine's tail after coming out of the shower.

Really? If not true, these excuses do get a "C" for creativity.

Of course, falls by the elderly are no laughing matter.

According to the CDC, 34,381 Americans age 65+ died from falls in 2019.

Let's put that in context. 

The most CDC report on death by ages (as of March 21, 2021) shows that there have been a total of 18,125 deaths from Covid-19 for those under the age of 50 since the beginning of the pandemic.

More also died in auto accidents in 2019 (22,216), suicide (26,100) and drugs (45,551) than from Covid over the last year for those ages 0-49.

Considering Biden's age and his two recent falls it appears to me that we should be much more concerned about the fall risk of Biden than the risks of Covid to the majority of our population.

You might also recall the hysteria the media went through when President Trump walked gingerly down a wet ramp at West Point last June after giving a speech.

CNN spent several days telling us that everyone should have serious concerns about Trump's health.

President Donald Trump's slow and halting descent down a ramp following his commencement speech at West Point lit up the internet over the weekend, with many speculating about whether he was in ill health.

Compare that coverage with that of Biden who has had two actual falls in the last several months and yet are dismissed by the "wind" and a "dog".

Who would have predicted we would see such a double standard at work in the media?

Look at something else I predicted right after election day.

How many times has Joe Biden stood up and answered questions from the press?

Trump was known to do it continually and for long periods of time standing in front of the White House press corps.

Biden has still not had a formal press conference.

He also has not addressed a joint session of Congress thus far which is highly unusual for a new President.

For context, here are the dates when the last six newly seated Presidents delivered their first speech to a joint session of Congress.

Trump              February 28, 2017

Obama             February 24, 2009

G.W. Bush       February 27, 2001

Clinton             February 17, 1993

G.H.W. Bush   February 9, 1989

Reagan             February 18, 1981    

It makes you wonder what is going on and whether Biden is capable of discharging the duties of his office.

Who could have predicted that?

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 50% of likely voters lacked confidence in Biden's fitness for office based on what they had observed thus far.

Rasmussen also found that only 47% of American voters believe that Biden is really doing the job of President. An identical 47% believe that others are making the decisions for him behind the scenes.

I have always found it troubling that so many Americans seem to have the view that it really doesn't make a difference who the President is.

I made a prediction shortly after the election that it would not take long to start to seeing how wrong this idea was.

Unfortunately, that is another prediction that is coming to pass.

Look no further than the chaos and crisis on our Southern border right now.

This is a headline from CNN!

Look at the total disrespect shown to Biden and the United States by the Communist Chinese in Anchorage, Alaska in recent days.

I noted in November that we should also keep an eye on gasoline prices considering Biden's views on energy.

At the time of the election, gasoline prices were below $2.00 per gallon in many parts of the country. The national average was $2.20 for regular.

The latest national average price is $2.94. Prices have increased almost daily since Biden was elected.

Gas prices are a little higher in Los Angeles who voted overwhelmingly for Biden.


Who could have predicted that?

I am also waiting to see what awaits us with Russia, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Afghanistan and other areas besides China where a deft foreign policy touch and smart decision making is required.

It is not an area that Joe Biden has distinguished himself in the past.

You may recall that Robert Gates, who was the Secretary of Defense, in the Obama/Biden administration  said in his memoir that Biden has "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."

Perhaps there is a reason that China is dissing the United States and Vladimir Putin is challenging Biden to a debate? 


Who could have predicted any of this?

Biden was a below average career politician for almost 50 years.

What is there to suggest anywhere that a man with this record, who is clearly past his prime, is capable of distinguishing himself in any way as the leader of the United States of America?

Are you beginning to see why it is a lot easier to forget my rule about making predictions when it comes to Joe Biden?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Honest Questions About Covid Interventions

One of the greatest challenges to understanding the best approach to combating Covid-19 is the fact that there are so many variables in play.

If anyone states that they know that a specific intervention works (or doesn't work) they are likely not being honest.

This is even true for someone who believes they are safe because they have self-isolated for the last year and have not left their house or interacted with anyone the entire period.

One of the more interesting factoids I learned this year was the 1973 research that showed an outbreak of a common cold virus in Antartica even though everyone on the base had been isolated from the outside world for 17 weeks.


It has never been determined how this was possible based on our knowledge of virus transmission.

Is 6 feet of social distancing enough? Does it matter?

Do masks work? It seems if that if they did we would see some hard evidence by now.

After all, CDC Director Robert Redfield said back in July that Covid would be under control in 4-6 weeks if we all wore masks. 


Redfield also testified to Congress in September that face masks offer more Covid protection than the vaccine would.


Let's take a look at how that has worked out in Rhode Island. Rhode Island was one of the first states to initiate a statewide mask mandate (April 18, 2020) and has had it in place for the last 11 months.

It has 96% mask compliance from its population "every time they go out".

How has the mask mandate worked in controlling Covid in the state?


The big bet now is on the vaccines.

I hope they work.

However, the early data does not tell me that conclusively. In fact, it some places around the world it appears that right after the vaccine program began there was a spike in cases.

Is that just a coincidence? Were the new infections driven by seasonality which had nothing to do with the vaccine program? That is entirely possible.

The good news is that 4-6 weeks after the vaccine program begins cases and deaths have generally started falling. However, is this the vaccine at work or is this the virus dying out on its own?

Take a look at the experience on the Isle of Man. I believe small island geographies are good places to evaluate data on Covid because the variable of people moving on and off of the island is better controlled.

All of the case and death data below is from The vaccine data is from CNN's global vaccination tracker.

The Isle of Man started its vaccination program on February 6. To date, vaccine doses equal to 39% of the population have been given.

There were almost no cases of Covid before vaccinations began. Shortly after, cases exploded. Is this a coincidence or is something else at play?

Israel has administered vaccines doses equal to 110% of the country. This would be equivalent to 55% of the country getting both doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Since those under age 18 are excluded this represents a substantial majority of the adult population.

The vaccine program began December 19 meaning we are three months in at this point.

Did the vaccines drive the large wave that followed the start of the vaccine program or was this natural seasonality?

Did the vaccines bring down a seasonal wave or is this a natural cyclical movement? (Note comparison to earlier wave with no vaccines).

In looking at the data it is a little more troubling seeing that the 7-day moving average of deaths is actually higher today (15) than it was when the vaccine program started (13) three months ago.

We see a similar pattern in cases in the UK which began its vaccine program on December 8.

The UK has given doses equal to 39% of the population.

The good news in the UK numbers is the deaths have been driven down considerably compared to what they were averaging before the vaccine program began. This is what we would hope to see and provides some optimism that the main goal of the vaccine (less serious illness and death) is being realized.

What do the numbers look like in the United States?

The United States started vaccinating on December 14 and doses equal to 39% of the population have been distributed to patients thus far.

The United States did not see the same pronounced spike in cases right after vaccine distribution began that we see in the other examples above.

Could this be because there was more natural immunity already present?

However, it is clear that there has been a dramatic decrease in new cases in the last two months.

In my view, it is unlikely that the vaccines have had that big an effect on the declining cases in that most vaccinations have gone to those age 65+ which were not considered major vectors of transmission of the virus. Those between ages 20-49 have been considered the biggest spreaders of the virus.

Could younger healthcare workers who have received the vaccine had that large an effect?

The good news is that deaths have fallen in the same general trend as new cases.


We don't yet have reliable data on whether the decrease in deaths is primarily related to those in the  65+ age groups that have been the major focus area for the vaccines. This will be important information to monitor.

Below is the CDC chart on all-cause deaths since January, 2020.

Note that overall all-cause deaths in the United States has been pretty stable at around 60,000 per week except for the six weeks between April and May, 2020 and the three months between November and January. 

Information is only considered complete through February 6 due to reporting lags.


This is the same chart for age 85+.


For ages 75-84.


On the other side of the age spectrum the Covid pandemic has resulted in much lower death counts for those ages 0-24.

Look at this chart and ask yourself the question as to whether in the entire time of human history has there been a pandemic and overall death rates of the young have gone down?


Which raises two questions.

Why have any schools been closed?

What reason is there to subject anyone in these age groups to an unapproved, emergency-use authorization vaccine?

I don't know the answer to most of the questions posed above. It is too difficult to isolate cause and effect to draw firm conclusions from the data.

As to the last two questions, the data seems to lead to pretty obvious answers.

Why then, are so many schools still closed and why will we undoubtedly soon be told that every child in the country needs to be vaccinated?