Thursday, September 30, 2021

$3.5 Trillion=Zero Cost

Joe Biden and the Democrats have settled on a new approach in their attempts to pass a $3.5 trillion social spending bill for what they have called "human infrastructure".

They are now saying that it costs nothing---ZERO DOLLARS.



Wouldn't life be great if things worked that way?

You can spend all you want and it doesn't cost anything unless you go into debt.

You put down a 20% downpayment on a new house but that doesn't cost you anything. It is only the mortgage debt you take on that costs anything.

You pay for your child's college education. It costs nothing because your child did not take out a student loan.

You take a two week family vacation. It costs zero dollars because you pay cash for everything on the trip.

Of course, the sad reality is this is the way that Washington, D.C. thinks.

Everything really costs nothing if someone else is picking up the tab. Everything our politicians decide to spend money on, someone else is paying the bill.

Washington is largely a gigantic redistribution machine today. Money comes in one end from one group of people and it goes out the other end to another group of people. Requests from special interests comes in from one end and favors and advantages go out the other end. 

Money and wealth have been created in Washington because of the bureaucracy to run that machine and all of the politicians, lobbyists, lawyers and special interest groups working to get "their share" of money and advantages coming out of the other end.

Biden and the Democrats are not even attempting to cloak their social redistribution schemes in some high-minded political rhetoric this time.

The message being sent to their constituency is simple---we are going to take money from these evil corporations and rich people and give it to you---and it is not going to cost anything.

Of course, if this bill passes it will not cost zero dollars. It will surely add to the national debt.

The eventual spending will be vastly higher than the cost estimates in the bill.

The actual revenues from the tax increases will be much lower than the revenue estimates.

For example, when Medicare was enacted in 1965 the official budget estimate of the House Ways & Means Committee was that it would cost $12 billion in 1990 in inflated dollars. It cost $3 billion per year initially. The actual cost in 1990---$107 BILLION. The projected cost of Medicare in 2022---$766 BILLION.

Tax increases also invariably do not generate as much revenue as projected for the simple fact that people do not sit back and passively allow the federal government to take more of their hard earned dollars. I have written before about how the luxury taxes enacted in the early 1990's failed when "the rich" stopped buying airplanes. boats, jewelry and expensive cars and the end result was the loss of thousands of jobs of workers in these industries.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute, estimates that the true cost of the Democrat bill is $6.2 trillion and the tax increases only cover $1.7 trillion. The TPPF further projects that the bill will result in a GDP loss of $1.2 trillion and the loss of 5.3 million jobs over time.




Even if somehow the cost and revenue estimates can be made to offset each other and prove correct, it still cannot be said that spending $3.5 trillion has zero costs.

Someone has to pay the bill. 

There is no free lunch. There is certainly no $3.5 trillion free lunch.

Someone has to expend the effort to create, innovate and produce something of value. Someone has to pay the bill. Someone has to produce something to pay the bill with.

The 20% down payment on your house or the college education you paid for was not free. It required work. It required savings. It required sacrifice. It was by no means cost-free.

My father used to tell me that nothing occurs in an economy until something is produced.  It might be an idea or a product but something has to be created and produced for the economic engine to run.  The service sector would not exist without this initial effort.  Most particularly, the public sector could not exist without the producers in the economy.  These producers make the society work.

It is much too easy to forget this lesson.  Or to simply ignore it.  You need to really stop and think about it.  I don't do it enough myself. 

Walk into a factory or a business that has been built from the ground up by an entrepreneur.  Take a look around.  The people that are working. The equipment that is in use.  The cars of the employees in the parking lot.  Then think about the spouse and children of the workers.  What is in their homes?  How come all of this is possible?  Who made it possible?  Who had the idea?  Who put their money at risk to make it happen?

Biden and the Democrats are misleading the American people by saying that $3.5 trillion can be spent with zero cost.

It is IMPOSSIBLE.

Right now it appears that Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is standing in the way of the $3.5 trillion spending package. Manchin called it "fiscal insanity".


Source: https://news.yahoo.com/manchin-trashes-democrat-spending-bill-215300616.html?fr=sycsrp_catchall

I guess Manchin didn't get the memo that the $3.5 trillion would not cost anything.

However, Manchin apparently believes that $1.5 trillion in new spending would not be fiscal insanity. That is the number he has proposed as the maximum he would support in a new spending bill.

The economist Thomas Sowell once observed there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs.

There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs; and you try to get the best trade-off you can get, that’s all you can hope for.” 

$3.5 trillion in spending is not zero cost.

It is an awful lot of money.

In fact, ten years ago I wrote about an ambitious proposal from a group of Republican House members who were circulating a budget blueprint to cut $2.5 trillion in federal spending over the next decade.

Here we are a decade later and that $2.5 trillion in spending is still entrenched in the federal budget and Biden and the Democrats want to load another $3.5 trillion on top of it.

My suggestion to make that $3.5 trillion in new spending to actually be "zero cost" is for the Biden and the Democrats to propose $3.5 trillion in cuts in current spending to offset it. A true trade-off on spending. What is more important? For example, providing a subsidy for Amtrak, funding for the National Endowment for the Arts or providing greater subsidies for electric cars or having the federal government pick up the tab for almost all child care costs (the latter two are in the Democrat bill).

That is how it works with the people who pay the bills. If you want to go on vacation this year you have to trade-off something else you might want to spend money on. If you are a business you may have to forego expansion plans in order to pay increased health benefit costs for employees.

There are no solutions.

There are only trade-offs.

Why do Biden and Democrats suggest that there are no costs?

Isn't this what Joe Biden said during the 2020 campaign?


Source: https://www.cnsnews.com/article/national/cnsnewscom-staff/joe-biden-ill-always-tell-you-truth

He wants to spend an additional $3.5 trillion and it will cost zero dollars?

Come on, Joe Biden!

Do you really think you are telling the truth here?

What is next?

If we end up with a $1.5 trillion human infrastructure is Joe Biden going to tell us that it not only does it not cost anything but we have just made $2 trillion?

It would not surprise me one bit.

We are living in very interesting times.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Glaringly Evident But Decidedly Unseen

I am old enough to remember when we implemented "15 Days to Slow the Spread" in March, 2020 based on the argument that we did not want to overwhelm our hospitals from Covid.

We needed to "flatten the curve" to keep from overwhelming our hospitals. The entire logic for our initial interventions was based on that argument.

How many times did you see a chart like this in March and April, 2020?



I even remember a time when we talked about the healthcare heroes in our midst who showed up every day and put themselves in harm's way to care for those infected with Covid.


Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericmosley/2020/04/20/recognizing-our-healthcare-heroes/?sh=7b29c2be42ad


This was especially true in New York which was ground zero in the early days of the pandemic.

The appreciation for those healthcare workers knew no bounds 18 months ago.

We live in a vastly different world today.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers have begun firing healthcare workers in New York state who have not complied with a state order for these employees to get vaccinated against Covid as of September 27.

At last count, nearly 20% of the state's healthcare workers were unvaccinated.

The state does not permit any exemption for those who were previously infected with Covid and have antibodies. It is not unreasonable to conclude that a large number of healthcare workers would be in this category considering their exposure risk over the last 18 months.

Governor Kathy Hochul has also indicated that she does not believe anyone is entitled to exemption to the mandate based on their religious beliefs.


Source: https://www.wrvo.org/politics-and-government/2021-09-16/hochul-says-religious-exemption-not-a-legitimate-excuse-to-avoid-covid-19-vaccine

Governor Hochul has even gone so far to state that the vaccines are "from God" and the unvaccinated are disobeying the Almighty.


Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ny-gov-hochul-claims-covid-19-vaccines-from-god-sends-out-her-own-apostles

It is unclear to me when the last time Hochul read the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. 

I also seem to have missed the 11th Commandment that Hochul seems to be referring to.

"Thou Shalt Not Refuse Any Government Mandated Vaccines".

All of this gets more difficult to understand by the day.

We are firing healthcare workers who have been on the frontlines in the midst of thousands of Covid patients for 18 months because they are not vaccinated as they might now put vaccinated co-workers and patients at risk?

We are also firing these workers when most healthcare facilities are already suffering from staffing shortages?

In what real world do you voluntarily terminate any healthcare resources in the middle of a pandemic when you are supposed to be concerned about the health system being overwhelmed?

Hochul says that she is prepared to call up the National Guard to fill hospital positions that are left open after the firings. However, National Guard members have day jobs of their own. Does she seriously think she is going to plug the hole in the dam by pulling a doctor or nurse from Syracuse to cover open positions in Schenectady?

Hochul also has stated that she wants to import healthcare professionals from foreign countries such as Ireland and the Philippines to staff the expected shortages in staff. 

Hochul also seems to ignore the fact that many of the unvaccinated workers in hospitals and nursing homes are janitors, aides, food service personnel and other lower paid positions that are already under a lot of staffing pressure. Hospitals need workers to clean the floors, cook and serve the meals and change the sheets on those hospital beds. Where do these replacement workers come from? 

The hardball tactics regarding the vaccine mandate will undoubtedly coerce a number of healthcare workers to get the jab. Loss of your job, career and livelihood is a powerful motivator.

However, even if 5%-10% refuse to comply it will cause disruptions we can ill-afford right now.

I am concerned about similar disruptions concerning the vaccine mandate regarding our military forces.

Let's consider our SEALs special forces operators.

There are only 2,450 SEALS on active duty. These service members are the best of the best. There are not many among us that have the intelligence, fitness, perseverance and combat skills to be in that select group. It takes a lot of time and money to train these warriors.

I have seen a couple of estimates that 60%-80% of SEALS are not vaccinated currently and that a significant number are not interested in getting vaccinated. After all, we are talking about young and extraordinarily fit human beings here. Some have already had Covid.

Are we really crazy enough that we are going to kick SEALs out of the service for not getting vaccinated against something that is practically ZERO RISK to them?

This article provides some more background on the legal challenge a number of SEALs have brought against the Defense Department mandate.


Navy SEALs have been informed by their superiors that they won’t be deployed if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine, even if they’re granted a religious or medical exemption, according to lawyers representing the elite special operations troops and a document seen by The Epoch Times.

“What they’ve been told is if they apply for a religious accommodation, they will no longer be deployable,” R. Davis Younts, who is representing seven SEALs and is in talks to take on approximately 20 others, told The Epoch Times.

Timothy Parlatore, whose firm represents a number of SEALs and other service members concerned about the vaccines, said his clients have also been given a similar ultimatum.

The reasons the SEALs don’t want a shot are the same as many unvaccinated Americans. They believe they have so-called natural immunity, or protection against reinfection after getting COVID-19 and recovering. And a subset are Christians who don’t want any medicines that are developed using cells from aborted fetuses.

“These guys are not anti-vax, they just—given the extraordinarily low risk of COVID to them and the substantial risk of unknown long-term effects of the vaccine—they aren’t comfortable with it right now,” Parlatore told The Epoch Times.

While the exact number of SEALs considering not getting a vaccine isn’t known, both Parlatore and a pastor who is advising some of them say it’s in the hundreds. The loss of that many SEALs could devastate the elite force, which has 2,450 active-duty members. So far, lawyers haven’t been successful in attempts to convince military leaders to alter the harsh mandate.


It is not just SEALs I am concerned about. What about pilots, nuclear power engineers on submarines, Arabic translators and other highly skilled positions in which the American taxpayer has made major investments in training? 

Let it also not be forgotten that the DOD also mandated that all personnel had to be vaccinated against Anthrax. That program began in 1998 until a court injunction halted the program in 2004 declaring the previous six years of vaccinations had been illegal because proper safety protocols had not been followed.

That did little to help those who got pushed out of military service for refusing the shot. Nor did it help the 85% (based on GAO survey in 2000) who had some type of adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Questions about the long-term effects of the Anthrax and other vaccines must still be prevalent as the Department of Veterans Affairs maintains a website page specifically on this topic.


Source: https://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/gulfwar/sources/vaccinations.asp

How much future liability are we assuming in Veterans Benefits if there are long-term effects from the vaccines?

The entire financial calculus changes when a voluntary jab becomes a mandatory one in order to maintain your position and rank.

The bottom line is that none of this makes any sense. So much is glaringly evident but no one seems to acknowledge the obvious.

77.1% of all those age 18 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine in the United States.

It should be clear right now that the problem is not with the numbers getting the vaccine. The data suggests that the problem is that the vaccines we have are not sterilizing vaccines that prevent infection or transmission.

As I have written before, the vaccines may actually be causing the Covid variants that are surfacing due to viral immune escape according to a leading vaccine and virus expert.

Who can honestly believe that another few percentage points in vaccine uptake is what is holding us back from ending the pandemic?

Is that worth disrupting our hospitals, nursing homes, schools, military and economy?

Are we in the process of making a bad situation even worse?

Does anyone also honestly believe that the United States can achieve the 97%-98% vaccine compliance that Joe Biden says is necessary for us to return to normal?




What would be the cost to our society to do that?

Are you going to cut off people's welfare checks and government benefit checks to get there?

Are you going to start jailing parents if they refuse to vaccinate their children?

Are you going to sneak up on people, corral them and vaccinate them against their will?

Yes, that has been done before.


Source: https://www.nytimes.com/1897/12/07/archives/atlanta-vaccination-war-guests-at-a-negro-wedding-and-courtroom.html

Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead, made an observation in the latter novel that seems to describe exactly where we are right now.


Source: https://kwize.com/quote/3230

In the meantime, the number of vaccine doses administered are actually declining over the last month even with the threat of vaccine mandates and the fact that people started getting booster shots in the middle of August. Those shots were supposed to be reserved for immunocompromised individuals but at least one pharmacy I am familiar with was overwhelmed with demand going back over a month.



I merely provide evidence.

It is up to others to decide what they see.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Monday Meanderings---9/27/21

A few interesting charts and observations in this edition of Monday Meanderings.


North Korea Missile Tests


Source: https://twitter.com/Beorn2000/status/1438174160862081027/photo/1


I wonder what was going on in 2017-2020?

What changed in 2021?

Does anyone have a guess?


Fastest Growing Jobs in the Next Decade


Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-20-fastest-growing-jobs-in-the-next-decade/


It looks like the future is about taking care of someone else.

Where does the money come from to do that in the first place?


Fastest Declining Jobs in the Next Decade


Source: https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-20-fastest-growing-jobs-in-the-next-decade/

Taking on student loan debt to go to secretarial school is probably not a good idea.


Social Security Insecurity

Where is the money going to come from to pay for all those health and senior care jobs in the next decade?

The latest Social Security Trust Fund report was recently released.

Social Security benefits are already outstripping the current taxes collected from younger workers.

That trend will accelerate over the next decade.


Source: https://realinvestmentadvice.com/macroview-the-insecurity-of-social-security/

Social Security benefits above current taxes (dedicated revenues above) are being paid currently by drawing down the Social Security Trust fund which is an accounting fiction. The federal government is using general revenues to cover what is owed to the Social Security Trust Fund which it "borrowed" over the years.

That "Trust Fund" will be depleted between now and 2033 according to the most recent projections (2034 if the Disability Insurance Fund is also considered).


Source: https://realinvestmentadvice.com/macroview-the-insecurity-of-social-security/

What has to happen to put Social Security in position to survive for the next generation?

An immediate 27% increase in the Social Security tax.

If we wait until 2034 we will need a 34% increase.

OR

An immediate 21% cut in all Social Security benefits for everyone.

If we wait until 2034 it will need to be a 26% cut.

OR 

A 25% cut for all future beneficiaries starting now.

That would seem impossible by itself. Combined with other solutions it might have to be done in some form or amount.


Source: https://realinvestmentadvice.com/macroview-the-insecurity-of-social-security/

We will probably need a combination of all three strategies used when our politicians finally face the economic realities. This should already be on the agenda as the ultimate costs just get more expensive by the day

The way things work in Washington the "solution" will probably get done the day before the first benefit checks that are scheduled to go out in 2034.


Housing Affordability




Between Social Security taxes and housing costs will the average American family have any money left over to live on in the future?


Shipping Container Costs

The costs to rent shipping containers to ship goods from Shanghai to Los Angeles are not coming down.




I wrote about the staggering price increases in these containers in this blog post at the end of June. Three months ago the Shanghai-LA price was around $8,500. It is now $12,500.

At one time you could buy used containers and construct a cost effective house from them.


Source: https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2015/january/shipping-container-house/#image-8



Source: https://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/2015/january/shipping-container-house/#image-8


That alternative is probably no longer viable.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Are You Going To Get The Booster?

 One of the most viewed blog posts I have written this year asked the following question.

"Are You Going To Get The Vaccine"? I wrote it it mid-January just as the Covid vaccination effort was getting underway.

One of the things I wrote in that blog post has proven to very accurate.

The biggest misconception I see in people regarding the vaccine is that they believe it will prevent them from being infected with Covid, or if loved ones are vaccinated it will prevent the transmission of the virus to them. This would seem to be an obvious assumption and a primary reason to get the vaccine.

Incredibly, there is no evidence that any of the Covid vaccines will prevent transmission of the virus.

That was not a difficult statement to make. All you needed to do was to review the findings and data in the clinical trials of the vaccines.

Nevertheless, the FDA gave all of the vaccines Emergency Use Authorization based on the assertion that they would prevent  Covid-19 disease.

This is a direct excerpt from the EUA for the Moderna vaccine.



 

At the time, I was of the belief that a lot of questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines would be answered over the next 6-12 months.

As with any medical intervention, I pointed out that the decision you should make on whether to get the vaccine involved weighing your risk from the disease, the risk from the intervention and the benefit to you of the treatment or vaccine.

I pointed out that there was much that nobody knew about the vaccines and their benefits.

I concluded this way.


The only thing I know for sure is that the media and the "experts" have painted the most negative and dangerous narrative they could involving Covid-19. They are also portraying the vaccines in the most positive light they can.

Neither narrative should be trusted. The risks of Covid to most people is a much smaller than most are led to believe. At the same time, the benefits of the vaccine are much less and there also can be real risks attached to these vaccines that should not be overlooked.

The truth undoubtedly lies somewhere in the middle but it is next to impossible for the average person to decipher what it is. 

My advice to anybody is to do as much research as you can. Don't take anything you are told at face value. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the vaccines. 

If you do that you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision on whether you should get the vaccine.


The Biden administration stated last month they were going to urge everyone who is already fully vaccinated to get a booster shot six months after their second doses of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs. 

That would appear to be an admission that the vaccines were not as effective as originally promised.

You should know that the Boosters are exactly the same vaccine formula that was originally given. It has not been modified to be more effective against the Delta or other variants.

Remember as well that as recently as the end of the July Joe Biden said this to the American people.

"You're not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations."

Earlier in July Dr. Anthony Fauci said this.




The Biden administration had planned to start the Booster program this week.

This seems to be based largely on data from Israel that shows that the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine wanes considerably over time.

However, an FDA Advisory Plan threw a wrench into Biden's plan on Friday of last week by voting overwhelmingly (16-2) against generally recommending the Boosters for those below the age of 65.

They voted to recommend an Emergency Use Authorization for the limited use of Boosters for those age 65+ and those at "high risk of severe Covid". It will be interesting to see how the latter recommendation is interpreted.

Theoretically, it could encompass almost anyone. Who is going to police who shows up to get the shot and stop someone? That is even more true as this is being done under an EUA which means the pharmacist, doctor and anyone associated with the Booster shot bears no liability. 

We may also see employers like hospitals and schools try to mandate the Boosters by arguing that their employees are at "high risk of severe Covid" and it has been "authorized" by the FDA. Who is going to stop them from doing that?

The more limited FDA decision may have been influenced by the fact that the two lead vaccine experts at the FDA announced they were leaving the agency shortly after Biden announced they were implementing the Booster program.


Source: https://news.yahoo.com/vaccine-leaders-resign-pfizer-booster-142824241.html

...senior officials have told multiple reporters that it is largely in part to what is being perceived as the White House getting ahead of and putting pressure on the entity to approve not just the vaccine boosters, but also other parts of the vaccine approval process, and also shifting the focus away from the FDA, which is largely in charge of this, to the CDC and the CDC's advisory panel.


Two weeks ago these officials went public in co-authoring an article with a number of other WHO scientists in arguing against a broad roll-out of Boosters.



 

An international group of scientists, including top leaders at the World Health Organization and two departing Food and Drug Administration officials, said in a paper published Monday that booster doses of coronavirus vaccines are not yet needed for the general public.

Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, the scientists argue that current evidence shows fully vaccinated individuals remain highly protected against severe COVID-19, and make the case that additional doses would be better used in people who remain unvaccinated.


I thought Joe Biden told us that he was always going to follow THE SCIENCE?

This brings us back to the question at hand.

Are You Going To Get The Booster?

It also puts us back to the same place we were last January.

Do the possible benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks?

At this point, it is clear that the benefits of the vaccine are not as great as they were promoted to be in January. 

I think you also have to consider why a Booster shot is necessary within a year of receiving a vaccine? When have you ever heard of needing a vaccine booster so soon? The tetanus vaccine is one in which a Booster is recommended. However, that is generally done 10 YEARS after the original shot.

Have the risks of taking an additional Booster shot been properly studied and understood?

The FDA Advisory Panel clearly had some doubts.

Let's look at that issue in more detail.

How many people did Pfizer include in the Booster clinical trial?

306 between 18 and 55 years of age.

Only 12 between the ages of 65 and 85 were in the trial.

None under the age of 18.

How much comfort does that provide?

This is an excerpt from the FDA Briefing Document on application for the licensure of the Pfizer Booster.


Source: https://www.fda.gov/media/152176/download


Note that they did not include anyone under 18 in the clinical trial of the Boosters despite numerous reports of myocarditis in young men who had two doses of the vaccine.

It is unclear the extent to which the following slide that was presented at the FDA panel influenced the final decision to not approve of the Boosters.

It shows the VAERS data (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting) for 2011-2021.


Source: https://twitter.com/justin_hart/status/1438946504664780802/photo/1


The argument can be made that the inordinate number of adverse events this year is due to the fact that there have been lot more vaccine doses given in 2021 due to the Covid vaccines. However, in a normal year, there are still a lot of vaccines administered---childhood vaccines (287 million doses per year), flu (180 million doses given in typical year), tetanus, pneumonia, HPV, etc. 

I also personally know of a lot of friends who had adverse events with the Covid vaccines that required medical care in which no VAERS report was made suggesting that the numbers are underreported.

Do you think there should be more people asking "What is going on?" considering this data?

I will be interested in seeing what the Booster uptake is going to be for those eligible.

First and foremost, what are we going to see from health care workers if they are considered at "high risk"?

They were offered the vaccines first so they will be the first to qualify for the booster.

Based on the Biden edict, they are already facing loss of their jobs unless fully vaccinated with two doses.

Many have to be wondering whether this will ever end?

How long will it be that you will not be considered fully vaccinated if you only have two doses? Are you going to need three doses to meet the requirement? Four? Five? Six? 

Israel has already stated that you are not considered fully vaccinated unless you have the Booster.

35% of Israel's population has now taken the Pfizer Booster since it was introduced in that country on July 31.



This is the trajectory of confirmed cases in Israel over the same time frame as the chart above (July 1, 2021-September 22, 2021).



Cases actually peaked higher in this wave than during any previous surge as you can see in this chart that begins in February, 2020.



Deaths have not reached the same levels as during the last year's Winter wave in Israel suggesting that the vaccines are providing that important protection. However, deaths are still double what they were at the same time last year when no one was vaccinated.




Right along with the healthcare workers we will see those in nursing homes offered the Booster.

I would expect that uptake to be pretty high based on the high percentage that took the first two doses and their risk factor due to age.

However, does having only 12 people in the clinical trial for this age group give anyone pause if this is your mother or father?

If you have any doubts about how strong a correlation there is involving the risk of Covid being higher  the older you are I suggest you scan the chart below.

It shows the numbers of all Covid deaths by age from January 1, 2020 to September 11, 2021 and the percent that those deaths represent as a % of the total population of that age in the United States.


Source: https://twitter.com/kerpen/status/1439965673426403328/photo/1


One interesting factoid in this data is that more people have died with Covid who are age 75 or older than ALL of those aged 75 and younger. 

If you look at the data you also see that there have been less than 500 deaths associated with Covid in those under age 18 since the beginning of the pandemic. To put that number in context, deaths from other causes for this age group is 127x this number. In other words, there are 127 other things that parents should be worried about with their children beyond Covid.

I have several friends I know who have either been infected with Covid, or had an adverse reaction, after getting the vaccine.

I have asked them whether they would get the Booster.

Without exception they all told me very quickly that they would not.

I would expect that the uptake on the Booster will largely depend on the personal experience that people have had with the original doses.

If they have fared well, they will get the Booster.

If they have not, they will likely not bet on it again.

Nothing has changed in my advice.

Do as much research as you can. Don't take anything you are told at face value. Make sure you understand the risks and benefits of the Boosters. There is a lot more information about all of the vaccines since January so factor that into your decision.

If you do that you will be in a much better position to make an informed decision on whether you should get the Booster when (and if) it is made available to you.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

What Is Going On?

In my last post I wrote about Radical Uncertainty and the fact that many things are simply unknowable.

More people (especially experts) should admit "I don't know" when confronted with a question that is uncertain or unknowable.

More people should also take a step back and ask "What is going on?" when they are in a situation with a lot of uncertainty.

We should have had more of both as we confronted Covid-19.

There is much that is unknowable. There is a lot of uncertainty about what comes next.

What is going on?

I have asked this question a lot during the pandemic.

I have posed this question considerably more since we started the vaccination program and seen cases spike and deaths double since this time last year when NO ONE WAS VACCINATED.

How could this be the case?

What is going on?

Let's explore that question with one possible answer.

It is not an answer that I want to be correct. In fact, I hope it is flat-out wrong.

However, as things are unfolding right now there are signals that it might provide some answers to what is going on.

I first heard of Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche earlier this year when he wrote an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) warning against implementing a mass vaccination program during the middle of a pandemic.


Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche


The letter got my attention as Bossche is anything but an anti-vaxxer. In fact, at one time he was Senior Program Officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation working on their global health and vaccine initiatives. He also worked for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) as Senior Ebola Program Manager

The thesis by Bossche is simple.

Mass vaccination in the middle of a pandemic is a prescription for disaster. The vaccinations are going to lead to "viral immune escape" by which the virus will continue to mutate around the Covid vaccines creating more variants that will be increasingly dangerous to mankind.

His thesis is similar to what we hear about the overuse of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. The more that they are used (or overused) the greater the chance that the bacterial infections will get stronger and eventually evade all antibiotics.

In his open letter, he argued that we were heading to a disastrous situation of our own making if we did not cease the mass vaccination efforts. We could be planting the seeds for a mutant virus that could not be handled by the human immune system. This would be of particular danger to those who were vaccinated because their natural immune systems would be compromised by the vaccines but it would also pose severe risks to the unvaccinated.

Bossche's thesis was not very comfortable to consider when I first heard it. I took comfort in the fact that there were no other experts who supported his conclusions. As you might expect, he has been censored and marginalized for his views.

Fast forward to today.

What is going on?

I recently read a blog post in the Merogenomics blog by Dr. M. Raszek that dissects the theories of Dr. Bossche.



It is important to note that this post was written in July when Covid cases in the United States were one-fourth of what they are today despite increasing vaccinations since then. Israel had not initiated its booster shot program.

Joe Biden had just said this to a Town Hall audience on CNN on July 21.

 “You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.”

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky had stated emphatically in April that vaccinated people do not transmit Covid.


Source: https://fortune.com/2021/04/01/its-official-vaccinated-people-dont-transmit-covid-19/

These charts provide perspective as to what has occurred with Covid in the last two months in the United States.

It should be clear to everybody that something is going on.






WHAT IS GOING ON?

Is there something to Bossche's theory to answer the question "What is Going On?"

I am going to draw heavily from quotes in the above blog because I am not a scientist or doctor and this is a complex topic. That blog relied on material on Bossche's website but the author of the blog post states that he does not know if any of this is correct. He did the research and wrote the blog post just to  better understand the theory.

Take it for what that is worth which could be nothing. I hope it is.

Let's start with the basic question. What is immune escape?

By immune escape, we mean a virus that has mutated to be able to be completely unaffected by the antibodies meant to stop it from working. Basically, the mutations impact the ability of the antibodies to either bind the virus or be able to prevent it from infecting cells, even if they are bound to the virus.

Simply stated, that is a virus that you have no defense against either through your natural immune system or through antibodies created by a vaccine.

The worst case outcome according to Bossche is that the mass vaccination efforts cause more and more variants trying to evade the vaccine which gets stronger and stronger.

This is bad for everyone but especially for those who are vaccinated because the vaccines weakened their natural immune system. As stronger variants emerge they will be left defenseless. The unvaccinated will also be threatened as they may still have a good natural immune system but having to fight off new variants while their immune system has been weakened in fighting off a previous variant may be too much for them to handle. Those best protected will be those who were previously infected with Covid who did not get vaccinated. They will have the broadest, strongest ability to fight new variants.

Let's see how Bossche predicted this would play out and compare that to what we see today.

He predicted that at first mass vaccinations would lead to a large reduction in cases.


Prior to the emergence of any new strains, as a consequence of immune pressure imposed on the virus due to mass vaccinations, the very first expected outcome of mass vaccination will be to see cases dramatically go down.

 

Refer to the graphs above. Cases started dropping dramatically beginning in January shortly after the vaccination program started.

However, according to Bossche, hidden within the drop in cases, mutations of a new virus strain will be slowly developing in trying to avoid the immune pressure created by the vaccines. It is working to get stronger and find new hosts to infect.


But that drop in cases, seen as a flat line of very little observed cases, is referred to as the valley of fitness. This is where the new virus strain that has mutated to overcome this immune pressure is slowly and seemingly imperceptibly establishing itself in the population, before it can take over and dominate the infection in the population.

 

Was that period in May, June and the first part of July the "valley of fitness"? 

This appears to be the period when the Delta variant was gaining strength.

The second big outcome to occur under Bossche's thesis is that more and more cases would first be seen in the unvaccinated cohort. This group is initially the most susceptible hosts.


The second outcome would be to force the virus to move to an unvaccinated cohort. This also means that we should see more younger and younger people being infected and coming down with COVID-19. 


We seem to have seen this with all the talk we heard initially about this surge being a "pandemic of the unvaccinated"  and a higher proportion of younger people who have lower vaccination rates testing positive.

See how the cases among those under age 40 have increased more dramatically in this wave compared to those age 65 and older.

That is consistent with what Bossche predicted months ago.



The good news is that these cases are not causing more deaths among the same age groups thus far.

Despite what you hear in the media, the CDC data does not show any more deaths from Covid in ages under 30 than this time last year for the most recent week that complete numbers are available.

Notably, those under age 12 (who are not currently eligible for the vaccine) had less Covid deaths this year than last year at the same time.


Covid weekly deaths per 100,000
Source: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#demographicsovertime


This is why Bossche states that we should not be vaccinating the young. We should allow them to build up herd immunity since they are at little risk due to their young and strong natural immune systems.

This leads us to Bossche's next prediction which also seems to be proving true.


At this stage, the blame for this will be shifted (inaccurately, according to Dr. Bossche) on the unvaccinated for preventing to reach herd immunity, whatever that level would be, as no matter how high the level of fully vaccinated people any nation will reach, we can never end up seeing an effective end of this pandemic as a consequence of vaccination.


The same seems true for this prediction, which suggests that even though cases are starting to rise in the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated, the "experts" argue that we need to vaccinate more young people (and others who are not vaccinated through mandates).


This stage will also result in a tragic consequence of coming to the wrong conclusion that we need to continue vaccinating more of the young people on the account that they are now contributing to the ever higher, increasing rates of infection and hospitalization. Along the way, no one seems to ask as to why this is happening - where the population that was previously completely “protected” is suddenly now vulnerable.

 

We may also be in the initial stages of what Bossche predicts next.


This stage will be first identified by an increasing level of breakthrough cases among the vaccinated with a greater and greater number of hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus bypassing the immune pressure imposed by the vaccines. This will continue to be blamed on a lack of achieving mass vaccination or the lack of continuing stringent lockdowns even though it is the mass vaccination itself that will be the cause of this progression. The emergence and propagation at this point will be carried out by the vaccinated people, but potentially not noticed at first as many countries have stopped their general screening of the population, thus preventing the catching of asymptomatic cases among this cohort. This is the stage where the new vaccine boosters will be introduced to help fight against these strains which might afford some temporary protection but will ultimately always fail.


Of course, the CDC also initially stopped testing vaccinated people unless they were showing symptoms even if they were in close contact to an infected person. They have now reversed course and are now recommending testing those vaccinated within 3-5 days of being in contact with any positive case.

The CDC had also earlier recommended that the vaccinated only be tested in the lab to determine a positive case using a cycle threshold of <28. The standard for unvaccinated was <40. In effect, there were using two different standards as to what was a positive test.

Why did they do that? 90% of positive Covid cases only show up by using a cycle threshold test over 28.

Alex Berenson commented about that decision at the time that seemed calculated to suppress reported confirmed case numbers in the vaccinated.



Is it telling that the CDC has now quietly removed that guidance to labs?

Is it also telling that the CDC Director was also acknowledging the concept of immune escape at the end of July.



The coronavirus could be just a few mutations away from evading existing COVID-19 vaccines, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"These vaccines operate really well in protecting us from severe disease and death, but the big concern is that the next variant that might emerge - just a few mutations potentially away - could potentially evade our vaccines," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a Tuesday press briefing.


What is particularly dangerous in this period is that a lot of the spread could be coming from those who are fully vaccinated but are carrying high viral loads that can infect others but they are asymptomatic according to Bossche's thesis.

This is already shown to be occurring based on a recent study in Wisconsin that was reported on by  National Geographic recently.


If the Wisconsin study finding holds up, then people with breakthrough infections—many of whom do not develop COVID symptoms—can unknowingly spread the virus. “It [is] an alarming finding,” explains Katarina Grande, a public health supervisor and the COVID-19 Data Team Lead of Madison & Dane County, U.S., who led the study.

What concerns Eric Topol, the founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, is that fully vaccinated individuals who are infected with the Delta variant can transmit the virus and this can happen at a higher rate than previous strains in the days before symptoms, or in the absence of symptoms.



After Boosters are used and cases are still increasing in the vaccinated, we will be told that we need a new reformulated vaccine that is targeted at the variants according to Bossche..

If the world finally figures it out at this point - that mass vaccination generated this problem - we will have to shift to a completely new method of dealing with the problem. But likely the response will be to redevelop another leaky vaccine to fight the new strains. The issue is that it will likely, once again, be a non-sterilizing vaccine, so the problem will not be solved in this way, while the number of casualties will continue to mount.

A non-sterilizing vaccine is one that does not prevent infection, disease or transmission. It is considered a "leaky" vaccine.

Despite the fact that the Covid vaccines were given their Emergency Use Authorization based on the assertion that they PREVENTED disease it was clear to anyone who looked at the clinical trial data this was not true.

This is taken directly from the FDA Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine last December. The same is true for the Moderna and J&J vaccines.


Source: https://www.fda.gov/media/144416/download


At this point, there is no Covid vaccine that is a sterilizing vaccine. However, some companies are working on it.

If Bossche is correct, what do we do?

First, we should forget about vaccinating children and we should stop mandating the vaccines. That seems unlikely to happen right now.

In any event, Bossche believes we are past the point of no return in achieving any herd immunity protection for the population based on what we have already done with the mass vaccination program.


While at the start of the mass vaccination Dr. Bossche was calling for immediate halt of the program, he admits that at this point the damage has already been done on such grand scale, that stopping vaccinations now is irrelevant in terms of protecting the population. Achieving herd immunity at this point is no longer possible due to the introduction of long term vaccinal antibodies in so many people.


What can you do individually to best protect yourself according to Bossche? 

No matter what your vaccination status, you need to make sure you practice a healthy lifestyle that is intrinsically linked to innate immunity quality.

Bossche also believes large mass gatherings should be avoided by everyone to try to limit infection and the development of new mutations.

He actually believes that this is the time we should be locking down. We should have not locked down at the beginning. We should have protected the vulnerable and let the virus run its course in the healthy population.

More specifically, what should the UNVACCINATED do to protect themselves?

Avoid contact with vaccinated people as they are at high risk of being asymptomatic carriers of a new dangerous strain that could overwhelm your natural immunity protection (but how practical is this now in real life in highly vaccinated countries? Pretty impossible!)

Screen regularly for antigen specific IgG antibody presence. If antibodies are detected, long quarantine is required until they disappear. This is because you are now exposed to get a disease as you no longer have a protection because the IgG antibodies are suppressing your innate antibodies from being able to protect you from the virus. So, if you get reinfected at this stage, you are in danger of developing COVID-19 because you temporarily have suppressed protection.

For the VACCINATED?

When it comes to SARS-CoV-2 your innate immunity is gone as long as you continue producing vaccinal antibodies, but you can still gain from having a strong innate immunity against other pathogens. If your vaccinal antibodies protect you from current circulating strains, you are good. If a new strain emerges that can bypass vaccinal antibodies altogether, anyone who has been vaccinated is a sitting duck, and at a dangerous risk of developing COVID-19. This is where still having a strong innate immunity against other pathogens might be still very valuable, to protect you against other additional infections. This is the price to pay for vaccinating yourself if vaccines fail.

Screen regularly for viral presence (for example with a test like PCR). If a virus is detected, regular quarantine is required to protect others in case you become an incubator for the virus to mutate into a new strain.

FOR THOSE WHO GET SICK.

Early antiviral treatment with drugs such as Ivermectin or a cocktail of such drugs could be the only option remaining for those who have been vaccinated or those who are unvaccinated but whose innate immune system has not sufficed to protect them, or who get re-infected while still presenting suboptimal induced antibodies from the first infection.

As I stated before, I hope Dr. Bossche is wrong. I hope the vaccines are safe and effective and we are able to bring this pandemic to an end.

However, almost nothing that has been predicted by the "experts" has proven true.

Like it or not, some of what Bossche predicted is coming to pass.

If the totality of what he believes is even partially correct, there are going to be tough times still ahead.

I don't even want to think about it if he might be more right than wrong.

The worst vision that Bossche has is as follows:


He (Bossche) predicts that once the reality dawns on the populace of how horribly this pandemic has been mismanaged, leading to massive unnecessary death tolls in those who chose to be vaccinated - that the realization will lead to a form of revolutionary outbreak by a deeply disenchanted and grieving public. Because heads will have to roll. He even thinks that ultimately this will affect how people view vaccines in the future and might even require banning the use of the word vaccine due to the negative impact that current mass vaccine use will have. He really put a lot of thought to his vision of the future!


I know what I describe here is 180 degrees opposed to everything we have been told about the Covid vaccines.

It is hard to grasp that the views of Bossche could be so completely contrary to what everyone else is saying.

He could he be possibly be right if there is no one else publicly saying what he is?

However, at the same time, it appears to me that the predictions of Dr. Bossche match what we see unfolding in the data to a greater degree than anything else I have seen to this point.


Yes, it is hard to imagine that Dr. Bossche could be so alone in such an important understanding of how to properly control this pandemic. So hard that it almost seems implausible that he could be right, while the rest of the world gets it wrong. But perhaps this is not unlike Sweden being isolated (and ridiculed) for not enforcing stringent lockdowns as a nation when everyone was doing the same.


How is Sweden looking in that strategy compared to the UK, USA and Israel right now?



 

Considering that the stakes for humanity have rarely been higher do you think more of the "experts" should have said "I don't know" in dealing with our Covid response and been open to other ideas?

In addition, as we have seen the cases and deaths climb in countries with high vaccination rates, shouldn't there be more people asking "What is going on"?

Dr. Bossche may not be right. I hope he isn't. However, he should be heard and his views should be debated openly and widely. That is something Bossche has wanted since he wrote his open letter to the WHO in March. However, it has never happened.

If what he says is a 1% possibility it should be considered seriously. The consequences about mass vaccinations is just too horrific if we are wrong about the current policy.


Let’s bring all the credible experts to a table and let them duke this out using scientific evidence to support their cases, including why Dr. Bossche might be so wrong, but at least, agree to a criterion of what we should be expecting from this pandemic moving forward so that we can properly judge our current efforts. Right now, he claims we do not have these criteria, we just make up excuses along the way to explain any results that might be showing up. And if he is right, then we have already proven to ourselves that we can whip up vaccines in record time, so we should immediately jump on his notion of building a sterilizing vaccine to deal with this pandemic before too many would pay the price.


What is going on?

It may be late in the game to figure that out because we shut off all debate and dissenting views a long time ago.

I hope and pray that does not prove to be our undoing in the end.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Radical Uncertainty

I am reading a book right now titled "Radical Uncertainty" by John Kay and Mervyn King.




Kay and King are both economists and the book is generally focused on the uncertainty there is in most financial decisions whether personal or business.

For example, trying to answer the question of whether you are going to have enough money to retire?

You can model a lot of scenarios but there are so many uncertainties in answering that question.

How long will you live?

How long will your spouse live?

How much you will be able to save during your working years?

How long will you be able to continue working?

What investment returns can you expect?

What medical care will you need?

What will future inflation be?

The answers to almost all of these questions are unknowable. You can make assumptions in your planning but the reality may turn out to be completely different.

The fact is that there are many situations and questions in life where there is radical uncertainty and the only logical answer is "I DON'T KNOW".

Unfortunately, as Kay and King point out in the book,  there are relatively few (especially experts) that will ever state that they don't know.

And it is exceedingly difficult to make good decisions "by professing knowledge we do not have and cannot have".

When reading this book it is hard not to think about the Covid-19 pandemic. If there is anything that involves RADICAL UNCERTAINTY it is that.

I found it interesting that the book was published on March 17, 2020. Coincidentally, the "15 Days to Slow the Spread Campaign" was announced on March 16, 2020. It seems to another example of God  having a great sense of timing.

Of course, if we look back over the last 18 months dealing with such massive Radical Uncertainty, how many times have any of our public health or political leaders told us "I DON"T KNOW"?

We have lived through all of the pronouncements where the experts told us they had the answer.

15 Days To Slow The Spread

Lockdowns

Social Distancing

School Closings

Remote Work

Plexiglass Barriers

Hand Sanitizer

Mask Mandates

We even heard the CDC Director state that masks were more effective than the coming vaccines. Dr. Robert Redfield also said this almost exactly one year ago today.

Redfield said if Americans wore face masks for several weeks, "we would bring this pandemic under control," because there is scientific evidence they work and they are our "best defense."

Vaccines

If you follow a chronology from Dr. Anthony Fauci (the CHIEF KNOW IT ALL) on the vaccines you begin to see how totally wrong this guy has been on almost everything. 

(Hat tip to Alex Berenson for putting this chronology together.)

Last November Fauci said the end of the pandemic was in sight due to the coming vaccines.


Source: Bloomberg


In December, 2020 Fauci stated that we could see signs of herd immunity in March or early April, 2021.


Source: NPR

However, when March arrived Fauci changed the timeline and said we would see a big difference by summer or early fall.



 

In May, in an interview with The Washington Post Fauci was asked whether we needed to be concerned about how long the vaccines would be effective and whether we should be concerned about another surge in the Fall. ( I guess he should have been asked about a summer surge!)

Here was Fauci's answer.



It seems he missed pretty badly on that prediction.

By August Fauci had changed the timetable to Spring, 2022 at the earliest!


Source: Seattle Times


I still don't know how Fauci could be as wrong as he has on so many things and still have his job?

We are now on to vaccine mandates, boosters and efforts to vaccinate children as young as 5 by November.

We also may be on the verge of completely crashing our health care system on the issue of vaccine mandates.

Hospitals and nursing homes are already living on the edge in keeping their facilities full-staffed.

Are we about to see a string of stories like this?


Source: https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/571895-hospital-says-it-will-stop-delivering-babies-after-maternity-ward


Source: https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/finance/texas-hospital-faces-closure-over-vaccine-mandate-ceo-says.html


Brownfield (Texas) Regional Medical Center, a rural hospital, will lose up to 25 percent of its employees if the vaccine mandate is enforced, CEO Jerry Jasper told KCBD. Losing those workers would probably shut down the hospital because some nurses have already quit to take jobs with nursing agencies that offer higher pay, according to the report. 

Not complying with the vaccine mandate and losing Medicare and Medicaid funding isn't an option for Brownfield Regional Medical Center. About 80 percent of the hospital's funding comes from Medicare and Medicaid, Mr. Jasper told KCBD. 


The authors of the book make one other observation on what we should see more of in situations of RADICAL UNCERTAINTY beyond simply admitting that  "I DON"T KNOW".

They suggest asking the question "WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?".

Kay and King explain.

The question 'What is going on here?' sounds banal, but it is not. In our careers we have seen repeatedly how people immersed in technicalities, engaged in day-to-day preoccupations, have failed to step back and ask, 'What is going on here?' We have made the mistake ourselves.

Indeed.

What is going on here?

I have not written about what is going on in Vietnam with Covid previously but it is a good place to ask "What is going on here"?

Vietnam was hailed for most of the last year as having almost no cases of Covid.

Six months ago a global think tank ranked Vietnam as #2 in the world for controlling Covid.

It had only 35 deaths from Covid in a nation of 97 million people.

It began a mass vaccination program in the middle of June.



What do cases look like in Vietnam now?



Is it a coincidence that cases starting rising in Vietnam at almost exactly the same time that mass vaccinations began?

What is going on here?

What is going on in Israel six weeks after they initiated their Booster shots?



What is going on here?

What is going on in the United States as we are introducing vaccine mandates and boosters?

No one was vaccinated at this time last year. We are nowhere close to where Dr. Fauci said we would be with the vaccines in place.

Cases are 4x as high as they were at the same time last year.



Deaths are 2x as high as they were last year.



What is going on here?

I would say we are in a period of RADICAL UNCERTAINTY.

Why then do the "experts" and our leaders seem to be so RADICALLY CERTAIN about what they are telling us is necessary?

Kay and King speak to that situation as well in their book.

"When experts claim knowledge they do not and could not have, they invite the response that people have 'had enough of experts'.

We are getting closer to that point every day.

That is not a radical thought. That is a certainty based on what is happening right now.