Post #1001: Rock bottom.

Posted on February 9, 2021

Warning:  This post uses language that some may find offensive.

Yeah, the paint is somewhat dryer.  Today it appears to be drying slightly faster than it was yesterday.   There’s still no clear confirmation that this is anything but the paint simply drying of its own accord.  The Administration remains unable to state clearly that the paint is now significantly dryer than it was.

And it’s still not drying fast enough to save our asses from the U.K. variant of COVID-19.

But let’s look on the bright side.

First, if current conditions persist, we’ll be swamped by the U.K. variant by the end of next month.  And while the U.K. variant of COVID is more infectious and deadlier, it’s preventable by existing vaccines.  And by infecting the remainder of the U.S. population, the U.K. version will probably keep down the South African variant, which is not only more infectious and deadlier, but apparently unaffected by existing vaccines.

So that’s a plus.

Meanwhile, Israel has led the world in vaccinations, using their secret space-laser-based technology.  But now that’s running out of gas, as many Israelis have learned that tin-foil hats are excellent reflectors.

The Israeli anti-COVID-vaccine movement is apparently being led by “a celebrity rabbi”, a phrase which for some reason simply I cannot quite grasp.   Like Elvis with payot?  It’s just not profession I associate with rock star status.  But I assume that’s their version of a televangelist, so I merely lack the cultural context to understand it.  In any case, it’s always heartening to see that the U.S. has no monopoly on popular stupidity.

And now some U.S. states are rescinding all restrictions related to COVID.  Not just some, not just business-related.  All.  The reasoning behind this is, as far as I can tell, approximately the same reason that a dog licks its privates.  (Question:  Why does a dog lick it’s b****s?  Answer:  Because it can.  But it has to take the mask off first.)

Meanwhile, despite huge disparities across states in the fraction of the population probably already immune to COVID, the CDC is allocating vaccine to the states on a strict per-capita basis.

I defy you to find any scientific justification for that allocation rule.  There is none.  It’s the government’s best alternative to “dibs”.  It’s Costco limiting you to one pack of toilet paper, writ large, and stemming from the same source.

It’s the rule because if we tried to do anything smarter, we’d fight over it.

So it’s not because we’re too stupid to think of anything better.  It’s that we’re too greedy to allow anything better.  That’s a change, at least.

And speaking of greed-driven stupidity:  The last set of direct stimulus payments to individuals was just about as big a failure as it could possibly have been, in terms of actually stimulating the economy.  You can see that laid out in Post #946.  With data ‘n’ everything.  And it’s not like that’s a secret, because the Federal Reserve said the same thing, in its circumspect way.  Overwhelmingly, and with zero ambiguity, people mostly took those stimulus payments and put them in the bank.  Which gives you virtually zero bang-for-the-trillion-bucks, in terms of goosing GDP.

And so, as the night follows the day, the current plan is a) to make up fairy tales about how that will eventually stimulate the economy, and b) to amp that up, with even bigger direct payments to individuals.  And then, of course, to make that the biggest point of pride/contention in the proposed legislation.  (You call that a stimulus payment?  Hah.  This is a stimulus payment.)

So our stimulus allocation is of-a-piece with our vaccine allocation.  It’s not that we can’t figure out smarter ways to spend that money — ways that will result in more direct spending, right now.  Ways that will provide efficient economic stimulus.

It’s that we’re collectively too venal to allow that to happen.

Everybody’s got to get their little taste, or we’ll squabble about it.  Even if that’s a really stupid way to fritter away the next trillion dollars.  Even if it only makes sense if we pretend that we’ll never have to raise taxes to cover those costs.  None of that matters.  The inefficient direct stimulus payments are just an accurate reflection of who we are.


As you might be able to guess, I’m pretty tired of writing about this topic.  Going forward, I guess I’ll keep an eye out for the herd-immunity-driven nosedive in the new infection rate.  And the forthcoming non-explosion of new cases from Superbowl parties.  Otherwise, this has gotten pretty old, at this point.

I suppose you’re expecting some sort of twist now, right?  Some modestly heartwarming, upbeat ending to all that pessimism? Some silver lining to all these dark clouds?

Well, tough.  I’m just not feeling it.  If you’re looking inspiration, you’ve just read the wrong blog post.

Maybe the mass of people already infected, plus seasonality, plus a skim coat of vaccinations, will save the U.S. from a fourth wave.  And maybe not.  At best, we’re going to muddle through.  That’s all the upbeat I can muster this morning.

All you can do is keep your head down, keep your act together, and encourage others to do the same.  N95?  Wear it if you have it.  If not, they are readily available on Amazon.  Vaccine?  I’ll take any one they offer me, when they offer it.  Restaurant meals?  I can get by with take-out for another few months.  And there’s nothing I can do about all the people who won’t/can’t/shan’t do any of that.

Rinse and repeat, until this is over.