From that well-known socialist news agency CNN Business (boldface mine):
Long Covid, which stems from a Covid-19 infection, is considered a chronic illness that is sometimes debilitating. As many as 30% of Americans, about 23 million people, develop long Covid after a Covid infection, said the US Department of Health and Human Services in November.
“The bottom line is that long Covid is why the labor force participation rate has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, even in a situation with solid wage growth,” wrote Torsten Slok, chief economist and partner at Apollo Global Management, in a recent note….
A new analysis of workers’ compensation claims in New York State found that around 18% of long Covid patients still hadn’t returned to work more than a year after contracting the virus. More than three quarters of them were under 60.
Actuaries need to know the present in order to apply their skills in forecasting futures. Their clients and employers, overwhelmingly insurance companies, need to have a clear understanding of what claims they are currently paying, for whom and why. Insurers need to know if their current claims are the types of claims that they expected to pay when they originally issued the policy at a given premium level. They need to know these things in order to figure out if they can still continue to exist as a business.
Right now, the actuaries for life and disability companies are looking at their data and seeing a lot of claims. An Indiana insurer for employed individuals reported in early 2022 massive increases in deaths for working age covered lives. Now we’re seeing insurers in New York paying out long term claims to people who typically don’t see a lot of long term claims.
Actuaries eventually shape our reality as they need to understand the present in order to price the future….
Alce_e _ ardillo
Commies, all of them. Sic Ron DeSantis on them. They shouldn’t be able to do their “woke” mathematics in Florida.
I was making these same arguments to my right-wing parents more than a year ago when they tried to downplay the effects of Covid. They at least acknowledged that I had a point, which was encouraging.
To my knowledge, I’ve never had covid, but I feel like I’ve lacked energy for about three months now. I’ve recently begun thinking I had covid and am now experience long covid. Probably not, but it’s in the back of my mind.
There’s a confusing statistic there, where it says “30% of Americans, about 23 million people”. Wha? Some information appears to be missing.
@Fleeting Expletive: 23 million people is 30% of 77 million people, nowhere near the population of the US. Maybe it’s 30% of Americans who have had Covid-19? But that seems too small to me, so I agree with you that something’s missing.
@Alce_e _ ardillo: The actuaries in Florida have spoken, and its home insurance industry is a mess. One might even say a socialist mess, given the interventions required by both federal and state government.
According to Walmart, Covid is over. Walmart, to their complete credit, provided time off if you tested positive. It wasn’t a personal choice. You test positive, you can’t come to work. I’m reasonably sure it was at full pay. Again, they deserve credit for the program.
That policy is no more. Now, I could be FOS, but, if you don’t give people time off, they are gonna come to work sick, if they can, if they don’t have the time off hours to cover it.
@Fleeting Expletive: @Scamp Dog: The qualifier “after a Covid infection” follows the statistics, so I’m guessing that’s what was meant. It would be clearer as “Of those Americans who have had COVID, 30% (about 23 million people) develop long COVID.”
Clicking through to the actual report, the numbers do not appear together.
The stats are that “between five and 30% of people developing Long COVID after a COVID-19 infection” and “”Long COVID’… is now estimated to affect between 7.7 and 23 million Americans (at the time of this report’s publishing).”
We can be 100 percent certain that the antivaccination true believers will attribute all reports of either excess mortality or excess morbidity to the malign effects of vaccination itself.
Actuaries make their forecasts based on what ordinarily happens. But disruptive events make their jobs difficult, and in some cases, impossible.
COVID has been one of those disruptive events. Climate change will have a similar impact. The collapse of the Pine Island and Thwaites ice shelves bode ill for rising sea levels. Things will get very interesting in low-lying areas around the world, and by interesting I mean untenable. Where and how, for example, do you situate a port when you have ever-rising tides? How do you insure homes and businesses that are suddenly vulnerable, and who gets stuck with the bill when they have to be abandoned?
OT: RIP Burt Bacharach.
My workplace is still pretty firm about people staying home when they are sick. Most of us have been working remotely since the pandemic hit, although each department is supposed to go in one day a week to discuss problems that crop up. If you have a cough or other symptoms, though, they are encouraging people to stay home.
Part of their rationale is that the plant workers have to come in because their jobs can’t be done remotely. I had a cold this week but could still remote in to do my job. If I went in yesterday, I could have infected some plant workers, who would have had to take sick days. This is discourteous to co-workers who don’t have the same perks as you if nothing else.
Alce_e _ ardillo
Lest anyone get the wrong idea- have nothing against actuaries, or accountants or any of the number persons who keep our society running.
In fact, my grandfather was a raging commie ( socialist) in the 1930s-40s and rose to become a director and manager of a division at Price Waterhouse as a chartered accountant. I guess knowing how to read the books opened his eyes to the reality of capitalism.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
A commie at Price Waterhouse? Was he in charge of the Oscar ballots? (is that a deep cut? I haven’t watched the Oscars in years, and I believe Price Waterhouse has been absorbed by another Borg?)
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: I worked at Arthur Andersen right out of college. I was not a commie when I started but I sure as hell was one when I left, luckily a few years before the Enron debacle.
Teardrops are falling down my face…
Yeah, ditto working at IBM. Not that that’s IBM’s fault: really it was “working with IBM’s biggest customers”. Really shows you how fucked-up capitalism is. Though nothing like what it must have been like, working for a big accounting firm.
I believe there is such a thing as long covid. I also believe that there are many Americans who are exhausted by working at low pay or high stress jobs who left work because of covid and now can’t face going back. I totally understand how people who have some kind of life support system that allows them to bail out of their previous job and into part time, early retirement, off the books handyman or other type of self-employment, or just not working would do so. Especially if a bout with covid left them feeling depleted,
BTW this is based on observation of a small sample. On my island there’s a catastrophic teacher shortage and I know of former teachers who “aren’t working” but are–as part of our well-established island cash economy as dog walkers, house sitters, in-home care providers and so on. That’s what I would do if I was still working and married to someone who had health insurance or was eligible for Medicaid or Applecare.
@Old School: Only at BJ do we have discussions about the meaning of 30% and what it applies to in order to get it right. A little thing I appreciate about this site.
3 years ago I was running around here hair on fire. 5 shots, mask everywhere, wife, daughter, and I still haven’t caught it.
That’s not to say that there’s a guaranteed way to avoid it – there isn’t. But it does say that you can improve those odds a LOT. So much in fact, that a competent effort addressing this early on could have kept this manageable. A lot of suffering could have been avoided.
Theres a lot of gaps in the number of people who have had Covid. My guess is the 30% is of a specific cohort that they know had Covid, rather than the larger cohort that between direct diagnosis and survey we believe had Covid. 30% of unduplicated confirmed Covid cases sounds about right to hit the 23 million number.
And of course, this pandemic is still relatively new, and we are learning more about Long Covid as time goes on. Information about what Long Covid is, and how many people have been affected, will be subject to a lot of revision.
Same here (sans dependents). I work out at least an hour daily at the gym, pretty heavy weight-lifting, and religiously mask indoors in foreign locations. And I haven’t gotten it. I know it’s up to luck, but I fully intend to do everything possible to avoid the damn thing.
I like all my organs working their best, and as my sister once said: “bro, when you get to our age, you gotta keep everything working, b/c once something breaks, it’s not gonna fix itself like it did when we were young.” A-fuckin’-men. Ain’t no way I’m gonna allow somethng to break due to my own fucking laziness. (P100) Mask on!
@Baud: The single most contagious disease known to modern science is… the Omicron lineage of COVID. If you’ve been out in crowds with any regularity, particularly if you’re not masking, you’ve very likely had it at least once.
I’ve got Long COVID and it’s a life changer. I was extremely healthy and energetic until my first infection; now I have nerve damage in my hand and face and a LOT of fatigue. It’s like I aged 20 years overnight. It’s very frustrating. But it is useful because the nerve damage in my face flares up in a distinctive way on re-infection and after exposure to COVID. These flare ups have occurred for me around 15 to 20 times since November of 2021. That’s quite a bit of COVID floating around.
One note on recovery: I notice my Long COVID gets noticeably worse when I don’t sleep enough, which as someone who used to get by on 3 hours a night for weeks at a stretch is a real capacity constraint, but it’s a BIG difference.
Yep. My uni ended Covid leave last year, our union has been telling management why it’s a bad idea but they DNGAF.
@Chetan Murthy: It is quite possible you’ve had it without being aware of it; there are many asymptomatic cases, and also rapid tests have MANY false negatives (if you’ve had a “cold” and tested negative, could very well still have been COVID). You may not have had it! But you may also just not be aware but have had it. There are antibody tests now that can tell you, if you’re interested.
Makes total sense.
Unfortunately, hard core conservatives are pushing this Big Lie:
This will increasingly become standard in red cities and states, and may be a campaign issue in 2024.
@Baud: sorry to hear that. Maybe dealing with us is more wearying than you know.
have not looked at David’s link. Curious whether countries that took Covid more seriously, i.e. Germany, noticed the same after effects with long Covid. Does the article mention that.?
My three years of avoiding it ended this week. Got a telehealth appointment and retroviral drugs as soon as I knew. But I had been testing for days because someone at work got it and it took a while even after I started feeling crummy to show up in the test. So I needlessly exposed some other people due to my negative tests.
I seem to be getting better and hope to avoid the long version.
I wrote a comment about how actuarial data is the most reliable source of population data there is, but depends on a society having an insurance industry to underwrite it. I suspect the amount of money that flows through insurance companies is a guardrail for actuaries to not doctor, blur or distort the data to create rosier outlooks, because that would cost real money down the road.
And then, having said that, I wondered if it was true.
Yes, insurance companies have a vested interest in having actual, reliable, accurate data to work with.
But insurance companies are also infamous for redlining, rescission, and cooking the books to avoid paying out claims.
I don’t mean to question David’s point at all, but I do wonder how overall reliable actuarial analysis is, particularly when you break it down by race and socio-economic sector.
Seems to me the State will have to step in with “high traffic” situations; I would think Walmart would qualify. Not exactly working concessions at the Super Bowl but it’s still high traffic (and I can understand why, for example, Walmart shouldn’t foot the bill alone but they are surely covered by insurance for that kind of thing).
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Baud: I haven’t either, and I feel like my brain is cloudy.
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
We had (I think) avoided it until recently. We went to South Africa about a year ago to adopt our son and were there for the initial Omicron wave (returned to the States in June due to delays in the Department of Home Affairs being either maliciously or grossly incompetent with regard to processing our son’s passport). My son has had on and off congestion since coming to the States so when he developed some mild congestion and a little bit of a cough a few weeks back at first we just thought it was that so waited a couple days to test but he did test positive on MLK day. Then my wife, who’d started feeling under the weather during the overnight hours that night also tested herself and sure enough it came back positive. I never tested positive or had any symptoms despite not bothering with the social distancing from them (I figured it was too late for that to do any good and really I’m not sure my son would have let me distance from him anyway). Also amazingly, my live-in Mother in Law who is 82 and a cancer survivor (albeit more than 15 years out from treatment) never had symptoms or tested positive. I still don’t know how both of us dodged the bullet.
If I’ve had a case that was so innocuous as to have not been noticeable (hence, not producing Long Covid), then I’m OK with that, but it can’t change my behaviour, b/c: I can always get it again, and the evidence so far is that repeated infections increase the cumulative risk of both Long Covid and organ damage.
So I must act as if I’ve never gotten it, even if I did get it. B/c the danger today isn’t “getting covid” but “getting Long Covid”.
@Brachiator: I mean, we do know how, exactly, to prevent Covid. But it’s a solution that doesn’t operate at the individual level, only on the societal level. Lots of problem are like this (climate change, for instance). I, alone, couldn’t solve hardly any of the jobs I was tasked with at my work. But with my staff, I could. This is not a novel concept – we all engage with it and agree with it.
But the societal solution requires the willing participation of the individuals in it. Ghandi said “the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”. I think that can be more generalized as “The measure of a society’s health is its ability to solve social problems.” Covid is a social problem. We don’t classify it as such, but it really is.
But getting the willing participation of the individuals in society is just politics. Not just the politics of the majority, but of the minority as well.
This will apply to climate change as well. It’ll be a campaign issue for the next 30 years at least.
@Tim Ellis: I was surprised to read this, so I dug around. The judgment is mixed, but even those who say “nah brah” are also “but it’s pretty damn close”. Wowsers. Wowsers.
“I’ve NEVER seen anything like the speed of Omicron,”Dr. Tom Frieden, a former CDC director under President Barack Obama, tweeted Monday night. “It’s as infectious as measles spreading in a non-immune population, with a much shorter incubation time therefore much faster doubling time.”
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
@Chetan Murthy: I suppose one could argue that neither the Soviet Union nor Mao’s China ever actually attained true Communism, and I’m not exactly here to defend capitalism, but on the other hand…what we have an always have had sure beats the totalitarian regimes that seem to inevitably grow out of communist revolutions. We’re far from perfect but at least modestly closer to perfect than life under Stalin.
We know how to reduce COVID, but we don’t know that we can stop it completely. It’s in that difference the anti-vaxxers thrive. It’s a very common complaint: we can’t stop COVID completely, so we might as well not bother doing anything. Any approach that isn’t 100% perfect is useless.
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: Specifically, the thing I learned (working with IBM’s biggest customers) is:
lulz.career aspirations of well-connected execs.
Literally a somewhat-senior exec at IBM, whose entire career consisted in lighting ever-larger stacks of dollar bills on fire, until the last time I saw it, it was a >1000 engineer project, and 9-figure sum of money. And he got promoted on the back of that.
And sure, I agree that nobody gets sent to the gulags, nobody gets shot [at least, not *directly* by these companies — not *directly*]
For anyone interested, our own Tom Levenson’s recent book Money for Nothing contains a great discussion about the invention of actuarial science and the insurance industry in early modern England. A key figure was Edmond Halley, of comet fame. He could predict when a comet would return and, it turns out, discovered a way to predict — statistically — roughly when you’re going to die.
@Chetan Murthy: It’s a common fallacy that business interests = capitalism and/or free market. Whatever one things of the capitalist or free market systems, enforcing and maintain the rules often means acting against the interests of individual firms or even industry sectors.
The thing I’ve seen that’s really hard to unsee is just how broken our market for labor is. It’s really hard to figure out the true value of an employee, so a huge amount of what we do is based on what people are used to and comfortable with. Realtors here in California can make insane money because some time way back when it was decided the realtor should get about 5% commission, and we’ve stuck with that even as the housing market has gone through the roof. Our supposedly wonderful market economy has steadfastly refused to adapt, and now realtors make bank.
One of my pet peeves is conflating capitalism and free markets. Free markets are about how we set prices. Capitalism is about who owns the means of production. They’re really separate issues, and you can easily have one without the other.
Mr. Bemused Senior
This thread rings so many bells for me. “The perfect is the enemy of the good. ”
My first real job was a summer stint with IBM. I still have fond memories but my career has been a very different path.
“Politics is the art of the possible. ”
Yeah, better here than Russia
Insurance, the White Man’s Burden
@Roger Moore: I agree that those two things are often wrongly treated as synonymous, although I don’t think they are wholly inseparable. Capitalism could be viewed as an outgrowth of the free market of investment resources, i.e., ownership as an inducement to encourage investment.
@CaseyL: I think it’s accurate but biased. I have a fair bit of background in this (not as much as David).
My background is in educational data, not health. It’s not insurers, but it’s the same motives and in a lot of places the same processes.
There’s two areas where problems occur:
Sure, and yet, what I learned out of both those fact-patterns, is that the interests of buddy-buddy old-boys clubs superseded both the interests of the owners of these companies, and the strictures of the so-called “free” market. In the first case, it was literally oligarchy: SUN Microsystems obviously needed the money, whereas sole proprietor Colin did *not*. And in the second case, it was as rank as any Politburo apparatchik who got his factory funded b/c hey, he was in with the General Secretary. Even though that factory destroyed value by the truckload, producing nothing of any utility whatsoever.
Mr. Bemused Senior
@Martin: let me remind us of the famous case of the Ford Pinto. There will always be those who reduce life to a bottom line calculation. One can even say that is the Actuary’s job.
If that is the only criterion trouble ensues.
One of the big deceptions is the phrase “free market”, which is pure marketing. Any functioning market has rules, guardrails, and police/watchmen, complete with prison sentences, to police the market. Think Middle Ages … if there were no hired guards, organized gangs of thieves would steal everything in minutes. So merchants hire protection.
Scale that up to the Chicago Board of Exchange (commodities markets), and there are lots more rules to prevent open fraud, although clever fraudsters keep figuring out new scams every day. But all markets, including underground drug markets, are not “free”. There are always rules, judges, and enforcers (often carrying weapons).
What happens when the enforcers aren’t there? The market falls apart when criminals take it over. It ceases to exist. Merchants and customers flee and go elsewhere. This is the same as unmoderated discussion groups; trolls flood in, because they can. So no functioning market is free, ever, in any society, at any time. The rules vary, but they are always there.
Mr. Bemused Senior
No Libertarians in the Seventeenth-Century Highlands: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong’s Webjournal
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
@Chetan Murthy: I’m not really disagreeing with anything you say about corporations and their inefficiencies, willingness to pay certain vendors X or Y, or willingness to set piles of money on fire for decades on sunk cost projects that will never deliver. None of that really compares to totalitarianism and its horrors but then maybe it’s not necessarily inevitable that Communism will ALWAYS lead to nightmarish totalitarian regimes. I do expect though, that it’s one of those political philosophies, like libertarianism, that may look good on paper but never works out when exposed to reality. Then again maybe the means of production haven’t really reached the right state for it to succeed yet but it’ll work when they do.
@Mr. Bemused Senior: Damn, when Delong is on fire, he really is. And when Ms. Waring and Mr. Holbo are on fire, they put Delong to shame!
Mr. Bemused Senior
@Chetan Murthy: years later and still so apt.
P.S., I just read Haroun and the Sea of Stories to my grandchildren, so of course the “sadness factories ” springs to mind
@Mr. Bemused Senior: Every so often, I shed a tear that Belle Waring is no longer writing at Crooked Timber. She really knew how to turn a phrase. And stick that knife in deep without the victim realizing it, to boot.
@Roger Moore: If you reduce it to a suitable level, you stop it. R0 < 1 stops it from a societal viewpoint. That doesn’t mean *nobody* get it, or that nobody dies from it. But it does mean it’s not a societal threat.
You don’t even need to hold that the societal health is more valuable than your personal health, you just need to recognize that your personal health is dependent on the societal health, and rationally you should conclude that anything that minimizes it societally minimizes it personally.
The problem is that early on we didn’t establish that. We politicized it immediately; we had groups that denied what it was; we had groups that weaponized it, noting that POC were more likely to catch it than whites were; we had claims that it was impossible for children to get it.
There were local efforts to build that relationship, but Trump and many Republicans did the opposite, and that was enough. What the US did structurally wasn’t dramatically different from South Korea, but our death rate is 6x higher. Same for Taiwan, Japan, and a number of other countries. That difference is just political leadership.
I mean, we consider polio ‘cured’ even though people still get polio. And consider that there were only 15,000 cases a year before the vaccine. It was substantially less dangerous than Covid, and yet the public reacted to it much more consistently because it wasn’t politicized.
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: That’s the premise of Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Star Trek, or the Iain Banks “Culture” novels. It actually addresses a serious problem with capitalism: it handles economic development and shortages well, but tends to collapse when markets get saturated. Say we have a factory that 3D prints anything you want for free. That will collapse the market as long as that factory is cranking out products.
The inverse is a war; if societies have gluts they cannot get rid of, and that is clogging the markets, a war will nicely destroy everything, and better yet, the factories that produce war materiel are making products that are intended to be destroyed. Presto, a glut is changed into Full Employment, and factories are humming again.
Obviously, in a nuclear age, this is a risky strategy. But the problem of saturated markets remain, because producers and retailers never want to sell below cost, because they will quickly bankrupt themselves if they do. Prices are “sticky” in the downward direction for this reason, which leads to gluts, warehouses filling up, and producers shutting down.
The only solution we have is the Keynesian one of Government stimulation of demand whenever markets get saturated, or in this country, military Keynesianism which is a sector that is active regardless of market conditions. Annoyingly, the problem of gluts gets worse as more of the world becomes fully developed, and people just can’t buy any more stuff.
I agree the biggest problem is how politicized the pandemic has been, but I think there are other problems with COVID specifically. It’s so infectious, you need an extremely high vaccination rate to get R<1 without some supplemental public health measures. The moment those public health measures are relaxed, you’re at risk of a big outbreak. While I’m willing to keep wearing a mask in indoor public spaces indefinitely, I can totally understand why other people refuse.
I know a lot of people are upset with Biden for ending the COVID public health emergency, but IMO it makes sense. COVID is no longer an emergency in the sense of being something we are suddenly reacting to. Now it’s part of the world we’re going to have to live with indefinitely, and we need to adapt to that new reality. I don’t think that means accepting high levels of infection, but it should mean having a permanent, stable response rather than an ad hoc one.
@Mr. Bemused Senior: Most of the time it’s not even intentional. One of the big social challenges now is gender. It’s not that we suddenly invented non-binary, transgender, etc. They always existed, but the folks that write the forms need to reduce choice. You can’t do anything meaningful with a freeform paragraph explanation of how you see your gender, so we take that choice away – you can choose F or M. You’re forced into those choices. The people writing the form may well be aware that doesn’t cover the spectrum of how people see themselves, so they’re asking the user to tell the smallest lie just out of expediency.
Years ago the feds changed the classification of races. Most notably ‘Two or more’ was added. In the next data cycle, every minority group in our dataset lost people. We lost black students, hispanic students, etc. Sometimes a LOT of people. They all moved to ‘two or more’. Now, in California ‘Asian’ isn’t considered a minority, even though the feds do. (There’s a long explanation for this which can certainly be debated), and we couldn’t necessarily consider ‘Two or more’ to be minorities, because they could be white/asian. We got more accurate data, which completely reshuffled our student demographics. The white students were pretty much all still white, but the minorities got cut in like ⅓. That had massive repercussions on funding, and even on which kinds of students we could attract. Black students aren’t super comfortable being the only black student in class, so it’s easier to recruit them if there is a community there. Well, if a data refactoring makes ⅓ of your black population go away in your reports, even though all the same people are still there, you have both changed nothing, and changed rather a lot.
Statistics requires enormous amounts of awareness of what’s *really* going on. It’s so freaking easy to unintentionally lie to yourself.
@Alce_e _ ardillo:
Sigh. I wouldn’t put it past them to make “woke” mathematics their answer to the “Jewish physics” of Nazi Germany.
Alce_e _ ardillo
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: No. He was in charge of forieign accounts because he could speak several languages, and curse in fluent Scots.
Mr. Bemused Senior
Indeed. And I’m not the only one here who’s said that if Hillary had won in 2016, her administration’s policies would have kept Covid deaths to ~30,000 in 2020 – and she’d have been totally crucified in the media over her failure to control it better (because that’s how our ‘liberal’ media rolls), and we’d have TFG in the White House now instead of then.
But fuck James Comey regardless.
Alce_e _ ardillo
@Martin: AS Disraeli said ” There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
@Baud: Yeah, the inability to teach anything other than US-oriented so-called free market capitalism really robs the entire country of the ability to discuss this stuff in an informed way.
There is market-based socialism. There is consumerist socialism. There is non-consumerist capitalism (somewhat). Whether you administer these in a democratic system of government or a different form is a product of the ideology of the social contract than it of the economic system.
But the real crime here is that there is no capitalist system without socialism, and the reverse. You’re always applying both. Cole wasn’t responsible for buying a tank off of Amazon – the government built it and gave it to him to use. The glory to god US military that conservatives defend at all costs is the most socialist institution in the US. You might have a veneer of competition between LockMart and Boeing and Northrop, but it’s a monopsony – it’s not like Northrop can take their B-21 design to China if the US is unwilling to pay enough.
Whether or not a given market lends itself to market-based or non-market-based or capitalist owned or worker or government owned is really just a function of the nature of the market. Does it lend itself to network effects and monopoly, do market participants have the ability to opt out, does the social contract preclude that from happening? If the US wants as part of the social contract that hospitals cannot deny care, and that parents cannot refuse to provide care to their kids, then you have a market where customers are forced to buy a product, and therefore not a market because compulsory consumption of a service is guaranteed to exploit the population. But in the very same system, you can have consumers and producers with tremendous agency and perfectly well functioning markets.
And even in a mix of markets and non-markets, where the excess capital goes isn’t a fixed target either. We’re currently in an age where excess capital is being wasted in private hands. We can measure this with negative yield bonds. Every dollar invested in them is doing negative work. It cannot be argued that money is more efficiently doing work in the hands of capitalists than it would be in the hands of government. But that dynamic can shift all the time. The US in the 50s with top marginal tax rates in the 90% range was every bit as capitalist, market based as we are now, but the difference was that we were returning huge amounts of that excess to government because the need was there to rebuild after the war. Adjusting those rates to reflect the challenge of the time is only sensible. Bring it down when government is getting diminishing returns on each dollar, and rise it up with things like Covid hit and you need massive public investment.
None of this lends itself well reducing to ideas like capitalism or socialism. I mean, my kid works at an employee owned engineering company up in the valley. They compete with a pile of other companies up there in a pretty basic recognizable competitive marketplace. Where does his company fit in here? It’s run like a standard engineering company. They turn profits like any other company. But the profits go back to the workers, not some owner, and I can’t buy into that company other than getting a job there. That’s proper refined socialism. But almost nobody in the US would call it that. The employees could be walking home with millions and be part of Bernies ‘millionaires and billionaires’. But they’re the workers! Is that bad?
You really have to pull these concepts apart very carefully, understand what each really does, what its limitations are, and how we label it. If you pitched employee-ownership of every corporation in the US and left everything else the same, you’d probably find every redneck in the US was a socialist. But that doesn’t solve the profit motives of the corporations. It solves some of the wealth inequality, but leaves a LOT on the table. It doesn’t address climate change or Covid or any of these societal issues. It doesn’t in any way change whether government has the money they need for infrastructure, etc.
But as I said yesterday, you can’t talk about *any* of these ideas within earshot of a politician. They are taboo.
@Alce_e _ ardillo: And there’s always the temptation to think that ‘statistics’ is a lie told by a statistician, but it’s a lie inherent to the process of doing statistics. Everyone at every step of the way can do everything perfectly to tell an accurate picture, but it’s at best a good approximation.
Including in 2020, before vaccines were available. True Believers are often dubious about causality arguments that contradict their Beliefs.
We stopped the rather wide spread of polio. There were also a lot fewer of us and we didn’t live in quite the numbers that we do now. I was alive before the polio vaccines and know people then and now that suffered/suffer with polio. It may not have been as bad as Covid – it wasn’t, but it wasn’t pretty either. I also saw vaccination carried out on a pretty wide and enthusiastic basis. And every one I went to school with caught all the diseases that were very common, measles, which was often followed with encephalitis (I had that, good times-not!) chicken pox, often followed later by shingles (had that, also good times-not!), mumps – yep had that, as did everyone I knew.
One of the issues with Covid was that it has been a long time that we’ve had an illness of this level that spreads so easily. The ones above were extremely common, everyone I knew had the original diseases, a few had the follow on issues. I got my first Covid shot in January, 2021, because I’ve seen first hand the differences that vaccines make, people a few years younger than me may not be near as familiar with them as they got them as kids and never saw the reasons for the shots.
@Mr. Bemused Senior: That DeLong article is fantastic!
@Mr. Bemused Late reading this but yep, that is about it.