Category Archives: Economy

3.169 Million More People Are Unemployed this Week

To put this in perspective, 3.169 million people is more than the entire workforce of Wisconsin. Imagine if every single worker in Wisconsin was laid off in a single week. There’s nobody to stock the grocery stores. There is nobody to repair the power grid. There’s nobody to process that insurance claim. There’s nobody to repair that car. 3.169 people just sent home to collect a government check that’s being paid for by our grandchildren. That is the economic damage that these government lockdowns are forcing on us.

Another 3.169 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2, exceeding economists expectations for 3 million initial jobless claims. The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 3.846 million from the previously reported 3.839 million. So far over the past seven weeks, more than 33 million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims.

People Dying At Home

More predictable, if unintentional, consequences.

While no reliable statistics are available on how many Americans with non-Covid-related illnesses are avoiding the health system, doctors responding to an informal Twitter poll reported a 40% reduction in heart attack patients. Cigna, the insurance company, said patients were not actively seeking care for urgent health needs, citing significant reductions in hospitalizations for GI bleeds, seizures and appendicitis.

Though it is not known how many people with chronic disease have died in recent weeks, some may be driving up the number of suspected Covid deaths – a grey area of the data that includes people who have died of related health issues.

State Sees 43% Drop in Tax Collections Vs. 2019

It’s about to get real for government. Evers’ pretend 5% reduction ain’t gonna cut it.

Tax collections in the month of April, 2020, were $1,145 million. This is $870 million below collections of April, 2019. And, for the 10 months of the current fiscal year, collections are $313 million below those over the same 10 months of 2018-19.

Open Wisconsin now

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Go pick up a copy!

This week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is hearing arguments about whether or not to end Governor Tony Evers’ dictatorial rule and re-establish the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government. Hopefully the court will side with self-governance and strike down Evers’ unconstitutional power grab. When they do, the governor and Legislature will be left to wrangle over the best plan to reopen the state’s economy. What should the plan be? Get out of the way and let Wisconsinites get to work.

As other states go about opening their economies, they are doing so with a variety of plans. Some are very detailed plans with a strict metrics. Some are looser plans with a schedule of gradual opening. Some, like Governor Evers’ plan, are utterly unworkable and rely on arbitrary decisions made in the governor’s mansion. All of them are based on the incorrect presumption that some politician sitting in a leather chair in a faraway capital is better informed on how to safely open factories, retail stores, processing plants, and offices than the people who own and work in them.

Wisconsin’s experience is the perfect example. Evers closed the state without much of a plan. From the first day, confusion reigned as people tried to comply with the rules, but since the rules were vague and incomplete, Evers resorted to issuing various clarifications every few days. There was never any way that Evers, or his staff of lifer government bureaucrats, were equipped to fully understand the full consequences of the orders they were issuing. They were never going to be able to anticipate and respond to the way their orders rolled through society.

While Evers and his staff may be uniquely and especially bad, no small group of politicians and advisers would be experienced and smart enough to micromanage something on the scale of stopping or restarting an entire state’s economy. The reason Evers failed so badly is the same reason that socialism fails: central planning does not work.

That is why Wisconsin should not go down the failed path of central planning when reopening the economy. Instead, our state and local governments should assume the role of a humble government that uses its granted powers to support the people — not oppress them.

When the coronavirus crisis began, we were facing a very scary unknown danger. The early projections showed that the virus may kill millions, incapacitate many more, and overwhelm our health care system. Based on those projections, our governments responded with draconian measures. With the benefit of hindsight, we can argue about whether that response was warranted, but we have more information as we move forward.

While we are a long way from completely controlling or stopping the spread of coronavirus, we know a lot more about it and its spread. It is not as deadly as we thought. We have plenty of capacity in our health care system. The spread can be greatly mitigated by social distancing, washing hands, covering coughs, sanitizing surfaces, and staying home if you are sick. And the people who are at most risk of serious complications or death are the elderly and those with serious underlying conditions.

We have spent weeks learning about this virus and how to protect against it. We have shifted from dealing with a scary unknown risk to a scary known risk. That is why our government should step back and let the citizens manage the risk for themselves. The people all know how dangerous this virus is now and are perfectly capable of managing the risk just like we do for every other risk that confronts each of us every day.

No business owner wants their customers, employees, or themselves to get sick. No customer wants to put himself or herself at undue risk while shopping. No employee wants to work in unsafe conditions. But it is up to each of these groups of people – employers, employees, and customers – to work out how to interact with each other where everybody is comfortable. Those billions of interactions take nuance and understanding to do correctly. Nuance and understanding are not government’s forte.

While government should step back and let a free, self-governing citizenry open their own economy, we do need our government to do what government does well. We need our government to pool resources to be available to swamp any potential outbreaks. We need our government to provide the latest guidance and recommendations. We need our government to provide legal reform to limit liability for people who might be sued because of the virus.

Other than that, we need our government to get out of the way.

Supreme Court Takes Case. Will Hold Hearings on Tuesday.

Ugh.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday said it would take up a controversial case that could result in the suspension of Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order, implemented to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The 6-1 decision is a setback for the Evers administration, which wanted the court to throw it out. Now, attorneys for the administration and Republican Legislature, which brought the lawsuit, will present their arguments via videoconferencing on Tuesday, after which the court could rule.

It frustrates the hell out of me that the court moves so slow. For most of the court’s business, time is not of the essence. They are deciding on some legal issue about an incident that is long over and the immediate impact of that decision impacts very few. But when there is something going on RIGHT NOW that requires a decision, the people deserve for them to act faster.

In this case, we have a rogue executive branch that is seizing dictatorial powers to usurp the power of the legislature and rule by decree. The governor is violating every Wisconsinite’s civil rights and causing incredible irreparable harm to the economy and lives of millions of citizens. If there was ever a time that required swift action by the court to restore the division of powers and uphold the people’s rights, this is it.

The court showed that they can at swiftly when required. Just a few weeks ago, they acted within hours of Evers’ unconstitutional attempt to move the election. Why can’t they do that here? That’s the wrong question. They can do it here. Why are they choosing to plod along?

Marinette Marine Awarded Navy Contract

Great news for the state!

(WLUK) — The U.S. Navy announced Thursday Fincantieri Marinette Marine was awarded a contract to build the Navy’s new frigate.

The initial contract is worth almost $800 million for one guided missile ship.

If all options are exercised on the contract, Marinette Marine will deliver the first 10 FFG (X) ships for a total of more than $5.5 billion.

Medical Personnel Losing their Jobs

I hope nobody has any medical emergency other than Covid anytime soon.

At a time when medical professionals are putting their lives at risk, tens of thousands of doctors in the United States are taking large pay cuts.

And even as some parts of the US are talking of desperate shortages in nursing staff, elsewhere in the country many nurses are being told to stay at home without pay.

That is because American healthcare companies are looking to cut costs as they struggle to generate revenue during the coronavirus crisis.

“Nurses are being called heroes,” Mariya Buxton says, clearly upset. “But I just really don’t feel like a hero right now because I’m not doing my part.”

Ms Buxton is a paediatric nurse in St Paul, Minnesota, but has been asked to stay at home.

At the unit at which Ms Buxton worked, and at hospitals across most of the country, medical procedures that are not deemed to be urgent have been stopped. That has meant a massive loss of income.

Potential COVID Treatment Found in Remdesivir

Excellent news!

Scientists on Wednesday announced the first effective treatment against the coronavirus — an experimental drug that can speed the recovery of COVID-19 patients — in a major medical advance that came as the economic gloom caused by the scourge deepened in the U.S. and Europe.

The U.S. government said it is working to make the antiviral medication remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible. Stocks surged around the world on the news, with the Dow Jones Industrial average climbing more than 550 points, or over 2%, in the afternoon.

“What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert. “This will be the standard of care.”

It looks like it would take some ingenuity to ramp up production if this proves to be effective on a wide scale.

And when it comes to remdesivir, experts say Gilead might not have been inclined, or even had the time, to make the process as efficient as it could be. Gilead developed the compound during the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and sped it along with the goal of testing it before the outbreak waned. The process likely reflects the anticipated demand for an Ebola treatment: the 2014 Ebola outbreak saw 29,000 cases over 2.5 years; the current coronavirus pandemic is approaching 2.5 million cases in under 5 months.

As the scope of the pandemic widens, Gilead has been open about the challenges of manufacturing the drug. The firm says it typically takes 9 to 12 months to make an antiviral like remdesivir, but that since January it has shrunk the timeline to 6 to 8 months. “We continue to work on optimizing the chemical synthesis processes,” the company states.

In a public communication in early April, CEO Daniel O’Day outlined a series of measures Gilead was taking to increase access to remdesivir. At the time, the company said it had on hand enough active ingredient to create about 1.5 million doses, enough for roughly 140,000 treatment courses, based on a 10-day regimen. The company has been working to increase both internal capacity and external partnerships to generate an additional 500,000 courses by October, 1 million courses by the end of the year, and, if needed, several million courses in 2021.

Some Hartford Businesses Open Despite Insurance Fears

Good for them! For those small businesses who are being threatened by their insurance company if they open, I’d suggest that you take your business elsewhere. These insurance companies are willing to cover the big box stores. If they don’t want your business, then don’t give it to them. Bear in mind that the insurance companies are flush right now because claims are way down. They are still taking your premium checks. They should cover you opening your business.

“It is really hurting business and it will take months to recover. I’ve fielded over 40 calls from customers asking if we’d reopen,” Mallow said. “We’ve been able to pay our bills.

Hattori said she thinks “the whole insurance thing is really poor information.”

“I talked to another business owner and asked them if they had actually talked to their insurance agent. She said no. I feel fear is just perpetuating insurance fears. So there’s no insurance issues whatsoever. As long as you pay your premiums you are insured,” Hattori said.

“If you got to Walmart they are insured. In my shop if you want to buy yarn why would my insurance have anything to do with it? The safety factor is like tenfold more serious in a store like that. In my shop there is no fear. I am a small business owner; why would I want to put my customers at risk, put myself at risk? Without customers I don’t have a business. If I don’t have fear my customers don’t need to have fear. If people are sick I think most people stay home when they are sick anyway.”

Government Coronapanic Causing Cancer Deaths

This is happening in the U.S. too. And it’s harming and killing more than cancer sufferers.

Almost 18,000 more people with cancer in England could die after the coronavirus pandemic led hospitals to suspend treatment and deterred patients from seeking NHS care, research has found.

Cancer experts claim that an extra 6,270 people in England who have been newly diagnosed with the disease could die from it over the next 12 months as a direct result of the disruption caused by coronavirus, and the additional toll taking into account all those living with cancer could be 17,915.

That is an increase of 20% on the 89,576 deaths among cancer patients recorded annually in England, according to the latest available statistics.

Socialists Propose Mass Business Bankruptcies

They have no idea how the economy functions.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) are set to introduce legislation that would put a moratorium on mergers involving large companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pandemic Anti-Monopoly Act would freeze mergers that include companies that have more than $100 million in revenue, are run by hedge funds or private equity firms or that have exclusive patents impacted by the crisis, like key medical equipment.

Additionally all mergers that must be reported to the Federal Trade Commission under current law, which in 2020 is any valued over $94 million, would be frozen as well.

As the economy crumbles, the larger companies are the ones with the most assets and diversification to survive. Many smaller and medium businesses will be harder hit. So let’s imagine that you are a business with some great people, some intellectual property or other hard assets that have value, and some wonderful customers that you are struggling to serve as revenue dries up. What are your choices? You can try to sell your company to another company so that your employees and customers will continue to be supported. You can try to tighten your belt and survive – perhaps with a government handout with strings attached. Or you can declare bankruptcy, fire everyone, and close the business.

What Warren and AOC are proposing is to take the “sell the company” option off the table for the vast majority of struggling companies. The remaining two options are for businesses to accept a bailout with whatever strings come attached (read: ceding control of the company to the government) or shut down. The cruel game that the socialists are setting up are “accept your new government overlords or shut down and go on the dole.” Either way, the socialists take more control and the people are hurt. Win/win, in their eyes.

Hartford to Reopen Despite Governor’s Unconstitutional Orders

Huzzah for the city leaders in Hartford and the Washington County Sheriff.

HARTFORD — In what Mayor Tim Michalak said could be the biggest decision ever made by the Common Council, aldermen on Tuesday night unanimously agreed to have city staff create a plan to reopen city buildings and services no later than Monday and try to gradually bring them back to normal levels.

“We want the local businesses to also know the police department will not be overtly enforcing the state ‘stay at home’ order,” Michalak said. “Our department will be enforcing criminal and traffic laws.”

City officials said local businesses could reopen after that date “at their own risk and after careful consideration and consultation with their insurance agent and with customers.” The decision comes despite Gov. Tony Evers’ recent announcement to extend the Safer at Home order and other state-imposed rules to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

[…]

“It’s time we do something. We can’t let this go on another month without opening up.”

Michalak said the city is not telling businesses to open up, but city officials are not going to kick in their door if they decide to do it and Washington County Sheriff Martin Schulteis has backed the city up in this decision.

“When it comes to the different communities he said he is going to follow ‘home rule,’ which means if they have their own Police Department he will allow that department to enforce the rules and or take action,” Michalak said. ‘We are saying we’re not going to be the boot that’s on their neck.’

The mayor said he has received numerous phone calls and emails from business owners who said they are faced with possibly closing their doors for good if the state-imposed orders are allowed to continue.

“We’re going to open the library and we’re going to open the public buildings,” Michalak said. “If we don’t do something soon to help our local

businesses we could see another depression. We need to bring freedom back to Hartford.”

Opening America

It feels like we are seeing those early rays of light before the dawn.

13 Days Since Election and Still No Spike in Covid Cases

I note that it’s been 13 days since we held an election in Wisconsin and we have not had a spike in cases or deaths. What does this tell us? First, it tells us that the hyperbolic panic of some was unfounded. The panic was either based in irrational fear or purposefully misleading for political ends (I suspect some of both). Second, it tells us that we do have the ability to go back to our normal lives if we take some reasonable steps to limit the risk of infection. Wash our hands, maintain distance, wear a mask if you want, etc. We can absolutely go back to work in a reasonable fashion.

Open the state.

 

 

Using Covid to Push Socialism

One wonders if this is not the underlying motivation for why some are pushing us into a depression.

Speaking to CNBC via telephone, Morgan Housel, partner at venture capital firm Collaborative Fund and author of “The Psychology of Money,” said the U.S. had historically not faced any localized destruction deep enough to prompt a widespread shift in thinking. Although he noted the exception of Pearl Harbor and the huge human toll experienced during the Second World War.

“The U.S. did not face as much local devastation during World War II as Europe did — and I think at the end of at the end of World War II, most of Europe came together and said, ‘we just went through this incredible trauma, therefore we want more social safety net, we want less risk, we want a more predictable future,’” he said.

“So I think Americans were just more open to saying, ‘no, I want to swing for the fences and take risks, I don’t need a safety net,’” he explained.

However, the devastation wrought by the coronavirus could push U.S. voters to favor policies supporting social security measures like universal health care or stronger retirement schemes, according to Housel.

“I think maybe this is going to push the United States closer to where Europe has been for the last 60 years in terms of wanting a deeper and more structured social safety net than we currently have right now,” he told CNBC.

Non-Profits Being Hit by Government Lockdown

Given that the government lockdown has obliterated trillions of dollars out of our economy, there just isn’t as much money for non-profits and charities.

Only this year, much of the food, stages, midways and taps of beer in plastic cups are being added to the growing list of lost opportunities as community festivals and other special events are scrubbed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dozens more are in jeopardy, due to social distancing guidelines.

The losses bring not only disappointment, and more boredom, for a sequestered state. They also mean less money for the nonprofits that rely on the spring and summer staples for large chunks of their yearly budgets.

Favorite Protest Sign of the Day

Share the Pain. Cut Government.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. – Thomas Paine, Common Sense

I keep hearing how we are “all in this together.” Are we? The folks in Madison who are making the decisions to destroy our businesses, obliterate our savings, and take away our jobs seem to be doing just fine. They are all still employed with full pay. The government employees at the state and local levels are all still working. They still have their guaranteed pensions and great benefits. Evers is still enjoying the mansion that we provide for him and a full staff of people to do his thinking.

The Coronavirus response is really highlighting the Two Americas. On the one hand we have government employees, who are being insulated from the full impact of the lock down orders. On the other hand, we have the private sector employees, who are feeling the full brunt while also paying for the government employees. Where are the furloughs in government? Where are the pay cuts? Where are the cut backs on benefits? Evers is issuing edicts and just telling private employers and employees to “deal with it.” Why isn’t our government sharing the pain?

Take a look at the list of State of Wisconsin agencies. How many of those could be shuttered right now and furlough or lay off the entire staff? We could live without the Historical Society for now, right? What about the Arts Board? Surely the Department of Tourism is pretty useless right now. State Fair Park? Women’s Council? Trials and prosecutions are being postponed, so can we furlough all of the expensive lawyers and investigators at the Department of Justice? What about judges? Are they being paid when there aren’t any trials happening? Legislative staffs? Legislators? Several agencies could be closed immediately and indefinitely – just like they are forcing many private businesses to do.

For those agencies that do need to remain open, how many employees are non-essential and could be let go? Why can’t we implement an immediate 25% across-the-board pay cut for all government employees right now – even if they are essential? Why can’t we pull back on some of the benefits? Many private employers are being forced to cut back on pay and benefits to stay alive during the government-forced lock down. Where is our government sharing the pain?

This goes for local governments too. Nobody wishes ill on our neighbors and friends, but it’s frustrating to be lectured by a government teacher or police officer about the need to lock down when they are enjoying their full compensation and benefits. The rest of us are suffering major cutbacks and job losses. If we are all in this together, then let’s actually be in ALL of it together.

Remember, too, that with all of the job losses and shut down of the economy, government revenues are WAY down. We can’t afford all of this government anymore. And even if they come back and seek to jack up taxes to pay for everything, who is going to pay it? The 20%-30% of Wisconsinites who are on unemployment?

We need our government at all levels to immediately make substantial spending cuts in line with what is being asked of the private sector. Yes, it will hurt. Yes, government employees will have to work harder and make do with less. Yes, government employees’ may have to work later in life before retiring. That is what is being asked of the private sector. We should expect nothing less from our government.

22 Million Unemployed

Reopen the economy. It’s time for the carnage to end. How many of these people will die due to stress, lack of access to healthcare, suicide, etc.? How many more have their quality of life destroyed? These things matter. People getting sick and dying from Covid are important too, but they must not be the only people being considered when making public policy.

Protection measures against the coronavirus continued to tear through the employment ranks, with 5.245 million more Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

That brings the crisis total to just over 22 million, nearly wiping out all the job gains since the Great Recession.

The total was a bit worse than the 5 million expected from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

Though the most recent count, for the week ended April 11, represented a drop from the previous two weeks, it showed that the damage to the U.S. labor market remains profound.

“As we fully know the current state of the labor market with mass waves of layoffs, the key question turns to how many of these people will be rehired when the economy starts to reopen,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at the Bleakley Group. “We can assume it will take a long time for that to happen but hopefully we’re getting closer to at least getting started.”

Business Owner Is Losing Business to Evers’ Lockdown Order

NSFW… if you still have work and work at an actual workplace.