Thoughts on Events the Week of August 3

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on August 11, 2020

TikTok: I don’t know much about this social media website, other than that it is wildly popular among young teenagers. On it, they post and share amateur videos. This fact renders Trump’s stated reason for threatening to ban it particularly stupid, and almost certainly disingenuous. One of these days, the Republican Party is going to need voters who are not pasty old white guys. Banning TikTok risks alienating younger voters before they are even eligible to vote.

Trump says he’s worried that China will be able to hack these teenagers’ private information. What Trump doesn’t understand is that China already has this information, because teenagers give their private information away indiscriminately already. You don’t have to hack to get it. The difficulty is getting teens to shut up about it. Like it or not, and I don’t, this younger generation has a vastly different take on privacy than previous ones.

No, I suspect Trump is upset because a Chinese company developed it, thus demonstrating that they know what they are doing. The poor man has TikTok envy, perhaps the only adult in the world who does, with the exception of Mark Zuckerberg, who now is facing some stiff potential competition.

Trump now is threatening to ban all Chinese companies from selling communications technology in America. The Chinese claim, rightly, that this is mere garden variety protectionism. Trump is trying to set up his own Smoot-Hawley Act specifically against China. We know how well Smoot-Hawley worked during the Great Depression; It exacerbated it

Novel Coronavirus: I’ve heard this term used as a name for Covid-19. It has too many syllables to become popular, but I like it as a description because it informs why there is so much confusion about it.

Covid-19 arrived brand new. We didn’t know anything about it. It was inevitable that starting from scratch with our knowledge of Covid-19, mistakes would be made about, which would be corrected as we gathered more data. We learn as we go. Well, everyone but Trump, who has sung the happy tune regardless of what the experts are able to learn. Trump is impervious to facts.

Stock market: There is a simile about addicts that they are like a person with two broken legs. You can lift them up, but when you let go, they fall down again. The only remedy is to let the legs heal so the addict can walk on his or her own again.

This analogy could also be applied to the stock market. The reasons the stock market is standing up while the rest of the economy is falling down, hard, is that Congress and the Fed are holding it up. This can’t go on forever, and eventually, and sooner rather than later, I think, the stock market is going to fall down.

Disclaimer: I have never understood the stock market, even when I was more heavily engaged in it, so my thoughts could be all wet. It is said that stock buyers buy on promise and sell on data. I don’t understand why, looking at the facts in front of us now, anybody is still buying on promise.

My biggest take away from the stock market’s performance – that it is going up while the rest of the economy is going to hell – is that the stimulus efforts are helping the wrong people, those who need it the least, and not the people who need it. In my view, the Fed tries to help the banks and Congress tries to help its wealthy donors, which is why there are always loopholes in legislation that allow the rich to get the biggest bite of everything.

(Am I a populist? Yes, and many other things.)

USPS: Broadly speaking, I am more sanguine about the upcoming election than many others, for a number of reasons including that Trump has been a disaster of a president, and a large majority of the voting population knows it. (Spoiler alert: I was certain Clinton would win in 2016.)

And I don’t worry about the Post Office doing its job very much. Post Office employees despise Trump, and if the mail is slowed down, I’ll bet a paycheck the postal carriers will see that mail-in ballots will be delivered timely – going and coming – even if they have to kick everything else to the curb for a while. The mail is already backed up anyway.

Covid 19: It doesn’t take a medical expert or a statistician to see that the U.S. has the worst record against this virus among advanced countries (Apparently, we’re not as advanced as we think we are). Trump carries on about absolute numbers, which he clearly doesn’t understand, and uses them to lie about how we are doing. But the numbers are only meaningful if they are calibrated on a per capita basis.

For instance, the states with the largest number of cases are California, New York, Texas and Florida. Well, duh. These are states with the largest populations. But on a per capita basis, things look different.

For instance, Arizona, my personal state, with a sparse population, ranks 22 in most Covid-19 cases, in the middle of the pack. But on a per capita basis, Arizona ranks 3rd! (Arizona’s governor wants kids back in school despite this deplorable ranking.)

President Trump has returned to giving daily briefings, ostensibly on the status of the virus. But in reality, he uses them as campaign rallies to smear opponents, his own experts, the press, and to air his countless grievances. If I were in charge, for every one of these briefings Trump segues into these tangents, I would send his campaign a bill for the event, rather than asking me to pay for it with my taxes.

Worst state: Trump’s attacks on our election system distracted me from reading about state malfeasance, so I don’t have enough data to pick a winner this week. See? Data.

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