Coronavirus Lockdown Response

Coronavirus Lockdown Response

We would like to share our thoughts on the ongoing County and State response to this pandemic.

Image Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

 

The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), spread to the United States in January 2020. The first U.S. case was identified on January 20, in a man who had returned from Wuhan, China to Snohomish County, Washington on January 15. The first confirmed death from the virus was on February 6 in Santa Clara.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency on March 4 and a subsequent stay at home Executive Order on March 19.

San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow issued several orders starting on March 13, then finally issued the shelter in place order on March 16 for the entire county.

Both the statewide and local orders have been extended multiple times.

The orders in California, as well as in many other states, have caused an economic calamity on par with, and possibly exceeding the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nationally, 30,000,000 people became unemployed in the span of two short months. We have lost every job created, times three, since the recovery from the 2008 financial crash began.

We have embarked on a path of what is perhaps the most severe, self-inflicted social and economic destruction in human history. We are in completely uncharted territory and members of the Central Committee, as well as many people whom we've solicited feedback from, are highly skeptical these lockdowns are worth the harm they cause, or are even working at all.

Before getting started we must preface this discussion with the acknowledgement that we are discussing life and death, and despite the statistical/clinical tone, we are not in any way minimizing the value of human life. All life is valuable, and all life is inevitably temporary. We also know that the virus affects elderly people at a much greater rate than it does the young and middle aged. We are aware that San Mateo is an aged County which has a population that is older than the average elsewhere, and that the Republican party is an aged one. So it would be glib for us to dismiss the plight of the elderly. We embark on this discussion with them in mind as they are a doubly important demographic to San Mateo County Republicans.

We urge all readers who want the orders relaxed or rescinded to please contact their County Supervisor at:

D1: David Pine (650) 363-4571

D2: Carole Groom (650) 363-4568

D3: Don Horsley(650) 363-4569

D4: Warren Slocum (650) 363-4570

D5: David Canepa (650) 363-4572

 

Below is a summary of our thoughts and research broken down into sections. We will update this page as new information becomes available. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, don't hesitate to email us at info@smgop.org.

 

Local Position:

We strongly disagree with and disapprove of the County's regional approach. Most orders they give are done in conjunction with other counties in the Bay Area.

This approach is severely flawed because every county is different. Marin with its very wealthy population and minimal commerce is vastly different than San Francisco with its young population, intractable homelessness, drug addiction and mental illness problem, which is vastly different still than San Mateo with its more mixed population, massive commercial sector and clean, leafy green public space.

This is a slap in the face to the voters of San Mateo. None of us voted for people in Marin or San Francisco to make decisions for our County, yet that is exactly what we are getting and it must stop now.

We do applaud the County Health Department for their very informative and user friendly information dashboard which we encourage you to regularly read. Within that data, you can see why it makes no sense for such a far reaching lockdown. The number of people who have died in the County from the virus at the time of this writing who are below fifty is one. One! That's it.

However the death toll is far more pronounced for people over 80, and even worse for those over 90. Targeting those groups for extreme mitigation measures while letting the rest of us get on with life would make far more sense than pretending the risk is the same across the board. It is not, and therefore the mitigation should also not be the same across all age groups and life situations.

Lockdown rationalizations don't even claim to stop the spread, they just aim to slow it. Meaning, eventually everyone will come into contact with the virus sooner or later. We've done enough damage, and it's time for healthy populations to build up herd immunity while those at high risk can continue to shelter in place as they see fit.

 

Misguided Mitigation Targets:

It is clear that those who are most affected are in specific groups, living in specific circumstances. Those who are elderly, have underlying conditions, mainly obesity, and live in cramped, dark environments like nursing homes, are most at risk. The reasoning underlying the lockdown orders doesn't line up with those who are harmed most. They are blanket orders which assume all people have the same risk level. Rather than targeting the sick and elderly for maximum distancing, isolation and sanitation, they've targeted the young and healthy with no definitive evidence that it reduces the spread, symptoms and fatality of the virus.

It is well known that those in good health have a better chance of fighting off the virus, or not showing any symptoms at all. Good health has many components, but one part of it is getting outside to walk and run while getting sunlight and fresh air. Such conventional wisdom was perplexingly challenged when the County disallowed the use of public parks (recently partially reopened). One of the things that would help most, was deemed non-essential and even possibly harmful.

As more data has come in, we now see just how wrong headed this blanket order was. The Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that sunlight and heat kill the virus. This is yet another case which shows these orders were given without much serious thought about the consequences, leading to only more skepticism and mistrust from the public.

 

Historical Context:

During this time much stress and harm have been caused to individuals, families and businesses.

The initial reasoning for this order, like many others across the country, was to "slow the spread" of the virus.

In our country, and in any reasonably civilized society which purports some recognition of individual rights, there exists the notion of proportionality of response. That is to say, let the punishment fit the crime. Let the mitigation and defensive measures be proportional to the threat.

In casual discussions among Central Committee members, as well as members of our mailing list, there is a general feeling that the one size fits all mitigation measures are vastly disproportionate to the threat, and are doing much more harm than good.

Further, the response is disproportionate to similar threats in the past. For example, the CDC estimated that regular flu killed over 80,000 people in 2017, yet zero lockdowns happened. Zero quarantines. Zero predictions of hospital overflows. Zero businesses deliberately destroyed. Zero new programs which vastly grew the size, scope and cost of government. Zero newly-minted, self-appointed online epidemiologists emerged out of nowhere. None. Life was in no way interrupted while 80,000 people died. Yet with the Coronavirus, less people (although likely to exceed) have died at the time of this writing, while the reaction is the most extreme and most costly we've ever seen in our country's history. This entire episode lacks any sense of proportionality, and those who are ordering the lockdowns appear to be entirely oblivious to this point.

The assertion that any amount of social and economic destruction is warranted defies the measured logic and reasoned decision making that is to be expected of public officials. At this point, it's akin to trying to hang up a small picture with a thumbtack and a sledgehammer. We've torn the picture to shreds, hammered a huge hole in the wall, and the thumbtack is nowhere to be found. We're then told that more hammering is needed before the picture can be successfully hung.

 

Political Context:

The lockdowns are issued by elected officials, as well as career government professionals. These two groups of people have one critical thing in common: their paychecks are guaranteed. That is to say, people whose paychecks are guaranteed are callously telling those whose paychecks are not guaranteed that they are not allowed to earn a paycheck.

In an effort to pacify the public into accepting continuing lockdowns, we're fed empty platitudes by those in power. We keep hearing that we are "in this together" from people whose paychecks are guaranteed. That notion is about as cynical as they come. A person whose paycheck is guaranteed is not in anything together with a person whose paycheck is not guaranteed. The people issuing these edicts are in an entirely separate class from those whom these edicts harm most. Any proclamations of shared burden, solidarity and togetherness are nothing more than a ploy to convince the populace to endure more misguided harm indefinitely. Conversely, if every single elected, appointed and hired government employee had their paychecks suspended when this started, with no possibility of back pay, the lockdowns would have been lifted yesterday.

Much like anything during America's protracted cold civil war, this issue has arrayed the armies on the left and right against each other. The left wants more control, no matter the cost. The right wants reopening of the economy and the return of our freedoms, and believes the cost of doing so is worth it. There are few, if any, on the right who see this as an opportunity to grow government power. If anything, it has confirmed our long standing pre-existing suspicions about the damage that government power can cause. It has vindicated our beliefs once again. On the other side, the political left and the ruling class which it leads see the pandemic as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break ordinary peoples' resistance to its power.

They've achieved in two months what a century of cultural and economic Marxist infiltration in our country could not. They've gotten vast swaths of our county, of every political and economic stripe, Democrat, Republican, business owner, employee and investor, to beg on their knees for a monthly government check. In a fit of frantic desperation, once-resilient and self-sufficient people, businesses and investors are lining up at the electronic government trough without so much as a second thought. When survival is at stake, ideologies go out the window, and people will do whatever it takes to live.

Republicans watch in horror as this undesirable, but entirely understandable and predictable response plays out. Democrats lick their chops and realize they now have the power to destroy vast sections of social, economic and civic life with the stroke of a pen. They can enlist their shock troops to snitch on their neighbors for not bowing to ill-conceived government fatwas and are now actively encouraging exactly that.

The power grab has reached such preposterous proportions, that Governor Newsom has published a list of now-approved activities since the lockdown has been slightly loosened. Among them? Watching the sunrise/sunset. That's right, looking at the fiery ball in the sky which is about 4.5 billion years old, is now permitted in 2020.

Expect this political weapon to be normalized "for our safety", then used many times in the future at the slightest hint of an outbreak. It will be a sword of Damocles hanging over every segment of society in perpetuity. Got the sniffles? Got a very strong Republican Presidential candidate with record-breaking economic numbers heading into the November election? It'd be a shame if we had to lock down the country just in time for that.

 

Modeling the Apocalypse:

The original justification for taking extreme action were the models that projected between one and two million American deaths if no mitigation steps were taken. These models came from an entity which was little known by the general public, named the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. From their website:

"The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is an independent population health research center at UW Medicine, part of the University of Washington, that provides rigorous and comparable measurement of the world's most important health problems and evaluates the strategies used to address them."

They also claimed that if mitigation was enforced, the deaths would be reduced by a factor of ten to between one and two hundred thousand.

In addition to the IHME model, a professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London named Neil Ferguson produced a similar model which claimed 2.2 million people would die in America without mitigation, and ICU bed demand would be 30x what was available. Such apocalyptic predictions were taken seriously by just about everyone in a position of power.

This essentially gave policymakers, particularly President Trump, no real choice. He could either take drastic action, or watch over a million people die.

But as time went on, some began to ponder just how much the original IMHE projections matched up to reality. As it turns out, they were wildly off. Even their lowered numbers with mitigation were nowhere near what actually transpired. As such, they adjusted their models each day as new data became available. Even with these revisions, their prediction of daily death counts were wrong 70% of the time. Once the economic catastrophe was set in motion in mid-March, Ferguson was singing a different tune by March 25, saying capacity would not be breached and deaths would be much lower. He never issued a retraction or an apology. Sean Davis of The Federalist website plotted some of these numbers against what actually happened in mid-April and found alarming discrepancies.

To add insult to injury, subsequent analysis of Ferguson's model code found that it was a single 15,000 line C++ file which was littered with bugs. It failed the reproducibility test because it could not produce identical outputs from identical inputs.

There is also COVID Act Now which was formed by a few Democrats and some from the radically left leaning tech industry. That industry has an extreme institutional bias against anyone right of center. It was no surprise that they also pushed apocalyptic scenarios based on faulty modeling. Of course, those models also turned out to be quite wrong.

As noted in that article, their models were used not just by executives branch officials in many states, but even by a judge. Major policy actions and judicial rulings based on models that were flat out wrong. Seeing that most of the names in that group are from our area, they are probably having an impact on local policy too. This, despite the fact that their predictions of hospital overflows are in stark contrast with the reality of half empty hospitals nearly bankrupted from loss of revenue.

Further evidence of the apocalypse never materializing is that many of the specially built hospitals were mostly unused. A field hospital at McCormick Place in Chicago is closing after seeing just 29 patients. The Comfort naval ship left New York after seeing only 179 non-COVID patients. Michigan scaled back the number of beds at a temporary hospital from 1,000 to 250. A hospital in Beaumont, Michigan temporarily closed, despite being specifically for Coronavirus patients. Seattle's Army field hospital was open for nine days and saw zero patients, then closed and moved on. New York claimed they needed far more ventilators then they actually did, then started giving them away. This is not exactly what people expected to see when they were told the lockdowns were necessary.

A perverse relationship exists between apocalyptic modeling, and power hungry governments. The more distant the models were from reality, the more that officialdom can proclaim that their destruction of the economy and civil society as we know it is working. Off by 10x? That's proof it's working. Off by 100x? That's proof it's really working! And so on. George Orwell would be proud if we were to tell him that the more government is wrong, the more it proves government is right.

Ask yourself which is more likely, that the mitigation strategies are having an incredibly positive effect all across the country, even though different states enacted them with different severity at different times. Or that the initial numbers were simply wrong to begin with?

 

Cataloging the Cases:

After the model was proven spectacularly wrong, we now see that the actual numbers themselves may be wrong too. All governments are tracking daily, weekly and total deaths from the virus. But what is the criteria for counting something as a death? It turns out that a test showing the patient was infected is not even required. Instead, a death can be counted as having been caused by the virus if similar symptoms were observed. From the CDC website:

"Deaths with confirmed or presumed COVID-19, coded to ICD–10 code U07.1"

and their March 24 memo:

"COVID-19 should be reported on the death certificate for all decedents where the disease caused or is assumed to have caused or contributed to death."

This doesn't mean every diagnosis is wrong or without merit, but it does show that the numbers are not all correct. It would be easy for a doctor to assume a patient was infected based on certain symptoms, but without them actually being infected with the virus. This is probably causing inflated death numbers.

Further inflating the numbers, is that there is no distinction between someone dying with the virus, vs. dying from the virus. As has been stated here and elsewhere, infected patients with underlying conditions, especially obesity, are much more likely to die. So even in a case where the virus did not play a significant role in a patient's demise, if they test positive for it, their passing is counted as a death from the virus. This is also inflating the numbers.

There is a financial incentive to over-attribute. In the CARES Act, there is a provision that gives hospitals more money for every death from the virus, and even more for patients who used a ventilator. We aren't accusing any specific hospital of dishonest accounting, but knowing human nature, it's probably happening. With half-empty hospitals struggling to stay open with so few patients bringing in revenue, they'd be even more incentivized to collect as much money as possible to keep their business functioning. Anecdotally, here is a citizen journalist who caught an NYC healthcare employee on camera admitting that deaths were being over-attributed to the virus. Project Veritas got many funeral home directors to admit off the record that deaths were being over-attributed.

Last, there is a high likelihood that ventilators themselves are responsible for a substantial number of deaths.

These cases are four examples where blindly following data does not necessarily lead one to a correct impression of reality.

 

Analyzing the Spread:

After bad models and suspect data, what do we know about who this virus affects, where it affects them, and how it spreads?

Data appear to be showing that dark, cramped environments full of sick people are where the virus spreads the most. This institutional spreading is called nosocomial infection. The most comprehensive article we could find on this phenomenon is here and is an absolute must-read.

In Illinois, 300 nursing home residents and staff have been infected. In Colorado, half of the deaths occurred in nursing homes. In Los Angeles County, 39% of the deaths by April 23 were in institutional settings, most of those being in nursing homes. As of April 27, The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that:

"27 percent of the COVID-19 deaths in the 23 states that report fatalities publicly by location have occurred in nursing homes and long-term facilities. In six of those states ... the percentage of Coronavirus deaths in nursing homes was over 50 percent of total deaths".

In Steuben County, New York, 73% of confirmed deaths were related to nursing homes as of April 24.

Seeing how much of the spread is nosocomial, it makes closures of parks and beaches look even more absurd in hindsight.

We know that the first death was back on February 6 in Santa Clara. If the virus has been present in our area for that long, it's questionable whether the lockdowns are having any effect at all. It is true that the infection and death numbers are fairly small and even declining. But there is no definitively causal link between the lockdown efforts and those numbers. In other states with similar demographics to each other, states who shut down show no discernible difference in outcome from those who did not. From Bloomberg Opinion (minus the snark) on April 29, via the COVID Tracking Project:

"Idaho has a stay-at-home order; it has had 172 hospitalizations and 58 deaths as of Tuesday. Kansas: 504 hospitalizations and 124 deaths. Maine: 163 hospitalizations and 51 deaths. Meanwhile, Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas never instituted a shelter-at-home order — yet the state has only 104 current hospitalizations and 52 deaths."

There is a very real chance the lockdowns were for nothing.

A study from an Israeli professor, written in Hebrew, echoes similar suspicions and claims that the curve of virus spread looks the same whether lockdowns were enforced or not.

A somewhat controversial study out of Stanford concluded that the number of people who have been infected, and are mostly asymptomatic, in Santa Clara County is much higher than previously thought. A study by the same authors came to a similar conclusion about Los Angeles County. Some took issue with the data quality of those studies. In response, the data in the Santa Clara study was revised but it did not change the conclusion by much.

Between March 22 and April 4, a total of 215 pregnant women were tested at the New York–Presbyterian Allen Hospital and Columbia University Irving Medical Center, showing a roughly 15.4% infection rate, with 13.5% of them being asymptomatic. A study which analyzed blood samples from 200 random passersby on the streets of a Boston, Massachusetts neighborhood showed an infection rate of nearly one third. With infection rates being much higher than previously thought, it means the fatality rate is much lower.

It's too early to tell now, but once all data is collected and analyzed at some point in the future, our gut feeling is that the fatality rate will be not much worse than the flu, and the lockdowns will have been largely unnecessary and ineffective.

 

Direct and Indirect Economic Consequences:

Many people have been clamoring to lift the lockdown and reopen the economy. These concerns are smugly, and glibly dismissed by people who accuse such desires of being motivated by greed. Having a functioning economy is not just about making money. It is about providing the goods and services that people want and need in their daily lives. It also gives people a sense of pride, purpose and something to do. Large scale idling does society no good.

This can, and does, have a catastrophic effect on those who do not have many months of savings. It has an even worse effect on low margin businesses with high costs. It shifts those businesses from making a few thousand dollars per month, to sinking tens of thousands of dollars per month into the hole, mostly for rent. It would appear the officials issuing lockdown edicts never considered the devastating effect this is having, and will have. Even after re-opening, how are these businesses expected to continue operating when they emerge with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt hanging over their heads? What happens when hundreds of businesses across the County shut down for good? What happens to the tax base that pays the guaranteed salaries of government employees and elected officials? They appear to be killing the goose that lays their golden eggs without any regard for the future consequences.

Societies are generally improved when people invest in the future. Investments can take many forms, whether it's researching new subjects, saving money, spending that money on a business or idea, acquiring an education, etc... All of these activities have one thing in common: they sacrifice current prosperity, for future prosperity. People will only engage in such investment activities if they have confidence that they will pay off in the future. Societies which don't value or have confidence in future prosperity don't invest. When they don't invest, they eventually decay and die.

We've seen the unthinkable unfold before our eyes. Years and decades worth of hard work by many business owners and their employees have been ordered wiped out in a matter of two months at the stroke of a pen. The lockdown keeps getting extended for seemingly arbitrary reasons, with no end in sight. What does this do to confidence in the future? Does it diminish the justification for investment because the future is uncertain? Would someone spend years and decades of their life mastering a certain skill to build up a business if they knew that it could all be wiped out by misguided government decrees? If such a scenario sounds far fetched, it's not. Remember, the local and statewide lockdowns are now indefinite. The criteria for ending them changes via government whim. First it was slowing the spread, then it was achieving decreasing/zero infection rates, then it was testing everyone, and now it's sounding like we need to wait for a vaccine to fully return to normal life.

There are occasional threats voiced by those in charge that we may need to lock down the country again if this virus, or another like it shows up again. Yearly rolling lockdowns are a real possibility. Does this sound like an environment where people would want to invest? The long term consequences of normalizing such looming threats seem to have not been given even a passing thought by the powers that be.

 

Direct and Indirect Health and Social Consequences:

In addition to the economic effects listed above, the effects on peoples' mental, physical and social well being must also be considered. What happens to the human mind when subjected to extreme social isolation? Would a person who is borderline suicidal be more likely to take the final step? How many such people have done that in the County? Some people live with people who abuse them, and their daily life outside of the house provides them brief relief from such abuse. How much more abuse is taking place now that these people are locked inside with their abusers? In Los Angeles county, the 50% drop in child abuse reports likely means more of it is taking place, but isn't getting reported.

These lockdown orders were issued to supposedly keep us healthy. However, one such business which was confusingly deemed non-essential was much of the medical profession. Some might argue it was limited to elective surgeries, but that term can be applied rather broadly and elective is not limited to cosmetic. For example, it doesn't just apply to breast enhancements and rhinoplastys, it also applies to breast reductions to ease back pain and fixing deviated septums to ease breathing. How much discomfort and death has delaying these procedures caused?

In addition to outright bans, the fear surrounding the virus caused some people to postpone other medical work. How many people were either injured or died, from not receiving the care they had planned on? Did it cost more lives than were lost to the virus? There seems to have been no consideration given to this issue before mandating the lockdowns.

Financially, it is severely straining the hospital system.

We know that when people lose their jobs, they die more often. Back in 2011 when unemployment was still severe after the 2008 financial crash, a study from the National Institutes of Health found that unemployment is associated with a 63% higher risk of mortality. When extreme unemployment is experienced in a specific geographic area, opioid use can dramatically increase.

It goes without saying, but the California policy of letting thousands of criminals out of jail is also not making anyone safer.

We keep getting reassured that the response is data driven and is for our safety. We know this is not true, because the above data is obviously not being considered.

 

Dubious Determinations of Essentialness:

Governors and local officials across the country have decided which businesses and activities are deemed essential and which are not and these decisions differ by locality. The seemingly arbitrary nature of these decisions suggests they can be politically influenced, and even in the absence of such influence, they are very hard to make. Of course, we're told the decisions are backed up by "science" and "data", but as we know, nothing governments do is based purely on those two inputs. Much of what they do is based on hunches, whims, inaccurate perceptions of reality, heavily biased echo chambers of activist agitators, and of course, political favoritism.

In addition to being arbitrary, many of these decisions are downright contradictory, further exposing their dubious nature. For example, alcohol, marijuana and lottery stores are to remain open because they are somehow "essential", yet we're told that if we vote in person, we'll be unsafe. We're told that having big box retailers open is safe, but having small businesses open is unsafe. Who knew big business could wipe out their smaller competition with the stroke of a pen from a public health official? They've gotten in two months what a decades of lobbying couldn't buy them.

Who is to say what is essential or not? It likely came as a shock to many people who work hard every day to learn they have been deemed non-essential by government whim. Further, the sheer number of businesses that are still deemed essential shows the impossibility of picking out a select few activities and allowing them to continue operating. The reason is that our society is incredibly complex and interwoven. Every part eventually touches every other part. One can't shut down one node without also shutting down all of the connected nodes, and their connected nodes and so on.

Grocery stores are open because people need to eat. Those stores need to be stocked via delivery trucks, so trucking is running. Those trucks need gas, so gas stations are open. Those gas stations need gas supplies, so refineries are running. Those refineries need oil, so oil drilling is happening. Money needs to move to facilitate these activities, so accounting is running. The law never sleeps, so lawyers, police and security guards are working. The list goes on, and this illustrates the futility of trying to shut down select parts of the economy. None of these parts exist in a vacuum. This leads to the current situation of a partial lockdown.

If people are conducting some business, and coming into contact with each other, then it's a fair question to ask how much of a positive effect the lockdown is having in terms of slowing the spread of the virus. If everyone will sooner or later come into contact with a grocery store clerk, touch a gas station pump, walk past a security guard, then go back home to their family who also did the same, how is this realistically slowing the spread of the virus?

In addition, one must ask how closely a group's prescribed essentialness aligns with that group's political connectedness. Various building trades are heavily unionized, and we all know unions contribute almost exclusively to Democrats. Democrats make up 100% of the Board of Supervisors, and the vast majority of government employees. Was the deemed essentialness of construction workers influenced by the political nature of their trade, or was it merely a recognition of the obvious importance of building things?

When governments begin deciding who and what is and is not essential, it doesn't take long before people become rightly skeptical of such decisions. 

 

Conclusion:

Many more words could be said on this subject, but what we've said so far captures the general mood of Central Committee members, so we felt it was worth sharing.

In summary, we know the virus is real and is killing people, but not in numbers substantially greater than, or in a manner less manageable than, the usual deaths which sadly occur each year. We also know it mostly targets a clearly defined group, elderly people with underlying conditions. It makes more sense to focus our efforts there, and let the younger, healthier population return to normal life and build up herd immunity.

Despite the harm caused by the virus, we think shutting down the economy has done vastly more harm than good and will take not just years, but decades to recover from in terms of debt repayment, business rebuilding and investor confidence restoration. As such, we believe the cure has been worse than the disease.

We are continually berated about trusting experts and believing in science and other elements of officialdom. Of course there are good people doing good work in various fields of study, which are very important and form the underlying intellectual support structure for rational decision making in our modern society.

But science should not be treated as a religion.

Numbers on a spreadsheet should not be taken as the absolute truth, especially when such numbers are merely projections with speculative inputs and opaque calculations. Rather, those figures are but one of many components which should inform policymaking in the context of all of the other elements that make up our very complex and tightly integrated society and economy.

Policymakers are expected to keep a level head and integrate many inputs into their worldview before they pass a law or take a position. They are not supposed to take one model with apocalyptic predictions, treat it as gospel, then proceed to plunge the country into a great depression without ever considering the consequences.

They were supposed to do all of those things, and on every single last one, they've failed disastrously. As a result, every person alive today reading this will pay for it for the rest of their lives in terms of decreased opportunity, decreased personal freedoms, decreased value of their dollar, decreased financial and investment certainty about the future, and a debt burden which can never be paid off.

Don't deny science, trust the experts, and follow the data they said.

We did trust the experts, and that's precisely the problem.