Urban Progressive Privilege: The Free Market Of Ill-Informed, Class-Privilege-Sodden Twaddle They Are Pleased To Call “Ideas”

I listen to NPR so you don’t have to.

And there are some reasons it’s worth it. I mean, that’s where you get Live From Here with Chris Thile.

Well, for now, anyway.

Otherwise, there’s…

…well, a lot of racial virtue-signaling. I suspect the most lilywhite of America’s organizations is fearing a lot of backlash when the Bolsheviks come for the Mensheviks.

Speaking of which, it’s always a bit of a chuckle when the “progressives” that are NPR’s staff, social circle and pool of sources try to explain things like economics to the pool of “progressives” that are NPR’s audience.

Case in point – a piece from yesterday’s All Things Considered, an interview with one Eula Biss, about her new book about Capitalism.

Biss – a “non-fiction writing” major who has lived within the academic echo chamber her entire career, is the author of “Having and Being Had” – a primer on…

…wait for it…

…Capitalism.

Or, rather, a coddled, over-schooled/undereducated resident of the academic echo chamber’s perversion of the cartoon term “capitalism”, itself a hijacked representation of “the free market”…

…not that either term isn’t completely lost on Professor Biss.

Let’s start with this passage, which the NPR crowd will no doubt take for an emanation of wisdom, but merely proves that Biss’s son and babysitter are smarter than she is:

PFEIFFER: At one point, you’re talking about your son paying for a Pokemon card, although someone else thought he overpaid for the Pokemon card. What was it like for you to watch your son try to figure out what something was worth and why and maybe not figuring it out correctly?

BISS: Oh, it was amazing. In watching him learn how to play Pokemon the way it was being played in first and second grade at his school, I felt like I was seeing an economy be invented. But it was also somewhat excruciating to me because I saw the ways in which other children and his babysitter and I were training the values of capitalism into him. So, yes, at one point, he gave away a valuable Pokemon card because he just didn’t like it very much.

And then I heard his babysitter saying to him, were you a smart negotiator? And I thought, oh, no. What are we doing? This kid is only 6, and we’re already training him not to be generous and to get as much out of an exchange as he can possibly get out of it even if he doesn’t care about the thing he’s giving away.

PFEIFFER: Oh, that’s so interesting. I mean, diamonds are objectively very expensive and valuable, but if I don’t care about them and I just want to give them away, is that fine, or is that flawed financial thinking?

BISS: Under the logic of capitalism, it’s insane, right? But by some other logic, it makes perfect sense, especially since diamonds aren’t incredibly useful. You can’t eat them, and you can’t live inside them.

The interview – and one suspects the book – is a cavalcade of white progressive guilt, the sort of consequence-free wailing that afflicts our current layer of pseudointellectual societal overburden:

BISS: One of the things that I didn’t want to have happen to me as I entered this new life and lifestyle [i.e. – bought a house in a tony neighborhood near Northwestern Universitiy] was I didn’t want to begin to think that I had what I had because I’d worked hard, which is one of the patterns of thought very common to upper middle class. I don’t believe that I got what I got because I worked hard. I believe that I got what I got because the system favors me in a number of different ways – one, because I’m white, but also because I started out middle-class.

Notice she doesn’t mention “…because I’m part of an academic-industrial complex to which being a recipient of Urban Progressive Privilege gives me a priority ticket”.

Ms. Biss: If you’re that concerned about the things your “work” didn’t “earn” you, give up your teaching gig at Northwestern and become one of the people you describe later in the interview:

I think one of the possibilities that I could perceive, especially once the pandemic arrived, was the possibility of – what if we compensated the people we speak of as essential workers? So what if everyone who is essential to the daily workings of our lives was paid well and had health insurance and had basic security? That’s entirely possible. It’s even possible within capitalism, but that involves us making a series of changes in policy and, to some extent, in what we collectively value.

It’s entirely possible – say, within the context of a real epidemic, a modern-day Plague with a two-digit mortality rate, something that legitimately shuts down society for the duration of a disease serious enough to impinge even Nancy Pelosi or Lori Lightfoot’s lifestyles – for the skills and presence of “supply chain” workers, from the farm to the Walmart, to become very, very valuable. Vastly moreso than, say, writing professors at Northwestern.

But I don’t think that’s the “policy change” she’s referring to.

The bad news: these are the people teaching the “next generation of leaders”

The not-so-bad news: nobody she teaches will amount to anything outside the academic-industrial complex.

Remember

If you run a business in the Twin Cities, this is what you are up against:

Lotus has been a tradition in the Twin Cities as long as I’ve been here, and considerably longer. Even as Vietnamese restaurants got taken over by Thai joints (Unjustifiably, in my book), the Lotus has carried on.

But will they come back downtown? Will Ruth’s Chris? Brit’s?

Especially given that the photo above described, exactly, the support they can expect from the city of Minneapolis?

Would you?

Unexpectedly

Dozens of businesses are expecting to leave downtown Minneapolis.

A new survey by the Downtown Council shows 45 business owners say they are considering leaving downtown – citing the lack of people working or socializing downtown – and the idea that the police department could be dismantled.

Though they won’t say which businesses are considering pulling out of downtown, the council says one of the businesses employs 600 people.

That could mean a lot of empty spaces.

On the up side, I suppose “moving” implies some intent to survive.

Wonder how many downtown businesses have closed for good without making it onto any surveys?

Price

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Went to dinner at Old Mexico in Roseville, sat on the patio, a pleasant evening. Dinner for three, one drink each, no appetizer or dessert, with tip, $100.

Is it just me, or are post-covid prices significantly higher than pre-covid prices?
 This is going to cut into my dining budget, which will extend the economic harm from the governors orders. 

Joe Doakes 

Restaurants are pricing the contortions they’re going through into their menus.

Or going out of business.

My favorite BBQ joint has jacked up its prices. Still worth it, but I can feel the pain – some of it. I imagine it’s worse for them (although they are doing very well).

Not much in between.

Sustainable!

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Looking at the recycle bin at my house, I’m curious how many trillion board-feet of lumber get turned into cardboard for Amazon boxes every year?

The lumberjacks and paper mills should be kissing the ground Jeff Bezos walks on.

Joe Doakes

Oh, I have a hunch they are.

And how long has it been since you heard someone protesting forestry?

This Is War

Shizzle just got way too real:

This is getting personal.

Keegans was where I met some of the favorite arcs in my social circle: the NARN guys (Brian, Chad, Ben, Ed Morrissey, King Banaian, Michael Brodkorb), John Stewart and Marjorie Farnsworth Stewart and their kids Patience Stewart and Faith Worley , who at least started the process of meeting her husband Ben Worley (long story) there at a Trivia night one summer. It’s where I first met (socially, at least) David Strom and Margaret Martin, and Christopher K. Senn and Chris Neugent, where we were trivia regulars with Brad Carlson and Nancy LaRoche and Bill Charette and Guy Collins and Peg Kaplan and so many more, a place where Gary M. Miller and Bob Collins shared a table over a couple beers and some sports talk, where I met the likes of Tracy Eberly and Julie Hanson and Mark Heuring and Jacq Smith and Sean Michael and Diane Napper and Bridget Cronin, where I met Don Lokken after 20 odd years. where celebs like Mike Nelson and Lynn McHale’s husband rubbed elbows with a bunch of my other closest friends, and the last place I saw Joel Rosenberg and Sarah Janecek before their untimely passings, and…

…well, so many memories, it’s hard to catalogue them all.

Keegans – and the Savoy next door, both owned by the redoubtable Marty Newman – is closing after Tuesday night. Marty, like Terry (a Marine vet from Vietnam) and Virginia Keegan before him who founded the place, is a classic small businessman, is pretty much SOL.

The place was always jam packed – always – so let’s hear none of this “bars and restaurants close all the time” bullsh*t. This place was killed by the Governor’s ham-fisted quarantine combined with Minneapolis’ unicorn-driven small business policies.

This is a kick in the teeth.

I will be heading there Tuesday night. I guess that would be tonight…

Blue Fragility, Part VI: Lysenkoism Vs. Actual Science!

Those of us who favor a safe, science-driven re-opening of the economy are frequently derided by the “shut down until ______” (fill in the blank du jour) crowd as either callous or ignorant.

But looking at examples of states that have managed to combine generally good public health outcomes with a relatively sane course on economic re-opening, two patterns emerge:

1) those paths tend to be steered by governors with experience in the private sector – the likes of Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Doug Burgum of North Dakota and especially Ron DeSantis of Florida) treat science as a way of finding the truth, as opposed it being a tool to coerce compliance.

2) The success tends to follow a parade of calumny in the “blue” media – followed by the media moving on to another story when none of the predictions pans out.

The response to Governor DeSantis’s plans early in the epidemic (the sky was going to fall!) and now (it didn’t!) is illustrative:

An irony of the national coverage of the coronavirus crisis is that at the same time DeSantis was being made into a villain, New York governor Andrew Cuomo was being elevated as a hero, even though the DeSantis approach to nursing homes was obviously superior to that of Cuomo. Florida went out of its way to get COVID-19-positive people out of nursing homes, while New York went out of its way to get them in, a policy now widely acknowledged to have been a debacle.

The media didn’t exactly have their eyes on the ball. “The day that the media had their first big freakout about Florida was March 15th,” DeSantis recalls, “which was, there were people on Clearwater Beach, and it was this big deal. That same day is when we signed the executive order to, one, ban visitation in the nursing homes, and two, ban the reintroduction of a COVID-positive patient back into a nursing home.”

DeSantis is bemused by the obsession with Florida’s beaches. When they opened in Jacksonville, it was a big national story, usually relayed with a dire tone. “Jacksonville has almost no COVID activity outside of a nursing-home context,” he says. “Their hospitalizations are down, ICU down since the beaches opened a month ago. And yet, nobody talks about it. It’s just like, ‘Okay, we just move on to the next target.’”

Perhaps more understandably, The Villages, the iconic senior community, was a focus of media worries. According to DeSantis, as of last weekend there hadn’t been a single resident of The Villages in the hospital for COVID-19 for about a week. At one point, the infection rate in The Villages was so low that state officials were worried that they were missing something. “So I got the University of Florida to do a study,” he says. “They did 1,200 asymptomatic seniors at The Villages, and not one of them came back positive, which was really incredible.”

So how did DeSantis go about responding to the epidemic? It began with the data, and trying to learn the lessons of other countries.

The “Red” states’ approaches (and to be fair, California’s) spared their states the carnage that befell New York’s nursing homes (and Minnesota’s, as well); a dispassionate, scientific approach to the data (as opposed to the governor’s desired conclusions, as in Minnesota) led them to protect their most vulnerable – in stark contrast to the policies of New York’s governor (and increasingly, Minnesota’s).

I’ve been calling this response “Blue Fragility” – the tendency of our society’s “gatekeepers” to lash out in anger and frustration at the realization that their version of “science” is as much about browbeating and logrolling people into submission as it is about systematic inquiry leading to knowledge. It helps deflect away from several fairly inescapable conclusions one might get from observing this pandemic:

  1. High density “blue city” urban lifestyles – like the Met Council is mandating in the Twin Cities – are not “resilient” against pandemics. High density living, transit-centered lifestyles, open plan offices, bars and restaurants are all hotbeds of contagion in a way that, at least anecdotally, lower-density areas – even as in Los Angeles as compared to New York – just don’t.
  2. When you mix science and politics, you don’t get scientific politics. You get politicized science – better known as “propaganda” and “logrolling”.

Blue Fragility is causing some shutdown proponents to “kill the messenger”; I had a prominent Saint Paul political operative tell me “small towns are going to get the s**t kicked out of them”, with an almost evangelical glee, like he was looking forward to watching all those MAGA-hatted bitter clingers’ suffereing.

And it prompts people to deflect away from the success story to, frankly, “dog bites dog” stories like this – where a “covid denier” who is quite visibly high risk of contracting the disease…contracts the disease. Surprise, surprise.

It’s easier to mock and taunt one’s opponent than engage them – when that’s all you’ve got.

Timing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Newest Covid statistics.

10% of the people tested got the virus.  1.5% of those who got the virus, needed hospitalization. One-half of one percent of those who got the virus, died from it.  80% of the deaths are in nursing homes.  No child has died from it.
 
The computer model estimates from the press conference in March, when the Governor imposed the lock down, were that 2.5 million Minnesotans would get it, of all ages, from 6 months to 91 years; that 15% of those who get it would require hospitalization; 5% of them would require ICU care; 1% would die. 
 
Testing proves the computer model was wrong.  Can we abandon the model, now?  Focus our efforts on those who need them, liberate the rest to go back to work so we can pay for it all?
 
Joe Doakes

I’m not going to say “nothing about Govenor Walz’s response has anything to do with public health.

But nearly every part of the response – especially last week’s luke-warm reopening announcement – is driven by political expedience.

In this case, most notably, as defiance of the state of emergency burgeons, the expedience of appearing to still be in charge.

Pass This Around

Jax is sort of a family tradition.

Not my family, per se -but my ex in-laws and their side of the family has celebrated their major milestones, including my kids’ major milestones, there for 50-60 years.

And so I watched this:

To continue one of Mr. Kozlak’s point – he may be able to make it at 50% capacity in the short term. The long term is more dubious.

So – do the people in the “shut it down until there’s a vaccine” crowd think that a government can survive with half its taxpayers any more than a business can survive with half its customers?

I’d love some “prog” to explain that in terms that don’t involve “unicorns descending from the skies with chests of gold coins on their backs”.

I’m still waiting.

Civil Disobedience

Saint Paul barbershop, facing a life-or-death business decision, chooses life:

In the shadows of the State Capitol, King Milan Barbershop had, for the first time in seven weeks, its lights on. Milan Dennie is the owner.

“It’s my livelihood,” Dennie said. “I’ve been sitting here coming up with strategies and plans on how to open up and do it correctly.”

His customers outside had at least two things in common: The plea to reopen businesses, and the need for a haircut.

For two hours, Dennie enforced social distancing and sanitizing as a way to prove he’s serious for the 16 clients he served.

Government chooses…

…well, not “death”.  

Let’s go for “mindless, unquestioning acquiescence to even the most arbitrary decision of The State”

The 17th person to walk in was St. Paul police.

“We just stepped outside and he talked to me,” Dennie said. “He said he feels what I’m going through, but the order is in place right now.”

Technically, the state can shut him down and fine Dennie up to $25,000. He’s aware he could lose his shop by this decision to reopen. He’s convinced he’d lose it by staying closed.

When the doors did close, donations came in along with support. Some from fellow barbers who are also stressed from not providing.

“Everybody keeps saying, ‘File this, file that.’ You file everything you want to, until your hands hurt,” Burnsville barbershop owner Nile House said. “You can keep typing til your hands are aching, but you’re not going to get it because it’s not coming.”

When people stop respecting what government does, you can expect people to start working around, rather than with, it.

Government Is The Things We Do Together – Stupidly And Arbitrarily

A Long Lake restaurant tries to put on a drive in movie, complete with take-out food with all the socially-distance, plague-aware trimmings.

The state shut them down:

Birch’s On the Lake has lost around 70% of its regular revenue while doing take-out only during the stay at home order.

The owner came up with a plan to do a family night at the drive-in outside the Long Lake restaurant.

“It sold out in a day,” Burton Joseph said.

The plan was to hand out notes to customers explaining the safety rules: stay in their cars, maintain distance, and no alcohol. They would be allowed to call in an order for take-out to eat in their cars.

On Monday state officials told Joseph they could not have the event.

“If we’re coming up with the ideas to keep everyone safe at this point I feel like they deserve to give someone a chance,” Joseph said.

Yet again: we have a government run by a man who’s never had a significant job in the private sector, at the head of an administration that has nothing but contempt for businesspeople…

…telling the people who actually have the interests of not only their business, but the customers and communities that are their livelihood, and who have greatest stake in providing creative solutions to our mutual problems, how to behave.

This is the sort of thing that delegitimizes government authority, and leaves you with a Ukraine, a Belanus, a Venezuela.

Indecency Plus Blue Fragility

Governor Cuomo’s “Marie Antoinette” moment:

The Democrat fielded questions Wednesday while angry protesters outside expressed their displeasure with ongoing shutdown policies. A reporter said she spoke to many of the protesters and found them to be “regular people who are not getting a paycheck.”

“Some of them are not getting their unemployment check and they’re saying that they don’t have time to wait for all of this testing and they need to get back to work in order to feed their family,” she said, CBS News reported. “Their savings are running out. They don’t have another week. They’re not getting answers. So, their point is, the cure can’t be worse than the illness itself. What is your response to that?”

Mr. Cuomo’s response suggested that government-imposed shutdowns might exist as long as a single person was at risk of dying from the contagion.

“The illness is death,” he said. “What is worse than death? Economic hardship? Yes, very bad. Not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house — very bad. Not death. Domestic violence on the increase — very bad. Not death.”

This seems to be the tack the “shutdownists” – a term I use advisedly, as it seems to be almost a matter of religious faith among its adherents – use; the only alternative to completely shudown is mass death.

And then (with emphasis added):

The reporter countered that protesters are in an untenable position, given that they cannot pay immediate bills while simultaneously being told they cannot work.

“They can’t wait for the money,” she said. “They’re out of money.”

“They can say, ‘Unemployment insurance isn’t enough,’” the Democrat replied. “I get it. Even with the $600 check and the $1,200 check, and the unemployment benefit is not enough. I understand the economic hardship. We all feel it. The question is, ‘What do you do about it?’ And do you put public health at risk? And do you drive up the number of deaths for it, because you have no idea how to reopen now.”

Mr. Cuomo was then asked if a fundamental right to work exists if “the government can’t get [citizens] the money” they need in a timely manner.

“You want to go to work?” Mr. Cuomo replied. “Go take a job as an essential worker.”

Preferably as a dues-paying public union member, no doubt.

So Let Me See If I’ve Got This Straight

“We” – the Governor’s junta, at this point – can re-open Minnesota when we “have enough testing”, and we will be testing 20,000 people a day – or we will. We are assured is going to happen any day now.

Which we’ve been assured is happening any day now for over a month. And after a month of bureaucratic proclamations and excuses and deflection, we are testing about 10% of the rate that the governor says would make him talk about opening things up again.

And they wonder why people are protesting?

Killing The Patient To Save It

I spent a little time watching some of the local TV news and weather drones chattering about Earth Day yesterday.

I know – I forgot to celebrate it, too, right?

And the line among the various weather drones, in noting that pollution is at record lows around the planet, was simultaneously predictable and a crushing face palm;

“it just shows what people can do to Fight climate change when they set their mind to it”

Yes. When the economy slows to a record halt, vaporizing trillions of dollars in personal and institutional wealth, throwing millions/tens of millions, really, into at least short term poverty and possibly much worse, with industries shut down and hundreds of thousands of small businesses vanquished over a little more than six weeks, the air will get a little clean.

The Free Market Will Find A Way

Bars and restaurants are struggling with Minnesota’s fairly draconian pandemic restrictions.

People are pretty ingenious though – especially when their livelihoods are at stake.The “Black Hart“, a bar down by Saint Paul‘s new soccer stadium, hobbled both by the quarantine restrictions and the canceling of major league soccer, is…well, adapting:

The bar’s inaugural drag delivery staffer will be Dina Delicious (pictured above). From now on, orders placed online between 4 and 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays will result in a drag delivery.

As the weather warms up, I would expect various Gentlemens clubs and Hooters to come around to similar ideas.

Wipe Away Those Presumptions

Like many of you, I’ve wandered past the toilet paper aisle, seen the Venezuelan-style devastation, and wondered “what the flaming hootie-hoo are people DOING with all the TP? Are they fixing to eat the stuff?”

Well, no. Hoarding isn’t the problem. A supply chain built on maximum efficiency and minimum reserve inventory – pretty close to “just in time”, in logistical terms – and a re-balancing of home and commercial sales (less TP at work, much much more at home) has left the toilet paper market way out of whack:

“If you’re looking for where all the toilet paper went, forget about people’s attics or hall closets. Think instead of all the toilet paper that normally goes to the commercial market — those office buildings, college campuses, Starbucks, and airports that are now either mostly empty or closed. That’s the toilet paper that’s suddenly going unused.
So why can’t we just send that toilet paper to Safeway or CVS? That’s where supply chains and distribution channels come in.
Not only is it not the same product, but it often doesn’t come from the same mills.
Talk to anyone in the industry, and they’ll tell you the toilet paper made for the commercial market is a fundamentally different product from the toilet paper you buy in the store. It comes in huge rolls, too big to fit on most home dispensers. The paper itself is thinner and more utilitarian. It comes individually wrapped and is shipped on huge pallets, rather than in brightly branded packs of six or 12.
“Not only is it not the same product, but it often doesn’t come from the same mills,” added Jim Luke, a professor of economics at Lansing Community College, who once worked as head of planning for a wholesale paper distributor. “So for instance, Procter & Gamble [which owns Charmin] is huge in the retail consumer market. But it doesn’t play in the institutional market at all.”

It’s sort of like the shortage of .22 Long Rifle ammunition in the early 2010s; accelerated purchasing threw the supply chain out of whack, and since production was inelastic, it stayed out of whack for a long, long time.

The whole piece is worth a read.

Sort Of A Good News / Bad News Situation

As I discussed on my show on Saturday, I see potential good and potential immense bad coming from the Covid19 epidemic. It’s almost like one of those cartoon characters, with an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil on the other, trying to convince the character of their next action.

Good Angel

On the one hand:

The Bad Angel

  • Progressive politicians are seeing an opportunity to exercise the Emanuel Commandment (“Never Waste a Crisis”), and they’re running with it
  • For a brief moment, it seemed like identity politics might fall ill with coronavirus.  But not so much.  

Let’s all give the good angel a boost, shall we? 

Responses

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Governor Walz explained that we must shut down Minnesota to avoid overwhelming our 235 ICU beds with Covid-19 patients.  Apparently, if the 236th patient showed up, we’d have no choice.  We’d wheel her to the parking lot and leave her to die – there’s simply no way to treat her without an ICU bed.
So why do we have a hard limit on ICU beds?  Why not get more of them?  This is a serious question that maybe some SITDers can answer: what does an ICU bed to treat Covid-19 require?
Not talking about Minnesota luxury standard where you put one ICU bed in a hospital with sandwich bar in the cafeteria, talking about what Hawkeye Pierce would do.  The governor is invoking martial law powers because fighting the virus is the equivalent of war.  So what would a battlefield ICU bed for Covid-19 need?
Let’s say I want to double the number of Covid-19 treatment beds available. Is there anything special about the bed, itself, or can we call Original Mattress Factory to deliver a couple hundred beds?  If the patients need to sit up to breathe, does the bed need electric tilt or could we call that pillow guy to bring us a few hundred of his fancy pillows to stuff behind them?  Space – we’ve got high school gyms sitting empty.  Dividers – call the cubicle people to slap up free-standing cubicle walls between beds.
Ventilator?  That’s a fancy word for fan.  Any leaf blower could push air into your lungs. Speed controller?  Dimmer switch.  Regulator valve?  SCUBA dive shop.  Fan, vacuum cleaner hose, mask, duct tape, let’s get creative.  A CPAP doesn’t push hard enough but is that because the fan isn’t strong enough, or because the software limits it?  Can we overclock the fan to blow harder? 
Not medical grade?  That woman in the parking lot is dying, does ‘medical grade’ really matter to her?  Besides, there’s a machine shop in North Branch making aluminium AR-15 parts on state-of-the-art computer-controlled milling machines.  Give them the software code for ventilator parts, offer them $10,000 per unit, I bet they could pound them out in a week.  
Trained personnel to staff the bed?  Rosie the Riveter learned a new job.  You saying college kids today can’t?  $50 an hour, you’re out of school anyway, sign up here.
Seriously – why is the existing number of ICU beds sufficient justification to impose martial law?  Why not just build more ICU beds?  
Joe Doakes

Seventy years ago, they figured out a way to build antisubmarine patrol boats in Shakopee. Submarines in Wisconsin.

We can figure this out – provided “figuring it out” is the real goal.

I’m not entirely sure it is, for everyone.

Crowd Psychology

Imagine this:

It’s the middle of June, 1940. Germany has just conquered all of Europe. The British have just withdrawn their army from the continent, in a miraculous evacuation that was the only redeeming note in a catastrophic defeat.

The army had left virtually all of its equipment – just about everything heavier than a rifle – in France; it would pretty much have to be re-equipped from scratch. The Royal Navy had been badly bloodied. The Royal Air Force, likewise, leaving itself under strength to face the German Air Force in the upcoming campaign to try to bomb the UK either to the negotiating table or into a state ready to be invaded. German U-boats were ravaging the merchant shipping on which Britain depended for not only all of its industrial raw materials and oil, but virtually all of its food.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill went on the radio and gave a speech after the last of the British Expeditionary Force arrived home.

What speech did he give?

He could’ve given a realistic speech – pointing out the sobering facts of the situation, and readying the British people for what was likely going to be at best a disheartening and economy-gutting armistice that left them sitting alone on their island, and at worst complete conquest in the face of an invasion that would certainly follow, if the Navy and Air Force failed.

But no.

Churchill gave a speech that was, if all you cared about was the facts on the ground, utterly unrealistic; he told Britain, and the world, that the United Kingdom would fight to the last inch of ground, and if Britain fell the Commonwealth would carry on the fight forever, until Europe was free again.

It was a little like that poster of a mouse holding up a middle finger at a diving eagle; “the last great act of defiance“ was the caption.

And it was one of the greatest bits oratory in the history of the English language.

And it was completely unrealistic.

But it was leadership.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan had already proved he was the best president of my adult lifetime. His leadership had brought America back from the worst case of emotional depression it had ever suffered, and from an economic downturn every bit as nasty as 2008, but much more short-lived. And after running for office on a stridently anti-Communist message, he had already sent the message that Soviet expansionism was off the agenda, and made it stick.

He was scheduled to give a speech at the Brandenburg Gate – the very symbol of divided Germany, and the high watermark of communism in the west.. It was a time when most political and academic “experts“ in the west expected the Soviet union – the “second world“ – was here to stay; well five years later everyone said the USSR was eventually going to collapse, nobody that anybody was paying attention to was saying it in 1987. They had the worlds largest military, the worlds largest nuclear arsenal, and they controlled a good chunk of Europe and Asia.

Reagan’s advisers urged him to take a moderate, conciliatory tone toward the east Germans, the Soviets, their new (or at least newish) leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and the wall he was standing in front of.

To give a “realistic” speech.

 instead, he gave a speech that electrified the resistance in Eastern Europe, that galvanized support for democracy among the downtrodden, and did its part, along with much of the rest of Reagan’s policy, in the downfall of the Soviet union that had a thousand fathers by 1995, but was very nearly an orphan before Ronald Reagan was elected.

It wasn’t “realistic“ to the conventional wisdom of the day. It was leadership.

Donald Trump is no Winston Churchill, and he’s no Ronald Reagan.

This week, he said that he wants America to be “back to work“ by the Easter weekend.

Is this realistic? Maybe not. The experts say it’s unlikely. The legions of not very funny late night comics and blue-checked droogs say the idea itself is risible.. And the whole business of declaring America open or closed is mostly the responsibility of the state governments, and the free market itself. I, myself, plan on working from home (although I am working, knock wood).

But America is a restless, endlessly creative, impatient nation, overstocked with people who are not going to sit on their hands and wait for things to get better; it’s a nation full of people who are descended from people who came from all over the world, uprooting everything they knew, to make things better.

Trump could have echoed the words of the scientists and experts gathered around him. He could’ve lectured the nation like a hectoring schoolmarm, or like Barack Obama. But he’s got a stage full of experts, including his vice president, and more importantly 50 state governors, already doing exactly that.

Trump urging America to “go back to work“ Easter weekend is not the Dunkirk speech, and it’s not the Brandenburg gate speech.

It’s not eloquent, and it’s not going to go down in history.

But it’s leadership..

The economy runs as much on psychology as it does on money, analysis and marketing. It’s trends depend as much on how people are feeling as objective fact. Don’t believe it? Have you checked the toilet paper aisle lately?

The nation’s psyche needs a boost. Trump is setting a tone; the United States is not going to be on sick leave forever. He’s telling a nation with cabin fever that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. When? Maybe Easter, maybe memorial day, but it’s coming.

It was brilliant. It wasn’t scientific. It may not of even been all that well advised.

But it’s what America wants to think, and wants to hear. We’re not stupid, we’ll hash out the details later..

Their Progressive Majesties Demand

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Minnesota’s Democrat congressional delegation sent a letter to Vice President Pence telling him it was unacceptable that doctors in our state didn’t have enough complete Corona virus test kits. Apparently, the test kits ship without an essential chemical and world-wide demand has been so high, there’s a shortage of the chemical.
The law of supply and demand is unacceptable!
Yeah? So roll up your sleeves and get to work, ladies. Start producing the chemical. Do something useful.

Or Shut The Hell Up and let the adults get back to work, dealing with the crisis as best they can with the tools at hand.

Joe Doakes

I’m wondering if episodes like this mean that Smith, Klobuchar, Craig, Phillips, McCollum, Omar and Peterson genuinely think the economy runs by command? (Don’t bet against that with Smith, McCollum and Omar). Or is it just election-year posturing?

Deflated

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Gas on Sunday at Sam’s Club was $1.98 per gallon. That’s the lowest I’ve seen in a long time.

Sure, it puts a couple extra bucks in my pocket. It also makes it possible for people to drive more, which creates global warming gases to kill the planet. 

I’m saving money and have more freedom. That’s a bad thing.

 I blame Trump

Joe Doakes 

This, and especially the ongoing slashers in regulation, certainly have their upsides.

It’s a shame it takes an international crisis to discover it.

The Mother Of Invention

First prediction: there will be a Coronavirus vaccine.

It may arrive sooner, it may arrive later. Probably somewhere in between. I have no idea.

But it’ll come rom a country with a relatively free market for healthcare. The US? Norway? Germany? I don’t know – but it’ll be someplace that hasn’t nationalized healthcare.

Feel free to mark my words on this.

Beyond that ?

Last week on Twitter, Scott “Dilbert” Adams wrote:

The shortage of ventilators is the thing that’s terrifying people. The stories from Italy about doctors choosing who lives and who dies are pretty mortifying, especially if you have older relatives and family with lung conditions.

So people are innovating:

The doctor stresses this is a last ditch measure – to be used in cases where doctors are making life or death choices among 2-4 people at a time.

But it’s a start.

The MNDFL: Literally The Nanny State

Congratulations.

Clearly, you’ve solved all the real problems:

A group of Minnesota House Democrats introduced a bill this week that would require restaurants to serve certain drinks as the “default beverage” for children’s meals.
The bill was introduced Tuesday by Reps. Jeff Brand (DFL-St. Peter), Samantha Vang (DFL-Brooklyn Center), and Rob Ecklund (DFL-International Falls).
Under the bill, all Minnesota restaurants would be required to make the “default beverage” included with children’s meals either water or sparkling water, unflavored milk, or a nondairy milk alternative that contains “no more than 130 calories” per serving.

Look – as I’ve noted, I’m all for cutting. It’s cut my obesity rate pretty sharply.

But it’s not like Minnesota DFLersl aren’t making it hard enough to run a business of any kind, much less a restaurant.

The real question: when do we find out about the kickbacks from Big Water and Big MilK?