The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Rationales R’ Us

08/24/2020

Economists have two primary trade associations.  First, the American Economic Association (AEA) is the oldest and is oriented toward academic economists, more commonly known as “nerds.”  As far as I can tell, it has no ideological bent.  If you can still solve quadratic equations in the dark, this group might be for you.  Second, there is the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), where I’ve been a member for many years.  They are largely pro-business and interested in business-friendly policy responses to economic issues.

Then, there are numerous institutes or think-tanks, like the American Institute of Economic Research (AIER).  They can provide an economic justification of most any conspiracy theory.  Whatever stupidity you see in the world, it is the fault of evil people (such as the “deep-state” among others) and that stupidity is only made worse by the “mass-media.”

Their latest rationale is that lockdowns kill people, by increasing despair (including suicides) and by decreased medical care (46% drop in new cancer diagnosis during the March lockdown).  The problem is that it is unknowable whether more people die from the unchecked virus or from the lockdown.  My suspicion is that the virus kills more people.

They argue that initial justification of economic lockdowns came from China, solely to damage America.  According to that logic, the Chinese believed an American lockdown would kill lots of Americans.  Smells like a conspiracy to me?

Besides, if you believe economic lockdowns control the spread of coronavirus, you are not entitled to an opinion — UNLESS you have done your own epidemiological research.  In other words, don’t trust Dr. Fauci, without double-checking his scientific work!  The world and the virus are conspiring against us!

Much of their analysis is based on the experience in Sweden, which did not have a nationwide mandatory lockdown, waiting for herd-immunity.  Unfortunately, the data used by the AIER is out-dated.  Today, the latest outbreak in Sweden has surged, killing more Swedes per capita (57 deaths per 100,000) than the U.S. (50 deaths per 100,000).

I wonder if AIER could also rationalize the insanity of QAnon . . . ?

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