TWO TRILLION DOLLARS?

Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses; the club-shaped viral spike peplomers, coloured red, create the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically (from here (en.wikipedia.org))

Do the math.

  • The population of the United States is roughly 330 million (from here (factfinder.census.gov/)).
  • Congress wants to spend two trillion on a stimulus bill. See here (video.foxnews.com), here foxnews.com), here (politico.com), here (npr.org) and here (thehill.com)).
  • Estimates for the death rate for Coronavirus  (COVID-19) vary (see here (cdc.gov), here (theguardian.com) and here (bbc.com)). Fact is nobody really knows, but one percent of those infected seems like a good guess.

So how much will this huge stimulus bill cost per person to save one percent of our population?

  • Assuming everyone catches the virus, 3.3 million people, mostly old people, could die.
  • If we divide 2 trillion dollars by 3.3 million people, that means the stimulus bill would cost $606,060 per life saved.

Could more people die? One commenter is a better statistician than I am.  Here is his observation.

marmoewp

@Tom
Assuming that COVID-19 could kill one percent of the population if not controlled

Your argument is based on fatally flawed assumptions. See this CDC table of cases from Feb 2 to Mar 16
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm#T1_down
You have a fatality rate of 1.8% to 3.4% only if you provide proper care for the severe cases. What you are missing in the picture is the high hospitalization rate of 20%, which includes a rate of 5% to 11% that require ICU admission. Hospitalisation in the vast majority of cases means patients need to be put on oxygen supply at a minimum. If you allow COVID-19 to rip through the population unchecked, you’ll have at a minimum 50% infected this year, which correponds to 33 million US-Americans requiring hospitalisation. As resources will not be enough to hospitalize the majority of these cases, fatality rates will increase drastically. Keep in mind, even “just” 1% fatality rate corresponds to 3.3 million dead US-Americans. Assume a fatality rate of 10%, if infected, and half the population getting infected: 16 million Americans dead. What will that do to your economy?

Here is how I replied (Note that I used a more accurate population estimate in this post. I assumed 350 million Americans in the comment thread.).

@marmoewp

Since I assumed the absurd, I assumed 3.5 million dead. Everyone catches the virus? Not likely.

If we spend $100,000 to save each life, that is still an extraordinary amount of money. Too costly for just one disease/threat to human life.

I have not advocated doing nothing. I am against throwing money at any problem. We need to focus on the solution. Does it make sense? Focusing on the threat just leads to panic?

Has anyone noticed the panic buying in grocery and gun stores? When the average citizen sees government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, they have to draw one of three conclusions.

  • The virus is more serious than we are being told.
  • The government is overreacting. Our leaders are making yet another money/power grab.
  • Our leaders are dangerously stupid.

The object is to slow down the spread of the virus, not to bring our economy to a screeching halt. Since we need food, clothing, and shelter, keeping everyone at home for months won’t work. Spending trillions we don’t have does not and cannot make up for millions of people staying at home and not working. At best, quarantining EVERYONE in their homes is just a temporary fix.

Usually, when we have an epidemic, we just quarantine sick people or people who have the disease, not everyone. The reason is obvious. Well people still have work the can do and should do.

COVID-19 is not the biggest threat to human life. Therefore, we have to stop acting like it is. We need to adopt more modest, cost effective solutions. We need to stop our spendthrift leaders from throwing “other people’s money” at our problems.

19 thoughts on “TWO TRILLION DOLLARS?

  1. There’s so much uncertainty with this virus and it’s difficult to get accurate information. I agree with you that this home isolation can’t keep going on forever. I agree with flattening the curve so our hospitals don’t get overwhelmed (already happing in NY), but we have to consider the catastrophic effects of shutting down the economy. Too many policy makers are not. Helping those that are suffering is needed but I’m not confident at all this spending bill will help much.

    Plus, the virus is something many of us are going to catch as it will only go away when the amount of hosts t can affect goes dramatically down and herd immunity kicks in. We are going to have to let that process play out one way or another.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Has anyone noticed the panic buying in grocery and gun stores? When the average citizen sees government’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, they have to draw one of three conclusions.
    1) The virus is more serious than we are being told.
    2) The government is overreacting. Our leaders are making yet another money/power grab.
    3) Our leaders are dangerously stupid.

    I’ve been wondering about this for some time, and have to conclude the answer must be 1.
    I conclude this because basically the entire world has shut down….it’s not just us.
    If it’s true that 20 percent of the afflicted require hospitalization, that’s a pretty high number.
    From the look of things, up to 50 percent might be asymptomatic carriers…
    Typhoid Mary is remembered to this day for a reason…she spread the disease to 51 people.
    Only three of which died.
    Asymptomic carriers are not an insignificant problem.
    But, it’s hard to cut through the hype and politicization. Someone drinks fish tank chemicals and “it’s Trump’s fault!” Someone in Nigeria overdoses on anti malarial medication and “it’s Trump’s fault!”
    Think I’ll go eat a tide pod now because Trump said hygiene is important.
    I have no words strong enough for Pelosi’s conduct on this….and the words I do have are probably better not said here.

    On the bright side:
    As mentioned, this is happening everywhere not just the US.
    The bright side of the economic crash is it will ween the public of of cheap Chinese crap.
    With no market, China is in trouble.
    Then the unrest begins.
    Meanwhile, America pumps money into rebuilding industry…
    a decade of great jobs restarting American industrial dominance… the Roaring 20s all over!
    …until the robots are plugged in.
    (but that is a different story).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @Liz

      I think most of our leaders were slow to realize how COVID-19 could overwhelm our hospitals. Then Democrats saw crisis and did not want to waste it.

      Most people seem to rate Trump’s performance as good. If the economy takes off again and the virus stays under control……..

      Like

      1. Did you see this?
        https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52053656?at_custom2=twitter&at_campaign=64&at_custom4=BB77E1A8-6F78-11EA-A923-97A44744363C&at_medium=custom7&at_custom1=%5Bpost+type%5D&at_custom3=%40BBCWorld&fbclid=IwAR3yynYK3RZzV39J67rTglfqUzIKdZrLk0PmHQF3r4M_TjgRatfxHcCLotk

        Mexicans demand crackdown on Americans crossing the border.
        They should build a wall! 😆
        (Mexicans work hard, and fast…they could probably finish this thing by the next election)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @Liz

          As warm as Mexico is, I would have hoped they did not have any cases of COVID-19. It seems India has some too, however.

          Doubt there is much testing in either Mexico or India, but I have not looked into it. Since the population densities in parts Mexico and India is extremely high, COVID-19 could conceivably spread rapidly.

          Like

          1. MERs is a close relative to the new wu strain of coronavirus.
            Temperature doesn’t seem to effect that one, but hopefully the heat helps with this one. Agreed Mexico and India would be in trouble with their population densities. I do not blame them for being concerned.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom,

    Its an election year. Nothing matters to most for politicians other than to win the 2020.

    I am not privy or even interested on how the 2 trillion was calculated.

    Pedonally, I believe the best remedy is to grant unemployment to everyone who was laid off because of the coronavirus.

    Perhaps also to put a legal moratorium on all bank and credit card interest accruement for a period of time.

    The debt is meaningless when compared to the sequences of either dying from coronavirus or being broke.

    Oh well,

    Regars and goodwill blogging

    Like

    1. @Scatterwisdom

      Does the national debt matter? Yes. We pay interest on the debt. When the debt grows larger we have to devalue the currency in order to make payments. That is what ultimately drives inflation.

      So, why not raise taxes? Sounds like a good idea. In fact, the requirement to pay our taxes with our official currency is the only thing that gives our currency any value. We need money to pay our taxes. Can’t we just tax the rich? No. Not enough rich people.

      There is a practical limit on how high we can raise taxes. When the Federal Reserve just prints a bunch of money, and our leaders just spend it, leaders get value for that money, but the only way they can maintain the value of the currency is to increase taxes. However, increasing taxes, especially when taxes are already high, stifles the economy. Eventually the amount of revenue actually begins to decrease. That too leads to inflation.

      Inflation, especially when it is high makes the currency useless. No one wants money when it is rapidly losing value.

      The inevitability of inflation is why throwing money at a problem doesn’t make sense. Government fraud, waste, and abuse just creates more problems.

      Like

  4. As for deaths, keep in mind that the fatality rates for confirmed cases in the CDC table that I quoted, were observed under still good conditions, where still all patients were given proper care. As soon as resources for treatment are overwhelmed, any patient denied treatment will likely die. That’s what is happening in Italy, already. Expect a fatality rate in excess of 10% in that case.

    Like

    1. @marmoewp

      @marmoewp

      10 percent? 20 percent? 70 percent? As the problem grows more serious, doesn’t make even more sense to look the solution with a critical eye? Yet every time I examine the solution and suggest alternatives, all I hear about is how serious the problem could be.

      Imagine being in a car driven by someone who is hugely terrified by the oncoming traffic. What do you think? Would such a person be more likely to run over pedestrians on the sidewalk? Or would they appropriately balance the risks?

      Like

  5. Please do take the rate of hospitalisations for confirmed infections into account, which even at the 20-44 age bracket has been observed in the US to be as high as 14% to 20%. By far most of these require oxygen supplementation, if not ventilation, otherwise they will simply die. Common estimates are, that 60% to 70% of a population will become infected before herd immunity basically inhibits further spread. So you are looking at the prospect of having between 12% and 14% of the entire workforce of the US undergo hospitalisation with lifethreatening symptoms for several weeks each over the course of the next two years. Many of these will only survive with permanent damage done to their lungs.

    Like

    1. @marmoewp

      100 percent of us require food, clothing, and shelter. All the things we make, including the stuff we use to fight COVID-19, require people to work. Pointing out how deadly the virus might be does not change that. It just means that we have to do something, but hiding under a rock ain’t it.

      Like

      1. @Tom
        I fully agree, that economic aspects and security of critical supplies like food need to taken into account in this crisis, too. The same goes for the economic damage and havoc a lockdown causes. It was just that I was under the impression, that you seriously underestimate the implications of high numbers of active infections with coronavirus with respect to health and survival of large swaths of the population.

        Allocating 6000 USD per capita (babies included) is no small burden for the future, nor is the loss of many businesses and jobs.

        Like

        1. @marmoewp

          You get the picture.

          When we initially starting sending everyone home, I supported it because we did not have an effective way to ID who is infected with the virus. Now that we are ramping up an effective test for the virus we should focus on quarantining the sick and adopt improved social hygiene practices to avoid getting sick.

          The solution has to improve the overall health of our society, not just prevent the spread of one virus.

          Like

          1. I was reading in the UK drones are using a surveillance drone to spy on dog walkers and hikers in a remote part of the country.
            Our county is in lockdown right now, but as far as I know there’s no drone surveillance of remote parks for social distancing compliance.
            That is really over the top.
            People tend to go crazy under conditions like that.

            They’ve left the liquor stores and pot places open too.
            Six seconds after announcing they were shutting them the masses swarmed on liquor and pot stores, with more exposure to crowds than they’d ever see outside of Disney world. The mayor then had a change of heart.

            One of the things that has surprised me most is the sheer level of ignorance on basic infection control measures peddled by…everyone. Really basic. From masks to antibacterial soap to hand sanitizer. Doesn’t help that some of the folks peddling this information are supposed to be looked to as legitimate sources (CDC, FDA).

            Like

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