Thursday, April 30, 2020

Greg Hunter, "Weekly News Wrap-Up 5/1/20"

"Weekly News Wrap-Up 5/1/20"
by Greg Hunter’s USAWatchdog.com

"Newly released documents show the FBI framed General Michael Flynn in the first interview at the White House early on in the Trump Administration. Flynn did nothing wrong but was coerced to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit. Now, the tables are turned. Will jail time be given to the perpetrators of this crime?

President Trump blamed China for the Virus debacle that killed “hundreds of thousands around the world.” The President ripped the World Health Organization (WHO) for acting like a “PR agency for China.” President Trump is considering ways to punish China and make them pay for the damage.

Just because the stock market is vaulting higher does not mean the economy is good. It’s not good, and it could be maimed for a very long time. Everybody is excited with the prospect of reopening the economy, but big time damage has been done and will be with us for years to come."

"Join Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog.com as he talks 
about these stories and more in the Weekly News Wrap-Up."

"Here’s What the Government Should Really Do in the Greater Depression"

"Here’s What the Government Should 
Really Do in the Greater Depression"
by Doug Casey

"It’s hard to have a conversation today, or even overhear one, without being exposed to moronic – and I now use that word in its colloquial as well as its clinical sense – opinions about what “we” should do. “We,” of course, is the government. Everyone believes it should “Do Something”. And it is.

But why deal in half-measures? Why only send everybody a check for $1200? Why not buy everyone a new Cadillac to get Detroit back to work, a big new house to help builders, and a $10,000 check that must be deposited at a failing bank and then spent at Victoria’s Secret. A plan like that certainly sounds like more fun than what I’m going to propose. Especially since Americans are going to be a bit short on fun over the next little while. They used it all up over the last generation.

I’ve explained elsewhere why we’re embarked on the Greater Depression. That’s a done deal. But here is what needs to happen if the depression is to be as brief and as therapeutic as possible.

1. Allow collapse of bankrupt entities - They’re uneconomic (as their bankruptcy has proven), their managements are overpaid and are proven incompetents. The bailout money going into them is simply wasted. Most of the real wealth now owned by the bankrupt will still exist. It will simply change ownership. If you’ve dug yourself into a hole and want to get out, the first thing to do is stop digging.

But that’s not nearly enough. At this point, it would be a half-measure. Perhaps only a 3-foot rope over a 12-foot gap. If you allow the collapse of unprofitable enterprises without changing the conditions that created the problem, recovery is going to be even harder. So…

2. Deregulate. Contrary to what almost everyone thinks, the main purpose of regulation is not to protect consumers but to entrench the current order. Regulation prevents new institutions from arising quickly and cheaply.

Does the Department of Agriculture really need 100,000 employees to regulate fewer than two million farms in the U.S.?

Has the Department of Energy, created in 1977 to somehow solve a temporary crisis, done anything of value with its 110,000 employees and contractors and $32 billion annual budget?

How about the terminally corrupt Bureau of Indian Affairs, which has outlived whatever usefulness it might have had by 100 years.

The FTC, SEC, FCC, FAA, DOT, HHS, HUD, Labor, Commerce, serve little or no useful public purpose. Eliminate them and the entire economy would blossom - except for the parasitical lobbying and legal trades. There are hundreds of agencies like these. Most aren’t just useless. They’re actively destructive.

3. Abolish the Fed. This is the actual engine of inflation. Money is just a medium of exchange and a store of value; you don’t need a central bank to have money. In fact, central banks are always just engines of inflation. They benefit only the cronies who get their money first. What would we use as money? It doesn’t matter, as long as it’s a commodity, that can’t be created out of thin air. But gold is the obvious choice. The whole idea of a central bank is a swindle. Massive bailouts couldn’t and wouldn’t have been done without it.

4. Cut taxes 50%… to start. The economy would boom. The money won’t be needed with all the agencies gone. Certainly not if the next two points are followed.

5. Default on the national debt. I realize this is a shocker, unless you recall that the debt will never be paid anyway. And why should the next several generations have to pay for the stupidity of their parents? A default sounds dishonorable  - and it is, in civil society. But government is different. It hasn’t been “We the People” for a long time; it’s now a self-dealing behemoth, run by cronies. It’s like a building with a rotten foundation - better to bring it down with a controlled demolition, than wait for it fall unpredictably.

Governments default all the time, though most defaults are subtle, through inflation. In an outright default, however, the only people who get hurt are those who lent money to an institution that can only repay them by stealing money from others. They should be punished.

6. Disentangle and disengage. The entanglements the U.S. needs to escape prominently include the UN and NATO. The U.S. combat troops now in over 100 foreign countries can come home. They’re not “defending” anything, except for local collaborators, and are just picking up bad habits and antagonizing the locals. The U.S. spends more money on the military than most other countries in the world put together. Since the government is bankrupt, spending on the military and its sport wars significantly adds to the economy’s problems.

What the Government Will Actually Do: The chances of any of these things happening, however, are slim to none. And Slim’s out of town. So let’s look at what will actually happen.

1. Let enterprises collapse? No way. Every corrupt and failed institution, instead of being allowed to turn into compost to be recycled by the economic worms into fertilizer for a new generation of businesses, is going to be propped up like a zombie. They’ll continue doing the same stupid things that got the country into the current mess.

The wave of collapses is going to get much worse. Lots of banks will fail, so the FDIC will need hundreds of billions more in funding. They’ll try bailing out everything - they already are. Who knows where they’ll stop? I play poker. Sometimes you see a player undergo a temporary psychotic break. They’ll make totally irrational, wild, stupid bets in a desperate attempt to get out even. It’s called “going on tilt”. The U.S. government, as an enterprise, is now on tilt.

2. Deregulate? No, that’s out of the question. Everyone is convinced a lack of regulation allowed the financial collapse that started in 2008. It must, they feel, have been a lack of oversight that allowed “The Virus” to invade the country. And so, with the approval of the public, the government will set up lots of new agencies. The 70,000 degraded beings who crawled out of the woodwork to work for the TSA - for the terror crisis of 2001 - will be the model. I just hope one of the new organizations doesn’t sport a black uniform with silver flashings. Of course, the largest agency of the U.S. government is now Homeland Security, so anything is possible.

3. Abolish the Fed? Despite having been debauched, and turned into a veritable money-printing machine, the Federal Reserve has become far more important than ever. Why? Without it the U.S. government would only be able to borrow funds from citizens, who are tapped out. Or foreigners, who increasingly see it as irresponsible. And who else would buy the securities of failing corporations to support them? Multi-trillion-dollar deficits are now the norm, and a central bank is needed to fund them.

4. Cut taxes? No. Taxes on the rich, or those the government decides belong in that category– people like you – are going through the roof. Herbert Hoover  -  who is somehow painted as a free-marketer - exacerbated the last depression by raising marginal rates from 25% to 63% in 1932. With multi-trillion dollar deficits for the indefinite future, taxes will rise.

Initially, it’s likely to be on politically incorrect things, like tobacco, alcohol, guns, oil, coal, and luxuries… but that’s just be for starters. Taxes on imports will be permanent, justified by saying it will not only generate revenue for the government, but save U.S. jobs, and punish undeserving foriegners. Smoot-Hawley, the Hoover innovation that sealed the fate of the economy in the ‘30s, will ride again.

Along with this, we’ll likely see foreign exchange controls, starting with a tax on spending and investing abroad. The rationale will be the same: it generates revenue, and keeps capital (and jobs) in the U.S. Better yet, FX controls only affect the rich (who else can afford to do things abroad?), and the unpatriotic (who else would even dream of doing anything abroad during a crisis like this?).

6. Default on the national debt? Actually, this will happen. But through inflation. Which, believe it or not, is much more destructive, and less honest, than simply saying “I can’t, and won’t, honor my obligation”.

7. Disengage? No way. War is the health of the state. Like almost nothing else, it gets people to pull together. It doesn’t matter if we’re marching to hell; it’s important to be united, they say. The U.S. has a huge, bloated, military machine which will just rust away, if it’s not used,. So of course they’ll use it. It’s like owning a giant hammer: after a while, everything starts to look like a nail.

Good News? So the prognosis is not good. In fact, it’s not just going to be bad. It’s going to be worse than even I think it’s going to be. People have come to rely on the government as if it were a cornucopia, when it’s more like a cesspool.

If we moved rapidly and radically toward a free-market society, we’d still have a depression – the distortions and misallocations of capital are massive and would still have to be liquidated – but although the correction would be sharp, it would also be short. Like the downturn of 1920-21, not the one of 1929-46.

As serious as the financial and economic problems are going to be over the years to come, adequate attention hasn’t been focused on potential social problems in the U.S. Don’t forget that during the last depression, there was little consumer debt (people actually bought things using “lay-away” plans, if anybody remembers those). Almost everybody had some savings… as opposed to a lot of debt.

People were much closer to the farm, and most actually knew how to plant a garden. Families tended to be geographically closer and more mutually supportive – a function that’s been usurped by things like welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and such, which have given people a false sense of security.

Labor was much less productive, but average monthly expenses were much lower, not just in absolute but in relative terms. If you lost your job, you went out to get another, at some wage, any wage. Society was vastly less regulated in those days, so it was much easier.

It’s a good question what millions of people who lose their jobs are going to do now, especially if they’re stuck in a suburb or exurb, surrounded by many thousands of others like themselves. People in Blue counties and Red counties don’t like each other, blame each other, and can’t even have a conversation anymore. Could the natives get restless? Actually, it would be a surprise if they didn’t."

"Covid-19 Report 4/30/20: Coronavirus: Something's Not Right Here"

Chris Martenson, 
"Coronavirus: Something's Not Right Here"

“The Only Thing to Fear Is Deficit Fear Itself”

“The Only Thing to Fear Is Deficit Fear Itself”
by Brian Maher

"Dr. Paul Krugman - a man of knowledge - is talking again. The Nobel laureate informs us: “The only fiscal thing to fear is deficit fear itself.” Do you fear the latest cyclone of deficit spending will rip a swath through the Treasury? This year’s budget deficit will likely near $4 trillion, after all -the largest in history. Goldman Sachs estimates a $6 trillion combined deficit over the next two years alone. Meantime, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (do not laugh!) projects publicly held debt will eclipse its post-WWII record by 2023.

Let us assume these projections alarm you. And why should they not? But Dr. Krugman would set you down as a sort of ox… an imbecile… some poor undersoul who is deaf to the music of the spheres. The celestial bells are audible only to those - like him - with a nuanced and penetrating grasp of economics. And these bells chime an ode to deficits.

So What if Debt Soars to 108% of GDP? Reports the good professor, heaven's tunes jingling in his ears: "It’s true that we’re headed for some eye-popping numbers. Last week the Congressional Budget Office released preliminary economic and budget projections for the next two years, which were both shocking and unsurprising… In particular, the budget office expects the COVID-19 crisis to drive the unemployment rate to 16% in a few months, which might even be on the low side.

Soaring unemployment will cause federal revenues to plunge and also lead to a surge in spending on safety-net programs like unemployment insurance, Medicaid and food stamps. Add in the large relief packages Congress has passed and the budget office projects a deficit that will temporarily rise to levels we haven’t seen since World War II, and it expects federal debt to rise to 108% from 79% of GDP, which sounds scary."

Yes, it “sounds scary.” But of course it is not scary - to those who understand: "But the government will be able to borrow that money at incredibly low interest rates. In fact, real interest rates - rates on government bonds protected against inflation - are negative. So the burden of the additional debt as measured by the rise in federal interest payments will be negligible. And no, we don’t have to worry about paying off the debt; we never will, and that’s OK."

Borrowing costs are incredibly low, it is true. But if the price of hemlock were incredibly low… should you lay in?

“The Dose Makes the Poison” The question is not entirely fair, of course. Debt is not lethal in itself. “The dose makes the poison,” as argued Swiss Renaissance physician Paracelsus. You may liken debt to alcohol... In light doses drink lightens the heart. It flushes the cheeks. It unties the tongue… like the initial glass of bubbly at a wedding. It is a fabulous facilitator of fun and frolick. A second glass goes immediately down the gullet. But this second glass soon becomes the fourth glass, becomes the eighth glass, becomes the 10th glass - or 13th.

The dose makes the poison. And so with debt. In the proper doses it is a pleasant stimulant, a spirit-lifter, a social lubricant. But when abused... debt no longer stimulates, but inhibits. It no longer lifts, but drags. It no longer lubricates, but parches. It poisons.

A Rascal With an Unquenchable Thirst for Rum and a Running Tab Fifty years ago, $1 of debt may have yielded an additional dollar of economic growth, real or otherwise. Perhaps even more. That is of course because the national debt burden was vastly lighter. The gold standard enforced a general fiscal sobriety, feeble though it was in its dying days. Until 1971 the federal government might crave a tumbler of debt. But the barkeep could demand gold in return - payable on the nail. But then the gold window came slamming down. And Uncle Samuel could raid the shelves without fear for his gold. The entire bar was thrown open to him - on credit.

Extend a running tab to a rascal with an unquenchable thirst for rum… and here you have the results:
More Liquor, Less Joy: By now the hopeless sot has acquired such a tolerance for drink… he requires ever increasing helpings to obtain a boost. Each dollar borrowed since 2008 has yielded under $1 of growth. It is perhaps 40 cents, by some estimates we have encountered. More liquor, that is. But less joy.

And now this tosspot is ordering doubles and triples, sinking them faster than the barman can pour them out… Crisis spending may add $2 trillion to this year’s deficit alone. The nation’s debt already rises above $24.8 trillion - a $5.3 trillion ballooning in only four years. The ladies and gentlemen who run the National Debt Clock project it will read $41.7 trillion four years from today. It is a mere projection, of course, a gazing into crystal. But we wager high it rings in nearer to $41.7 trillion than $30 trillion.

At what point will the world abandon confidence in the dollar? The question is more easily asked than answered. But it is a question best left unanswered... if you live and die by the dollar.

“The Wicked Borroweth, and Payeth Not Again” Yet Dr. Krugman is ruffled neither by deficits nor the national debt. Again, he writes: The government will be able to borrow that money at incredibly low interest rates. In fact, real interest rates - rates on government bonds protected against inflation - are negative. So the burden of the additional debt as measured by the rise in federal interest payments will be negligible. And no, we don’t have to worry about paying off the debt; we never will, and that’s OK. Is it “OK”? Reads Psalm 37:21: “The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again.”

But we will overlook Dr. Krugman’s wicked counsel. Instead we ask: Is borrowing at extremely low rates truly a warrant to plunge deeper into debt? It is true, again, the government can presently borrow at these rates. But this is likewise true: The sheer accumulation of debt can wash out the lower rates. That is, interest payments on the debt increase nonetheless.

Low Interest Rates, Ballooning Debt Payments: Writing in November 2017 is Michael Kosares, founder of USAGOLD: "As interest rates have declined over the last several years, the interest paid by the federal government has increased markedly due to the rapid growth in size of the accumulated debt...

In 2008 when the national debt stood at $10 trillion, the federal government paid $336 billion in interest. For a measuring stick, the 10-year Treasury bill drew an average interest rate at the time of around 3.66%.

In 2012 when the debt crossed the $16 trillion threshold, the interest payment was almost $456 billion. The 10-year Treasury bill drew an average interest rate of 1.80%.

In 2016 with the national debt approaching the $20 trillion mark, the interest payment was $497 billion. The 10-year Treasury bill drew an average interest rate of 1.84%. It is difficult to overlook the fact that 2016's interest payment was an all-time record at the second-lowest rate [in 46 years].

Today the 10-year Treasury note yields a vanishing 0.61%. Total debt is nonetheless $5.3 trillion higher than in 2016. And it is piling high."

What if rates increase as the bond market recoils in horror at the prospect of a $41 trillion national debt? Interest payments could wash over the entire budget.

A Grim Forecast: Debt service is already rising faster than any other federal shell-out. Prior to this crisis the Congressional Budget Office already projected debt service would scale $915 billion by 2028 - nearly 25% of the entire budget. The Lord only knows the ultimate figure. But it will likely be far higher absent a drastic reversal of economic fortune.

How will the government afford to pay for anything else? We foresee little reason to expect a change. Yet we cling to hope, as a drowning man clings to a life ring - or as a drunkard clings to his bottle. The nation’s debt is not a crisis because “we owe it to ourselves,” argue the spenders. But one scalawag takes them at their word. “Note to self,” he writes: “Pay up.”

"Economic Market Snapshot PM 4/30/20"

PM 4/30/20
"The more I see of the moneyed classes, 
the more I understand the guillotine."
- George Bernard Shaw

Gregory Mannarino, PM 4/30/20: 
"Are Stocks About To Plummet 40% Or More?"
MarketWatch Market Summary, Live Updates

CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:

Musical Interlude: Leonard Cohen, "Democracy"

Leonard Cohen, "Democracy"

"A Look to the Heavens"

"If you like slow dances, then this may be one for you. A single turn in this dance takes several hundred million years. Two galaxies, NGC 5394 and NGC 5395, slowly whirl about each other in a gravitational interaction that sets off a flourish of sparks in the form of new stars. 
Click image for larger size.
The featured image, taken with the Gemini North 8-meter telescope on Maunakea, Hawaii, USA, combines four different colors. Emission from hydrogen gas, colored red, marks stellar nurseries where new stars drive the evolution of the galaxies. Also visible are dark dust lanes that mark gas that will eventually become stellar nurseries. If you look carefully you will see many more galaxies in the background, some involved in their own slow cosmic dances."

Chet Raymo, "Why Not?"

"Why Not?"
by Chet Raymo

"A reader Liz asked: "If we are all one and made out of the same material - then the things that we make are made out of the same material. But they are not animate. Why not?" At first glance, this might seem like a naive question, one that we all know the answer to. On reflection, it turns out to be terribly profound. Or should I have said, "wonderfully profound"?

Yes, everything, animate and inanimate, is made of the same stuff - the 92 naturally-occurring elements - but all of the animate things we know about are made mainly of carbon compounds - carbon in combination with with hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and a smattering of other elements- the compounds we study in organic chemistry. Carbon atoms have a knack for joining up in a rich variety of ways. But all things made of carbon compounds are not animate. The petrochemical and pharmaceutical industries produce gobs of carbon-based products that are not alive, including paints and explosives.

Of course, some things we make are animate. Babies. Gardens. And we use animate matter to make inanimate things. Bread. Yogurt. Antibiotics. It is probably only a matter of time before researchers make animate matter from inanimate stuff - life in a test-tube (but then, since researchers were involved, you can say this is also life making life). And we have made some rather remarkable life simulations in computers. But none of this answers Liz's question.

Life makes life, that's part of its definition. But what is it? The biologist Lynn Margulis with her son Dorian Sagan tried to answer the question in their book "What Is Life?" They give a terrific scientific accounting of what we know, but when it comes down to answering Liz's question they are reduced to such definitions as: "a material process, sifting and surfing over matter like a strange, slow wave"; "the watery, membrane-bound encapsulation of spacetime"; "a planetary exuberance"; "existence's celebration." None of which get us any closer to the heart of the mystery.

Biologists have long ago given up the idea of a "vital spirit" or "spark of life," which really added no more to our understanding than the gushy exuberances of Margulis and Sagan. We have every reason to believe that "the spark of life" is matter and energy - in effect, a self-perpetuating, self-catalyzing chemical reaction. But we don't know how the reaction got started and why it sustains itself as it does.

This we do know: It is going on in every one of the trillions of cells of my body even as I write - each cell a ceaseless hive of activity, each cell a tiny crucible containing a smidgen of that ongoing chemical reaction that has animated the surface of the planet for four billion years, and maybe animates the universe."

"Being Against Evil..."

 
"Being against evil doesn't make you good.”
- Ernest Hemingway, 
“Islands in the Stream”

"The Secret to Courage"

"The Secret to Courage"
by George Washington

"There is a real misunderstanding of what it means to be courageous. In America, courage is often thought of as a testosterone-driven toughness. There’s nothing the matter with testosterone. Masculinity is a great thing. But many American men secretly fear that they don’t have sufficient testosterone to really be brave when the chips are down. Even those of us who think of ourselves as brave men usually only act like that when we know it is within the bounds of safety, within the limits of what we can handle.

We might jump into a bar room brawl to protect our buddy, but that’s because we know we’re only going to get knocked around a little bit — nothing but bruises that will go away in a little while. The stakes just aren’t that high. But most American men secretly doubt whether they are macho enough to pull it off under fire. They may watch alot of action movies, and talk tough, and stand up when its not really dangerous (or when they clearly outgun the other guy), but they are secretly terrified that they don’t have quite enough backbone to pull it off against the big boys, such as tyrants. I would argue that this view fundamentally misunderstands the nature of courage, and ensures that we will never have true courage when it counts.

By way of analogy, the word “discipline” comes from “disciple”. If you are a true “disciple” of an idea of a plan or a strategy or a religion, then you will stick to it and “have discipline” to reach your goal. It is not just a matter of willpower; it is also devotion to something bigger than ourselves. Similarly, the word “courage” comes from the French “with heart”. Why does it have this root meaning? Because it takes heart to act bravely. That’s how my childhood Karate teacher used the word: when I was practicing with courage, power and focus, he would say “you have alot of heart today” (indeed, many old-school warriors use the phrase “fighting with heart” in that way).

If courage is acting “with heart”, we’ve lost heart. And without heart, we cannot face the truth. So how do we regain our heart? Well, let’s start with what gets our hearts beating. Remember that the mother bear is one of the fiercest animals of all. Just get between a mother bear and her cub and you’ll see what I mean. It is her love of her cub which gives her the heart to face any enemy when her cub is threatened. It is not her level of testosterone, but rather her love for her cub which makes her so fierce.

Just as discipline is more than just willpower, courage stems from something bigger than just cajones. In fact, the strongest courage comes from the love of something we care about, since our heart will sustain us even when the chips are really down and we are really up against a tyrant. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. “

In addition, we’re no longer living in the old west. Individualism is very important in numerous ways, but we can only win against the tyrants as a team, as a community, as a nation. And only by opening our hearts to what matters will we be able to work together, to fight for all of our kids, and all of our freedom. Only then will we be able to put the crooks and the looters and the tyrants back in the box.

Do we care about our kids, our significant others, our parents, our friends? Do we care about the freedom to choose what we want, instead of having our “great leader” choose for us? If not, what DO we care about? Because if that is where your heart is, that is what will give you courage. I care too much about my kids and their future to be afraid. I care enough about them that it gets my heart beating, connects me to something bigger than myself, and that gives me courage, even when the chips are down.

Courage is an innate human quality. It is within each of us, waiting to reveal itself when we open our hearts. When we act with heart, by definition, we are courageous.”

"The Opinion..."

 “The opinion which other people have of you is their problem, not yours.”
- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

"Beginning With A Line From Neruda"

"Beginning With A Line From Neruda"

"Puedo escribir versos mas tristes esta noche."
("Tonight I can write sadder verses.")
- Neruda

"Because the moon has disappeared from grief.
Because the children weep for their parents.
Because memories are "whitewashed" and stolen.
Because words have lost their meaning.
Because I have lived through this before.
Because, I assure you, this does not end well.
Neither Nature nor Nurture can save us.
Because we have murdered Nature.

Because we are peasants in a land of thieves.
Because we are beyond consolation.
Because beauty is sold into whoredom.
Because the coin of the realm is a slug.
Because we pray, but have forgotten how.
Because we "find," but dare no longer seek.
Because we enslave - others and ourselves.

Bowing to fools, we shackle the wise.
The Children of Light flutter - and depart,
Leaving their questions in the quivering air:
"Why bring us into this pinwheel of sorrows?
Wasn't it better not to be born?"

- Gary Corseri
Graphic: Guernica, "Arms Raised"

"Facing Lions, Slings, and Arrows in the Valley"

"Facing Lions, Slings, and Arrows in the Valley"
Week 7 of the Quarantine
By Bill Bonner

CALCHAQUI VALLEY, ARGENTINA – "“A [mountain] lion was wandering around your house last night,” said Inez. Inez is a charming and attractive woman of about 50 – and a grandmother – who comes over from the village. “How do you know?” “I saw the tracks.”
“But you don’t have to worry about them,” Inez continued. “Lions are cowards. They don’t attack humans.” “Well, that’s good to know,” said Elizabeth.

Slings and Arrows: Meanwhile, today, we’re going to do something different, something almost earnest. We’ve watched the way colleague Tom Dyson takes the time to reply to reader mail in his Postcards From the Fringe e-letter, calmly answering objections… helpfully providing more details, as requested. Readers seem to appreciate it. Indeed, they prefer it to our unrelenting sarcasm and mockery. So, we’re going to do the same. That is, we’re going to take the slings and arrows of outrageous criticism… and respond forthrightly and constructively.

And today, we begin with the most recent kvetch. When it comes to the C-virus, many readers don’t think we know what we’re talking about. And of course, they’re right. All we know is what we read in the papers. Some readers think we should defer to the expertise of Doctors Fauci and Birx; with their years of training, surely they are better judges of how to deal with a virus! Other readers think we should defer to the “stable genius” in the White House. After all, he’s the peoples’ choice; vox populi, vox Dei!

Sophisticated Claptrap: When it comes to the man in the White House, one of the most frequent complaints from Dear Readers is that we don’t show him the proper respect. Or even that we “hate” him. But that is a subject that deserves its own response, to which we will return another day.

As for the experts, we learned long ago that they have their bugaboos, prejudices, and axes to grind, just like everyone else. And sometimes, their expertise is simply false. Or even negative. In economics, for example, the more expert you become, the more you are willing to believe things that couldn’t possibly be true… such as that a small group of technocrats in the Federal Reserve headquarters can do a better job of setting interest rates than millions of borrowers and lenders in the free market… or that you can “replace” real wealth with fake money… or that Donald Trump knows when the price of oil is too high… or too low… and that the wise men and women of the Federal Open Market Committee know when prices are rising too fast or too slow, or when the economy ought to be growing or contracting (never!)…

Paul Krugman, with his “noble” prize, is about as expert as you can get. But his views are nothing more than sophisticated claptrap. Ultimately, that leaves us no choice. We have to try to connect the dots ourselves… and make sense of the news as best we can. But let’s look at the criticisms of our COVID-19 views. Here’s one Gary M., who thinks we should defer to the authorities: "I am pretty disappointed in [Bonner’s] response to the way the Trump administration has handled the covid -19 problem. I think they have done a great job … Thank God Bill wasn’t in charge !!"

Reader Vicki L. elaborated yesterday on why the lockdown is necessary: "In case you haven't read, many people are dying and there are mass graves. The hospitals are overwhelmed. Human lives are important. Old, fat, and sick people matter. In fact, many people who die are young and healthy, it is not just those who are old, fat, or sick. The lives of front-line workers matter. They are put at risk when so many people come into the hospital sick.

Having covid patients in the hospital takes away from others who need hospital care or procedures for other reasons. We do not need to selfishly put anyone at higher risk--including old, fat, sick people, young, healthy people, existing patients, and healthcare workers.

 Stop the disinformation. Put people before profits."

Well, we have some questions for Vicki. Almost all traffic deaths involve speeds over 31 mph. We could save 37,000 lives a year by reducing the speed limit to 30. And as many as 60,000 people die each year from seasonal flu. Presumably, those lives could be saved by locking down the country every year… 12 months of the year. Why don’t we make the lockdown national… and permanent… and reduce the speed limit to 30 mph?

What Next? All lives matter… but we drive 70mph. We eat things that may have peanuts in them. We drink. We quarrel. We make love. We go to war. We weigh the risks and take our chances. The shame of the lockdown policy is that it imposes the costs of trying to save every last old, fat, diabetic codger on everybody, including lean, young college students.People who have contagious diseases are often quarantined to protect the rest of us. But lockdown policies quarantine healthy people, those who should be free to live their lives as they see fit. It is a little like putting women in jail to protect them from rapists.

Justice matters too. And freedom. And many other things we can’t begin to put a price tag on. Yesterday came news that Donald Trump has ordered Tyson Foods to keep working. Spare ribs are hardly essential for the defense of the nation. So, if the feds can use an infectious disease to force some people to work… and confine others to their homes… what can’t they do? Can they take our money away to protect us from inflation? Can they terminate elections to protect us from civil unrest? What next?

Also came news yesterday that Mayor De Blasio of New York threatened to lock up mourners at a funeral: "My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period."

But keeping people from attending funerals doesn’t necessarily save lives. Many epidemiologists believe it makes no difference at all. The disease moves fast. Lockdowns are too slow and too imperfect to have any effect. Just look at the difference in the results… California and Massachusetts both have similarly strict lockdown orders in place. But Massachusetts has 10 times as many fatalities.

And it’s not just about saving lives. We’re all going to die. It’s how we get there that matters. It’s one thing to live well… with courage, dignity, common sense… and honor. It’s another to cower in our lonely homes, terrified of a bug… forgo the common pleasures of life… and then have the mud thrown down on our faces without a mourner in sight.

Terrible Blunder: In early March, “flattening the curve” seemed like a good idea. Faced with the sober scientists on one side… and the howling media on the other, we might have been tempted to lock down the nation, too. We’re not really criticizing. As far as we can tell, the policy of the federal government was an honest mistake; we don’t know that we would have done any better. But based on what we know now, it appears that our first impressions were wrong, and that the Trump Team, as well as most state governors, were bamboozled by the “experts” into making a terrible blunder.

The virus helpfully targets a very narrow segment of the population – the old, the fat, the diabetic, and those with heart/lung conditions. Your editor fits part of that description, so we’re happy to be socially distancing ourselves. But that’s no reason to shut down everybody else. But wait. If we allow young people to go to work… and kids to go to school… when they come to visit us, we’ll die, right?

Well, just yesterday, yet another report undermined the case for a universal lockdown. Bloomberg: "Children contract the coronavirus less often and with less severity than the general population, and there doesn’t appear to be cases of a child passing Covid-19 to an adult, according to a new report."

Besides the financial losses (estimated in the trillions worldwide), God knows what personal suffering a lockdown causes – bankruptcy, job loss, homelessness, loneliness, wife beating, depression, suicide, etc…

But those of us most at risk number only about one out of 20. So, rather than shut down the entire economy, a better course of action would have been just to shut down us! Focus on the most vulnerable people… especially in nursing homes… making sure they are properly isolated and protected while the rest of the population goes about its business and acquires its “herd immunity.” Subsequent revelations and analysis may prove this wrong, too, but that’s the way it looks now. We’ll return tomorrow with more reader complaints…Is it traitorous to live overseas? Do we “hate” The Donald? Are we a liberal or a conservative? Stay tuned."

The Daily "Near You?"

Cumby, Texas, USA. Thanks for stopping by!

The Poet: Langston Hughes, "Life Is Fine"

"Life Is Fine"

"I went down to the river,
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn't,
So I jumped in and sank.
I came up once and hollered!
I came up twice and cried!
If that water hadn't a-been so cold
I might've sunk and died.
But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!

I took the elevator
Sixteen floors above the ground.
I thought about my baby
And thought I would jump down.
I stood there and I hollered!
I stood there and I cried!
If it hadn't a-been so high
I might've jumped and died.
But it was High up there! It was high!

So since I'm still here livin',
I guess I will live on.
I could've died for love-
But for livin' I was born.
Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry-
I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.

Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!"

-  Langston Hughes

Gregory Mannarino, "Total Economic Collapse With No End In Sight"

Gregory Mannarino,
 "Total Economic Collapse With No End In Sight"

"Economic Market Snapshot AM 4/30/20"

PM 4/30/20
"The more I see of the moneyed classes, 
the more I understand the guillotine."
- George Bernard Shaw

MarketWatch Market Summary, Live Updates

CNN Market Data:

CNN Fear And Greed Index:
A comprehensive, essential daily read.
"Daily Update (April 29th to 30th)
Daily Job Cuts, Updated daily.
4/30/20

Commentary, highly recommended:
And now, the End Game...