Thursday, July 23, 2020

Some Things I'm Not Sure About

I spend a lot of time in this space pontificating on all manner of subjects with a sense of metaphysical certainty. For instance, I know that Donald Trump is a fool. And I know that many of his followers are dark, troubled people with as well-honed sense of privation. 

But there are a lot of REALLY IMPORTANT things about which I am unsure, and about which I occasionally cluck with disapproval when I read someone opining about them with great assurance, knowing full well they are less informed. What are some of these things?

Should Schools Open in the Fall?

I really don't know. Part of me says yes. School age people appear not only more resistant to the ravages of COVID, they recover more quickly. I know, I know--we are treated to stories all the time about how the young REALLY ARE AT RISK, but the numbers don't back that up (in a sane world of how risk is assessed). Additionally, some of the more well-publicized instances seem to be feature pretty obvious co-morbidity situations

But young people aren't the only people in schools, and while they don't suffer at the same rates, I'm unsure about how efficient they are as carriers and spreaders. And there are a LOT of people at schools all the way through college, who are NOT as chronologically privileged as the students they teach. 

Then there are the parents at home. Some are really concerned about their children's health, and some are really concerned about the economic well-being of the family the child is being raised in. These are cosmically huge problems, and likely seem not to lend themselves to "one size fits all solutions". 

Bottom line? I don't know what the right answer is.

The Deployment of Federal Law Enforcement to Protect Federal Property

I'm torn on this one.

On the one hand, I am pretty much a law and order guy. When I see thugs destroying property not their own--public or private--I am moved to discomfort. Chaos and lawlessness are not good things.

So when I see the pictures from (name the place) showing largely white, male, agents of chaos (as opposed to what some would have us believe, aggrieved victims of oppression) destroying federal property, I expect an effort be made by law enforcement to 1) stop the destruction and 2) hold those responsible--you know--responsible. 

I would prefer that law enforcement in these situations come from local authorities. I understand that sometimes, local authorities are overwhelmed and State power is brought in. I am wary of federal law enforcement being employed, but my wariness is somewhat relieved when it is requested by local and State authority.

It appears that a good bit of the federal response to these situations lately has not been requested. Not good. There are reports that local and state law enforcement have not assiduously provided protection to federal property. This too is not good. 

Bottom line? I don't know what the right answer is.

Climate Change

I wish I were as smart as my 21 year old daughter on the subject of climate change, or at least as certain about my opinions. But I'm not. I'm all over the map, and I'm amazed at how many people aren't.

I think the climate is changing. But then, it always is. I think humans are contributing. I think humans can do a lot more to contribute less. 

I think many climate change advocates are attempting to rework economies and capitalism, and that climate change is as much a religion as Catholicism. I think the market, free enterprise, and corporations have a role to play in addressing climate change. 

I think that many climate change advocates overstate both the speed at which deleterious changes are happening (and consequently, the speed at which humans need to react), and the degree. I think there are a lot of people who are whistling past the graveyard by considering this all a hoax. 

I think there are pro-growth strategies that can address human behavior. I think there are flat out Marxian proposals that utterly misunderstand human nature.

Bottom line? I don't know what the answer is.

What are some things you don't know the answer to, but which people around you seem absolutely certain?


B.Smitty said...

Do we really need a Marine Corps? Not so much "do we want one". Would we be better off as a nation if they were folded into the Army?

Are nuclear powered carriers "perfection at the expense of 'good enough'"? A Forestall sized conventional carrier would cost a lot less and still provide most of what a CVN offers.

Should healthcare (insurance) be tied to employment or should it be a right, guaranteed by the state?

Is religion and spirituality a trap, used to control and shape humanity, by humanity, or is it an aspirational expression or our best selves?

B.Smitty said...

On your topics,

"Should Schools Open in the Fall?"

I think in localities where covid is under control, and they have a robust plan to deal with spikes, perhaps. But most of the country isn't there.

It comes down to risk management. Is a teacher's or child's life worth the risk of reopening? Is the delayed development of a community of children worth the risk of the spread of a virus with serious, community health outcomes? The long term impacts of reduced distance learning vs possibility of significant death and disablement in the short term is a hard calculus to rationalize.

I guess I come down on the side of caution. Anything that risks driving up R0 during an outbreak is bad.

If we were Europe, and we'd driven R0 down in the past few months rather than ignoring it, then yes,open up schools. But we spent that time screwing the pooch.

B.Smitty said...

"The Deployment of Federal Law Enforcement to Protect Federal Property"

If they were solely deployed to protect Federal property, then I wouldn't have a problem. Unfortunately Trump just used this pretense to deploy federal troops to put down protests, or gin up a narrative that he was being "tough on lawlessness", outside of that mandate.

Trump's actions appear to be political theater, aimed at his right wing media audience. Fox and OAN can edit out the Wall of Moms and other scenes that don't fit his narrative.

B.Smitty said...

"Climate Change"

The science for human driven climate change is settled. The question is what do we do about it, if anything?

Again, I'd approach this with an eye towards risk management. Clearly we don't want the Earth to end up like Venus. Short of that, what are the risks of warming scenarios to our country and the world? What are reasonable short and long term costs to address these risks?

We are willing to take out flood insurance or life insurance to mitigate the risk of floods or death, even if the chance of either is relatively low. We are willing to accept the cost of fire codes and other safety codes in our houses, and the things we buy, to mitigate the risk of property damage and injury. We accept seatbelts mandates in cars.

All are risk mitigation actions.

We can approach climate change the same way, but it requires us to think on longer timescales. Like buying life insurance for your grandchildren and their grandchildren. A few dollars now goes much further in the future.

Pat M said...

Captain, re: Federal "protection," whatever the answer is it seems the current tactics are counter-productive (and, oh by the way, anti-constitutional):

Re: climate change, it seems your reluctance is mostly with the adherents rather than the "religion". I sympathize and somewhat agree. 😄

Hammer said...

•Should Schools Open in the Fall?
If one 'follows the science' then yes. With very few exceptions children are NOT at risk and do not spread the infection. Of course it's not just the kids we have to worry about, older teachers or those in poor health should take whatever precautions they and the school district deem necessary.
It's a no-brainer, open the schools.
•The Deployment of Federal Law Enforcement to Protect Federal Property?
Yes of course. If local authorities refuse to protect the property and rights of its citizens then the responsibility falls to the federal govt. Was not this issue decided during the civil rights struggles of the sixties? Where would we be now if Eisenhower had not sent troops to Little Rock, or Kennedy to Tuscaloosa?
•Climate Change?
Is climate change real? Maybe, but what is certainly real are the lies promoting the issue and the ridiculous policy agendas designed to hamstring the developed countries in favor of the less developed. Although I fail to see how China is less developed than Europe or America.
Furthermore if the environmentalists really cared about climate change they'd be screaming bloody murder about the destruction being done now and for the past thirty years by the BRIC countries! But they don't scream and they don't care, therefore I must conclude their goal is political and economic rather than environmental.
BTW weren't we supposed to be underwater by now?

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