First the People

The first World War was bloody and vicious. By its end, it had taken the lives of more than 20 million people. That number a few times over perished in the Spanish Flu that followed in its wake. It is a story that has been retold a lot lately.

There were other casualties of the Great War, too. The narratives of a protective ruling class across Europe. Fervent embrace of trade and economic models based on colonialism and imperialism. Oligarchies and monarchies, yes, but belief in the capacity of oligarchies and monarchies to act benevolently and competently in the defense of the people, too.

First, the people die; then, the stories.

The human toll of COVID-19 is unlikely to approach even a mean fraction of the pain visited on humanity in the first quarter of the 20th century. But what about the stories we tell about our global institutions, our shared values, and our own orthodoxies and authorities?

Those stories are dying. They are dying because the institutions built on those stories failed us all, and all at once.

First, the people die; then, the stories.

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  1. But futures are up, Rusty. So why so serious?

  2. Rusty, this might be the most important post for me since “The Three Body Problem”. As usual, part of me is angry for taking the red pill, but it’s throughly outweighed by the stark joy of truth I feel this morning. You and Ben are doing an incredible job and I’m extraordinarily thankful to have found Epsilon Theory, and more importantly, my pack…

  3. That’s really kind of you to say. I feel that way a lot, too - especially the gratitude that we’re in this together.

  4. Amazing! A brilliant proof of Pournelle’s law and that it’s sociopaths all the way down.
    There is a libertarian paradox here which maybe you can solve. Welcome to the fourth turning.
    Congrats on a great read!

  5. Avatar for Tanya Tanya says:

    An absolutely brilliant post, and there were several priceless phrases, such as “I keep waiting on Paul Krugman to jump out and shout ‘The Aristocrats’ or something.” I was also fascinated that you brought up the Uighurs in China, because I had only heard that was an issue from ONE podcast, and from no news sources. Thank you, Rusty.

  6. Avatar for troe troe says:

    Rusty, I have joined the pack due to the impact of this piece and Ben’s Inception. State governments have failed miserably as well in their response to this crisis. Under-investment in their healthcare systems, failure to respond to advance warnings such as the “Crimson Contagion” exercise, leads to the creation of healthcare heroes as efficiently as the creation of British heroes in the Battle of the Somme. We need to do better in the New Normal than we did in the old. Keep up the great work!

  7. Avatar for robh robh says:

    Really great job Rusty. Kudos.

  8. I’ve been reading for awhile but this one got me. I joined up because of this article. It was absolutely beautiful (brutally beautiful).

  9. Also, social media companies did not represent our interests. By promoting favored narratives, they suppressed free speech. YouTube demonetized Peak Prosperity for casting doubt on the “it’s the flu” narrative among others. Every CV-19 related video on YouTube contains links to the CDC (which had earlier: masks don’t work, it’s the flu). Reddit CV forums were tightly censored by a small group of narrative loyalists with moderation and banning.

  10. What a read, Rusty!

    I kept thinking two things:

    1. The first and most important job of any bureaucratic/corporate member is keeping their job.

    From CEO / Cabinet Secretary to the janitor, it’s why the game gets rigged so that even failing at the job is’t cause to remove anyone from it, so long as there’s a plausible explanation for failure that allowed everyone above and around to keep theirs.

    Brett Crozier is unique, he put doing his job above keeping his job. He also lost his job for doing it when his superiors would not do theirs, and that reinforces the problem.

    1. “Nobody knows anything.”

    Years ago I learned that the vast majority of what we think we know is only provisional knowledge, that we “know about” what we don’t actually know, and that serves us well enough that we tend to forget that we don’t actually know it. I also learned that much of what we think we “know about” we know only by proxy, so we don’t really even “know about” what we used a proxy to assess.

    William Goldman wrote that line about Hollywood filmmaking. In Hollywood above-the-line interest is a proxy for quality of screenplay, and quality of screenplay is provisionally related to quality of film, and quality of film is only somewhat correlated with box office success. Hollywood is littered with big name failures as a result, and not a few unexpected hits. “The Island” was expected to be a big hit, “Jaws” was not…we know how that turned out.

    So the quote is not about people who are clearly ignorant, but rather about experts.

    Expert-level proxies also get packaged as narratives, and those get consumed as if they were actual knowledge. I laughed at your discussion of CNBC, that everyone rolls their eyes at it but they still have it on, and it’s still used to influence behavior. And, let’s be honest, enough behavior is influenced by it, even though professionals know it’s ridiculous, that people feel they have to know what the people being influenced by it know.

    Which gets me to observing that when everyone knows something I can pretty much be sure it’s not correct…and the more adamantly everyone knows it to be true the more likely it is to be entirely false.

    Already we’re being invited to forget what we have seen with a siren’s song of returning to a “quality of life” for the strongest of us at the expense of the actual lives of the weakest of us. If we fall prey to that, we’ll deserve a fate far worse than BITFD.

  11. Thank you, Timothy. I’m sorry to hear about what’s going on in your state. I think some state governments have done well, and I think some are doing their best after some rough early days. Thanks for being here, and thanks for sharing your voice, too.

  12. Thank you, Rob! I appreciate you.

  13. Simons, thank you.

    I will always be a structural bull on the American people (whether that manifests transparently in markets is always the question, of course), but I absolutely agree that some of the risks we have built into the narratives of political and capital-allocation systems here DO demand risk management that goes well beyond backward-looking linear estimation.

  14. Thanks, Tanya - I really appreciate it!

  15. Thank you! I look forward to hearing your voice here, Justin.

  16. Hey Rusty….wow, that is a long long piece and a lot of work……and totally needed ……Thank you !

    I sent my questions below to Ben by email because there was no relevant post to put it in the comments for.
    But this one is perfect so here goes :

    In Hong Kong, we were one of the first cities to be affected. The Government, communist stooges all, refused to initially close the borders to china. A strike by the medical community [“Hong Kong people have to stand together and take action because we cannot trust our government” – I’m paraphrasing a bit here] forced them to close 15 of the 18 official border crossings.
    This is a government that banned face masks last year because of the HK protests……

    This is a city with a population density that makes lower Manhattan look more like central park.

    There are no lockdowns.
    Though large public gatherings have been banned.
    The total number of cases from the start in January to early March – the first phase – was a little over 100 cases. In an official population of 7.5 million
    The number of deaths was 3.

    Hearing about how safe and stable the situation was, expat residents from Europe and the US and locals taking refuge abroad came back, bringing back a huge surge in cases, to a little over a 1000 cases now. With a total of 4 dead since January 1.

    There is mandatory quarantine – 14 days - for all incoming people. Only residents are allowed in.

    The question is , why do we have these numbers ?
    Without lockdowns ….only simple social distancing and face masks in public high traffic areas.

    Why are you in the US being fed this “lockdown or die” narrative?

    Are you in lockdown because you’ve been told that that is the best option?
    Are you in lockdown because your best and brightest have decided the masses [that’s you] cannot be trusted and their A for an answer is to lock you all up in your own homes, effectively destroying your livelihoods even as they claim to be saving your lives ?

    I came to Bali on February the 7th.
    Initially only for the weekend, I ended up staying here in Ubud – a spiritual center where yoga seems to be the daily event .
    It was work from home and social distancing week in HK at the time, so it made sense to stay on in Bali.
    Eventually I made plans to return to HK but the Government suddenly announced the mandatory quarantine on all returning residents ( and closure of borders to all visitors ) .
    So I’ve stayed on in Bali.
    We have social distancing.
    Most restaurants will close by 7 pm. many only serve take-out. Bars are closed, as are beaches.
    There is no lockdown .
    Yes, the story is that the Indonesian Government lacks testing – Don’t test Don’t tell. I get it.
    And friends tell me anecdotally that Jakarta is in bad shape.
    Its almost mid April
    There are people in hospital with symptoms from the china virus.
    But life is still running at a more humane level.
    My European and American friends that are still here refuse to return home. In some cases they cant because of a lack of flights.

    Again…. What narratives are you being fed in the US that has resulted in your freedom and your livelihoods being taken from you so suddenly ? And why have you meekly allowed this ?

    Your lockdowns and other restrictive policies may be valid. But it does behoove us to ask , whether they were or are necessary, given the experience here in HK and Bali………or whether you’re being fed a pack of lies…….and your ‘minimizing your maximum’ regret strategies are being used against you……

    Best of luck, stay safe always

  17. That is probably an fair angle that I missed in this piece. The power of some social networks to nudge in these ways is immediately distasteful (and clear) to me in ways that are similar to what I wrote about above. AND I think it also isn’t a power that has (in the case of Reddit or Twitter, anyway) been granted by the the establishment or protection of monopoly power. We collectively chose the platforms here. I’m deeply conflicted.

    I’m also somewhat empathetic to the corresponding problem of real abuse and manipulation by other parties to spread propaganda on these networks. The question I ask myself is, “What would I do if I ran one of these networks and was genuinely concerned that my creation was being used to spread widespread misinformation.” I’d like to think I’d answer, “Bias toward a light touch, don’t elect yourself emperor of truth and let the community sort out the good and bad for themselves.” I fear that the peril of crowds-watching-crowds present in these social networks is so innate, however, that concentrated bad actors will continue to use it that way.

    There’s a much broader need here: humans need to figure out repeatable methods to manage the dopamine engine of these always-on crowd-watching-the-crowd environments. Another bottom-up, not top-down conclusion, so I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that I agree.

  18. Thank you Victor. I only haven’t responded in more detail yet because I’m trying to decide if it’s a comment or a note I want to write.

  19. Thanks, Christopher. So interesting that you raise this point. A close friend of mine read the piece and had almost the exact response you did in your #1. Except his literary analogy was the God Emperor installment of the Dune series, which I have to admit I lost connection with about halfway through the 3rd book. But it is certainly true. “Generally do what everything seems to think keeps the boss from losing his job” is a governing narrative of almost every western institution.

    Completely agree with all of your other sentiments here. Especially your last paragraph.

  20. There’s a lot here! In short, I think that stay-at-home orders in the US became a necessary policy for a few reasons. The main one is that relative to the size of early pneumonia clusters and early cases of likely community spread, our testing was far too slow to ramp up. Far slower than any other major country that I am aware of relative to population and date of likely first infections. As time went on, that meant that the level of uncertainty about the extent of spread was extremely high and growing; as a result, the correct precautionary response was widespread distancing policies. I think that the social familiarity with masks and other necessary hygiene/approaches to dealing with respiratory diseases was obviously far higher in, say, HK than in the US.

    That’s a separate question from why the narrative of lockdown-or-die has been so successful and prominent (and that one is really complicated, political, social and technological).

    But I am of the view (Ben and I differ slightly on this, I believe) that as data becomes a truer representation of actual spread in different locales, we should be relaxing on a similar basis that we accelerated restrictions. The problem there, of course, is manifold. First, it is difficult for the US to restrict inter-state travel and trade, which means that even if you identify a large region for which more selective distancing is the right approach, you create a game of whack-a-mole that doesn’t necessarily exist to the same extent in other nations. The second is that most state governments are weeks behind in planning for what that system of relaxing the lockdown-or-die mentality would look like. We’ve been calling for the announcement of those plans for a while (as have others) as part of preparing the population for what is coming, but it just isn’t happening. The third is that where that has been successful, it has been accompanied by a population that still maintained mask discipline, measures of social distance, frequent temperature checks and the like. What I fear is that, for regions where infections are low and testing is high, it WILL become increasingly difficult to keep governors and local leaders from relaxing policies, and that when they do so we will not be predisposed to the OTHER protective measures that have made that work in other countries.

    In short, it is complicated, another reason why the current battles over blame-apportioning here continue to miss the point.

  21. An aside: I appreciated the brief explainers for non-finance pros -

    I wonder how much of this is a uniquely modern phenomenon (that is, I know bureaucracies/institutions have always varied in their effectiveness and maybe always as self-perpetuating devices for the maintenance of power) - but the way that modern communications, and sophistication in the strategy of modern communications, has allowed the distance to grow greater between the actual functions and the messaging from institutions so as to make their sociopathy and mendacity more insidious.

    If the elite Aztec priests promised their people a good harvest because of their faithfulness to the God-Emperor and diligence in sacrifices and then crops failed, well, that can be an instantaneous revelation of their lying - but if our high priests of finance and government tell us that their policies are making us richer, and they can obscure the outcomes with confusing statistics and imperfect information - they can maintain the fiction of their special powers almost indefinitely.

    While it may be obvious to some now that our institutions have failed us in the ways you describe, there are still powerful ways of obscuring those failures which were not available in the past.

    So all of this was a long-winded precursor to say: we can and should do more “on the ground” for one another and “fight for our autonomy of mind” a la “Inception,” but bureaucracies (in some form or another) are probably necessary for big, functioning nation-states. They’re not getting smaller and they’re taking more power, not less. Tribalism, inertia, paternalism, and complexity all obscure and subdue the clarity at-large needed to create change. Almost everyone reading this essay, in one way or another, is utterly reliant on the status quo for their physical and fiscal prosperity (not a bad thing, just a statement) - so I honestly can’t see how you get reform without a revolution (I mean a real revolution) that I, and I suspect the vast majority of people, do not want. Do you see a contradiction in the interests and safety of most people and the type of reform these revelations cry out for? It seems there’s no middle way, either it stays roughly the same or it breaks.

    Sorry for long response, and, in case it’s not clear, this was an epic, awesome, excellent piece, in my opinion.

  22. The Strauss-Howe Fourth Turning is on. Community institutions will gain. Official institutions will fail and be remade in our image. What that image ends up being remains to be seen.

  23. Hi cartoox,

    Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities on earth. It’s also got an exceptional governmental culture, the result of a mixing of Chinese and British bureaucratic systems.

    In Hong Kong the freedoms of targeted individuals was sharply restricted in order to allow for the freedom of the larger population. Those who were infected, or had been in contact with the infected, were quarantined not merely locked down. As are people coming from outside Hong Kong today. The competence of the government in testing, tracking, enforcing the quarantines, and in treating, and following through and following up, allowed for the maximum freedom for the most people.

    In other parts of the world the freedom of those who were spreading the virus was unchallenged until it was too late to start doing what Hong Kong did from the beginning.

    And even then Hong Kong slipped when it failed to restrict the freedom of people returning to Hong Kong, which triggered a broader outbreak as you noted.

    Hong Kong actually underscores something: There is no meritocracy. What passes for meritocracy is really a culture of mediocracy, in which modestly competent people protect each other and those of high competence are constant threats to their wellbeing who need to be brought to heel (e.g. Fauci) or removed (e.g. Crozier) for the good of the mediocre people whose positions are thereby protected.

    The selling of draconian restrictions of freedom because the mediocrats were mediocre is done with narratives like the “black swan” that “no-one could have predicted” that mediocrats always trot out when they fail, and that get picked up and amplified by other mediocrats lest their own failures be called out. And around and around we go.

    Enjoy Bali!

    I’m in rural Mexico where the communities on the ground are pulling together in ways that are heartening, while the mediocre globetrotting elites continue to close ranks around each other to protect their vital interests at the expense of the wellbeing of the nation, This place proves there are many worse things than poverty, a lesson the world needs to remember.

  24. Just like after WW 1 , we need to be very careful of what missionaries seek to offer us in the wake of our dissatisfaction with these points of failure.

    I love Bens follow up with that in mind.

  25. The Event 201 Pandemic Exercise was an exercise of a sort, but clearly scripted, so also a bit of theater. At one point a “participant” in the exercise announced that misinformation was being spread on social media, and the benevolent and accurate governments needed to take measures to control or counter this misinformation. But in real life, much of the “misinformation” was right and some government proclamations were BS (didn’t see Event 201 simulate that, nor the WHO we really got, nor the CDC leadership… there must be some rank and file scientists in those organizations that are heartbroken).

    I got interested in these forums after reading the ET “Body Count” article and its reference to the analysis of the phony Wuhan data published by Antimonic on Reddit.

    Moderation was bad enough on Reddit that people began to accuse Reddit of being a CCP puppet (based on Tencent being an investor). Maybe not, there are plenty of people who seemed to get enjoyment from being self-appointed badge-heavy moderators. In fact, some of those people rushed to create the forums so they could appoint themselves to the position.

    Most of the posts that I found interesting at the time and were disallowed on the main forums linked to original source articles or science papers.

    This is an interesting subject for further thought.

  26. I agree completely.

  27. What a masterpiece of analysis and clairvoyance. You and Ben and Epsilon Theory are hitting that nail deep and dead on, with the force of an oil rig pounder and the precision of a jeweler’s hammer! While sparing none of the culprits, right, left, or center.

    Keep up the great work, this planet sure needs it. Now doing my (tiny) part, spreading your words …

  28. I thought the same thing.

  29. This is my first post here—strange to lose your virginity at 73! I’ll keep it short but my initial reaction is that I’ve got to learn to be more cynical! I’m very much in sync with the overwhelming % of this entry but I keep falling back on two things: Most (not all!) of the villains are being blamed at least somewhat for not knowing what they could not have known. (I’m not talking about willful ignorance) and secondly, (with the exception of the Germans) are we really to be so shocked that all the bureaucracies being pilloried are acting…bureaucratically!?

  30. Hey Christopher
    Yes, in HK it seems to have worked out because those infected were isolated early.
    Bali we are doing what you seem to be doing in Mexico.
    Getting together, making sure everyone is ok. And remembering to remain human….
    As an aside, everyone here takes responsibility for their own health.
    Diet, exercise, avoidance of smoking , meditation – to keep our heads screwed on the right way .
    Should this sense of responsibility towards our health and those of our friends around us become a broader phenomenon where we take responsibility for the rest of society around us (without imposing a “we know better” attitude) we may just begin to accomplish the change Rusty & Ben are talking about !
    Take care !
    PS - Crozier I support what he did , the guy took responsibility for the people under him
    Fauci - not so sure, seems like the overly intellectual type who forgot what its like to be human in the 5th grade or something…but that is just my opinion !

  31. A few different points here! First, thanks for the response!

    The impulses are the same as ever, of course, but yes, I absolutely think that always on media has empowered the Crowd Watching the Crowd effect. Still, it also has the potential to empower the ability to see the Emperor without clothes. If we extend your example of the Aztecs, there would have been innumerably greater cases where the people had no ability to check the claims made by the Emperor. Or maybe it’s centuries of the early ages Church that should be our more literal example.

    On your second comment, if I may, I think you beg the question a bit. I think it is fair to say we benefit from the status quo, and I think it is fair to say we desire a change in the influence of institutions over our lives. I do not think it is fair to say we are utterly reliant on the status quo. I do not think it is fair to say that we must topple those institutions. If you perceive our reliance as total and our need as immediate dismantlement, then we agree. I happen to disagree with both priors, although they ARE useful for thinking about some cases where simple localism falls short (for example, how do we reach out to lift up populations who have been forced into disadvantaged and exploited geographies?).

    Or, to steal someone else’s words, “You say you want a revolution? Well you know, you better free your mind instead.” (Where the ‘you’ is not you but ‘we’, to be clear)

  32. Olivier, thank you. And be sure to spread plenty of your own, too!

  33. Carl, grace is a wonderful thing, and you should never apologize for it. Certainly never here! Thank you for commenting.

    As it happens, it’s important to me that you understand that I don’t view myself or this piece as cynical. If this were intended as a ‘takedown’ of the mistakes made by these institutions, then I think I would probably be saying exactly what you are: “There but for the grace of God, go I”

    But my intent was NOT to create a takedown or chronicle of the mistakes. In fact, the REASON why this was published as a single anthology rather than a series of notes (which would have been better for us from a purely commercial perspective) is BECAUSE I wanted everyone who read about one of these institutions to think about it not in terms of the mistakes they made, but in terms of the fact that their institution’s structures effectively REQUIRED them to make those decisions, and that ALL of our institutions required ALL of them to collectively make those decisions. I wanted everyone to read all of these issues AND the introduction AND the conclusion. When I call it an institutional failure, it isn’t out of an absence of grace for individuals (um, with a couple exceptions, I will grant you), but out of concern that it couldn’t have gone any other way because of how we determined to design and rely upon them.

    As to your observation that bureaucrats are going to bureaucrat, yes! Yes, exactly that. And yet there are times where we accept that bureaucracy as a minor cost, a minor drag that is out of sight and out of mind. And there are times where the true cost comes due and we can choose how much of that to permit. The bottom-up described in Ben’s piece published the same day is in many ways designed to do that.

    And, to your point, to recognize that forgiveness is an important part of “forgiving but not forgetting.” This piece just happens to be more about the “not forgetting” part of the two.

  34. Thanks for the response, don’t mind me, some of these thoughts are rambling ideas, - having a conversation with myself. Good points on me begging the question: I don’t mean to demand “all the answers” from you - it’s just that the path ahead is dimly lit (if visible at all) and I think that one of the very difficult points that this piece demands is: “what do we do about our bureaucracies?”

    And how much of any change turns on seemingly insignificant social factors? How “popular” will the idea of reform be? How many will abandon a hard road? How many are too cynical and disengaged? Reminds me of the other line: “But when you go around carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow.”

    Anyway, thank you for responding.

  35. It reminds me of that, too! But I still think you might be forcing this into a “national reform” lens when that isn’t really what we are referring to.

  36. Yes, apologies, hard to wrap my head around all of this. Great essay!

  37. Rusty, well documented indeed. Please, can you also write a piece about future probable scenarios: 1 - AI control systems implemented statically over US population w/o constituent’s consent, achievable objectives. 2 - US Currency failure. 3 - Nuclear proliferation. 4 - C&E. The first scenario is probable because of political philosophy of adversaries mired in unspeakable offensive technology which I think, given the pandemic, will be over reacted to. The second scenario has potential to cause suffering and death to millions through increased polarity and proxies. The third scenario has the potential to leave insurmountable legacy problems for future generations - by simply reducing hydrogen bomb count from 2000 to 50 units on each side the world will only cook itself 10 times over instead of 200 (in case of exchange which is futile prediction in case of realization). The fourth scenario of increasingly erratic environmental and climate conditions, before the decade is out, will make the planet unlivable with further pronounced effects from current pandemic, causing cost of life to increase dramatically leading to famine and conflict; the scenario does not include preparedness costs involved in parallel events with global consequences like earthquakes, volcano eruptions and tsunamis. Just like I failed to convince to implement probable solutions to the list of problems that you have so well documented, the above 4 are what any global leader will have to deal with in the future. In addition, I maintain the line that mechanism of fractional reserve banking and resulting term structure will constantly put capital and labor at periodic violent odds which can only be prevented if NPV or IRR is adopted through project’s life term inflation rate, not spot rate, while abandoning excess reserves and intervention in currency markets altogether. I want to be clear that from Dimon to Mueller to Fuld or anyone else in between are not at fault for making best use of instruments at their finger tips - the inevitable result of systemic incentives. I also want to be clear that Greenspan, Yellen, Bernanke and Powell are well intentioned public servants of constitution who have had a demonstrated and reliable character far before taking up roles in the critical institution. Although I havent read his book it does take a courage to act when everyone else’s hair is on fire - only those with experience in life emergencies can understand that. I also want to point out an important party that’s missing in your list - the US population, especially those with mindsets of The Pack. Certainly it has been saddled with tremendous amounts of load in the past decade and I sincerely empathize with the pain but none of it clears the responsibilities of citizenry in engaging EFFECTIVELY with elected local and state leaders to enact anticipatory and proactive changes to congressional mandates that do not result in Hobson’s Choices, which is rather clear and visible failure resulting from negligence. These are actions that are available to any US citzen with a little bit of compassion and imagination during the times of routines. It takes a series of cascading failures to wreck a technologically complex and redundant system and although your list comes clos enough it’s missing a very large chunk that is the population that went with music ignoring consequences of their own inaction on their own children. Please, let’s look forward.

  38. This is a spectacular piece. Thank you for exposing how these institutions are laden with mendacity with clarity. Re: CDC, I also saw a firm attempt to control the narrative that “All Is Well” in the muzzling of Dr. Nancy Messonnier. Early on, she held telebriefings that were accessible to the public (at least after spelling out your name and occupation–I may have misspelled “armchair epidemiologist” myself). She mentioned in late February that there could be significant disruptions to daily life, then on a later call predicted that it wasn’t a matter of if but when there would be community spread. In controlling what to tell the public, it sure seems like the CDC Vaudeville Hook-ed Dr. Messionnier to the detriment of transparency.

  39. Thanks…I am flattered at your thoughtful reply. I was thinking of Rumfeldian analysis of known knowns, etc…I read both entries,by the way and they make up a powerful statement separately or together.
    There HAS been plenty of failure (and therefor blame) to go around. Sorting who and what get’s a larger share is a brutal exercise, especially since one is forced to determine whether the weight is being unduly driven by political and/or religious and/or other experiential factors.
    (PS…I was being a bit—but just a bit— facetious with my ‘cynicism’ crack)

  40. ps: I raised these points prior to reading Ben’s piece about Inception. I am afraid all four of these problems will have to be addressed at the same time and sooner we start thinking about it the better.

  41. Bureaucracy is the art of separating yourself from the consequences of your actions, (NNT I believe?) and CV19 has certainly proven that dictum. The ‘flamboyant emphasis on evidence based analysis’ is the assumed safe harbor of administrators, CEO’s and politicians everywhere. I work in a front line position and am proud to say that the majority of people have been incredible… gracious, humble and helpful. There is a real pride for people to do their part. I contrast that against seeing way too many that still believe the ‘expert analysis’ that is being served up constantly at every level. We have work to do in order to help our communities see through it all. Fantastic essay and why ET is worth every penny. Keep up the great work and thank you for helping all of us keep clear eyed through this. Stay healthy Pack!

  42. Something fishy is going on at the hospitals. Causes of death are being reported as COVID-19 but family are speaking out that this is NOT the case. I saw one such case in the local news this week, then this morning one of my employees called to tell me that his 91 year old uncle just died from a cancer which has been killing him for 6 months. Nothing to do with COVID-19. Cause of death on his birth certificate? COVID-19.

    What the fuck is happening?

  43. I am only speculating. If I recall correctly, there were provisions early on about protecting patients and their families from Covid19 medical expenses. A hospital administrator, which I am not, might consider a liberal interpretation of Covid19 for reimbursement purposes and gently encourage the staff to do the same. Hmmm

  44. Mr. Guinn, this is a brilliant, brilliant piece of writing. I am a Canadian cardiologist with a chronic autoimmune disease and on an immunosuppressive drug. Back seeing patients for about 6 weeks now after calling people to check up on them for 10 weeks before that, with appropriate measures - hand washing, physical distancing and masks. I am thoroughly disgusted with all politicians and the media portrayal throught the COVID-19 pandemic. People are terrified out there, or they are being wilfully ignorant. It saddens me immensely. Dr. Hunt, yourself, and the Epsilon Theory team are doing a great job getting the truth out and helping with your PPE initiatives. Thank you. Guess you have another long term subscriber here.

  45. PS: For the freedom lovers out there the first principle of freedom is to respect the freedoms of others, including not to get sick. In my view, masks are kind, respectful and make good common sense. You wearing a mask protects others, and their wearing a mask protects you. Thank you again.

  46. Avatar for rguinn rguinn says:

    Thank YOU Leslie, for everything you’re doing, and for being here. I’m with you - I believe in nearly unfettered individual sovereignty and liberty - and I believe in civic duties, the shared moral responsibilities we have to one another.

  47. Interesting perspective to read this now in Dec 2020.

    You said then that these stories are dying - well, I don’t think so. I think you’re guilty of navel gazing. Y’all just had an election in which 74 million voters, representing a proportion of the American population very close to half, decided that the old stories are alive and important.
    It’s not the early 1900’s. It’s very much the 19th Century.

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