The Trump Defection, part 2

Part 2 in response to Lion endorses Joe Biden for President

The best argument you can make for Trump is that Democrats are so bad that better a bozo like Trump in the White House than a Democrat. But the cost of a bozo in the White House is 170,000 dead from the virus, and America’s international reputation shattered. The hypocrisy of Trump supporters who railed on and on about how you shouldn’t vote for Hillary because four Americans died in Benghazi, but the same Trump supporters are totally unconcerned about 170,000 dead from the virus. And with Trump at the helm, 170,000 is likely to become 400,000 before he leaves office.

Again with the Covid deaths. I know it sounds mean to say, but no one cares about Covid deaths anymore. Even liberals do not care, because some white kid killing 2 people in self-defense is bigger news now than thousands of nameless people dying of Covid. And probably a not significant number of these deaths are falsely attributed to Covid, when there was some other underlying, root cause, but because Covid was present, the death was counted as a Covid death.

Lion also makes two obvious analytical errors: ignoring the per-capita death rate and only looking at the absolute death toll, in which the US ranks highest in the world (187,000 as of writing this)–a fact which the liberal media continues to belabor even though no one cares anymore. On a per-capita basis, the US ranks #9, at 550 deaths per million, below the UK, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. France, by comparison, comes in a 454 deaths per million. So although the US did worse than some developed countries, it did not do that much worse compared to most European countries.

His second mistake is, he implicitly attributes all US Covid death to alleged incompetence by Trump, but even countries with optimal responses by the most competent of leaders, had deaths. So the correct methodological approach would be to try to calculate the number of excess deaths that can be attributed to supposed incompetence on the part of Trump. It cannot be all deaths.

The left accuses Trump of inaction, but the Covid response was more a states’ rights issue than a federal one, unlike 911 or the 2008 financial crisis. All the federal government could do was draft guidelines, which it has negligible power to enforce, and try to coordinate the imports of masks and other supplies, but Trump could not force individual states or open or close. Mayors and governors have a lot of discretion and autonomy in responding to Covid. Trump deserves credit for working out a deal with 3M to import 166 million respirators from China.

The problem is, what specifically could Trump have done better that would have made a difference, but without further damaging the economy, given that the existing measures, that have widely been derided as inadequate, had dealt such a major blow to so many businesses. A month of shutdowns was bad enough; could the US have survived 3+ months of shutdowns.

State officials were not ill-informed about the virus; they get the same headlines Trump and others get. So everyone was acting on up-to-date information about the spread of the virus.But also, the problem is Covid spreads so fast and unpredictably, and officials and policy makers were caught off guard, and this made it hard to formulate an optimal response. Look at what happened with New York…from 0 to 100k cases almost instantly even though at the time everyone was focused on California and Washington, which were affected first. Amazingly, not a single one of the initial 25 Covid cases in the US were in the East Coast (the virus is believed to have spread from China to the West Coast), yet the number of cases in New York went from 0 on March 1st to over 100k just 3 weeks later. Either the virus progresses slowly in a controlled manner, such as Sweden or California, or it it blows up in your face like New York. How do you stop that kind of thing from happening.

But here is what I don’t get…many of these same liberals complaining about Covid deaths are also worried about overpopulation. They also profess to believe in Darwinism, evolution, survival of the fittest, etc., so here we have a natural process that is reducing, albeit very slightly, the world population by eliminating those who are not fit enough to survive Covid (the elderly, the infirm, etc.). Similar to how the left is pro-life when it comes to black babies but pro-choice about white babies, ideological consistency goes out the window with Covid. If Hillary were president, would the left be making such a big deal about Covid deaths and cases in an election year? Of course not.

But what has Trump really done in office that makes him so much better than a Democrat? Trump promised to repeal and REPLACE Obamacare, but then he supported the standard Republican plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with nothing. At least with Democrats in office, maybe Obamacare will be improved so it doesn’t suck so bad.

As discussed in part 1, Trump’s leadership style has never been to change or reform the system, but rather to just keep it running as smoothly as possible. This is why he constantly mentions the stock market, because to him (and presumably many of his voters) a rising stock market is an indicator that things are ok, so the goal is to get the line to go up. It it seems like Trump has resigned on his campaign promises, it probably because he never had any intent on trying to follow-through on them, and even if he wanted to, House Republicans would have likely not cooperated, except for the tax cuts, and Trump’s hands were tied due to numerous investigations and high-profile defections and resignations. Trump, for wherever reason, has a knack for appointing people who are later convicted or who turn against him.

Trump lowered taxes for the top 1% and the biggest corporations. Yet all of the biggest corporations have gone liberal and they support Joe Biden. What was the point of doing that? Instead of doing anything to help the people who voted for him, Trump helped the people who hate him. People who’d rather pay higher taxes than see Trump in office for another four years.

But there is a chasm-sized difference between the top 1% and top .01%. It is the latter who are generally pushing a left-wing agenda, not the former. Th top 1% includes most business owners.

In regard to the possibility of Trump losing, the odds have been remarkably stable ever since Trump was inaugurated, at around 40-45% or so odds of being reelected conditional on not being removed from office or resigning The assumption is, Trump will not be able to win nearly all the states he narrowly won in 2016. The virus and protests have moved the needle very little. The left can criticize Trump all they want for being incompetent, but they cannot get Trump in the same situation Bush was in in 2008, when even his own party began to turn against him as his incompetence had become obvious to even his supporters. Trump has been lucky or skilled enough to avoid having things being totally bad, just somewhat bad, and creating the outward appearance of being competent-enough and having the situation under control even if it may not actually be under control.

Good luck has also helped. Covid could have easily been Trump’s undoing, and the left was probably certain in April-May it would be, and then miraculously, the IFR was slashed by 90% (making Covid about 2-5x as deadly as the flu instead of 50-100x) and the stock market would go on to make new highs and the economy would stabilize. That is not to say it has not been bad, but it could have been way worse.

From Estimating True Infections: A Simple Heuristic to Measure Implied Infection Fatality Rate

Using this methodology, we found that the prevalence is higher in the US during June/July (peak of ~500,000 infections/day) than in March/April (peak of ~300,000 new infections/day). However, the implied fatality rate is signifiantly lower in June/July (~0.25% IIFR) than in March/April (~1% IIFR).

Instead of ‘millions of deaths’, the death toll in the US looks to stabilize at around 200,000, which is a lot, but much less than originally feared by many of the experts. Yes, some of this is due to efforts to contain the virus, without which there would have been more deaths (how many more is hard to say), but the virus also proved to be much less deadly than originally assumed, as the original IFR estimates were off by a magnitude of 5-10x. The exponential growth also leveled off by only April, as the virus had so many asymptomatic carriers that many areas such as New York were already approaching herd immunity.