Unlocking

Lockdowns work. That’s the evidence from many different countries now, including Australia. To be more precise, lockdowns reduce the effective reproductive rate of the virus to the point where it is below 1, meaning that, on average, each infected person passes the disease on to less than one other person. As long as this is sustained, the number of new cases will keep declining, as we have now seen. Potentially, as has been claimed to be the case in China, it will reach zero.

Although some people are still talking about “flattening the curve”, it now seems clear that the best strategy is (near) eradication, pushing the number of infections down to (or near) zero, and preventing any resurgence. But what comes next?

The ideal case would come if we could confirm the virus had been wiped out completely in Australia (or in a particular state). Then, provided all new arrivals were subject to strict quarantine, we could drop all the restrictions except those that made sense for other reasons (encouraging/requiring hand washing is an obvious example[1]).

But that’s unlikely to happen soon. In the absence of comprehensive testing, even if measures of new cases fall to zero, it’s hard to be sure that there aren’t any undetected cases. And it will be some time before new cases reach zero.

So, we need to consider which restrictions we should lift, subject to the constraint that R is still below one, meaning that any undetected outbreaks will ultimately fizzle out. This is a question which will need collaboration between epidemiologists, economists, and other social scientists.

(As an aside, although there has been some conflict between economists and epidemologists it isn’t, as has been suggested, that economists have resisted lockdown measures that might damage “the economy”. On the contrary, with few exceptions economists were pushing for a more rapid lockdown, based on considerations of option value (see below). Rather, the issue has mostly been a sadly familiar one of disciplinary turf wars.)

The problem is essentially one of benefit cost analysis: which measures can be relaxed at least cost in terms of increased R relative to the benefits that relaxation will generate. The epidemiologists have the expertise to answer the first question (as well as can be done in the light of very limited evidence), economists and social scientists the second.

The other key issue, which I’ve mentioned before, is that of option value. If a decision is easily reversed, at relatively low cost, it has an option value relative to a decision that is effectively irreversible. That’s why it made sense to lock down early, rather than waiting to see if the virus spread.

Without treading too much on the epidemiologists turf, it seems pretty clear that the worst risks of spreading the disease come when large numbers of unrelated people are together in close proximity for a long time (cruise ships being the worst case, but sporting matches and cinemas fit the bill to a lesser degree).

Now playing sociologist, I’ll assert that some of the most burdensome restrictions are those that prevent gatherings involving modest numbers of family and close friends. Given the big benefits from relaxing these restrictions and the low cost (in terms of R) in terms of doing so, these seem like obvious candidates for consideration.

Turning to economic activity, the costs of restricting an activity involving personal contact depend critically on the availability of remote-delivery substitutes. Most obviously, office work of all kinds can be done remotely. Costs associated with lower efficiency and more goofing off are offset by the reduction in commuting costs. It’s entirely possible that the benefit to workers who place a high weight on commuting costs outweighs the cost to bosses who find supervision more difficult (and colleagues who enjoy social contact at work). Conversely, as has been pointed out with a good deal of derision, there is no way of doing a haircut from 1.5 metres away. That wasn’t a good reason for excluding them from the lockdown (haircuts can easily be deferred after all) but it makes them a good candidate for subsequent relaxation.

School closures provide an example where option values are relevant. If we reopen the schools it will be costly to close them again (a slightly garbled version of this reasoning explains the government’s reluctance to close them in the first place). So, before reopening schools, we need to make sure that all the necessary facilities for handwashing and other health measures are in place, and that there is enough testing to detect infections before they spread.

How soon will this be relevant? I don’t know, but the one thing I’ve learned in this pandemic is that everything happens much faster than you think it will, even after you’ve tried to adjust for the fact that everything happens much faster than you think it will.

A final point on which I hope to expand more. Apart from lockdowns, the one thing that has been shown to work well is testing, lots and lots of testing. Communication on this point has been terrible, but it appears that we are still subject to constraints on the availability of tests and of labs to process them. Relaxing those constraints and extending testing to include everyone with Covid-like symptoms and sampling of people with no apparent symptoms or contacts, needs to be done ASAP.

70 thoughts on “Unlocking

  1. Noted economist Bjorn Lomborg was on 60 minutes last night arguing that we have to weigh lives saved by lockdown measures against the ‘deaths’ caused by such measures. Unfortunately he didn’t elaborate beyond that . Gigi Foster made the same point on the radio ,and of course the IPA is too .I havent looked into it and maybe its just confirmation bias and wishful thinking on my part but I have heard that during depressions suicides go up a bit but most else remains about the same ,and that many social well-being indicators in fact rise ? I saw a great cartoon version of the trolley car dilemma – there were people tied to the tracks in front of the car and the caption read ‘you can stop the car at any time but doing so would disrupt the trolley service causing the company to lose profits ‘

  2. John Goss,

    It is too early yet to call who “is on the wrong side of history”. The fact that you want to make this call so prematurely is itself diagnostic of a predilection for prejudging matters before all the data is in. I showed in my last post that Stage 3 restrictions impose little to no further economic harm than do Stage 2 restrictions. I further argued that your concerns about the harm of social distancing were over-blown and they under-rated the robustness, including psychological robustness, of most healthy individuals.

    The whole of your argument rests on;

    (a) A prejudgement (as noted above) that you already know all the possible significant dangers of this epidemic and that these dangers are now slight in Australia, at least with respect to lifting Stage 3 restrictions. The very article you referred to notes a divide in expert opinion but with a slim MAJORITY still on the side of very strong measures, including the Stage 3 lock-down. If the experts are so divided, I cannot understand or accept your non-expert confidence and certitude based as it is on political insider-ship not scientific insider-ship.

    (b) A disregard, which seems a little cavalier, of the lives and health of patients and front line health workers in this epidemic.

    (c) An over-solicitous concern for people who are safely holed up and sacrificing just a bit of social interaction; this over-solicitous concern being in strange contradistinction to an apparent relative unconcern about patients, health workers, police, ambulance and other essential workers.

    You seem to be in favor of eradication or near-elimination if possible. I agree on that. Why risk that real and very good possibility out of am ill-founded fear that people can’t safely hole up for a while? Most sensible and well-adjusted people can do so. Those who self-harm when holed up are almost statistically certain to self-harm more and harm others more (alcohol, car accidents, drug use, idiotic anti-social acts and crimes) when they are out and about rather than holed up. The one exception would be domestic violence cases against women and children (mainly) and steps are being taken to address this. Maybe greater steps are required.

    It appears outdoor accidents, sports accidents. car accidents, drunk and disorderlies, affrays, fights and the injuries therefrom are all down following the lock-down stages including stage 3. This is borne out by Emergency Department admissions dropping sharply. Our E.D.’s usually run at 90% to 110% capacity. I guess that last 10% is ambulance “ramping”, corridor stacking and the like. E.D’s are now running at 50% to 30% of capacity which of course frees up capacity if there is a COVID-19 spike. (Spikes are still happening locally. Witness the QANTAS staff spike and the Tasmanian regional hospitals staff infections spike.)

    It seems that being “over-social” is the greater health risk! Social distancing is actually improving public health. How ironic! Your argument for precipitously lifting Stage 3 looks shakier every time I examine it in more detail. But by all means keep arguing. I’ve got all day like every other social distancer. 🙂

  3. Just a word on personal responsibility. Direct quotes from Wikipedia.

    “SARS-CoV-2 was confirmed on 4 February 2020 to have spread within Diamond Princess during cruise M003, which had departed on 20 January 2020 from Yokohama (in Tokyo Bay near Tokyo) for a round trip.On 20 February the World Health Organization stated that the ship accounted for more than half of the reported infections around the world, excluding China.”

    On 8th of March the Ruby Princess set sail with a full or near full complement of passengers. What were the passsengers thinking? The cruise cost, if non-refundable, was a sunk cost. No sensible persons, informed about world affairs and making their own intelligent decisions (ie. not depending solely on self-interested cruise company advice and not waiting for “the authorities” to nanny them) would have boarded that ship.

    However, because this and innumerable other incidents show that the number of foolish and reckless persons is considerably larger than the number needed to sustain a highly infectious epidemic, the authorities have been forced to implement strong top-down controls to save all of us.

    Perhaps if enough people could have show enough brains and responsibility… but that seems a vain hope.

  4. Ikonoclast
    I actually haven’t got all day to deal with your queries, as I’m busy trying to find alternative activities for the people with disability who live in the home run by our church, as all of the group activities funded by the NDIS have been cancelled. And in addition trying to find alternative ways of providing overnight accommodation to homeless people that up until 2 weeks ago we were allowed to provide in our church halls. The restriction on indoor gatherings to 2 guests means that the service can’t be provided. And don’t get me started on the problems being caused for our Food Bank service. The charities sector has had to make enormous adjustments, and we’re happy to make those adjustments if it means the vulnerable people we serve are safer, and more lives are saved.

    But that is the problem with the stage 3 restrictions. There is no evidence that the move to stage 3 restrictions is saving lives, and the cost for the charity sector of the stage 3 restrictions has been enormous, and the quality of our service has been reduced. So I know what I’m talking about when I say that the stage 3 restrictions are causing significant social damage, and the longer it goes on, the more damage it will cause. Let me finish with some comments from Professor Peter Collignon reported in the Australian today in a story titled
    ‘Coronavirus: curve flattens but we’re not out of woods’.

    ‘Despite the lower level of testing over the weekend, health ¬experts were describing the situation as a “success story” and were questioning the need for some of the ¬nation’s tougher social-¬distancing measures.
    Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Canberra Hospital, said despite the reduced testing, the curve was starting to flatten.
    “We’ve been very successful; we are one of the world’s success stories,” Professor Collignon said.
    “So far, along with South Korea, Iceland and a few others, we have ¬actually turned the curve around. We’re doing lots of testing and there isn’t much evidence of community transmission.”
    While Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Sunday it would be “very dangerous and unrealistic” to remove social-distancing ¬restrictions too soon, Professor Collignon said some measures in NSW and Victoria were “excessive” and may cause resentment in the community, jeopardising the public’s continued co-operation as winter draws on.
    People in NSW and Victoria are living under some of Australia’s toughest lockdowns and face fines of up to $11,000 if they break the rules.
    Professor Collignon said such tough public health orders were a “step too far” and “psychologically and socially impossible to maintain for six months”. “There is no evidence that those extra measures have made any difference, yet they have caused a whole lot more hardship to livelihoods, ¬social harmony and people’s psyche,” Professor Collignon said.
    “The discrepancies between states are also problematic. We’re in for the long haul with this and so if we police things, they have to be things everybody understands as sensible. We’ve got to be very careful we don’t overdo the restrictions. We’ve got to temper it with the amount of infection we have evidence for as transmitting in the community.”’

  5. John Goss,

    I have made no queries of you, only provided facts. I sympathize for your current predicament and that of those who need charity. However, the causes of poverty and marginalization are systemic within capitalism itself. Poverty is the corollary of capitalist riches hoarded by the elite few while exploiting the majority of workers and indigent. Very few would need charity at all if capitalism did not in the first place misallocate distributions.

    The role of the main organized churches throughout most of Western history has been to assist in the cruelest of conquests and exploitations and to steal and abuse children. This is well attested historical fact. This has been the standard modus operandi of organized church behavior at least until the Unitarians, to give an English example. Meanwhile the Roman Catholic and the C. of E. to name two examples persisted in their abuses, in many cases, right up to the present day, whenever they could get away with it. These are well known historical facts. The history of the hypocritical churches is absolutely disgraceful. There are Royal Commissions from the early history of New South Wales where orphanages had to be taken out of the care of church charities because of gross abuses and the functions given over to the state. Frequent, vile child abuse by churches has run right down to the present day as we all know.

    Then in the 11th hour of our history when the Churches have been reproved by humanism’s far better conception of human rights and forced to reform by the democratic state, some new-found piety, charity and virtue sweeps over them and the churches are suddenly all sweet goodness and light. Some churches or parts thereof are now good but that is true ONLY because humanist examples and pressure forced them to reform.

  6. Looking at the bigger picture beyond this pandemic, our biggest mistake would be to think we can return to capitalist BAU (Business As Usual) afterwards. What about the climate crisis, for example? Runaway global warming and sea level rise, which are still near certain to happen under capitalist BAU, will soon make this pandemic look like a picnic.

    In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic itself is a result of capitalist BAU. We are seeing the rise of zoonotic diseases: created by encroaching on wilderness, slaughtering wild animals in wet markets and eating them. This process is entwined with the financial practices of industrial agriculture (monoculture) and factory farming which can also lead to systemic food system collapses (swine flue, avian flu) and further zoonotic disease outbreaks.

    This is worth reading;
    https://monthlyreview.org/2020/04/01/covid-19-and-circuits-of-capital/

    The biosphere is now seriously out of balance in terms of ecology, organic and inorganic flows / cycles and system dynamics from atmospheric processes to oceans currents, sea level rise, rain-forest destruction and topsoil losses. Then there are the issues of pollutants and toxins from hydrocarbons to micro-plastics, drugs, medicines, endocrine disruptors, heavy metals and so on becoming almost ubiquitous in our environment.

    Our vast industrial and financial capital system is killing the earth in the very real sense that it is destroying the relatively benign Holocene climate and ecology, leading to a new age called the Anthropocene for good reason. This has brought on the sixth mass extinction including “Insectageddon” as it is called.

    These dire processes and outcomes cannot be avoided by BAU or by techno-fixes alone. We have to radically change the “circuits of capital” so that they do not destroy the circuits of climate and ecology. Any hope or belief in returning to capitalist BAU and surviving is in vain. If we return to BAU after our latest warnings (catastrophic bush-fires around the world and then the zoonotic COVID-19 pandemic) then we simply ensure our own collapse and extinction.

    All but essential services of the economy will have to be foregone to save the global ecosystems and eco-services on which we completely depend. This means an end to the whole ethos of profligate consumerism. It also means an end to capitalism. There are only two ways for capitalism to end. One, we continue our attempted endless growth and consumerism under capitalism and suffer the inevitable civilizational and population collapse OR we dismantle consumerism and capitalism proactively and build a new system. This will have to be based on democratic socialism, ecologism, thermoeconomics and complex systems theory. It will include a central role for democratically legitimized statism and dirgisme: in short a command economy run by democracy on the political side, by hard science on the material and life sciences side (with impact science being placed in a position of supervision over production science) and finally run according to the moral philosophy precepts of the major world religious and secular ethical teachings where these precepts are life affirming and fully supportive of equal human rights.

    Anything less than this means people are just kidding themselves and fiddling while the biosphere collapses.

  7. Whatever the optimum time and manner of relaxation, one thing we can be sure of is that it will in fact be done later and more cautiously than that optimum. It’s simple optics – any relaxation that sees ANY uptick in cases will see that uptick blamed on the relaxer, no matter whether some modeller says it’s cool or not.

    That plus status quo bias – restrictions are painful to impose, but are accepted once in and hence less painful to maintain. No politican will risk the costs to themselves of having to reimpose restrictions whereas there is little cost to them in maintaining existing ones.

  8. Relaxing restrictions.
    1. Wrong question. Should the restrictions be tighter as in NZ? My preference is yes: this provides a better chance of eradication/near eradication (and possibly at lower time-integrated cost than current restrictions.).

    We/politicians must not not jump at shadows re public opinion on tightening or not relaxing restrictions- there is strong support for time extension in NZ. https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/414069/most-new-zealanders-willing-to-extend-covid-19-lockdown-pain-survey. Polling here would be handy. (Noting that NZ is not doing so well lately but see your tweet re test and trace inadequacies there provides one explanation. )

    2. R0 below 1 is not the only consideration in relaxing restrictions.
    Focus must be on sustaining essentials over time, and regaining access to essentials currently lost.

    Healthcare:
    An R0 of .7 and prevalence of .5% would, I guess, be far too risky for a dentist to expose him/herself and aides to day in day out drilling, cleaning, removing teeth. (Note knowledge of dentistry is solely as a patient.)
    The consequence is that in many cases dentists won’t drill/and or dentists do drill and capacity is lost through precautions subsequent to exposure and through illness/death. Tasmanian hospital closures are analogous.Testing adequate for R0, even if available to a dentist is insufficient for protection of the dentist due to false negatives from swab missing virus that is in the upper respiratory tract, and possibly other reservoirs eg blood. Other risk treatments are also lacking eg PPE.

    Given the nature of tooth decay the problems of lack of access are accelerating with time. When more people develop toothache their priority will be dental access. This will be compounded if pain killing or antibiotic drugs run out.

    Prevention and treatment in other non-covid healthcare provided by doctors would be dependent on the particular circumstances.

    Food:
    Time will tell if abattoirs, fruit and veg planting/harvesting and packing, flour mills, transport, and warehouse picking, supermarkets, and household delivery can be sustained with covid risks to labour. Systems will need to be robust to other tribulations such as loss of pesticide imports and new-to-Australia fall army worm.

    Some supply chains may have to be abandoned as uneconomic and insufficiently important given Covid risks.

    An R0 below 1 for the community as a whole today is consistent with an R0 greater than 1 in segments of the population. An R0 less than one for a segment of the food industry is consistent with severe disruptions in the short run.

    3. Disagree with increasing numbers of household gatherings of friends and family. This will magnify risks of already weak QLD provisions which are permissive for chain household transmission through visitors. Prefer NZ’s Stay In Your Bubble message with clear definitions of a household bubble.
    Efforts at the margin are critical to spread and we don’t really know where the margin is or will be.

    4. Testing:
    Agreed not doing enough, very frustrating.

    Worldometer shows Australia 28th down the list of test/capita

    Our World in Data seems to show us falling behind best more and more on cumulative tests per 1000 people (and must be doing even worse on current test per day per 1000 people)

    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/full-list-cumulative-total-tests-per-thousand?year=82&time=66..78&country=AUS+AUT+EST+FIN+DEU+ISR+ITA+JPN+NZL+NOR+SGP+KOR+SWE+CHE+TWN

    Path lab collection centres in Brisbane are closed Easter Monday but Auckland’s look open.

    Possible testing metrics for public.
    – test per capita cumulative and test per capita/day, worldometer rankings
    – capacity per day, capacity utilisation, and reasons for underperformance (<100%)
    – time sample to report : mean, frequency distribution.

    This is war but Brisbane pathology collection centres seem closed Easter Monday, some in Auckland open.

    5. Tracing- don't know what public metrics should be, as per your tweet very important.

  9. Professor R.D. Wolff explaining why capitalism fails in crises and also fails to prepare for crises in the first place. Then he explains why how and why socialism becomes overtly necessary in a crisis.

  10. The new QANTAS Adelaide “super-cluster” (my term) of 36 confirmed cases and 700 quarantined and the new Burnie, Tasmania “super-cluster” of 15 confirmed cases, a whole town basically quarantined and two regional hospitals closed down for a “deep clean” illustrate how dangerously infectious COVID-19 is.

    This also illustrates how persons calling for any roll back at all of isolation stages are completely wrong and misguided. Such calls are dangerously blind and irresponsible and could cost many, many lives.

  11. Hold the line! Even push for tighter restrictions!! As Ikonoclast said this Coronavirus pandemic is a picnic compared to biosphere collapse. It is crucial that these policies remain in place until the planet can be liberated by the Cuban Government or an alien invasion. ONLY When that occurs will it be safe to speak about any sort of reforms to stage 3 or even stage 4 lockdowns.
    The goal to achieve so that we can prepare for our liberation are national ecomomies that do not do anything except that what is neccessary to produce food, medical services, and keeping electricity flowing to the nation. PLus the production of solar panels to make the electricity system more climate friendly as we go. Research in to nuclear fussion power can of course continue but I can not imagine that such research will employe more than a few thousand people.
    To many people on this planet, especially in those countries that have been shaped by modern capitalist ethics have neither the brains nor the sense of responsiblity to place even an iota of value of gaining their consent for needing what needs to be done. The legitimacy of a government is not determined by who supports it. The legitimacy of a government is determined by what it does. Yes what that means is that government legitimacy always has been and always will be a fiction, an illiusion, even when the Cubans or the aliens are in charge.
    There are a vast number of reasons that indirect democratic institutions can never deliver on the expectations that many people have of them. But these flaws in indirect democractic institutions seldom get spoken or writtten about. I can only figure that for to many people maintaining the myth of the supiriority of the indirect democratic institutions is to useful to destroy. The use of ths myth short cirucuts the thinking processes of a huge number of people causing them to stop questioning what is being done in their name.
    Well if the people are going to be ruled by a group of people claiming to be their Big Nannies, or even their Big Brothers if you will, what is to stop power from corrupting the minds of those are the big nannies or the Big Brothers if one wants to give them a deragatory name.
    What will keep these people honest is the knowledge that they are being watched. Those at all all but the highest positions will know that they are being watched not only by their supiriors but by their peers and by their subordinates. Those at the top will realize that they are being watched by their subordinates, by their peers, by the agents of other nations, and finally by the simulation adminstrators.
    Furthermore the power of those on central committees will be checked by term limits. To make sure that “the system” can not completely rig the information that is available to its population there needs to be an international treaty that gives outside nations the right to broadcast radio, tv, and internet information in to the country.
    There has to be some kind of firewall between those who make policies and those who are in charge of human resources so that dissendent can not be fired, or sent to the eastern front, or sent to a reseach station or consulate in Antarctica.
    There has to be a process in which jurors, if they can find enough support on their jury, to nullify contraversial laws, in that particular case. The jury decision will of course not provide a legal precedent for other cases or that would give to much power to minority view points. The point is to balance the scales of justice so that those in power can not crush less powerful minorities (or viewpoints) at will. But less powerful minorities can not give the middle finger with impunity to those in charge either.
    Finally the military/police forces (the potential forces of repression) have to be balanced with more local forces of repression. I think that this balance can best be maintianed by of course making the forces of the central government smaller but of course better armed. The point is to ensure that a substanial part of the ability of the central government to rule, or for a region to rebel, lies with moral persuassion.
    Of course being familiar with US history i am aware that these last two proposals are double edged swords. They can be used by a cruel local population to resist central government pressure to end unjust policies. Well I have always said that good ideas can be put to bad uses. I guess that I will just have to appeal to the potential critics faith that when people really get to consider a decision in a well informed manner 51% of the people will make the right decision 51% or more of the time.
    To say that though is clearly not a call for democratic elections. The attempts to manipulate people during an election process do not in any shape or form constitute educating people. One the other hand listening two lawyers being able to take all the time that they need, as determined by a judge,
    (or 3) to convince a jury of the justice of their cause is the right kind of in depth analysis that is needed for a well informed decision.

  12. Uh oh –
    “The world’s biggest pork producer is shuttering a major U.S. plant indefinitely after a coronavirus outbreak among employees, with the company warning that closures across the country are taking American meat supplies “perilously close to the edge” of shortfalls.”
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-12/smithfield-foods-idles-sioux-falls-plant-amid-virus-concerns?srnd=premium-europe

    I repeat myself:
    R0 below 1 is not the only consideration in relaxing restrictions.
    Focus must be on sustaining essentials over time, and regaining access to essentials currently lost.

  13. Yes, all we need (irony intended) is for COVID-19 to cross-infect pigs or cats or dogs or chickens or (something which is quite likely) native bats like Australia’s flying-foxes. It’s why I called earlier on this blog for wildlife carers to be prohibited from direct contact with and caring for injured bats. we can still protect bat habitat of course.

    The rise of zoonotic diseases means;

    (1) Wildlife eating should be banned with with certain exceptions like fish. Certainly the eating of bats and all other wild mammals should be banned at a minimum.

    (2) A decline in meat eating in general should be encouraged.

    (3) Vegetarianism should be encouraged along with ways to ensure people get the full spectrum of nutrients if becoming fully vegetarian.

  14. In addition to my comment above, food supplies will soon look shaky if food processing plants have to shut down as per Stockingrate’s post. What will the stocking rate be, eh? I predicted at the start of this crisis (though not on this blog) that sporadic shortages would hit some food items during this crisis. I now think that prediction might have been too hopeful. Food supply could become an issue even in developed nations. At the very least, food exporting nations may find exports have to be curtailed to feed the home population. This does not auger well for food import dependent nations.

  15. Not only that, what is the average age of a farmer in Australia, the UK, the US, or Germany? (I will not ask this question about Canada because I already know that the answer is 29) This farming demographic is a demographic that should get decimated quite literally by the coronavirus. Farmers after all have to go grocery shopping too.
    Farmers are not easily replaced in such countries.

  16. The US pork industry was belted around by Trumps trade war with China – one of their big customers. Australian meat prices went up as demand increased, which was great for drought stricken farmers.

  17. A broken clock is right twice a day. Trump is also right by accident occasionally (from populist and elite interest calculations rather than from geostrategic or national economy calculations).

    It was and is actually the right move for the USA to have a trade and tariffs war with China. Free trade has been of enormous benefit to China but has eviscerated US manufacturing capacity. We see now in the COVID-19 crisis the human, economic and geostrategic dangers, damages and costs in being so abjectly dependent on China for manufactures from medical masks and PPE to pharmaceuticals, electronics and other goods. Even US army logistics depend in good part on goods from China. What an absurd position to be in geostrategically.

    Why trade with and make an economic superpower out of a Totalitarian state while eviscerating your own economy ? That is absolute self-sabotaging idiocy.

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