Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Mandated Arguments

Tell me your troubles and doubts
Giving me everything inside and out

--Simple Minds

Arguments for vaccine mandates usually assume at least one of the following positions.

Best way out. Vaccinating is the best scientifically-known way to end a pandemic. Therefore, everyone must be vaccinated.

Menace to society. Unvaccinated individuals can infect others. Because they put other people at risk, unvaccinated people are a danger to society--perhaps criminally so. 

Resource hog. If an unvaccinated person gets infected and requires hospitalization, then that person is tying up scarce resources that other people would have available to them in the event that they fall ill. When hospitals are near capacity, deserving people may have to be turned away because of the imprudent choices of others.

Freedom robbers. Unvaccinated people rob freedom from others. People cannot live freely if they feel threatened by the behavior of unvaccinated individuals.

We'll discuss these arguments in future posts.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Papers Please

I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
For I know that the hypnotized never lie

--The Who

Early during the pandemic I was texting with a friend about the prospect of showing CV19-related 'papers' in order to go places. Sadly, that prospect has only grown since then.

On the plus side, this is waking people up. People are realizing that freedom is at stake.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Face of Freedom

You must have tried and defied belief
Maybe buried your head in insular grief
I need your hunger, you need mine
A million mouths can swallow up time

--Pete Townshend

Nice article the negatives associated with masks. The author reviews the ineffectiveness of masks from a technical standpoint. There remains no compelling scientific evidence in favor of masks. In fact, and this is me not the author, one would think that proponents of masks so convinced of the 'science' behind masks would be conducting studies, including random controlled trials (RCTs) by the dozens--or hundreds--that present incontrovertible theory and evidence in support of masks. 

But they haven't (and can't). Stunningly, the Denmark study remains the only large numbers RCT investigation of masking that has been published. To the consternation of the pro-mask crowd, the study found no significant difference in CV19 infections in masked vs unmasked groups. That, after 18+ months, no further such analysis has been conducted by public health agencies worldwide goes a long way toward explaining the 'science' of masking.

That said, the author's best contribution is his discussion of the social consequences of masking. Beyond discomfort and lack of hygiene associated with covering one's face, masks offend social sensibilities. Facial appearance and expression contribute to individual uniqueness and value. Faces, through their various expressions, efficiently convey information that is difficult, and in many cases far more costly, to obtain through other means. 

People, especially children, rely on facial expressions for their ongoing development. Indeed, Darwin (1872) observed that the face is "the chief seat of expression." A recent article in Forbes questions school masking policies primarily along this line of reasoning.

Masks erode communication and understanding. They compromise human interaction and reduce quality of life.

Why aren't public health officials being challenged to present their evaluation of the costs associated with policies that force people to mask?

Friday, August 27, 2021

Miscategorizing Data

What's this crazy place
You want to take me to?
Tell me, what's the price
If I go with you?

--Kool & the Gang

Another example of CV19 measurement system manipulation. Per CDC definitions, a person who, two weeks or less after being vaccinated, dies of CV19-related causes is considered to be 'unvaccinated'--presumably because the CDC assumes that it takes 14-days for the vaccines to create antibody response.

Because side effects of the vaccines include CV19 like symptoms, this could easily mean that vaccine-related deaths are being tagged as unvaccinated CV19-related deaths.

Perversely, then, data points that might signal vaccine-related problems are being miscategorized and buried in a manner that may motivate more people to get the jab.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Star Chamber

Swear allegiance to the flag
Whatever flag they offer
Never hint at what you really feel

--Mike and the Mechanics

I used to ponder how you could get large numbers of people to load themselves into rail cars bound for concentration camps. Or to turn in their gold for worthless pieces of paper. Or to any other scheme that finds them voluntarily surrendering their freedom.

Unfortunately, it's not that difficult to figure out any more.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Banning Vax Mandates

Say that you'll never, never, never, never need it
One headline, why believe it?
Everybody wants to rule the world

--Tears for Fears

Interesting development in South Dakota where Governor Kristi Noem, the most ardent opponent of lockdowns during the CV19 pandemic among state governors, refuses to back Republican-led legislation that would ban vaccine mandates by employers inside the state. 

On the surface, this may seem inconsistent. Opposing lockdowns but not opposing vax mandates? However, her position is actually well reasoned and consistent.

Noem has in fact banned vaccine mandates for state and local government workers under constitutional requirements that guarantee individuals the right to pursue their persons interests free of government interference without probable cause and due process.

However, those constitutional restraints do not extend to private businesses. Employers and employees are free to negotiate terms. Noem clearly recognizes this and does not want to set a dangerous precedent.

Her position demonstrates very good insight that, unfortunately, is very uncommon nowadays.

I do think that, to be thorough and completely transparent, Noem needs to address an issue that we have recently considered and one raised by one of the GOP legislators in the article behind the anti-vax mandate bill. Are 'private' businesses, especially larger ones, truly private?

There is an argument to be made that many companies are beholden to government for resources of some type, and thus subject to government influence. They are essentially government sponsored entities.

If this is the case, then there is an argument to be made that, by implementing vaccine mandates, these companies are doing the bidding of government. This is unconstitutional

As strong as her position is, an even more constitutionally consistent revision to Noem's position might be to ban vax mandates in corporations where it can be demonstrated that they are dependent on the government for resources of any kind

If companies want to be free to impose mandates on their employees, then they should first show that they free from government influence that might shape their decisions in ways that truly unhampered markets would not.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

FDA Approved

I close my eyes
Oh God I think I'm falling
Out of the sky, eye close my eyes
Heaven help me

--Madonna

Approximately six months after operating under 'emergency use authorization' as an experimental drug ok for public distribution, Pfizer's (PFE) mRNA vaccine has been 'fully' approved by the FDA. The approval follows no where near the customary battery of evaluations required before agency approval.

Many folks seem to think that slapping an 'FDA Approved' sticker on the vaccine will reduce resistance or uncertainty among the skeptical. The truth, of course, is that we know no more about the efficacy and safety of this drug now than we did pre-approval. 

In reality, the hope is that 'FDA Approved' creates more blind trust in the 'experts.'

'FDA Approved' medications have killed lots of people in the past. How many of those deaths resulted from blind trust in the 'FDA Approved' endorsement may be unknowable.

Pray that blind trust in this FDA approval does not kill scores more in upcoming months and years.

no position

Friday, August 20, 2021

Questioning Assumptions

Nathan Algren: I have questions.
Katsumoto: Questions come later.

--The Last Samurai

Adopted from a video posted on social media. Assume the following:

Government is not out to get people.

Pharma companies care about people's health.

There is no global conspiracy to abolish individual liberties.

Now let's reflect on various government 'public health' actions over the past year and a half and their merits. Several questions come to mind that challenge the assumptions above:

1) Why have governments not conducted/published impact assessments on the costs and benefits of lockdowns? Lockdowns can obviously inflict significant harm. Why have there been no formal studies to identify these harms and quantify them?

2) Why haven't the public health models and forecasts that motivated lockdowns, which have been spectacularly wrong from the get go, been reviewed for their methodological problems? I would add another question: Why don't these models include forecasts of economic and social impacts by default?

3) If governments were truly acting in good faith, then why haven't they been changing policies in concert with evolving scientific evidence? There is clearly science that contradicts currently policy choices (e.g., on masking, on the relationship between lockdowns and CV19 mortality, on the capability of PCR tests as an accurate everyday measure of CV19 infections, on the capacity of vaccinated individuals to transmit CV19, etc). Why are officials ignoring it? I would also add this: If there has been no coordinated effort, then why are these policy responses so uniform across countries?

Because answers to these questions challenge the validity of the assumptions stated earlier, it is increasingly difficult for a large group of individuals to dismiss 'conspiracy' and other plausible rival hypotheses.

Building on this and past work, I hope to develop an extended list of questions covering various aspects of the CV19 pandemic (e.g., measurement, data results, vaccines, countermeasures, etc) in upcoming posts.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Lower Hospital Capacity

It's been such a long time
I think I should be going
And time doesn't wait for me
It keeps on rolling

--Boston

One difference between manufacturing and service operations involves their composition of productive resources. In manufacturing processes, equipment serves as the primary factor of production. Equipment leverages the amount of output that workers can produce. Capacity, defined as the maximum amount of output possible from a production process, is generally determined by how much equipment has been installed to support labor.

In service-based operations, people are usually the primary factor of production. Although facilitating equipment may be employed, people generally control the pace and composition of output in service operations. Obtaining more output in service sector settings commonly requires hiring more workers.

With vaccine mandates now being imposed in many organizations, workers are being fired for non-compliance or leaving in advance of compliance deadlines. Several recent headlines have highlighted the situation in hospitals, where large groups of nurses and other workers are resigning or or threatening to resign in defiance of vaccine directives in their organizations.

Hospitals are prime examples of service sector operations that depend on people to produce output. The fewer doctors, nurses, and other staff personnel, the smaller the number of patients that hospitals can treat. By imposing vaccine mandates that cause workers to hit the silk, hospitals are essentially reducing their productive capacity.

When you hear that hospitals are being 'overrun' with patients, recognize that this may be due to self-imposed capacity limitations. Vaccine mandates may lead to fewer workers. Fewer workers mean fewer patients can be treated. Therefore, hospitals may reach capacity limitations when far fewer patients seek treatment than in the past. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Afghan Unwind

There's a room where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the wall come tumbling down
When they do, I'll be right behind you

--Tears for Fears

The chaos that has erupted in Afghanistan following the abrupt removal of remaining American forces by Joe Biden has fostered no shortage of finger pointing. Republicans, especially, smell political blood in the water. Their howls range from "America has been completely embarrassed" to "Biden should resign."

These rants may be justified on some levels, particularly in light of what has transpired over the past year and a half. But, as Ron Paul notes in a more or less "I told you so" rant of his own, many of these same politicians created the Afghan mess to start with.

Meanwhile, most Democrats are predictably circling the wagons around Biden. He did the right thing, Dems claim, by taking us out of an unpopular war. And, indeed, prior to the chaos polls had suggested that nearly 70% of American opposed US presence in Afghanistan and wanted us out. 

As a matter of fact, I was one of them.

At the end of the day, I suspect the problem that most Americans, and perhaps many across the globe, have with what is going on is not the intent but the execution. As Ron Paul observes, the 20 year campaign of terrorist fighting and nation-building in Afghanistan had been counterproductive for years. Most people saw the writing on the wall.

The Trump administration seemed to understand this. Trump had begun the process of unwinding in-country military commitments but stopped short of complete withdrawal based on advice that it wasn't quite time to do so yet. 

Reports are circulating that the Biden Administration ignored similar advice. Rather than continuing a measured withdrawal, Biden decided to pull out cold turkey. Unfortunately, the political vacuum created by his hasty action has cost many lives, with more surely to come. It has also cost Biden a pile of political capital.

Which brings me to my main point. There was a time where I might have done things like Biden did here. I used to think that if I were in charge, then I would end every government-sponsored program--immediately. 

But now I know better.

When government intervenes anywhere--overseas in military ops such as Afghanistan, or in domestic affairs such as welfare and healthcare redistribution, it distorts human behavior and interaction. These distortions create dependencies and other commitments that cannot quickly be reversed should those interventionary policies no longer garner political support.

As Biden's actions have demonstrated, trying to reverse these dependencies quickly is likely to create considerable pain. Retrospectively, a more measured phase out may have been more sensible--and more humane. 

Biden might have told his administration, the media, and people in the US and Afghanistan, that the US would be out of Afghanistan in, say, two years. He could have demanded phased withdrawal plans from the military and other advisors in the early days of his administration, and then shared the plans with all stakeholders. Those plans could have included key dates, goals, measures of progress along the way.

And to be fair, Trump could have done the same thing.

Similar measured exits could be designed for every bloated government-sponsored program on the books. Social Security, Medicare, welfare, etc. For example, Social Security payments might be phased out over the course of four, eight, or ten years.

Do measured withdrawals from government programs cost more? Perhaps, but perhaps not given the potential cost associated with chaotic withdrawal. Is it possible that a measured withdrawal never happens--given the proclivity of institutionalized bureaucracies to stifle change? For sure. Will they be politically unpopular with large voting blocs that benefit from the largesse? Without question.

However, I can't help but think that the transparency of a well communicated gradual exit strategy executed by determined leadership would be an effective, and fair, way to back out of trillion$ in government largesse.

Let's also note this. If we don't proactively back out of commitments, particularly those with massively upside down economics, then market forces will do it for us at some point. And when they act, market forces are likely to do so quickly. 

Biden's handling of the Afghan situation therefore serves as a harbinger of the chaos likely to ensue in other domains if we do not learn from mistakes made here and initiate programs of measured reversal.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Boosting Madness

From my heart and from my hand
Why don't people understand?

--Oingo Bingo

It is becoming glaringly apparent that the so-called CV19 vaccines provide, at best, limited protection against the virus. 'Breakthrough' cases, or CV19 infections in people who previously received the shot, are on the rise. Countries that were early adopters of the vaccines, such as Israel, are seeing big increases in cases and hospitalizations among the vaccinated.

Governments are now positioning to recommend/mandate a 'booster' shot to replenish antibody levels that appear to decline in the 5-6 month period after the initial shots.

Alex Berenson, who has been on the story of vaccine 'failure' for months, discusses the ongoing anti-science dysfunction associated with these policies.

The CV19 vaccines come in two related flavors. The mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) use synthetically created RNA fragments encapsulated in fat particles that are transfected into immune cells to stimulate an adaptive immune response. The synthetic mRNA causes cells to produce a foreign protein (i.e., 'spike protein') that resembles the viral antigen. Production of the spike protein triggers immune system response.

Rather than using synthetically created mRNA fragments, the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) vaccine employs a 'viral vector' composed of RNA fragments from other supposed harmless viruses to motivate spike protein creation. This approach is intuitively appealing to some people because it somewhat resembles the mechanism of traditional vaccines that inject antigens from a weakened or dead version of the virus to stimulate response.

Why weren't traditional vaccines used in the case of CV19? It can take years and cost billion$ to develop traditional antigen-based vaccines that are both safe and effective. Conversely, prospective RNA vaccines can be designed and produced in a matter of months. Because of the proclaimed state of emergency associated with the CV19 pandemic, the RNA vaccine route was chosen primarily as a matter of expedience.

The problem is that RNA vaccines are unproven. Previous tests going back years have flopped. Moreover, there have been safety concerns about gene therapies that stimulate spike protein creation.

Unfortunately, the Phase I, II, and III testing protocols that have defined drug development in the past were discarded in the case of the CV19 RNA vaccines. The PFE, MRNA, and JNJ versions underwent accelerated clinical trials that, while indicating a short term reduction in CV19 infections (not deaths) of between 67% (JNJ) to 95% (MRNA)--with a significant side effect profile, it should be noted--the long term reward/risk profile cannot be determined from this work. Why? Not only were control groups cancelled upon authorization of the mRNA vaccines, but the evaluations themselves largely ceased after the initial panel of results were in.

Incredibly, then, there has been no ongoing large-scale clinical trial work overseen by regulating bodies aimed at assessing long-term benefits and problems associated with these vaccines. Previous institutions governing medicine development have essentially been discarded.

Now public health agencies and governments are pushing for another round of vaccines as boosters--with no conclusive evidence as to the treatment's efficacy, much less the possible risks.

As Alex Berenson observes:

"If the FDA or other regulators had any guts, they would insist on a new, full-size clinical trial (a BETTER trial, one powered to detect reductions in death) before allowing [the boosters]."

CV19 vaccines remain experimental products being administered in the most unethical, and unscientific, ways imaginable.

position in JNJ

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Hail Holy Queen

Who is this who comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun? (Sg 6:10)

They say that when her time came, our Lady was borne up to heaven in the hands of angels, borne through a blue sky that was warm with the noonday heat and yet was pale beside the blueness of her mantle. The legions of saints waited her coming, glorious in garments scarlet and white, with burning haloes. And before them all came Gabriel, his mantle dazzling silver in the sunlight. Bowing low, he gave her a lily for a scepter. She passed the multitude of the angels and saints and came at last to a place of solitude. 

And here her Son came to her. He was a king in a robe of rose, and his wounds were jewels that shone, and he crowned her with a great crown set with seven brilliant stars for her life's seven sorrows.

--Caryll Houselander (2021). Our Lady is in heaven. Magnificat, 23(6): 201-202.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Pandemic Tyranny II

"Knights, the gift of freedom is yours by right!"
--Arthur Castus (King Arthur)

As evidenced by events over the past 18 months, rule of law has been supplanted by discretionary rule. Discretionary rule amounts to governing factions seeking to get away with doing whatever they can. In the public health arena, officials set rules by edict. In last fall's election, officials broke myriad election laws assuming that they wouldn't get caught. Even if they did, they figured that they would not be punished.

Judge Nap previews a new round of discretionary rule unfolding in the name of pandemic fighting. Once again, these discretionary rules aim to restrict personal freedoms protected by the Constitution. Most of the limitations that the Constitution places on federal government w,r,t. personal freedoms are written into the Bill of Rights. Since the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, these same limitations apply to state and local jurisdictions as well.

The rights to thought (1st), speech (1st), press (1st), assembly (1st), worship (1st), self-defense (2nd), privacy (4th), travel (4th), property ownership (3rd, 4th, 5th), commercial activities (5th), association (5th), and fair treatment from government (4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th) are plainly articulated or rationally inferred from the first eight amendments. The Ninth Amendment declares that all other individual rights not enumerated in the first eight amendments shall not be disparaged by government. The Tenth Amendment declares that powers not delegated to the federal government and not prohibited by law are reserved for the states, or to the people. 

These rights are considered to be natural--each individual is born with them. They are not granted by worldly rule. No president, king, governor, mayor, legislative body, judge, et al. has legitimate power to confer them.

The gist of natural law is that individuals are free to pursue their personal interests unencumbered by government intervention (a.k.a. 'liberty) so long as their pursuits due not forcibly invade the pursuits of others. This principle is sometimes referred to as the non-aggression principle.

Similar to previous rounds of pandemic-inspired interventions, new government mandates promise to interfere with rights protected by the Bill of Rights. Travel, assembly, exercise of religious beliefs, commercial activities, and how we dress (face masks) are among those threatened. The threats come from state and local officials who claim to have the power to unilaterally interfere with individual rights.

Their claims raise several constitutional issues.

1) Do state and local officials have the power to regulate behavior in the face of what they claim to be 'emergencies?' Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to each state (a.k.a. the Guarantee Clause). This means that government powers must be separated into legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and that one branch cannot assimilate responsibilities of the others. 

Because only representative legislatures can write laws that carry criminal penalties and incur the use of force, mayors, governors, and other officials cannot validly make unilateral declarations and call them law. There are no exceptions to this law in the event of self-proclaimed emergencies.

2) Can state legislatures delegate their lawmaking powers to governors during times of emergency? No. Again, drawing from the Guarantee Clause, republican forms of government require separation of powers, and one branch cannot abdicate its responsibilities in deference to another branch. Doing so would not longer constitute a republican form of government. If states abdicate their responsibility to provide a republican form of government then, by the Constitution, it is the federal government's responsibility to act in manners that fulfill the constitutional guarantee to the state's people.

3) Can state legislatures enact laws the governors desire to limit personal liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights and to coerce compliance? No. Government at all levels in the United States is subordinate to the natural rights articulated in the Bill of Rights.

Given the straight 'no' answers to the above, the essential issue that the Judge doesn't address, unfortunately, is why these illegal mandates are not under full-fledged legal assault by people around the country seeking relief from tyranny. My growing fear is that if courts do not provide legal relief, then the pressures of institutional failure grow to the point where they will be relieved using other means.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Viral Thought

"You can break a man's skull. You can arrest him. You can throw him into a dungeon. But how do you control what's up here? How do you control an idea?"
--Sextus (Ben-Hur)

It has been this way since the beginning of civilized man. Authoritarians must engage in thought control, lest their subjects learn just how deranged the authoritarian arrangement is.

Propaganda, censoring, social isolation, jail and death threats. We're seeing it all live, played out before our very eyes.

The thing is, no matter how extreme the measures go, free thought and expression continue to plague the authoritarians.

Like a virus. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Risks of Specialization

Max Kellerman: You and me, Tito. We've seen it all, eh? Bubba and Zedda serving the first pasteurized milk to the borders. Through the war years, when we didn't have any meat. Through the Depression, when we didn't have anything.
Tito Suarez: Lots of changes though, Max. Lots of changes.
Max Kellerman: It's not the changes so much this time. It's that it all seems to be ending. You think kids want to come with their parents and take fox trot lessons? Trips to Europe, that's what the kids want. Twenty two countries in three days. It feels like its all...slipping away.

--Dirty Dancing

Previously we discussed the benefits associated with specialized work. What about potential downsides? One risk is restriction of trade. In order to realize gains from specialization, specialized producers must be able to trade with each other. By engaging in trade, specialists can satisfy needs that they are unable to fulfill themselves. They also benefit from the increased productivity of other specialists. Prices should be lower and quality should be higher when specialists trade.

When trade is restricted (e.g., tariffs), then specialists must either forego some needs or diversify. Either way, standard of living is likely to decline. 

Another risk is obsolescence of one's specialty. Due to competition, technological change, or evolving buyer preferences, certain lines of work may longer be valuable on the market. To adapt to such disruptive change, specialists must learn new skills.

While the 'switching costs' associated with changing jobs may be relatively low for some specialists, they may be extremely high for others. Much retraining may be required. If large commitments were made to build previous now-obsolete skill sets (expensive schooling, investment in expensive narrow-purpose tools, etc) then those specialists may have difficulty justifying a career change due to high sunk costs. Moreover, the repetition associated with specialized tasks can be habit forming...and old habits sometimes die hard.

How can workers cope with the risk:reward trade-off associated with specialization? We'll discuss in a future post.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Questions for Asking

They like to get you in a compromising position
Well, they like to get you there and smile in your face
Yeah, they think they're so cute when they got you in that condition
But I think it's a total disgrace

--John Mellencamp

Some fine questions here:

According to VAERS, how many people have died in the US taking this experimental drug?

Is this amount of deaths from a vaccine normal? How does it compare to all other vaccines?

In 1976, they pulled the Swine Flu vaccine after only 56 deaths. What is different now?

Why do you want to give an experimental drug that is only FDA approved for emergency use to children who have a 99.997% chance of surviving Covid?

There are many other similar questions that could be added to this list.

After posing these questions to Fauci, I would turn to the lemmings in the press conference room and ask:

Why aren't you asking these questions?

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Rand's Stand

No more running down the wrong road
Dancing to a different drum
Can't you see what's going on
Deep inside your heart

--Michael McDonald

Sen Rand Paul continues to be among the most vocal people in Congress calling for resistance to CV19-related mandates. Great 3 minute video included in this piece.

He is completely correct. Any reasoning mind will have concluded a year ago that what is going on is not based on 'science'--except perhaps on the science of authoritarian power assimilation and psychological manipulation.

This is a power grab, pure and simple.

Stand with Rand. Say "absolutely not" to more mandates.

Choose freedom.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Imitation Gone Awry

"Hey, check out the Dukes over there. They must know something. Let's get in on it."
--Floor trader (Trading Places)

Although institutions are commonly viewed as people (the president of the United States), places ('institutes of higher learning'), and even dates (holidays), institutions are better seen as laws, customs, and other norms produced, practiced, or symbolized by those 'things.' A primary, but certainly not singular, purpose of institutions is to provide a stable social backdrop for human interaction.

Institutions operate by exerting 'isomorphic' pressure for sameness in behavior. Per their seminal work, DiMaggio and Powell (1983) elaborated three types of isomorphic pressure: coercive ("Do this or go to jail"), normative ("This is how we do things around here"), and mimetic ("Follow the leader"). Although these categories are often useful for analytical purposes, they are often blended in practice.

A common hypothesis in institutional theory is that, when uncertainty rises in the environment, mimetic pressure often dominates the landscape. Simply stated, when people don't know what to do, they copy the behavior of others who they think might 'know' something.

There is certainly some validity to this premise. It is hard to dismiss that much of the behavior during the CV19 pandemic seems to be driven by mimetic isomorphic pressure. For example, once an influential organization decides to mandate vaccines, other organizations quickly do the same. People see others wearing masks, so they put masks on too.

Mimetic isomorphism can lead to obvious dysfunctionalities. Imitating others is the basis for herd behavior. The 'blind may be leading the blind'...perhaps over the cliff.

It seems plausible that mimetic isomorphism can only 'work' for so long. If copying the behavior of others doesn't produce positive results within a reasonable amount of time, then people will being to discard this strategy in favor of something else. Probably not all at once, but gradually as people slowly conclude that their imitation strategies are not producing desired results. 

People more prone to think for themselves are likely to be early dissenters and strike out in search of alternatives. Those alternatives may take the form of non-isomorphic behavior entirely. Entrepreneurship, innovation, et al. This is sometimes called 'active agency'--i.e., pursuing interests that do not align with prevailing institutions (Oliver, 1991).

Perhaps much of the pushback to the new round of CV19 mandates that we're currently witnessing results from active agency driven by imitation gone awry.

Reference

DiMaggio, P.S. & Powell, W.W. (1983). The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and collective rationality in organizational fields. American Sociological Review, 48: 147-160.

Oliver, C. (1991). Strategic responses to institutional processes. Academy of Management Review, 16: 145-179.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

95 Candles

I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
But yes I'm still running

--U2

Your day, Dad! It would have been 95 candles on the cake.


1926 $20 PCGS MS66+ CAC TDO FS-101

Think we could have squeezed them all on your little sheet b-day cake up at Lake Erie that year?

Keep the white light shining in our direction. Miss you much.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Delta Force

Maj Scott McCoy: Better hurry, Nick. I think there's gonna be reinforcements on the way.
Col Nick Alexander: How do you know?
Maj Scott McCoy: I heard something on the radio.
Col Nick Alexander: I didn't know you spoke Arabic.
Maj Scott McCoy: If we don't get outta here, we're all going to be speaking it.

--The Delta Force

Good exchange w Rand Paul on the renewed hysteria driven by onset of the so-called 'delta variant' of CV19. Here's a question: how is the delta variant actually measured?

After several days of research, I've yet to come up with a conclusive answer. It appears that the variant is not easily detected by run-of-the-mill CV19 tests. My understanding is that it can be identified by running up the cycles on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing platforms, although I don't understand how this would pinpoint delta vs other strains.

Moreover, higher cycle PCR tests increase chances of false positives--as these pages have discussed.

I'm getting the sense that delta variant-related cases are not actually being counted. Instead they are being assumed.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Government Sponsored Sectors

"Ain't nobody clean. Be nice to get clean, though"
--Tripp (Glory)

Which industrial sectors do substantial trade with the federal government, both in terms of economic resources and influence (contracts, subsidies, tax breaks, monopolistic grants, favorable regulatory treatment, etc), thereby making them government sponsored sectors? It would probably be quicker to list those sectors that have not received such treatment. 

But let's list some of the largest:

military/defense

healthcare

education

We've noted those before. Perhaps think of them as the Big Three. But there are others:

finance

utilities

transports

media, particularly social media

housing/real estate

law

accounting

agriculture (e.g., corn/ethanol subsidies)

energy, greens in particular

There are others. Recently in the news: automotive working w feds on electric cars, computer chip industry getting government support for domestic factory capacity adds.

When you think about it, few sectors are truly free and clear of government influence.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Property Protection

"They are going to take you."
--Bryan Mills (Taken)

The Contracts Clause appears in Article 1, section 10 of the Constitution:

"No State shall...any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts."

This clause prohibits states from interfering with lawful contracts such as leases and employment agreements.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment states the following:

"No State shall...deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

This clause states that states cannot interfere with life, liberty, or property without a trial at which the state must prove fault.

The Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment reads as follows:

 "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

This clause states that, when the state meaningfully interferes with an owner's chosen lawful use of property, the owner must be justly compensated."

Together, these clauses reveal significant Constitutional protections for private property. Currently these protections are being abjectly perpetrated.

Shout out to Judge Nap for the lesson.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Joshua's Deke

"General, you are listening to a machine. Do the world a favor and don't act like one."
--Stephen Falken (WarGames)

In the 80s classic film WarGames, a high school student David Lightman unwittingly hacks into NORAD's supercomputer and engages it in a friendly game of Global Thermonuclear War. The computer program that Lightman interacts with, named Joshua after the programmer's deceased son, thinks the game is for real and proceeds to present faulty information to decision-makers in the NORAD bunker to fool them into launching a nuclear attack on the USSR. 

Joshua's 'deke' strategy is in the process of working because:

a) Joshua controls all information that appears on the network computer screens at NORAD.

b) All of the NORAD people are connected to the same network.

Fortunately, just before a massive nuclear strike is ordered in response to a fictitious Russian attack, Joshua's 'father' Stephen Falken shows up. He challenges the ranking head of NORAD General Beringer to think about what he's doing. "Does it make sense" Falken asks, that the Russians would launch a massive attack knowing full well that the US would do the same in response?

Beringer reasons it thru and then, in a phone consult w the president, keeps his finger off the trigger. 

But then he goes further. He gets on the horn with people at US air bases on the frontier of the attack and asks them to report what happens. At t-minus zero they unanimously reveal that they're still there. No missiles.

So, here are the questions:

1) What had to be in place for Joshua to deke people into believing the illusion?

2) What transpired that allowed people to finally free themselves from the fantasy?

3) How do these lessons apply to what's going on currently?

Monday, August 2, 2021

No Purchase Necessary

"I can break you, mate. I can buy you six times over."
--Sir Lawrence Wildman (Wall Street)

The primary responsibility of just government is not to keep its citizens safe. It is to preserve their freedom.

Security is a good that must be purchased.

Freedom is not a good. It is a God-given right. No purchase necessary.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

In-Kind Censoring

All my instincts
They return
And the grand fa├žade
So soon will burn

--Peter Gabriel

A conceptual framework that guides yesterday's post is resource dependence theory. When organizations depend on outside entities for important resources, they are prone to create 'negotiated environments' with those entities to facilitate resource acquisition. 

The more dependent an organization is on an outside entity for resources, the more beholden that organization is to the entity. In markets for economic goods, this asymmetric influence is sometimes called bargaining power. Walmart, for example, wields sizeable bargaining power in negotiations with suppliers due to the resources that can be obtained via the Walmart channel.

In markets for political favor, the resources that organizations desire rest in control of government. Government contracts, tax breaks, monopolistic grants, favorable regulatory treatment, etc. In negotiations to obtain those resources, organizations might offer several politically valuable items in trade, including campaign contributions, out-of-office 'grants' (e.g, cushy jobs for the relatives of politicians or even for the politicians themselves once they leave office), and access to large voter blocs.

Organizations might also offer 'in-kind' political resources in trade. In-kind resources include housing, transportation, labor, and equipment that politicians can use to their advantage. An attractive feature of in-kind contributions is that they are difficult to account for and often fly under the radar of political contribution limit watchdogs.

Media companies offer particularly attractive in-kind resources for politicians. They can publish political endorsements, provide editorial space for politicians and their cronies, and slant content in favor of candidates/parties that offer prospects of resource gains. They can also slant content away from political opponents.

This is where Trump's lawsuit of social media companies comes in. Social media companies have been pushing content that favors leftist agendas, while censoring content that opposes those agendas. In fact, the federal government recently signaled that it wants to work closer with social media outlets to advance its 'messaging' further.

Must the Trump side prove that Twitter et al and the government have explicitly negotiated a trade that involves in-kind media gifts for political favor? 

In a just legal system, no.

What Trump should need to show is that these media companies are, or have been, subject to favorable government treatment. If they can do so, then these companies should be deemed extensions of government and thus subject to the same rules that limit the power of any government agency--including limitations on restricting speech.

Whether our legal system is in fact just is, of course, questionable.