7. Educated Risk: Taming Excess Fear
COVID-19 has led to excessive fear among many people.
Thank you for reading my Let People Prosper newsletter! Please keep sharing it with others who may be interested in our productive discussions. Many thanks in advance! I hope you have a fantastic week of finding things to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving. May you be blessed with good health, prosperity, and wisdom every day.
Keynote Speech: I enjoyed the opportunity to give the keynote speech at the Free Market Institute at Angelo State University on Tuesday, November 17. This presentation was part of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University's Public Speaker Series, where I explain the economics of how institutions, tradeoffs, and policy matters when dealing with this situation. You can watch and view my slides at the link in my tweet below. I included a number of slides in my presentation that walked through where we were before COVID-19 hit, where we have been since it hit, where we are now, and where we should head.
There’s a lot to catch-up on so let’s jump right into it.
OPEN TEXAS AND AMERICA
Latest on Texas Opening: For a more thorough overview of the COVID-19 situation and opening efforts in Texas, see my previous post: History Helps Humanity.
Overview of COVID-19 in Texas:
Even with the rise in COVID-19 cases, there is plenty of available hospital capacity and staffed beds for more people, as needed, with available beds to staffed beds being 19.6% across the state.
The rise in cases hasn’t yet translated to a rise in deaths like over the summer (see figure below) from possibly better therapeutics, younger and healthier people being infected, and possibly a more targeted policy approach.
With elevated cases and some hospitals being strained, there will be continued calls for Texas to rollback reopening and possibly even lockdown again or impose other restrictions like some other states. Recall that Texas has had a statewide mask mandate since July 2.
Fortunately, Gov. Abbott has said this:“We're not going to have any more lockdowns in #Texas,” @GregAbbott_TX told @MarkDavis on Thurs. “Our focal point is gonna be working to heal those who have #COVID, get them out of hospitals quickly, make sure they get back to their normal lives.” texastribune.org/2020/11/18/tex… #txlegetexastribune.orgCoronavirus cases in Texas are soaring again. But this time Gov. Greg Abbott says no lockdown is coming.The last time case numbers were this high, Abbott closed bars and urged Texans to avoid summer holiday gatherings. This time, he’s staying the course, relying on a 2-month-old blueprint to claw back reopenings regionally based on hospitalizations.
Hopefully, there will be more calm regarding the health and livelihood of Texans soon as these trends stabilize and improve and Gov. Abbott’s statement of not locking down Texas again.
Texas Governor Abbott Metric Overview:
Per GA’s metric of CV19 hospitalizations/total hospital capacity for seven consecutive days, TSAs below 15% can have most businesses expand to 75% capacity, keep state mask mandate, and bars (and others) open to 50% capacity with the approval of the county’s judge.
TSA A (Amarillo), TSA B (Lubbock), I (El Paso), and TSA T (Laredo—new) are reported on the list of further restrictions, so 93% of Texans are at 75% capacity + other restrictions.
Statewide is elevating some to 12.1% but remains well below the 13.9% average for July-August
Hospital Overview Statewide:
COVID-19 hospitalizations up 12.4% (to 8,174—highest since 8/6) from 7 days ago and up 34.4% from 14 days ago, the level is above 8,026 average for July-Aug
Available beds as a share of staffed inpatient beds (19.6%), slightly below 21.9% average for July-Aug
Available beds up 2.8% (to 12,147) from 7 days ago and down 0.9% from 14 days ago, the level is above 10,950 average for July-Aug
Occupied beds down 2.2% (to 49,906) from 7 days ago and up 4.7% from 14 days ago, the level is above 43,197 average for July-Aug
Staffed inpatient beds down 1.2% (to 62,053) from 7 days ago and up 3.6% from 14 days ago, the level is above 55,147 average for July-Aug
Commentary: I argue in this commentary that it is important to sustain the successful Texas Model to help deal with COVID-19 and to rebound faster from it.
Stop Canceling Science: We need to keep searching for answers with the COVID-19 situation using the scientific method so that we can find best practices and not repeat the same mistakes again. Unfortunately, that will be tough given the media’s bias and the cancel culture currently plaguing the nation.
TEXAS ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
State-level jobs report: Here’s an overview of the state-level jobs report with a focus on Texas. Things are continuing to improve but there remains a long way to go to get to the robust situation in Feb. More here.
Texas spending limit announcement coming soon: Check out my overview here on the upcoming Legislative Budget Board meeting on Nov. 30 in Texas where state elected leaders will determine the state’s spending limit growth rate. By statute, the growth rate is determined by personal income but the LBB has chosen the rate of population growth plus inflation (my preferred metric) the last two sessions.
Texas ranks 4th most economically free, so there’s work to do!
U.S. ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
COVID relief package: This is good news! There should be a move by Congress
Student loan forgiveness is a bad idea: This is a massive redistribution of resources (nothing is free) for a break to mostly upper-income earners who can repay chosen student debt, will raise tuition as it makes a government failure problem worse in higher ed, & will raise moral hazard.
In Closing: My dad, Harold Ginn, passed away on April 13, 2011 from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) after battling it for roughly 30 years. He would have been 66 years old on Nov. 17, 2020. I miss him greatly but am thankful for his lessons and memories. Hold your loved ones close. (Pic is of my dad, sister, and me.)
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite economists that nicely sums up the challenges we’re facing today with so many turning quickly to the government for solutions.
And here is a good Bible verse to help us through what can seem like difficult times:
If you have any information to share along these lines, please send my way. Also, please unsubscribe at any time. I hope this newsletter is marginally beneficial to you and will hopefully help us to find opportunities to let people prosper.
Have a blessed week of thanksgiving. And try to educate yourself on things to tame your fear, and focus instead on your spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D. | www.vanceginn.com | #LetPeopleProsper