Humble Ourselves: Scrutinize Policy Decisions

Flawed models in economics and epidemiology are ruining lives and livelihoods.

Hello Friends!

Thank you for reading my Let People Prosper newsletter! Please keep sharing it with others who may be interested in our productive discussions. We’ve got a lot to accomplish together, so I need your help in growing my subscribers. Many thanks in advance!

Humble Yourself: This is an important reminder given the rise again in many politicians’ desire to do something like lockdowns to deal with rising COVID-19 cases but nothing or something much more targeted is best. We can learn a lot from economists Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes, but more importantly from the Bible.

Find Out More: I would like to point you to my personal website where I have my academic and public policy work. Also, please sign-up for TPPF’s The Cannon daily newsletter that has this type of information and much more from our scholars. It’s an honor to work with my colleagues and I think that you’ll find their work of interest. If you don’t know much about the largest state-based think tank in the nation, then read more here about TPPF.

TPPF Legislative Action Agenda: I’d like to share with you TPPF’s Legislative Action Agenda for Texas’ upcoming 2021 legislative session. You can find more information in my recent tweet. Please let me know if you have thoughts on these or other topics, especially on the fiscal front, to help keep Texas the beacon of liberty and prosperity.

Keynote Speech: I’m looking forward to giving the keynote speech at the Free Market Institute at Angelo State University online on Tuesday, November 17 at 5:30 pm. The Zoom video feed will stream live on the FMI YouTube ChannelFMI ASU Facebook Live, and will be crossposted on FMI TTU Facebook Live. Please watch as I will provide insights on the importance of institutions and liberty for people to prosper along with how the demise of many of these has put us in a worse situation to deal with COVID-19 and with improving our economic well-being. As a graduate (undergrad and graduate school) from Texas Tech University where the Free Market Institute was started several years ago, it is an honor to be invited to present on this pivotal topic.

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:

  • As noted below from the Texas Department of State Health Services, COVID-19 hospitalizations (7,151) reach the highest level since Aug. 11 but total staffed inpatient beds (61,479) and total hospital capacity (69,821) are near the highest levels since the pandemic started. Several TSAs are starting to see higher shares of COVID-19 hospitalizations to total hospital capacity but they continue to have relatively high rates of available beds-to-total capacity, but there continues to be a high level of capacity utilization at hospitals.

  • As also noted below from the Texas Department of State Health Services, the rising level of COVID-19 cases has not translated to more recorded deaths yet, which could be revised later, but this seems to indicate that we’re learning to live with the novel coronavirus as there are better therapeutics and less time in the hospital, which could contribute to faster population immunity.

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), and I (El Paso) are reported on the list of further restrictions, so 94% of Texans are at 75% capacity + other restrictions.

  • TSA A (Amarillo), TSA B (Lubbock), and TSA I (El Paso) > 15% for at least 27 straight days but look to have peaked

  • TSA T (Laredo) is next highest at 15.0%, first day at or above 15% since 11/1

  • TSA O (Austin) has the lowest rate in the state at 3.9% with TSA Q (Houston) not far behind at 4.3%

  • Statewide is evaluating some to 10.2% but remains well below the 13.9% Average for July-August

Alternative Metric Overview: Per the alternative metric of the 14-day moving average of CV19 hospitalizations/total hospital capacity determined each Friday, 10 TSAs are above 10% (updated to reflect hospital flexibility) so they could be at 75% capacity, while the other 12 TSAs with 57% of Texans would be 100% free (100% capacity, no mask mandate, bars open).

  • TSA A, TSA B, & TSA I have been above 10% for most of the last month

  • TSA E (Dallas/Fort Worth) with the largest population has been above 10% for 11 straight days

  • TSA O (Austin) has the lowest rate in the state at 3.4% with TSA Q (Houston) not far behind at 5.4%

  • Statewide continues to trend up to 9.7% but looks to be plateauing soon, remains below the 14.7% average for July-August

Hospital Overview Statewide:

  • Available beds as a share of staffed inpatient beds (18.1%) has been below 20% for the last four days and 14-day average of 20.6%, below 21.9% average for July-Aug

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations up 17.8% (to 7,151—highest since 8/11) over last 7 days and up 25.5% over last 14 days, below 8,026 average for July-Aug

  • Available beds down 8.0% (to 11,112—lowest since 7/19) over last 7 days and down 12.2% over last 14 days, below 10,950 average for July-Aug

  • Occupied beds up 2.6% (to 48,044) over last 7 days and up 3.5% over last 14 days, above 43,197 average for July-Aug

  • Staffed inpatient beds up down 2.1% (to 61,479) and down 1.8% over last 14 days, above 55,147 average for July-Aug

Commentary: Ending Prohibition in Texas

  • Americans want to return to work after months of joblessness due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related business closures. But too many Texans can’t—because of the industry they work in.

  • There was some hope that this might change after Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that took effect on Oct. 14 expanded the state’s reopening plan by adding bars to the list of certain businesses allowed to partially open. But one of the stipulations in the order to open bars to 50% capacity is already proving hardest to overcome: gaining the approval from the county judge.

  • Despite low COVID-19 hospitalization rates in most of the 22 trauma service areas across the state, many bars do not have the judge’s approval they need to open.

My thread on why we should not lock things down again (click on the tweet below to see the full thread):

Fiscal and Monetary policies are killing potential recovery:

Don’t miss this commentary by my friend and Free Market Institute Director Ben Powell:

TEXAS ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION

Overview of the Texas Economy:

  • The Texas economy has continued to recover since the steep downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns by state and local governments earlier this year.

  • The partial reopening of most non-essential businesses has been a key part of that recovery, but the uncertainty about the next steps of the reopening and direction of the novel coronavirus have weighed on that growth recently.

  • More on the latest Texas jobs report and how Texans can get back to work as quickly and safely as possible

Commentary: Now’s the Time to Plan for a Conservative Texas Budget

  • Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar recently reported that state sales taxes were down a whopping 6.1% in September over the prior year. This has contributed to a projected $4.6 billion deficit by the end of fiscal year 2021. Any attempt to raise appropriations above population growth plus inflation or raise taxes fails to take into consideration this deficit because it will detrimental to the recovery. The responsible action now is to cut spending as much as possible to make up the shortfall.

  • And to help put Texans on the best path to a full recovery from this unprecedented situation is to consider cutting wasteful and unnecessary appropriations at the very least not appropriate more than the Conservative Texas Budget in the upcoming session. Doing so will improve the proven successful Texas Model so more people have the chance to fully recover much faster than anticipated.

  • After the year we’ve had, we need a clear conservative fiscal approach in the upcoming session.

Check out my latest radio interview:

Need to reform government pensions in Texas:

U.S. ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION

No need for state and local bailouts:

Twitter avatar for @VanceGinnVance Ginn @VanceGinn
.@senatemajldr: keep pushing for a timely, targeted, & temporary approach that doesn’t bail out state & local govts or profitable businesses. The bipartisan #RESTART Act funded with unspent CARES funds is a good idea:
texaspolicy.com/overview-of-th… #Congress @chiproytx @JohnCornyn

Real Time Economics @WSJecon

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to take a prominent role in coronavirus aid talks, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sees no reason to abandon many demands made in previous talks. https://t.co/4X2ifH1xBe

More here by Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute:

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Have a blessed rest of your weekend. And remember to humble yourself this week.

Vance Ginn, Ph.D. | www.vanceginn.com | #LetPeopleProsper