Thriving While Waiting
In this newsletter, I discuss the unreported improving COVID situation, latest state-level jobs report, Conservative Texas Budget, latest U.S. GDP report, minimum wage, Biden's poor policies, & more.
Another week of 2021 down. I hope it was a fantastic one for you.
My family had a great time recently visiting the Texas Capitol, visiting my office at TPPF which’s two blocks south of the Capitol, playing sports, and relaxing when possible—tough to do with two boys under 7 years old but not impossible. Ha!
This brings me to the theme of this post: Thriving While Waiting.
We all have something that we’re waiting to accomplish. We’re trying to wait on God’s timing and maybe that seems too long. I hear you. I fall into this trap often. However, God is good all of the time. He’s already won and is winning for us now even when we don’t see it. My pastors at The Exchange Church in Round Rock have been preaching an excellent series on being okay with the waiting or feeling stuck. We often want things to hurry at our own pace but we won’t know what we miss along the way. I think of it as another example of an opportunity cost.
Too often we fall for this rushed thinking in the policy world. We want the results now that we’re hoping to achieve for people. Frankly, most worldviews across the political spectrum have the same outcomes for people, but some are willing to set up the institutional framework to achieve it over time while others want to force it now. Don’t get me wrong, I want prosperous outcomes in my life, my family’s life, and the life of my friends, but the waiting is essential as there are successes and possibly more importantly failures along the way that teach us how to flourish.
Instead of forcing things to the outcomes we want, let’s ask God what’s the best path more often and be willing to wait. Will you do this with me?
In other news, join me in the fight to let people prosper! TPPF is hiring a free-market economist to be officed in Austin. See our careers section for openings. Contact me if you’re interested and submit your application material noted at the link below today.
Are you ready? Let’s get to it!
OPEN TEXAS (AND AMERICA)
Summary of COVID-19 Situation in Texas: TX DSHS Data Here
As of Jan. 31, 17 of 22 Trauma Service Areas (TSA) are on the Governor’s list for elevated restrictions as business operating capacity is cut from 75% to 50%, which 87% of Texans live in these TSAs so the economy is at 1/2 speed. TSA O (Austin) fell off the list, TSAs with Amarillo, Lubbock, and Amarillo may soon.
As of Jan. 30, 7-day mvg average of new COVID-19 cases is down substantially but remains about 37% above July highs
As of Jan. 22, latest data for 7-day mvg avg of reported fatalities show it’s near the July highs while new cases were 75% above its highs, meaning a much lower CFR
26.3% of hospital beds are available statewide, which is up recently and is at the 26% average since May and well above the low of 19% in July
Based on these data and others below, there are valid concerns about the Governor’s metric of COVID-19 patients/total hospital beds to shut down businesses instead of available beds/total hospital beds as beds have increased over time by targeting resources where needed most, and about the continued mistake of blanket restrictions across Texas, which hurt lives & livelihoods.
Overview of COVID-19 in Texas
7-day avg of new confirmed cases in Texas is substantially down recently to 13.7K on Jan. 30, with the recent highs of 26,990 on Dec. 29 and of 26,543 on Jan. 5
7-day avg of new reported fatalities in Texas on Jan. 22 (latest data available) was about 220—more recorded death certificates to come which have increased the 7-day avg to around 275 in Jan.
7-day avgs of cases remain well above the highs in July (13.7K v 10K) while reported fatalities are just recently near their highs then (275 vs. 250), meaning the case-fatality rate has so far been substantially lower now than the July highs
There remains a relatively high rate of hospital beds available across most of Texas—26.3% available statewide—with every TSA having at least 18.3% available
7-day avg of testing is up to 110K per day and the positivity rate remains elevated at 14% but down after recently peaking at 21% on 1/3 which was near July high
While debatable, improvements in the case-fatality rate could be from better therapeutics, younger and healthier population infected, better utilization of hospital resources, and Governor Abbott’s more targeted policy approach
Texas Governor Abbott’s Metric Overview
Per Gov Abbott’s metric of COVID-19 hospitalizations as a share of total hospital capacity for seven consecutive days, TSAs below 15% can have most business restrictions lifted to 75% operating capacity (up from 50%), keep state mask mandate (been in effect since July 2), and bars (and others) open to 50% capacity with county judge’s approval
17 of 22 TSAs are reported on the list of further restrictions: A (Amarillo), B (Lubbock), D (Abilene), E (Dallas/Ft. Worth), F (Paris), G (Longview/Tyler), H (Lufkin), I (El Paso), L (Belton/Killeen), M (Waco), N (Bryan/College Station), P (San Antonio), Q (Houston), R (Galveston), S (Victoria), T (Laredo), and V (Rio Grande Valley)
87% of Texans are at 50% capacity + other restrictions while 13% of Texans are at 75% capacity + other restrictions, so Texas economy is essentially at 50% capacity
This CV19-to-capacity metric statewide has been declining statewide to 16.6%, which is below July’s 17.0% average
Hospital Overview Statewide
COVID-19 hospitalizations down 13% (to 11,220 hospitalizations—lowest since 12/26) from 7 days ago & down 18.3% from 14 days ago, level’s > July’s 9,700 avg
Hospital beds available statewide is up to 26.3%, above the avg of 23.7% in July and just above the avg of 26% since May
Hospital capacity up 0.4% (to 67,534 beds) from 7 days ago and up 0.5% from 14 days ago, level is well above July’s 57,000 avg
Here’s info on how the Austin area recently was removed from the 50% list.
Austin Statesman @statesmanAustin-area businesses can return to 75% occupancy after a dip in COVID-19 hospitalizations. https://t.co/BTugGFBtmI
TEXAS ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
The Texas economy continued to add jobs in December as the rest of the states had a cumulative loss of about 200K. Blue states are also suffering the most. Here’s more:
The Texas economy is set to recover nicely as soon as the Governor’s shutdown of business capacity ends.
Greg Abbott @GregAbbott_TXTexas’ most reliable economist expects ‘very strong’ recovery for state in second half of 2021. Count on it. The Texas economy is about to skyrocket. https://t.co/HHuXl7leXt
Don’t miss your chance to testify before the Texas Senate Finance Committee regarding different articles of the budget, as each of these influence our lives and livelihoods:
Senator Jane Nelson @SenJaneNelsonThe Senate Finance Committee has posted its schedule for hearings on SB 1, the appropriations bill. https://t.co/te8dtBqL0i
More groups support the need for the Texas Legislature to pass TPPF’s Conservative Texas Budget.
Young Conservatives of Texas @yctYCT's legislative agenda may be found here https://t.co/JHKiJOjJvj
The Conservative Texas Budget goes on the road.
I’m thankful for the work Kendall Cotton at the Frontier Institute in Montana is doing regarding their Conservative Montana Budget. My hope is the Conservative Budget approach will be in every state and at the federal level to help protect taxpayers and let people prosper.
Kendall Cotton @Cotton_MT“Texas has used a similar model of conservative budget limits since 2015, with spending growth mostly following population plus inflation. This fiscal responsibility has allowed Texas to implement billions of dollars in property tax cuts. Montana could do the same.” Cc @VanceGinn
U.S. ECONOMIC AND FISCAL SITUATION
U.S. GDP for Q4:2020 was released last week.
CNBC @CNBCFourth quarter GDP increased 4.0% vs 4.3% estimate https://t.co/8wSla5kn1h
The Biden administration and Congress keep pushing for poor policies:
President Biden @POTUS$600 is simply not enough when you have to choose between paying your rent and putting food on the table. That’s why my American Rescue Plan finishes the job of getting $2,000 to folks who need it most.
James Broughel @JamesBroughelNEW: "Biden opens the floodgates for more regulations." That's the topic of my latest column for @WashTimesOpEd. In the piece I explain how @joebiden has lifted all regulatory cost caps on executive agencies in Washington. https://t.co/rEbVASGtI7
Janet Yellen @JanetYellenEconomics isn’t just something you find in a textbook. It can be a potent tool to right past wrongs and improve people’s lives. That’s why so many of Treasury’s 84,000 public servants joined the Department. Today, I am proud to be one of them. https://t.co/B4Y5Mpzt9s
Don’t miss this thread on issues dealing with energy regulation and climate change:
Mark J. Perry @Mark_J_PerryDoes the US really need to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement? 🤔👇 https://t.co/NpRhmBEWZD
I’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately on the minimum wage. In short, the real minimum wage is always $0 when you don’t have a job. Let’s stop forcing people to earn $0 through a flawed, arbitrary, government-mandated minimum wage. It’s a give people a higher wage quick scheme, but we need to do more to wait.
Chuck DeVore @ChuckDeVore#Biden's nationwide $15 minimum wage would devastate jobs in red states with a low cost of living. A dollar buys about 63% more in Mississippi than in California. $15 in MS will buy $17.69 in goods & services, in CA, only $10.83. https://t.co/kaMTGvL5M6 @TPPF https://t.co/WScxh1NA3o
FEE @feeonlineA new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds a “clear preponderance” of evidence that minimum wage laws reduce employment. Via: @brad_polumbo https://t.co/ozmvbBofDz
Regarding Big Tech, don’t miss this:
Government action should be a last resort.
Kevin Sorbo @ksorbsSo a hedge fund is messed with and the government leaps to action immediately, but Americans are starving and jobless for 10 months and the government hardly moves. Makes sense
More here with a good thread on the U.S. GDP report for Q4:2020.
Greg Ip @greg_ipFour observations from GDP report, in our @WSJecon newsletter: #1: the q4/q4 2.5% drop in GDP was smaller than in 2008, but the 6% drop in payrolls was 3X larger, reflecting disproportionate impact of pandemic on low-pay, low-productivity sectors... https://t.co/Jl9itbTKMO
Let me leave you with quotes from two of my favorite economists:
Thanks again for reading! If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter yet, please subscribe here at no charge and share with others. Many blessings to you and yours. Have a wonderful week and try to wait a little bit more this week.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D. | www.vanceginn.com | #LetPeopleProsper