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Old 21st March 2020, 08:50 AM   #1
Meadmaker
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A Better Way to Spend 1 Trillion Dollars in Response to Covid-19

So as the government prepares to throw large quantities of money in random directions in the hope that something good would come out of it, I was thinking of just how stupid that is, and what could we do instead. Here is my "If I were President, here's how I would spend a trillion dollars" thread.

It starts with unemployed people registering as general purpose labor to do whatever is needed.

Then, do the following.

(TL,DR version: Use government money to pay grocery delivery drivers and people to assist cleaning and anti-contagion issues at essential industries.)

1. Do whatever is possible to increase production of medical equipment and personal protective gear like those N95 respirator mask thingies that I had never heard of but seem important. Likewise for test kits.

Unfortunately, you can't just make those things appear, but is there any way that a bunch of people could help? I don't know. Whatever it takes, give the people making them whatever they need, for free (i.e. with tax funds) employ as many general purpose laborers as they can use to make that happens. I will call the general purpose laborers GPLs from now on.

2. Make it so people don't have to leave their house.

Where do people have to go? The grocery store. So how do you stop that? You hire GPLs as delivery drivers. Free delivery. At government expense.
That's pretty darned expensive, but let's think about this. The government is willing to hand me 1,000 dollars for nothing. How much would it cost to pick out and send some groceries to me? Fifty bucks? I would rather, instead of giving me 1000 dollars, make 20 grocery deliveries. Now I don't have to leave my house. I can't catch the virus. I can't spread the virus.
And it shouldn't cost fifty bucks anyway.

3. To facilitate that, a modern grocery store doesn't quite work. I don't want the GPLs to be searching for the 8 ounce can of Hunt's Tomato Paste instead of the 7.5 ounce store brand tomato paste.

Instead, you set up distribution centers in unused high school gymnasiums and kitchens, and they have rolling stock. You order online based on what's available. Today you have Doritios? Great. But the staples, milk, eggs, bread, are there as consistently as possible. Yes, I know you want to pick out that really good package of pork chops, but if it means not catching a disease, would you just trust the GPL? Yeah, go for it. I've worked food banks. You package what you have.

And do you know how easy it is to set up a simple web site, the kind without fancy graphics and that doesn't track user preferences, to place orders? It could literally be done by tomorrow morning.

You will also need GPLs to man phone banks to answer questions, especially from people who aren't so internet savvy, and of course people who just think they're special so they have to talk to a person instead of reading the directions.

And you work with existing, conventional, stores to provide more custom deliveries. I tried to order groceries online yesterday, but the delivery option took two days because of the crush of demand. Make GPLs available, at no cost to the stores, to perform deliveries.

4. Some industries are essential. Medical supplies. Food processors. Toilet paper factories.

Essential industries get GPLs to ensure sanitation and whatever else non-trained labor can do. Somebody's job will be to wipe down door handles every few minutes at the chicken nuggets factory. That ensures these key industries keep running.

5. In order to make this all work, you need people on the ground, lots of them, to coordinate things. Since there is no way that there can be uniform procedures set up, the local coordinators have to have a lot of power to make decisions. The guys running these ad hoc distribution centers have to have power to make decisions on how goods get there. Some will do it very badly. Regional coordinators will have to have the power to fire and replace underperforming locals.

I think this is a job for the military. I can't see anyone else being able to create a chain of command that quickly. A huge job of an army is logistics. Put that to use. There aren't enough of them to do all the work, but they can hire the GPLs.

6, There aren't enough vans available. Authorize the local administrator to rent private vehicles. In other words, you can have my minivan if you give me fifty bucks a day.

7. Now, you have people locked (metaphorically) in their homes, the virus spread drops drastically. There will still be spread amongst the GPLs and at the essential industries you kept open, but as soon as the PPE goes to the health care workers that need it, you start sending them to essential industry workers, and the GPLs who serve them. That reduces contagion at distribution centers. At some point, it gets to the point that as soon as one person gets sick, you can track all the people he's in contact with, and test them before they show symptoms.

8. Did I mention this is incredibly expensive? Fortunately, you have a trillion dollars to work with, and instead of throwing money around in random directions, you are throwing money specifically at stopping the virus spread. You are employing the unemployed. You are keeping people in their homes where they can't catch or spread the virus. The GPLs and the industries they are assisting are, of course out in the world, but they have PPE as soon as it is available, and they can adopt lower risk practices more easily than random shoppers can.

It also isn't very efficient. Lots of these GPLs are going to be people who would rather sit around watching cartoons and they will be severe slackers. Oh well. That's a challenge for the administrators.

9. Congress passes laws to limit liability so that a company working with GPLs doesn't end up getting sued when it turns out one of the drivers was drunk, or whatever else might happen.

Sounds crazy? Is it crazier than having millions of people with no jobs heading to the grocery store to stand near hundreds of others during an epidemic?

Honestly, the only challenge I see that might be insurmountable would be the payroll handling.


Or.....how would you spend 1 trillion dollars?
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Old 21st March 2020, 08:54 AM   #2
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And, when it comes down to it, I'm just a guy on the internet. It's not like any of this would really happen, but paying for grocery delievery really would be a good idea, however you could make it happen.
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Old 21st March 2020, 10:52 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
And, when it comes down to it, I'm just a guy on the internet. It's not like any of this would really happen, but paying for grocery delievery really would be a good idea, however you could make it happen.
One way to pay for grocery delivery is to give people money to spend as they need to. One of the ways that they need to right now is to pay for grocery deliveries.

They are probably better situated than a central planner at figuring out their current needs.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 12:03 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
One way to pay for grocery delivery is to give people money to spend as they need to. One of the ways that they need to right now is to pay for grocery deliveries.

They are probably better situated than a central planner at figuring out their current needs.
Just make a deal with the grocers so delivery is free - gov't will cover cost. Have grocers enlist all the out-of-job uber and lyft drivers to handle the surplus. Figure out a pay before or charge back scheme to the stores...whatever works better.

Let the stores figure out how to handle the warehouse and 'picking' logistics. They know better how to do it.

eta: this assumes people order with current delivery systems in place. All the major grocery stores here already have it in populated areas. If it isn't such a populated area, then not much concern, right?

Last edited by Sherkeu; 22nd March 2020 at 12:07 AM.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 09:51 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
One way to pay for grocery delivery is to give people money to spend as they need to. One of the ways that they need to right now is to pay for grocery deliveries.

They are probably better situated than a central planner at figuring out their current needs.
Interesting.

Someone is delivering groceries to you every day right now. Correct?

Are you paying for that?


ETA: And more to the point, if you gave people money to spend as they wish, would they spend it on grocery delivery? Obviously not, because they could right now, but they aren't.

Last edited by Meadmaker; 22nd March 2020 at 09:53 AM.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 09:55 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Sherkeu View Post
Just make a deal with the grocers so delivery is free - gov't will cover cost. Have grocers enlist all the out-of-job uber and lyft drivers to handle the surplus. Figure out a pay before or charge back scheme to the stores...whatever works better.

Let the stores figure out how to handle the warehouse and 'picking' logistics. They know better how to do it.

eta: this assumes people order with current delivery systems in place. All the major grocery stores here already have it in populated areas. If it isn't such a populated area, then not much concern, right?
Yep.

All of my other stuff about "supply centers" and whatever, is just another way that local authorities could respond if that's what they needed to do.

Announce a grant to every mayor to do what they need to to prevent huge numbers of people from sharing the same space in a supermarket. Get rid of random stimulus checks, and hire the newly unemployed for your labor Instead of throwing random money around, throw money directly at the problem.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 11:20 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sherkeu View Post
Just make a deal with the grocers so delivery is free - gov't will cover cost. Have grocers enlist all the out-of-job uber and lyft drivers to handle the surplus. Figure out a pay before or charge back scheme to the stores...whatever works better.

Let the stores figure out how to handle the warehouse and 'picking' logistics. They know better how to do it.

eta: this assumes people order with current delivery systems in place. All the major grocery stores here already have it in populated areas. If it isn't such a populated area, then not much concern, right?
Issue is that you may need suitable vehicles able to keep refrigerated and frozen goods in tip top shape.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 11:27 AM   #8
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Give it to billionaires and it will trickle down.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 11:28 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Issue is that you may need suitable vehicles able to keep refrigerated and frozen goods in tip top shape.
No you don't. You need a vehicle and maybe coolers to keep them in good enough shape, and you need a liability waiver through congress in case it wasn't good enough.

Your car doesn't keep things in tip top shape, and yet you go to the store and put them in your car and take them to your house, and maybe go through the Taco Bell drive through on your way home.

But the people who do this sort of thing for a living, i.e. who are already delivering groceries, can figure out some ad hoc procedures to make it even safer than if I, some dude on the internet, was making it happen.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 11:43 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
Issue is that you may need suitable vehicles able to keep refrigerated and frozen goods in tip top shape.
Delivery is similar to local pizza or restaurant delivery. A few orders in short time windows. They do this now and have for years.

Maybe a heat wave might get you some misshapen popsicles if people don't bring them inside right away but it should work fine for most things.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 11:45 AM   #11
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One idea: finally do INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK!

Let anyone who was laid off because of Covid sign up to assist in a vast infrastructure project once the lockdown is over. Start organizing them by skill, see what kind of online job training is possible.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 11:55 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
One idea: finally do INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK!

Let anyone who was laid off because of Covid sign up to assist in a vast infrastructure project once the lockdown is over. Start organizing them by skill, see what kind of online job training is possible.
Every time they close a freeway here for road work it is a major fiasco. Seems California is taking advantage of the lighter loads over the next few weeks to get that work done earlier.

I don't know that they are hiring more people but spending in this area now makes sense! Major closures done during the lockdown, other stuff afterwards.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 01:11 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
One idea: finally do INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK!

Let anyone who was laid off because of Covid sign up to assist in a vast infrastructure project once the lockdown is over. Start organizing them by skill, see what kind of online job training is possible.
Hadn't thought of that, but it's certainly possible.

Road construction ought to be low risk work. They spread out a lot and don't deal with people. I don't know if you can mobilize untrained people to contribute, but it makes sense.

Beats throwing money into the air and hoping the stock market goes up.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 01:44 PM   #14
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Forcing other people (not “us” of course) to do menial jobs they don’t want to do supervised by the army? Can’t possibly what can go wrong.....

Governments are doing what’s required. The economy needs large cash injections aimed at keeping people in proper jobs and supporting those who are disadvantaged. There is not enough time to target it more finely than that.

This has worked before. Press ganging people into work was attempted during the Great Depression and didn’t work.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 01:52 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Forcing other people (not ďusĒ of course) to do menial jobs they donít want to do supervised by the army? Canít possibly what can go wrong.....

Governments are doing whatís required. The economy needs large cash injections aimed at keeping people in proper jobs and supporting those who are disadvantaged. There is not enough time to target it more finely than that.

This has worked before. Press ganging people into work was attempted during the Great Depression and didnít work.
Menial schmenial, and no one is forced.

The difference between the great depression and what I'm saying is that those were make-work jobs with some possible general societal benefit.

The problem with this economy is not cash flow, which is what Keynesian economics tries to deal with. This economy, i.e. the one that is about two weeks old right now, involves a very specific problem that is not money related, but is preventing people from working.

I'm saying actually use the money to attack the problem. The problem is the spread of the virus. It's not lack of funds. The virus is spread by people hanging out together. Make it possible for people to stay in their homes where they cannot contract and cannot spread the virus.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 02:09 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Menial schmenial, and no one is forced.

The difference between the great depression and what I'm saying is that those were make-work jobs with some possible general societal benefit.

The problem with this economy is not cash flow, which is what Keynesian economics tries to deal with. This economy, i.e. the one that is about two weeks old right now, involves a very specific problem that is not money related, but is preventing people from working.

I'm saying actually use the money to attack the problem. The problem is the spread of the virus. It's not lack of funds. The virus is spread by people hanging out together. Make it possible for people to stay in their homes where they cannot contract and cannot spread the virus.
Nonsense. Try explaining that to all the people losing their jobs without any savings or businesses forced to close their doors.

Your poorly thought through plan will not work. Cash has in the past and will help keep the economy alive.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 02:35 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Nonsense. Try explaining that to all the people losing their jobs without any savings or businesses forced to close their doors.

Your poorly thought through plan will not work. Cash has in the past and will help keep the economy alive.
My brother makes garage doors. They have lots of orders for garage doors. However, they are not making any garage doors. Why not? Because in order to make garage doors, the employees have to breathe on each other.

Give people a million dollars, and they still aren't going to be able to buy a garage door right now, and the garage door assemblers still won't have jobs.

And while the garage door market is no big deal, the same is true for cars. No one is making cars right now in the US, and cash is not the problem. Worker safety is the problem, but closing all those plants, and all their suppliers, is a huge deal, but no one can buy a new car with their stimulus check if no one is willing to go to work and make a new car.

Last edited by Meadmaker; 22nd March 2020 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 02:43 PM   #18
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Any company that has moved their headquarters, banking, or a majority of their wealth outside the US or have outsourced more then... some reasonable percentage (I won't fault companies for just having some overseas employees, especially if they are a multinational corporation. I'll leave it to smarter people to figure out the exact numbers.)

Sign a contract, in public, with the details available in public record that you will bring that money and those jobs back to the US and pay reasonable, even "Good deal" just reasonable (which hell in most of your cases is going to be "Literally any" at this point) taxes for at least the next... *pulls number out of thin air* 15 years.

Do that, no clauses, no outs, and we will consider, CONSIDER, a bailout. No promises but we will put up for at least fair and reasonable consideration. We will need economic recovery on a lot of levels after this.

You refuse to do that? I repeat my "Go beg to the countries you hide in for bailouts and don't let the door hit you on the way out" response I gave to the cruise ship companies.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 02:59 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Any company that has moved their headquarters, banking, or a majority of their wealth outside the US or have outsourced more then... some reasonable percentage (I won't fault companies for just having some overseas employees, especially if they are a multinational corporation. I'll leave it to smarter people to figure out the exact numbers.)

Sign a contract, in public, with the details available in public record that you will bring that money and those jobs back to the US and pay reasonable, even "Good deal" just reasonable (which hell in most of your cases is going to be "Literally any" at this point) taxes for at least the next... *pulls number out of thin air* 15 years.

Do that, no clauses, no outs, and we will consider, CONSIDER, a bailout. No promises but we will put up for at least fair and reasonable consideration. We will need economic recovery on a lot of levels after this.

You refuse to do that? I repeat my "Go beg to the countries you hide in for bailouts and don't let the door hit you on the way out" response I gave to the cruise ship companies.
This sentiment doesn’t surprise me. Thank goodness it didn’t prevail at the end of WWII where the Marshall Plan helped rebuild the world and usher in decades of almost unbroken prosperity.

Just when we need international cooperation and a global plan, all we seem to get From some is “let’s look after ourselves and the rest of the world can get .......”.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 03:10 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Thank goodness it didnít prevail at the end of WWII where the Marshall Plan helped rebuild the world and usher in decades of almost unbroken prosperity.
You're comparison is flawed in too many ways to bother even pointing out.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 03:14 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
You're comparison is flawed in too many ways to bother even pointing out.
Hopeless dodge.

You may not have noticed that a great many economists are calling for ďa new Marshall PlanĒ. Itís not just me who thinks an international plan is called for.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 03:17 PM   #22
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We shouldn't dump money into "American companies" if the money is only go into the offshore accounts of a few high end executives.

The Cruise Lines don't build their ships in America, don't flag their vessels in America, and don't hire American workers. Why are they asking America for a bailout?

If most of your money and workers aren't in America, don't ask America for a bailout. This isn't rocket science. Spare me the "Trickle down" spiel.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 03:24 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
The Cruise Lines don't build their ships in America, don't flag their vessels in America, and don't hire American workers. Why are they asking America for a bailout?
But....but....I own their stock! (And yes, I do. Turned out not to be a good investment.)

However, I agree with you. Bailouts of specific industries shouldn't occur unless there is a very good reason for it. If the economy depends on them, and they provide something that is required for the maintenance of our society. Car companies fit that bill, but not cruise lines. Airlines? Maybe.

And bankruptcy should be the first option for all companies.


However, that's not really the point of this thread. If you were to bail out cruise companies or car companies right now, no one would book a cruise or buy a car. It's too dangerous. The cruises stopped selling because of passenger safety. The car companies aren't producing because of worker safety.

No bailout or stimulus is going to change that. Only stopping, or at least dramatically slowing, the spread of the virus can change that.

That's why I think the "stimulus" money ought to go toward measures that could slow the spread of the virus. "Stimulus" is just a side effect.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 07:30 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Menial schmenial, and no one is forced.

The difference between the great depression and what I'm saying is that those were make-work jobs with some possible general societal benefit.

The problem with this economy is not cash flow, which is what Keynesian economics tries to deal with. This economy, i.e. the one that is about two weeks old right now, involves a very specific problem that is not money related, but is preventing people from working.

I'm saying actually use the money to attack the problem. The problem is the spread of the virus. It's not lack of funds. The virus is spread by people hanging out together. Make it possible for people to stay in their homes where they cannot contract and cannot spread the virus.
It is my understanding that the generally accepted view now is that everyone, or almost everyone, will be exposed to the virus within the next couple of months. The governor of California said today that they project 56% of Californians will contract coronavirus within the next 8 weeks.

If that's the case, what, exactly, is the purpose of keeping people holed up in their houses? Why would we want to spend extra money to keep them holed up?
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:03 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
It is my understanding that the generally accepted view now is that everyone, or almost everyone, will be exposed to the virus within the next couple of months. The governor of California said today that they project 56% of Californians will contract coronavirus within the next 8 weeks.

If that's the case, what, exactly, is the purpose of keeping people holed up in their houses? Why would we want to spend extra money to keep them holed up?
You haven't been following that whole "flatten the curve" discussion, then?


Beaumont Hospital, our area's largest hospital network, today asked for donations of medical supplies. Have you ever heard of that happening? That's not normal.


However, whether you agree with the strategy of keeping people locked up in their homes or not, that doesn't really matter for purposes of this discussion. The fact is that we are keeping people locked up in their homes, by force of law in some states.

Case 1: That's a good idea.

If so, then right now there's this glaring problem with implementing the strategy. It's the grocery store. People are still sharing germs there. My proposal is a way to make the social distancing strategy, including the massive business shutdown that we, as a nation, are doing, more effective. It has a side effect of also employing some of the people who have been thrown into unemployment by that strategy.

Case 2: Mandatory social distancing is a bad idea.

Ok. Then stop it. Everyone go back to work, including restaurants and cruise ships. If you get the disease, you get the disease. If we do that, there's no need for a trillion dollar stimulus package, because we're going back to work. Maybe some sort of small stimulus is needed because our brief panic messed everything up.

I'm not even really going to discuss whether Case 1 or Case 2 ought to be done, because as a nation we've already chosen case 1 as a strategy, from Trump to the CDC to most governors. That's what we're doing. So, let's make it work.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:07 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
Interesting.

Someone is delivering groceries to you every day right now. Correct?
Yep.

Quote:
Are you paying for that?
Yep.

But it may be cheaper here than elsewhere. Grocery delivery was pretty common in Shanghai even before this virus.


Quote:
ETA: And more to the point, if you gave people money to spend as they wish, would they spend it on grocery delivery? Obviously not, because they could right now, but they aren't.
That doesn't follow. If it costs more to get groceries delivered, it might make sense not to do it when you have to be careful with your money, but make more sense when you have more funds available.

Moreover, you're supposing that you know that the best thing to fund is grocery deliveries. Another issue is, for instance, taking time off work when you're sick. Or to care for children who can't go to school. If people don't have money for those things (or other things that you and I may not think of that are important right now), they may find solutions that put us all in danger. For instance going in to work even when ill. Or sending their children to go and stay with someone else so that they can go to work, risking their children getting ill.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:12 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Doghouse Reilly View Post
It is my understanding that the generally accepted view now is that everyone, or almost everyone, will be exposed to the virus within the next couple of months. The governor of California said today that they project 56% of Californians will contract coronavirus within the next 8 weeks.

If that's the case, what, exactly, is the purpose of keeping people holed up in their houses? Why would we want to spend extra money to keep them holed up?

That was his reasoning for doing it. The 56% model was based on doing nothing vs mitigation orders.

Still, nothing gets back to normal until outbreaks can be prevented, not just controlled to acceptable numbers. Everyone will be watching for the next cluster to pop up until there is a vaccine. It will be lockdown, and then whack-a-mole for at least a year.

Younger people can work again but the older population will have a very rough year of extreme caution.

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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:13 PM   #28
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Hey Meadmaker, any thoughts about this?

https://marginalrevolution.com/margi...led-firms.html
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:17 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Yep.


Yep.

But it may be cheaper here than elsewhere. Grocery delivery was pretty common in Shanghai even before this virus.




That doesn't follow. If it costs more to get groceries delivered, it might make sense not to do it when you have to be careful with your money, but make more sense when you have more funds available.

Moreover, you're supposing that you know that the best thing to fund is grocery deliveries. Another issue is, for instance, taking time off work when you're sick. Or to care for children who can't go to school. If people don't have money for those things (or other things that you and I may not think of that are important right now), they may find solutions that put us all in danger. For instance going in to work even when ill. Or sending their children to go and stay with someone else so that they can go to work, risking their children getting ill.
I don't know if you've been following the news from here, but right now there are 10s of millions of people for whom it is illegal to go to work.

I know that we are trying to get people to stay in their homes, sometimes by force of law. As I wandered around the grocery store on Friday, wondering how many of the people around me were infected, I got to thinking about how we could get rid of that germ exchange spot. This is what I came up with.

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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:23 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
Hey Meadmaker, any thoughts about this?

https://marginalrevolution.com/margi...led-firms.html
It's all well and good, but here's a line from it:

Originally Posted by marginalrevolution
so any workers who have been laid off in the past two weeks because of the crisis would be reinstated.

They are missing the point. Totally.

Businesses did not shut down due to lack of business. People still wanted garage doors. People still wanted cars. The economy was booming.

But it wasn't safe to go to work, or in the case of restaurants, entertainment, schools, and similar workplaces, it wasn't safe to patronize them.

They can't reinstate their worker because it is still unsafe to work, or because they are still closed by government decree. What good would a loan be that is conditioned on an action that cannot be taken?

ETA: At some point, we will decide that it's worth the risk to go back to work. Maybe not all at once. At that point, the economy may have gotten kicked in the teeth so badly that we are then in a more classic recession, in which there are lots of people wanting to work, and the only reason they can't is that there isn't money to employ them. At that point, bridge loans make sense, or maybe some sort of stimulus, or something to kick start the economy. I'm referring, though, in this thread, to what we can do right now. Right now, 1,000 dollars in your pocket won't restart the auto plants or reopen the theaters.

Last edited by Meadmaker; 22nd March 2020 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:30 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
I don't know if you've been following the news from here, but right now there are 10s of millions of people for whom it is illegal to go to work right now.
Yes, I'm aware of that. But there are still others who are going to work. And there are certainly other ways in which people can engage in dangerous behavior that can make this easier to spread.

Quote:
I know that we are trying to get people to stay in their homes, sometimes by force of law. As I wandered around the grocery store on Friday, wondering how many of the people around me were infected, I got to thinking about how we could get rid of that germ exchange spot. This is what I came up with.
Yeah, I think you're found one major issue, which is people having to go to grocery stores to get food, and thus being surrounded by many other people. It's one of the few things that we have to do that puts us all at risk.

As such, your idea of a targeted solution to decreasing that risk makes sense.

But to the extent that people are motivated to decrease that risk to themselves and others, and I think that most people are right now, having more money available should help them to do so, even in ways that you and I won't think of. That can include spending money on grocery delivery. It might mean alternatives to public transport.

To the extent that people are motivated by other things they might spend that money in ways that actually increase the danger. Like for instance, where restaurants are still open, going out to eat.

But I think people are generally taking the situation pretty seriously right now and are likely to target these funds in a more efficient way than government. Though a combination of your approach and a more broad hand-out style is probably better than just one or the other.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:34 PM   #32
Roboramma
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
It's all well and good, but here's a line from it:




They are missing the point. Totally.

Businesses did not shut down due to lack of business. People still wanted garage doors. People still wanted cars. The economy was booming.

But it wasn't safe to go to work, or in the case of restaurants, entertainment, schools, and similar workplaces, it wasn't safe to patronize them.

They can't reinstate their worker because it is still unsafe to work, or because they are still closed by government decree. What good would a loan be that is conditioned on an action that cannot be taken?
I think the point is that the loans would help pay the salaries of workers who can't work right now, until they can work. Those people need to eat and live, and having an income and hope for the future is important during this period, even if they can't actually work for some time. But those businesses also can't afford to pay those workers without the loan.

I'm reading it as the loans doing more than just paying salaries, but that would be part of it. And yes, we'd be paying people not to work. That seems to be necessary at the moment. I'm actually paying some of my staff not to work right now.

Quote:
ETA: At some point, we will decide that it's worth the risk to go back to work. Maybe not all at once. At that point, the economy may have gotten kicked in the teeth so badly that we are then in a more classic recession, in which there are lots of people wanting to work, and the only reason they can't is that there isn't money to employ them. At that point, bridge loans make sense, or maybe some sort of stimulus, or something to kick start the economy. I'm referring, though, to what we can do right now. Right now, 1,000 dollars in your pocket won't restart the auto plants or reopen the theaters.
But it will pay the rent and grocery bill.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 08:43 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
I think the point is that the loans would help pay the salaries of workers who can't work right now, until they can work. Those people need to eat and live, and having an income and hope for the future is important during this period, even if they can't actually work for some time. But those businesses also can't afford to pay those workers without the loan.
Ok. So, it's a loan to businesses, conditioned on the businesses using the loan to pay workers who aren't working?

In this upside down world, it might not be a ridiculous idea. But after their employees come back, they owe the government the money they paid the workers when they weren't working? That seems like a mountain of debt for the businesses.

Still, it would be better than throwing money in all directions. However, I still think the best thing is to use money to actually help mitigate the problem, in whatever way we can. I'm glad to see some developments this week on private businesses repurposing production facilities to make masks, gowns, and ventilators. That's a step in the right direction. I think that step could have been taken a month ago, but better late than never.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 09:20 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
It's all well and good, but here's a line from it:




They are missing the point. Totally.

Businesses did not shut down due to lack of business. People still wanted garage doors. People still wanted cars. The economy was booming.

But it wasn't safe to go to work, or in the case of restaurants, entertainment, schools, and similar workplaces, it wasn't safe to patronize them.

They can't reinstate their worker because it is still unsafe to work, or because they are still closed by government decree. What good would a loan be that is conditioned on an action that cannot be taken?

ETA: At some point, we will decide that it's worth the risk to go back to work. Maybe not all at once. At that point, the economy may have gotten kicked in the teeth so badly that we are then in a more classic recession, in which there are lots of people wanting to work, and the only reason they can't is that there isn't money to employ them. At that point, bridge loans make sense, or maybe some sort of stimulus, or something to kick start the economy. I'm referring, though, in this thread, to what we can do right now. Right now, 1,000 dollars in your pocket won't restart the auto plants or reopen the theaters.
This is not true. Plenty of businesses can keep operating with hygiene and separation protocols. Construction is a perfect example. Buildings can still proceed safely, but it is slowing down. Why? This has nothing to do with health and safety concerns and everything to do with developers, builders and investors holding on to their cash. This is one area where stimulus should be directed, and now.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 10:19 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
This sentiment doesnít surprise me. Thank goodness it didnít prevail at the end of WWII where the Marshall Plan helped rebuild the world and usher in decades of almost unbroken prosperity.

Just when we need international cooperation and a global plan, all we seem to get From some is ďletís look after ourselves and the rest of the world can get .......Ē.
I think you are missing the point. Many people are not going to be happy with businesses that get bailed out with taxpayers' money when those very businesses are structured specifically to avoid paying taxes. Why should they get to benefit like that?
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Old 22nd March 2020, 10:28 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
I think you are missing the point. Many people are not going to be happy with businesses that get bailed out with taxpayers' money when those very businesses are structured specifically to avoid paying taxes. Why should they get to benefit like that?
Jobs.
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Old 22nd March 2020, 10:57 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Jobs.
soo... the Government is giving money to Companies so that they can give the money to their employees ...


seems like there is an unnecessary step there - just cut out the middleman.
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Old 23rd March 2020, 12:03 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
soo... the Government is giving money to Companies so that they can give the money to their employees ...


seems like there is an unnecessary step there - just cut out the middleman.
Not quite (but you know this). The stimulus money goes to the business so it survives and, yes, pays wages. Without the business, yes the government makes welfare payments. The lesser outcome, donít you think?
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Old 23rd March 2020, 12:23 AM   #39
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No need for government intervention or hand outs. The Free Market God has got this one.
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Old 23rd March 2020, 12:33 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
One idea: finally do INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK!

Let anyone who was laid off because of Covid sign up to assist in a vast infrastructure project once the lockdown is over. Start organizing them by skill, see what kind of online job training is possible.
Build the wall?
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