(2020-05-14) Hunt A Truth Thats Told With Bad Intent

Ben Hunt: A Truth That's Told With Bad Intent. That’s Isaac Newton in William Blake’s painting, one of the major villains in Blake’s philosophy. Why? Because Newton was a modeler, a proponent of Science with a capital S, the most repressive force in the modern age. I think Blake was absolutely right. Our narratives of COVID-19 are all lies.

They are all narratives of betrayal, meaning that they seek to excuse or promote policies designed for institutional advantage rather than the common good.

How do you recognize a political narrative of betrayal? It’s always based on a model. A political narrative of betrayal is always a top-down application of social abstraction

A political narrative of betrayal will always use “model” as a noun rather than “model” as a verb. A political narrative of betrayal always BEGINS with a prescriptive model of mass behavior – a model that by the most amazing coincidence serves the institutional advantage of the narrative creator – and ENDS with a forced fit to the individual citizen.

Start with the individual American. Start with their political rights. Start with the citizens themselves. This is how a legitimate government acts in both words and deeds.

The government’s job – its ONE JOB – is to protect our individual rights in ways that we cannot do ourselves. That’s not an easy job. At all. There are trade-offs and gray areas, and clear-eyed/full-hearted people can disagree on how to accomplish that job. But it is the job.

When individual rights conflict in unavoidable ways or we are faced with an immediate and overwhelming threat to our system of individual rights, a legitimate government based on the consent of the governed may be forced to decide which citizens’ rights must be temporarily suspended. This is a legitimate government’s last resort. Today it is our government’s first resort.

This is how an illegitimate government acts.

Model-driven Narrative #1 - Whatabout the Flu?

Deep Truth nugget: We are shockingly blasé about all sorts of largely preventable deaths, and we warehouse our elderly parents in horrible places. Big Lie: This isn’t a big deal.

People don’t believe me when I tell them that we don’t actually count flu deaths, that the numbers thrown around by the Dr. Guptas and the Rush Limbaughs are taken from CDC models of pneumonia deaths. But it’s true. Basically we count pediatric flu deaths and hospitalized adult flu deaths, multiply by six, and intentionally generate an inflated flu death total. Why intentional? Because you need to be nudged into taking your annual flu vaccine.

Model-driven Narrative #2 - Herd Immunity!

Deep Truth nugget: Massive unemployment is particularly devastating to incumbent politicians. Big Lie: In the meantime, we can protect the olds and the sicks.

*the politicization of these narratives is not a left/right thing, it’s a power thing.

It’s a high-functioning sociopath thing.*

Model-driven Narrative #3 - Flatten the Curve!

Truth nugget: Lockdowns prevent a surge in cases which can overwhelm the healthcare system. Deep Truth nugget: When we’ve got everyone freaked out about staying alive, there’s no end to the crazy authoritarian stuff we can get away with. Big Lie: We can get R-0 down to zero.

The flood in New York City crested … and fell. Other cities that seemed as if they might follow in NYC’s footsteps … did not. Mission accomplished! But in the grand tradition of other initially successful emergency government interventions (“Quantitative Easing!”, anyone?) “Flatten the Curve!” is well on its way to becoming a permanent government program.

Today, “Flatten the Curve!” has become the narrative rationale for a range of extraordinary executive actions – on both the left AND the right – that would make Lincoln blush. This is the narrative that will propel the Surveillance State into a permanent feature of American life. This is the narrative that will propel the final transformation of capital markets into a political utility. This is the narrative that will propel us into a war with China. If we let it.

Okay, Ben, how do we stop it?

The facts have not changed.

Knowing these biological facts, what social policies would you design around THAT?

The core problem with any rights-based approach to public policy is dealing with questions of competing rights. Under what circumstances could your right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness come into conflict with my right to life?

if these idiots and fools want to take stupid risks alongside other idiots and fools, if their vision of liberty and the pursuit of happiness is to revel in some death cult, but in a way that largely allows us non-death cultists to opt out … well, I believe it is wrong for a government to stop them

There are three common and important circumstances, however, where this choice to NOT interact doesn’t exist, where the rights of yes, even idiots, to liberty and the pursuit of happiness as they understand it will inexorably come into conflict with the right to life of those who understand all too well the highly contagious and dangerous biology of this virus.

Only government can provide the necessary resources and the necessary coordination to resolve these conflicts of rights peacefully and without trampling the rights of one set of citizens or another. You have no idea how much it pains me to say that. It pains me because I think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that our government will do that.

Healthcare workers and first responders have no choice but to risk their right to life in caring for all citizens who are sick, regardless of the agency or lack thereof behind that sickness.

How does a legitimate government resolve this conflict?

By mobilizing on a war-time basis to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to ALL healthcare workers and social workers and first responders and public safety officers and anyone else who must serve the sick.

Workers who believe that their employer does not provide sufficient protection against this virus have no choice but to risk their right to life in their return to work, as unemployment insurance typically is unavailable for people who “voluntarily” quit their job.

How does a legitimate government resolve this conflict?

By providing a Federal safe harbor to unemployment claims based on COVID-19 safety concerns, AND by maintaining unemployment benefits at the current (higher) CARES Act level throughout the crisis.

All citizens who use public transit or use public facilities have no choice but to trust that their fellow citizens share a common respect for the rights of others, even if they may differ in their risk tolerance and private beliefs regarding the biology of the virus.

How does a legitimate government resolve this conflict?

By mobilizing on a war-time basis to provide ubiquitous rapid testing in and around all public spaces, starting today with symptom testing (temperature checks) and required masking to limit asymptomatic spread, and implementing over time near-instant antigen tests as they are developed.

It’s just not that hard.

But it is impossible. Politically impossible.


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