There is this guy in Australia who has some kind of broadcast where he is playing Fortnight and babbling commentary while the game is being played. My son loves watching it and even after half a year of being addicted to it he still thinks it’s funny. He is constantly getting excited and screaming 4 letter words and the whole world is coming to an end. I think it’s a total loser thing to sit for hours watching somebody else’s game and being entertained by this. I know that Karen and I would love to find this person and literally throw him off the side of a cliff. Do you know anything about this guy? Is he driving you nuts too with your kids?
My household spent the first half of March trying to stay ahead of the End of Fun in the World. We rented bicycles and rode around Central Park when there seemed like nothing else to do. We went bowling in empty bowling alleys. This past year we traveled a lot more than usual not knowing that we might be grounded for roughly half a year. We went to Ben’s Deli during the last hour of the last evening you could eat out. Then we got out of Dodge and went to Miami. We bought bicycles in Miami on the last day you could buy something in a store. Sat at the pool at a hotel on the day they closed all the hotels and then all the pools in all the condo buildings. We were the second to last person to check out of our hotel as all hotels in the city of Miami Beach closed. Now we are hibernating in a house in Miami Beach hoping for the best and watching a really depressing reality show wishing someone would wake us up and tell us it was just a bad dream.
One of the nice things about this whole thing is that the entire world is on sabbatical at the same time. It’s like Christmas Week, Ramadan, Yom Kippur and everything else all rolled up into one. Everyone is sufficiently bored that you can now call people on the phone and they actually want to take your call. So I’ve been calling up friends who I haven’t spoken to in ten years to see how they’re doing. As long as their phone numbers haven’t changed, I’m OK because the phone book I am able to access from my PC is 10 years old.
Earlier this week I celebrated my 54th birthday with a big BBQ in the yard and although we enjoyed a feast, I did feel bad for the people all over the world and in our country driving to food banks at 3am and waiting 7 hours for them to open to get scraps of food to feed their families. I keep telling my kids that people would kill for what they throw into the garbage.
The remainder of this posting is dedicated to the Covid-19 situation and my attempt to answer questions you may have and to put things into some perspective, although it is difficult to do so when so many facts are not known and so many assumptions are constantly being tested with new information. I apologize in advance that the photos are not so exciting, but are you really interested in seeing my trips to the supermarket, which is about the only place I can presently go outside of my home? At least I can go when I want; in Dubai, that pleasure palace everyone dreams of, you have to ask permission for a digital pass and then can only go out for 2 hours once every 3 days. So we’re all in this together it seems more than anyone ever expected.
Now I’m going to say something unusual about Donald Trump. Aside from the fact that I don’t like him, there is one thing that he is doing that overall seems to make sense, even if he himself doesn’t necessarily “get it.” He’s been under a lot of pressure to get the federal government to choose a track and to marshal all the nation’s resources to go down that track, such as nationalizing manufacturing companies toward making ventilators and testing kits. The truth is that as we go along the past 2 months, while the private sector has not produced enough of what we need as quickly as we need it and it seems atrocious that states were competing against each other and the feds for scarce resources, we have been testing our own assumptions as to what is actually needed and finding out all along that we don’t necessarily know that we want. It turns out that ventilators were not necessarily the best thing to use to treat patients, many tests do not work, and the virus does things to various parts of the body that we did not expect in the beginning. The private sector and hospitals have been very good at coming up with all kinds of ideas to make things and to adapt to new procedures as we find out what works and what doesn’t. Early assumptions were based on what China reported, and as we go along we are finding that China lied a lot and that the origins of the virus are not necessarily known. For instance, we are still finding out when the earliest cases reached the US (which turns out to be a lot earlier than we thought), we know that the species of bat which supposedly infected a certain food market does not exist within 100 miles of that market although a Chinese laboratory which was criticized for having lax security does exist near that market, and we don’t know if antibodies really do confer immunity and/or to what extent they do. So it’s probably a good thing in retrospect that we did not choose one path and force everyone to stick to it, which is what would have been done if we’d had a president who operated the way the normal establishment would have done things.
I do think that until they come up with a cure or a vaccine, the world is not going to be normal. But what might be the cure is something that you might not be reading about just yet. For instance, my brother’s in-law is a doctor in LA that is part of a group that has 200 patents on some kind of treatment involving UV lights and lasers that kill viruses. It’s been under development for 2 years for a different disease but the treatment can be used for this virus and human trials might start soon. If that works, it’s very interesting because it can probably be adapted to other viruses that don’t yet exist. I’m sure there are 100 other projects going on in the world that we haven’t yet read about so it is interesting to see that activity is going on, that research and development is moving much faster than ever before involving greater degrees of global collaboration, and that out of this challenge we might be able to deal with future even greater challenges faster that might otherwise have pushed us over the edge. Although this sucks, it may turn out to have been worthwhile for reasons we may not yet be able to appreciate.
Now of course you know that I think Donald Trump ignored the signals for several years (not just the past several months) even when it is proven that warnings were issued. Obama insisted that Trump’s transition team participate in a tabletop drill called Crimson Contagion which simulated a pandemic and was meant to show Trump that the nation was vulnerable to this. It’s not clear from Rahm Emmanuel’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal if that drill was held, but clearly Trump’s transition team did not heed it. (Rahm was Obama’s chief of staff, a senior advisor to President Clinton and mayor of Chicago.) His national security advisor closed the office of pandemics that was at the national security council level, gutted the CDC which I don’t even have to spell out at this point because everyone in the world now knows what CDC stands for, and even cut several months ago a $200 million early warning pandemic program that was supposed to be a cooperative effort between America and China. The ABC network says that military intelligence was warning the White House of this pandemic in China as early as November saying it could lead to a “cataclysmic event” and they were obviously ignored. I have no doubt that had Hillary Clinton or any Democrat been president, the country would have been more ready for this and that Nancy Pelosi, if she were currently president, would know better than most what to do. But let’s stop for a second and ask a good question: Even if Trump sucked, why did all the state and local officials and so much of the world fall flat? They can’t just sit there and blame the feds. Why was Boris Johnson in intensive care after dilly-dallying the UK through the early stages of this pandemic? Does Democracy work or will we continue with Fake News and tribalism so that no lessons are ever learned?
I don’t think the world can survive a second round of this type of thing, and this round was a 1 or 2 on a scale of 10. What if it was a virus like Ebola that was very catchy and killed most people it struck? What if an enemy of the West piled on with a cyberattack and knocked out the electricity and internet that the whole world is now basing itself upon? I was quite nervous when Russia decided to go after the US fracking industry and take on the Saudis with artificially low oil prices; they definitely wanted to kick when others were down. The Russians had stockpiled currency reserves in anticipation of such an event. I am still very fearful of the future because I’m not sure the world will learn its lessons. History says it will not. The US has a federal system in which the feds control things like the CDC and prevent states from acting such as creating and giving out virus tests (which created real trouble for the states early on), but yet many powers are reserved to the states such as lockdowns and even Trump had to admit that. You have loony bird governors such as in Georgia opening up things such as tattoo parlors and bowling alleys as essential businesses while neighboring states such as Florida are in lockdown. The US system is not really geared toward these kinds of emergencies where you would expect that you need a national standard and centralized purchasing power within a country where people can freely travel. The current situation with each state competing against each other for scarce resources seems ridiculous because taxpayer money is being wasted buying things at much higher prices. The European Union did not want to cooperate either in this affair until at a certain point they had to because the virus did not respect national borders. A hundred years ago after the Spanish flu, the world still couldn’t get the League of Nations together. Each state and city acted on its own in the US. Nothing really changed in 100 years since the Spanish flu epidemic when states and cities took the lead with differing results. The WHO today had a plan and was in a position to be helpful but was also clearly pandering to China and lost its moral authority with the US because of it. (Considering that the WHO also had to rely on Chinese cooperation because it has only persuasive power, it was in a no-win situation and a good amount of the criticism it has been receiving is unfair.) We don’t hear about the UN because the US, Russia and China are 3 of 5 seats on the security council and they don’t agree on anything.
This is a wake-up call for a much worse virus that could have struck and that will ultimately happen. Will China try to hide the next virus it gets? Will Mr. Xi browbeat subordinates into not giving him bad news? Mr. Xi did exactly that 5 years ago when there was a virus that originated in China, and then created a system to warn him if it happened again. The system didn’t work because his subordinates were still afraid to give him bad news. China’s autocratic system works well in good times and even in bad times, but it does not work well to prevent little bad things from turning into huge bad things, and that’s a big problem for everyone because China’s little problem turned into the world’s huge problem. China has to get this right for the future – China may think it deserves to rule the world or at least have the #1 economy, but if the rest of the world has no economy, there is nothing to rule. Right now China is 95% back online but it has no customers and its citizens are in big trouble meaning its government is in big trouble. So what good is it? People don’t believe what China says no matter how much propaganda they put out, because China clearly lies. If they lie, it’s harder to figure out how to get to the root of the problem and solve it which lengthens the time it will take the world to get back to normal. Democracy has its weaknesses, but transparency of information is important and a society where innovation and entrepreneurship are encouraged is crucial. China will never be #1 as long as it is strictly a top-down country and its leaders try to control everything. China is still obviously lying about what is happening there; the American Enterprise Institute believes there were over 2.9 million virus cases in China rather than the 82,000 the country reports. If China is not being truthful, the rest of the world is having a harder time making sense of this virus because they are working on false information. I personally think the world ought to demand reparations from China after all this over but the damage is so severe that no nation could ever pay the bill for it. There should be a price to pay for taking the whole world down with you. As it turns out, they’ll be lucky to even get an apology from this man because even that doesn’t warrant losing face. I personally don’t understand that – you screw up, you apologize and then you move on. But hey, I’m not Chinese and they run on a different frequency in that part of the world. And by the way, other countries are also lying about their numbers.
If you want my take on what is going to happen, I don’t have a confident feeling yet because we are not sure if we are still climbing one side of the mountain or descending the other side yet. The markets feel that we are close to or past the peak in New York, although the rest of the US and then much of the developing world is still to come. Japan for instance is now dealing with its second wave. Singapore is trying to prevent a second wave. How well they do will matter because if Japan and Singapore can’t keep a second wave under control, there is no chance the US can be expected to do better. Although the stock market hit its low and is on the rise, I’m not sure the rally is justified and I personally sold my stocks in February and chose to lose profits rather than to risk principal. I’m not sure that the markets are realistic about the future or have fully priced in the long-term effects that we may not yet fully realize, and I am not yet prepared to invest in a market index. It could be a full year more of this uncertainty before people feel good enough to travel and work without restriction. I’ve noticed in the Dade County area of Florida (Miami city) there is more traffic this week than last as people go out and start exploring.
A bright spot is impressive innovation from states and cities in the US and the UK where the national governments failed. Too little too late to keep the death counts down but at least mitigating damage. Israel had 45 deaths per 8,000 cases; Florida has 200 per 12,000 cases. Israel would be in better shape had the hospitals been invested in more during the past decade; the health officials were prepared for pandemic but the facilities are what they are. I know one of the leading experts in pandemics in Israel and can tell you that 25 years ago he was running around 16 hours a day from meeting to meeting dealing with contingency planning for a pandemic. I think that Israel expected a pandemic as part of biological warfare more so than from a bat out of hell in China. What they did not expect was that a health minister who got the job as a sop to an ultra-orthodox political party holding a cabinet position would actually have to manage a pandemic. The health ministry utterly failed. So the country turned to its Mossad intelligence service to beg, borrow or steal whatever it needed from around the world, which it promptly did. Some years from now we’ll read stories as to the crazy things that agency did to get stuff to Israel, including things ordered by other countries that they diverted. Bibi is now in an emergency unity government because, like him or hate him, everyone agrees that he’s competent and brilliant and they want the best guy running the show in a crisis. Netanyahu successfully kept Israel clean during the 2007 meltdown and is so far doing very well with this crisis. I assume that low death rates in countries neighboring Israel has something to do with a high level of cooperation between this government and theirs.
How long will it take to test for antibodies and to get contact tracing up to speed? Right now I’m told that 1/3 of the tests for the virus are false negatives. That’s very worrisome and it says to me that testing by itself is a red herring unless the tests tell you the truth and even if they do, a test is only a snapshot; what if you get infected an hour after you took the test? We can’t keep testing everybody. Testing really works in the early stages of a pandemic along with contact tracing but you can only do this at the very beginning while you can still trace people and isolate them. Once you pass a certain point, you can’t figure out anymore how you got from here to there with virus transmission. Countries will have to really get on top of testing for future waves of this virus or future pandemics and move quickly to close borders and isolate people. Hopefully after this exercise, people will take such warnings more seriously since they know that failure to do so will compound the misery of everyone. What people will need now more than testing is antibody testing to be able to see who has immunity and can move freely within the society. So far I haven’t seen evidence that those tests reliably yet exist and are in a position to quickly penetrate the market. In the US, the number of tests is about 1/3 of what is needed, and it is no certainty that these antibodies confer any lasting immunity. There is too many unknown unknowns to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous quote.
When will the US go back to work? Because of our federal system, this virus could keep pushing around the country endlessly since there is no national standard for lockdown and some of the states are acting recklessly. As of a week or so ago, you could still eat in a restaurant in South Dakota. A few days later you read the South Dakota was the nation’s newest hot spot for the virus. Do you recall the governor of Georgia who essentially said in late March that he didn’t know this virus could be caught by touching? This whole thing could go on bouncing around the country and throughout the world until a vaccine comes around, something that few expect to happen in 2020. I understand that vaccines are complicated creatures that cannot be quickly brought to market. The latest issue of the Economist tells you in great detail the complexities involved in creating and distributing a vaccine. In this case, the risk of side effect will have to be weighed against the probability of success to shorten the timespan usually needed to bring a vaccine to market. Unemployment could temporarily reach 32% according to Stratfor. During the Great Depression, the top figure was 25%. I would like to think I’d be going back to NY in June, but there will be more waves, hopefully handled better than the first one (and at this point I think it will be on the local and state level). Considering that China is just now going back to work, it won’t be fast and everyone will be scared and distant until the vaccine comes along. We are supposed to travel to Hawaii, Singapore and Australia in August, and I still don’t know if that will happen although in each of those 3 places, although they are all experiencing various levels of lockdown, the virus has not been a big problem. Still, I am being told that several countries such as Australia and Israel may not welcome tourists for at least the next 3-4 months so summer camps and vacations that were on tap for this year may not happen.
When will you go back to the gym? Are you going to want to touch the same equipment that countless other people have touched, now that you are scared of what might happen if you touch a shopping cart in the wrong place? Or if you had to touch an elevator button that some unknown person touched if you live in an apartment building? One of my instructors correctly predicted when this all started that the level of paranoia is going to rise dramatically when people start to come out of their treehouses.
Would you take a cruise after this? Would you want to be on a ship that becomes a floating petri dish where everyone gets sick and then your ship goes around the world for weeks and nobody wants to let you get off? I think they had better agree to some rules such as if there is a virus with known infection at a certain port of call, that cruise cannot go there and that at a certain point cruises get cancelled. The cruise industry is a powerful lobby but really there are only several companies that operate in this industry and they are mostly self-regulated. They won’t do anything unless forced but they are really a huge threat to countries when they carry sick passengers aboard. In Florida, it felt like every time a cruise ship was allowed to dock, it was going to bring enough infected people to screw up the whole state which was otherwise trying to flatten the curve.
What have I and presumably We learned from all this virus stuff? Well, so far we know from US government sources and various studies that the virus reached America more so via travelers from Europe, not directly from Asia and that it started in America in mid-January and in New York in mid-February, several weeks before the first confirmed case in New York which was on March 1. So stopping flights from China helped but did not ultimately stop the virus from reaching our shores. If you want to stop something, you have to stop everything coming in from anywhere. This virus was a toughee because asymptomatic people carried it and early on we didn’t know that. In fairness, nobody really foresaw a lethal virus that transmits via non-symptomatic people and this throws out much of the playbook that people would have been expected to use. Alas, nobody could have foreseen to start testing each and every incoming traveler so early in the game and I’m not sure that’s even possible. Imagine the chaos at a border when Trump announced travel restrictions from Europe and the fact that by the time the result comes back a week later what do you then do after everyone has gone off and infected people all over the place? So basically, unless the host country shuts itself down very quickly, there is almost nothing you can do in today’s world to stop the worldwide spread of a virus. If the host country gives warning before it shuts down, it runs the risk that lots of sick people will try to escape before the dragnet closes, which is what happened in many cases around the world. But how do you expect people to live when you shut borders without warning? You create tons of stranded people which did happen and that also became a big expense all around. At some point, you can issue travel certificates stating that someone is either negative or has already contracted the virus, assuming that there really is immunity, something we have not confirmed.
A very important thing we learned was that social distancing works but that there is a huge culture of denial in western countries and that people from the top down did not want to take those steps until it was almost too late. People thought that somehow the economy would be saved if we avoided this, but at some point people realized that you would have greatly more death, panic, shortages of vital things and economic failure all at once if you did not do this. This more than anything created the results that we saw and I’m not sure that any amount of stockpiling and preparedness would have prevented this considering that human nature and culture overrode the pandemic playbook. In the absence of testing, social distancing was the one sure-fire way to prevent the spread of the virus and even after lockdowns were announced, many citizens failed to take it seriously for a good while. At this point, only 20% of Americans polled said they would want to resume a normal life even if restrictions were lifted, so clearly attitudes have changed, at least for now. History shows that after some time, people will go back to normal and then the question will be did they learn a lesson from this for the next time around? Probably yes, assuming the next time is within the next 5 years.
Hospitals wanted ventilators and doctors had protocols for treating viruses. We found out that a strong majority of patients on ventilators ultimately died and that ventilators were part of the problem as much as the solution, and doctors found out that you don’t treat this virus the same way you treat other viruses. For instance, one nasty fact here is that after a week people think they are getting better and then all of a sudden it takes a big turn for the worse. All sorts of side effects on the human body, some of them permanent, seem to be invoked with this respiratory virus. In fact, they haven’t yet developed a sure-fire cure for this virus. So basically we learned that sometimes we will be hit with new diseases that we don’t know how to treat and that assumptions as to what will be needed might be for naught.
We found out that face masks for regular people are more for preventing other people from getting infected than preventing yourself from becoming infected. We saw that eggs, toilet paper and paper towels would get hoarded and that at some point beef and chicken would run low. People will probably want to keep some back supply of paper goods around permanently.
Will Biden be the next president? Who knows at this point. We don’t hear much from him. At least Bernie Sanders gave up, figuring nobody was paying attention. I thought years ago that Cuomo might run, but he probably wants to stay in his post as governor since he is doing a good job there for now. Maybe in 2024. Someone suggested that if he run as Biden’s VP, he would know that he would be a likely president in 2024. Right now nobody is going to criticize Trump in the middle of an emergency when they need his approval, but I’m sure the governors are furious at him for not really bringing the federal government to the rescue by nationalizing production of vital necessities and for absolutely neglecting this problem for the past several years, and all fall you will see commercials showing how he did not care or thought the whole thing was a hoax or a Democratic plot, and I’d like to see Michigan vote after they run commercials of Trump telling their governor that he would not be returning that person’s calls because he thought the lady governor was a bitch. Tell that to Detroit that was hard-hit. Tell that to all the states when he said “you’re on your own,” and “I’m not at all responsible for this.” Imagine if Cuomo said that; that’s not what a national leader says. And then they’ll play tapes of Trumps saying just a few days later that he gets to decide when the states get to reopen because he wants to take the credit for it. I can tell you that few minds are being changed; Fox News is still putting out its message and the rest of my family thinks Trump is good and Biden is bad. I think that Biden will ultimately win because a second wave will start up in the fall and remind people that everything sucks and people will blame whoever is the incumbent for it. So far, according to the Economist, countries have calculated that the cost of prematurely opening up and then having to close down again is greater than the cost of waiting till they are more certain that they can open safely. Trump doesn’t want to go that route. Health experts warn that although you won’t see the results of a poor decision for several weeks, at some point, there will be hell to pay, so you better make the right decision early on and haste makes waste. I am supposed to stage a Bar Mitzvah for my son in October and feel that the best thing to do is to just postpone it for a year till I can be more certain that things will not be interrupted. I have till June or July to decide and I hope I’m wrong, but by then we should have a better idea if the country is on a safe path or not with more testing and more experience of other re-openings around the world under our belts.
I’m not telling you any state secret here but Baddies might want to create viruses and blackmail countries into paying them to not release them. But let’s consider this a second. Baddies such as North Korea, Iran and mafiosos have to consider that they will also kill their own with such viruses; that they cannot be contained. Even if they somehow came up with a vaccine that they used on their own, we’d know about it and what if the virus mutated and negated the vaccine? Who would be left? And anyway, what would be the benefit of being the only ones left with nothing to spend your money on after the world was basically finished?
So far, even though it seems inherently boring around here, I have managed not to have too much time on my hands. I don’t know how that happened, but it seems that this is a great opportunity to pursue a hobby and to self-improve. You could look at these several months as a sort of quarantine with your kids around, or you could see it as an enforced sabbatical to spend time doing things you always said you’d do when you had more time. I managed to get a bicycle, tie a TRX to a tree and have access to a swimming pool, so at least I’m staying fit and sane.
Here are two interesting things to think about that might make you feel better. The past several months before this all started I went to a wedding and a Bar Mitzvah. At both parties, I witnessed lots of people bored stiff who were looking into their phones trying to entertain themselves. I’ll bet you know what I mean. Last week, someone had their Bar Mitzvah in their home and friends connected via Zoom. Karen and I were focused on our telephone watching the Bar Mitzvah and listening to every word. And we saw other people on the screen doing the same thing. Maybe it’s a novelty that will wear off but I must say it was the most intimate Bar Mitzvah ceremony I’ve attended, more so than the real thing. There might be a lesson in that for people.
Earlier this month we watched The Ten Commandments, the 1956 movie with Yul Brenner and Charlton Heston. If you’ve never seen it, now’s the best time to take over 3 hours off to watch it. There is this scene where the Hebrews are having a meal in their homes while the Angel of Death plagues Egypt killing all the first born sons and passing over the homes of the Hebrews, hence the “Seder” meal of the holiday of “Passover.” When Jews have their Seder, which is by far the most observed ritual in that religion, they are supposed to feel as if they were reliving that night in Egypt. But people mostly think of that night as a festive night anticipating freedom of leaving Egypt the next day and rushing to get out. They are told to recline and feel as if they are noble and free. They don’t see that scene in the movie of the Hebrews huddled in their homes in terror, as screams wail across Egypt Land, and waiting for the horror to end. This year it is sort of reliving that ancient ritual, with people huddled in their homes without their parents and/or children, hoping they will not be afflicted by this strange virus that kills indiscriminately, where they have seen their friends, religious and political leaders die giving lie to the idea that you can get immunity to this due to your stature or piety, and having to actually prepare a Passover at home for the first time in years which is fate almost worse than death to thousands who have gotten used to traveling to exotic locations and participating in Passover programs around the world. It’s back to basics. But it’s also a chance to make lemonade out of lemons. This year people can focus on their Seders and the little things in life that got lost among those exotic trips.
There is a bad feeling you get when you look at your parents from 15 feet away and they look at you as lepers that might make them sick. There is a bad feeling you get when you walk down the street and want to talk to your neighbors and they are afraid of getting close to you. What would happen if I knocked on a doctor’s door 3 houses away because my kid got a concussion? Would they help me or just not answer the door? I can’t tell you that the political map will change from this and that China, Russia or America will be any better 2 years from now than today, but all I can tell you is that I try to smile a lot when I see people, I try to say Hello with enthusiasm and at least give people the feeling that I’m human. I hope the world will realize that we are really all in this together, not only in times of crisis, but that we need to cooperate more both among tribes in our own country and across the world. I am hopeful that maybe this calamity will help us all realize that and perhaps we will be better off if we do. What kinds of things might change I don’t know yet, but perhaps on things such as climate and disease, there will be more empathy that we will all suffer the consequences of inaction and that denial of reality doesn’t work in the long run. So far I still see Bill O’Reilly putting out crappy articles that play on xenophobia and the fact that there is a willing paying audience for his stuff, and Republicans still think that Trump is great while Democrats think he sucks. Don’t expect people to fundamentally change because of this episode. At best, people may at least learn immediate lessons from this that will change their behavior next time round.
This is not a joke, but it is the weirdest news I’ve observed so far about the virus. In Latin America, gangs are handing out masks and enforcing social distancing rules where governments are not. Why? Because if everyone gets sick and dies, there won’t be people to extort or consumers for drugs. So basically, to protect their revenue streams, they want people to stay healthy!
I hope that this posting has provided you with some perspective after a month of reading all kinds of news, analysis and trying to sort the useful from the crap. About 40 days ago, I posted a thought that this virus would not kill more people than the flu and that turned out to be wrong. A lot of what we thought we knew a month ago turned out to be wrong and it will be even more so a month from now. I could sit on my hands and write nothing and that would be the safest thing to do, but people have to make decisions based on imperfect information and the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. Leaders all over the world have to try to get it right, to balance the needs of a starving out of work population against the odds of succumbing to a virus that may be more or less lethal based on which statistics you trust and what we actually know. There is room for valid opinion on more than one side of this issue; in certain ways actions that we think are irresponsible may ultimately be justifiable, as I stated clearly at the beginning. We just don’t know what we don’t know. So with that humble thought in mind, I pen these words and turn it over to you. Feel free to let me know what you think.