Adults versus Kids; a Science-based response to COVID-19 in Maskachusetts

Recent emails from the Handel+Haydn Society in Boston… Adults:

Kids:

From the linked-to page:

All participants in H+H Youth Choruses activities must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19, and we provide further that H+H agrees to comply with the then-applicable U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance regarding mandatory employer vaccination programs. Masks are required for all indoor activities at all times.

Recall that, like California, Massachusetts is a state that decided marijuana shops for adults were “essential” and had to remain open while public schools were closed for 1.5 years and forcibly masked for at least 1 additional school year (unclear what will happen in the Boston Public Schools for 2022-2023).

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Is it time to cancel the Pope?

Strike 1… “Pope Francis says Ukraine war was ‘perhaps somehow provoked’” (Guardian, June 14):

Pontiff condemns ‘cruelty’ of Russian troops while warning against perception of conflict as good v evil

Strike 2… “Vatican Praises U.S. Court Abortion Decision, Saying It Challenges World” (US News, June 24):

The Vatican’s Academy for Life on Friday praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, saying it challenged the world to reflect on life issues, but also called for social changes to help women keep their children.

The Vatican department also said in a statement that the defence of human life could not be confined to individual rights because life is a matter of “broad social significance”.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday took the dramatic step of overturning the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that recognised a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion and legalized it nationwide.

“The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world,” the academy said in a statement.

Pope Francis has compared having an abortion to “hiring a hit man” to eliminate a problematic person.

Renowned theologian, Constitutional Law scholar, and Vanquisher of Corn Pop Joe Biden says that the Pope and Supreme Court are both dead wrong:

I believe Roe v. Wade was the correct decision as a matter of constitutional law, an application of the fundamental right to privacy and liberty in matters of family and personal autonomy.

The consequences and the consensus of the American people — core principles of equality, liberty, dignity, and the stability of the rule of law — demand that Roe should not have been overturned.

With this decision, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court shows how extreme it is, how far removed they are from the majority of this country. They have made the United States an outlier among developed nations in the world. But this decision must not be the final word.

When we combine the above are we forced to conclude that the Pope, a doubter that Russia has a monopoly on European evil, an adherent of an “extreme ideology,” and a celebrator of a “tragic error,” must be canceled?

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Abortionomics: Migrant infants make us richer; native-born infants make us poorer

We are informed by our leaders and our media that immigrants, including infants, make the U.S. wealthier, no matter how low their skill level and no matter how low their parents’ and grandparents’ skill level (see The Son Also Rises: economics history with everyday applications).

We are now informed that native-born infants make us poorer and, for maximum economic growth, should be eliminated from the U.S. population via abortion care. “Fall of Roe will have immediate economic ramifications, experts say” (Axios):

The U.S. will see devastating economic consequences from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, experts warned on Friday.

Why it matters: The landmark Turnaway Study found that women who have to carry an unwanted pregnancy were four times as likely to struggle with poverty years later. Raising a child costs over $230,000 on average, according to the Department of Agriculture.

What they’re saying: “This decision will cause immediate economic pain in 26 states where abortion bans are most likely and where people already face lower wages, less worker power, and limited access to health care. The fall of Roe will be an additional economic barricade,” Heidi Shierholz, president of the Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement.

The big picture: In an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court last year, 154 economists wrote that there is “a substantial body of well developed and credible research that shows that abortion legalization and access in the United States has had — and continues to have — a significant effect on birth rates as well as broad downstream social and economic effects, including on women’s educational attainment and job opportunities.

Replacement theory has been proven wrong by science. But science also tells us that the only way we can prosper is if we provide abortion care to all pregnant people who are U.S. citizens and import infants and children via migration.

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Closing out Pride Month in Florida

The density of front lawn signs in our corner of Florida has been less than 1/100th of what it was in Maskachusetts. In fact, it seemed fair to say that an N95 mask is far more popular in Florida than expressing one’s political and social justice beliefs via lawn signs or bumper stickers.

It turns out, however, that our neighbors do celebrate Pride Month in June and signs have appeared on 1 out of 20 front lawns and house facades. Here’s one neighbor, for example:

For the other houses that we regularly pass by, however, the pride signs have all been related to a child graduating from middle school, high school, or college. Examples:

(We were fortunate to meet Ellie, a hard-working young lady who has completed Jupiter High School (run by Palm Beach County) and will soon be a student at Florida State. She did not say anything about identifying as 2SLGBTQQIA+)

Here is a house where Henry and Sean are celebrated for finishing an arts magnet middle school and being admitted to the arts magnet high school, funded by a former MIT board member.

Speaking of Pride, “Miami teen accepted into all 8 Ivy League universities” (Good Morning America):

First-generation Nigerian American Ashley Adirika became one of few prospective students to be accepted into all eight Ivy League universities.

“The tears just started to come out. Like they started to flow out,” she said of her reaction to finding out. “My siblings and I were just really excited, like screaming, jumping around. It was crazy,” she said.

From being a teacher to sitting in the Oval Office, Adirika’s dreams have changed over time, but now she is focused on empowering young women of marginalized identities with her organization, Our Story, Our Worth, which she started as a high school sophomore.

She said she looks forward to learning more about herself, her place in the world and how to “maximize the impact” she has in empowering communities when she starts at Harvard University in the fall.

The recent Miami Beach Senior High School graduate and student government president also credits her time on speech and debate teams with building the confidence to make her voice heard.

She did not attend one of the killer magnet schools in the Miami area, but just a regular neighborhood high school, thus proving American Pravda correct once again: “Surprise: Florida and Texas Excel in Math and Reading Scores” (NYT, 2015).

Readers: What are you doing to complete your celebration of Pride Month?

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A Royal Caribbean cruise ship plagued by COVID-19

Some neighbors refused our invitation to a hot dog and watermelon (but not on Juneteenth!) party. They’d gone on a Royal Caribbean cruise, which requires that all over-11 guests be vaccinated and tested:

It seems that more or less the entire ship came down with COVID-19, but people hid their symptoms and did not get tested until after disembarking so as to avoiding imprisonment in the closet-sized rooms. The policy:

A guest that tests positive for COVID-19 will need to isolate onboard for a period of time — either until they can be safely disembarked at a port of call with private transport home, or when the sailing concludes back at the homeport where it started. Those guests who meet the threshold to be deemed a close contact will need to meet necessary quarantine and/or testing requirements based on their vaccination status.

Guests who must isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test result will remain in their stateroom or be moved to a stateroom near the medical center where medical staff and Guest Services will check on them regularly, depending on availability. Complimentary amenities including room service and WiFi will be provided.

All of the above can be avoided via don’t ask, don’t tell and that’s what the cruise passengers have figured out.

Our friends are physicians in their 40s with unvaccinated kids. They’ve all tested positive for COVID-19, but have symptoms milder than a typical cold. “Generally just tired.”

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Science Personified runs but cannot hide from COVID-19

From the UK Deplorables, “Anthony Fauci says that he’s experienced rebound Covid symptoms after taking a Pfizer’s antiviral Paxlovid – which studies now show is NOT effective for people who are vaccinated” (Daily Mail):

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he’s on his second course of Paxlovid after testing positive again for Covid-19

The [CDC] warning noted that none of the reported rebound cases saw patients suffer a severe case of Covid-19, though Fauci described his symptoms as ‘much worse’

Earlier this month, Fauci tested positive for the virus with mild symptoms including fatigue. As his symptoms got slightly worse, Fauci began a five day course of Paxlovid.

Following that course, Fauci said that he tested negative for the virus three days in a row. He decided to test again on the fourth day. The result came back positive.

Biden has propped it up during his 2022 State of the Union address as one of the keys to America’s Covid response, even offering it for free to anyone who tests positive for the virus. At the 2022 State of the Union, Biden said: ‘If you get COVID-19, the Pfizer pill reduces your chances of ending up in the hospital by 90 percent.’

He announced the ‘Test to Treat’ program, where Americans who tested positive for the virus at pharmacies around the country could quickly get a course of the drugs at no cost.

I like that last part the best. A taxpayer getting a medicine that is paid for by taxpayers (i.e., him/her/zir/theirself) is getting it at “no cost”.

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What are you paying for a haircut after Bidenflation?

A basic haircut at a barber shop in downtown San Diego was $40 plus tip earlier this month. What are you paying?

Based on limited experience, haircuts in the West are much more expensive than haircuts back east. It was $36 in Denver before coronapanic.

“Want to Understand Inflation? Check the Price of Your Haircut” (WSJ, June 22):

In San Francisco, Shorty Maniace raised prices at J.P. Kempt Barber Social from $55 to $65 in May and is considering another increase. When the barbershop opened in 2013, a standard cut was $45. He says people regularly walk out of the salon in a huff after hearing the price.

How do all of the San Franciscans living in tents afford haircuts? sfserviceguide.org:

YWAM SF offers free haircuts to homeless or low-income people who need it or are going to have a job interview.

I’m a little out of touch because we’ve had a micro barbershop running here at home starting in 2018 for the kids and then in 2020 for everyone except the barber herself.

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Economist answers my question about high interest rates and high deficits

Two weeks ago: Could our epic deficits drive inflation no matter how high the Fed raises rates?

John H. Cochrane, the superstar economist (and sailplane pilot! How does that work when you’re a professor at University of Chicago and the nearest ridge is 1,000 miles away?), answers the question in the Wall Street Journal… “The Federal Reserve Can’t Cure Inflation by Itself”:

By raising interest rates, the Fed pushes the economy toward recession. It hopes to push just enough to offset the stimulus’s fiscal boost. But monetary brakes and a floored fiscal gas pedal mistreat the economic engine.

The Phillips curve, by which the Fed believes slowing economic activity reduces inflation, is ephemeral. Some recessions and rate hikes even feature higher inflation, especially in countries with fiscal problems.

Higher interest rates will directly make deficits worse by adding to the interest costs on the debt. Reducing inflation was hard enough in 1980, when federal debt was under 25% of gross domestic product. Now it is over 100%. Each percentage point interest rates are higher means $250 billion more in inflation-inducing deficit.

Monetary policy alone can’t cure a sustained inflation. The government will also have to fix the underlying fiscal problem. Short-run deficit reduction, temporary measures or accounting gimmicks won’t work. Neither will a bout of growth-killing high-tax “austerity.” The U.S. has to persuade people that over the long haul of several decades it will return to its tradition of running small primary surpluses that gradually repay debts. That outcome requires economic growth, which raises long-run taxable income. Raising tax rates alone is like climbing a sand dune, as each rise hurts income growth. The U.S. also needs spending reform, especially on entitlements. And it needs to break the cycle that each crisis will be met by a river of printed or borrowed money, bailouts for big financial firms and stimulus checks for voters.

In other words, as long as Congress keeps borrowing and spending, at least according to Professor Cochrane, we can experience inflation even with high interest rates from the wizards behind the curtain at the Fed. Maybe there could be a house price crash due to the high interest rates (how many people can afford a $20,000 per month mortgage on a 4BR?), but that won’t bring down the headline inflation number since house prices were taking out of the government’s official stats. The rent prices that are in the CPI stat shouldn’t come down because mortgage rates are high. In fact, maybe the high mortgage rates will lead to higher rents since renting is an alternative to buying and paying a mortgage.

On the third hand, though our realtor says that the crash hasn’t happened yet here in South Florida, houses are sitting longer on the market. This could be because it is mid-summer and that is the traditional dead season for real estate. Here’s a fairly standard 5BR house on a busy street in Abacoa:

Note the 38 days on the market at the bottom. In January 2022, this place would have sold within two weeks. Zillow estimates the payment for living on this vast 1/4-acre estate and listening to cars zip by all day at $17,576 per month. For that to be one third of a buyer’s income, he/she/ze/they would have to earn $633,000 per year (i.e., be a dermatologist or plastic surgeon).

Related:

  • Cochrane’s calculation of the complete tax rate for a successful Californian (he also has a job next to Stanford): How much is the property tax? In Calfornia, we pay 1% per year. That doesn’t seem bad, except that property values are very high. You can’t get a tear-down in Palo Alto for under $2 million. If you buy a house that costs 5 times your income — say someone earning $200,000 per year buying a $1 million house — then that is equivalent to 5 percentage points additional income tax. On top of 42% federal, 13.2% state, 9% sales, and other taxes, it’s part of my view that we’re past 70% top marginal rate now.
  • “How did Paul Krugman get it so Wrong?” (2009): Most of all, Krugman likes fiscal stimulus. … In economics, stimulus spending ran aground on Robert Barro’s Ricardian equivalence theorem. This theorem says that debt-financed spending can’t have any more effect than spending financed by raising taxes. … If you believe the Keynesian argument for stimulus, you should think Bernie Madoff is a hero. He took money from people who were saving it, and gave it to people who most assuredly were going to spend it. Each dollar so transferred, in Krugman’s world, generates an additional dollar and a half of national income. The analogy is even closer. Madoff didn’t just take money from his savers, he essentially borrowed it from them, giving them phony accounts with promises of great profits to come. This looks a lot like government debt. If you believe the Keynesian argument for stimulus, you don’t care how the money is spent. All this puffery about “infrastructure,” monitoring, wise investment, jobs “created” and so on is pointless. Keynes thought the government should pay people to dig ditches and fill them up. [Good news for the PPP program is next] If you believe in Keynesian stimulus, you don’t even care if the government spending money is stolen. Actually, that would be better. Thieves have notoriously high propensities to consume.
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Hijacked Facebook account message exchange

A young relative’s Facebook account was hijacked (via social engineering) and below is my message exchange with the new person behind the old persona. The hijacker initially asked for my mobile number, presumably hoping to complete the conversation via text message instead of on Facebook. I was immediately suspicious given that we were already in an application that allows text, voice, and video. When the request was for $100 I knew that it was a scam because 100 Bidies rounds to $0 in 2022 purchasing power.

I am a little confused…

Fortuitously, it turns out that I am good friends with Tito Rodrigueze:

The hijacking victim’s mom spent days trying to recover the account. Facebook is not easy to deal with, it seems.

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Massachusetts contemplates California-style tax rates

Maskachusetts has been prevented by its constitution from imposing California-style progressive tax rates to fund its Progressive government goals. That could change in November if voters approve an amendment that would enable forcing the rich to pay their fair share.

Currently, Massachusetts is ranked among the top 15 states in percentage of residents’ income taken to fund state and local government (Tax Foundation). TX runs state/local gov. on 8.6% of what its residents earn. FL takes 9.1%. MA takes 11.5%. The champions include NY at 15.9% and CA at 13.5%. Government by Science (philosopher kings) is not cheap, apparently.

The Pioneer Institute provides some analysis:

The amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution would have a particularly significant impact on retirees and small businesses. It would affect a long list of “income” categories, including salary, capital gains (on the sale of investments, homes, businesses and other assets), dividends, IRA and 401K distributions, interest, royalties, and commissions. In any one year, should the totality of these income streams exceed $1 million, the state would increase existing income taxes by 4 percent on the excess.

“Pass-through” companies such as partnerships, limited liability corporations, subchapter S corporations and sole proprietorships are taxed via individual returns. These mostly small businesses, nearly two thirds of which are subchapter S corporations, employed almost half of all private, for-profit employees in Massachusetts in 2019.

Passage of the constitutional amendment would force many pass-through businesses to pay the new 4 percent tax on top of the existing 5 percent income tax. Subchapter S corporations, which currently pay Massachusetts’ unique “stinger tax” of up to 3.9 percent, would face a total state tax burden of up to 12.9 percent, a rate higher than large corporations pay.

In addition, adopting the tax hike amendment would give Massachusetts the nation’s highest short-term capital gains tax (16 percent) and the highest long-term capital gains tax in New England.

… the tax hike amendment falls primarily on households selling a family home or business to finance retirement. Nearly half of all parties affected by the tax earn $1 million or more only once in a decade; over 60 percent do so only twice.

The tax would apply to more residents every year. To adjust for inflation, the tax amendment uses the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, which has lagged well behind household income and wages in Massachusetts. State legislative salaries, on the other hand, are tied to median household income, which has risen much faster.

I’m not sure that the tax increase would be a bad idea. Due to the state’s 5% income tax and 16% estate tax, a successful person could already save $millions for his/her/zir/their children by moving to the vacation playground of Florida (see analysis below; kids will enjoy roughly 42 percent higher spending power if the parent moves 30 years prior to dying). We can therefore infer that most people who have chosen to stay in Maskachusetts don’t mind paying higher tax rates.

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