Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => The Environment => Topic started by: alancalverd on 18/03/2020 10:24:39

Title: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 18/03/2020 10:24:39
However you measure it, the world is in a global economic recession, with everybody doing less of everything for the next few months. The environmental effect will be like 9/11 but on a far bigger scale. So here's an opportunity to explore the overall impact of decreasing economic activity on the entire ecosystem including human happiness, and possibly to radically review the underlying expansionist assumptions of politics and economics.

One immediate realisation has been that children are an economic burden, not an asset.

It was noticeable that cloud cover altered dramatically over the USA in the aftermath of 9/11 - the grounding of almost all flights worldwide will surely have an effect on weather, and if it is beneficial, perhaps could lead to a change in behaviour: if we can survive with less frequent travel, why not  spend longer at your destination (longer holidays, relaxed business Ö.) and halve the number of flights required?

Any predictions? 
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Colin2B on 18/03/2020 10:59:41
It was noticeable that cloud cover altered dramatically over the USA in the aftermath of 9/11 - the grounding of almost all flights worldwide will surely have an effect on weather,
I seem to remember a comment at the time that the lack of contrails over US led to a rise in temp. Iíll see if I can find a ref
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: chiralSPO on 18/03/2020 13:39:52
One immediate realisation has been that children are an economic burden, not an asset.

I thought that was already common knowledge.

The first 15 years or so are a sunk cost (closer to 25 these days in the US...) But those with children in their 30s and up might see a reversal in those economics.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 18/03/2020 20:10:51
Quote from: alan calverd
It was noticeable that cloud cover altered dramatically over the USA in the aftermath of 9/11 - the grounding of almost all flights worldwide will surely have an effect on weather
Some recent research showed that by altering the altitude of planes by a few hundred meters, the extent of contrail generation could be greatly reduced.

During the day, contrails are fairly neutral in the weather - they reflect visible sunlight back into space before it hits the ground, and they reflect infra red from the ground back down again.

But at night, contrails continue to reflect infra-red back down to the ground, but there is no sunlight to reflect away, so they have a warming influence.

So you want to generate contrails during the day, but ensure that they are short-lived enough to dissipate before sunset...
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 18/03/2020 21:07:31
A lot depends on the water content of the air at altitude. If the air contains supercooled water vapor the contrails can nucleate continuous cloud that would not form otherwise.

But there's a lot more (or rather a lot less) going on at the moment. Less surface travel, in particular, and a general decrease in nonessential industry, will significantly decrease anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide. The definitive experiment is being done at last!

On the sociological side, this is an opportunity to bring the academic year in line with the calendar year. Rather than panic about school closures, let's begin by moving school examinations to October and college entrance to January. The whole point of the long summer holiday was to free child labor for harvest, which is why in my youth the school holiday began earlier in the southwest but had a deferred week or fortnight in Scotland for the potato harvest. Something of an anachronism nowadays.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 18/03/2020 21:08:43
One immediate realisation has been that children are an economic burden, not an asset.

I thought that was already common knowledge.

The first 15 years or so are a sunk cost (closer to 25 these days in the US...) But those with children in their 30s and up might see a reversal in those economics.
Its called an investment for old age, multiply many times and you have many children to look after you. Keep multiplying and you shall be proud and rich in your old age with honour and respect..

And the earth will die.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 18/03/2020 21:19:25
Quote
you have many children to look after you.
But they don't, in western society. Almost nobody contributes to the economy before the age of 20. Your pension is paid by the working population, either from taxation or from profits on invested pension funds, and it is that population in the 20 - 60 age group that actually delivers  care services.  If we had fewer children we'd save resources spent on maternity pay, education, child health, social services and even policing, so there would be more for the elderly!

The problem, at least as perceived by economists and politicians, is that a reducing population means a shrinking economy. But the unasked question is "is that really a Bad Thing?" Well, now is the time to ask it, because it's shrinking anyway. 
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 18/03/2020 22:43:31
Quote
you have many children to look after you.
But they don't, in western society. Almost nobody contributes to the economy before the age of 20. Your pension is paid by the working population, either from taxation or from profits on invested pension funds, and it is that population in the 20 - 60 age group that actually delivers  care services.  If we had fewer children we'd save resources spent on maternity pay, education, child health, social services and even policing, so there would be more for the elderly!

The problem, at least as perceived by economists and politicians, is that a reducing population means a shrinking economy. But the unasked question is "is that really a Bad Thing?" Well, now is the time to ask it, because it's shrinking anyway. 
Well that is a good idea, we could always have migration from the soviet block come over in our old age to wipe our arses ! But damn the 40 plus age group has just voted to leave europe............Mmmmm, lazy kids not contributing?....... Brexit all becomes clear !
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 19/03/2020 00:11:02
Quote from: alan calverd
let's begin by moving school examinations to October and college entrance to January
We almost have that in Australia, today.
School year starts at end January, and universities at end-February.
School exams are October-November.

We have our summer school vacation mid-December to end-January (something that the UK is highly unlikely to adopt!)
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 19/03/2020 09:13:24
Well that is a good idea, we could always have migration from the soviet block come over in our old age to wipe our arses ! But damn the 40 plus age group has just voted to leave europe............Mmmmm, lazy kids not contributing?....... Brexit all becomes clear !
My point remains, and it's nothing to do with laziness. In my younger days, nurse training began at 15 or 16, with practical ward experience. Nowadays you need a degree to wipe an arse, so the youngest are 21. Not sure that Brexit will change that, but it will permit the recruitment of staff whose first language is English. 

Whilst I'm on my high horse, it's worth pointing out that not only nursing is affected. In the 1950s the army trained radiographers in 6 weeks. The NHS increased it to 3 months in the 1960s. The equipment  is now far more reliable and easier to operate (army training included maintenance and repair!)  and the hours previously spent in chemical darkrooms have been eliminated by digital imaging, so the basic course is now a 3 year degree!
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 19/03/2020 16:01:00
Well that is a good idea, we could always have migration from the soviet block come over in our old age to wipe our arses ! But damn the 40 plus age group has just voted to leave europe............Mmmmm, lazy kids not contributing?....... Brexit all becomes clear !
My point remains, and it's nothing to do with laziness. In my younger days, nurse training began at 15 or 16, with practical ward experience. Nowadays you need a degree to wipe an arse, so the youngest are 21. Not sure that Brexit will change that, but it will permit the recruitment of staff whose first language is English. 

Whilst I'm on my high horse, it's worth pointing out that not only nursing is affected. In the 1950s the army trained radiographers in 6 weeks. The NHS increased it to 3 months in the 1960s. The equipment  is now far more reliable and easier to operate (army training included maintenance and repair!)  and the hours previously spent in chemical darkrooms have been eliminated by digital imaging, so the basic course is now a 3 year degree!
I must say alan that is vastly incorrect. The vast majority arse wiping is done by people with no formal qualifications in carehomes across the land, for minimum wage and no contract, day in day out, who contributed nothing to the economy in there youth. The point was the old are punishing the young  by voting brexit, thus  making them wipe the arses.

In a more logical point, if kids do children contribute neither do old folks, may as well bolt gun them as soon as they reach a certain age,
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 19/03/2020 20:28:50
Old folks have paid taxes and made investments, and have therefore earned their reward. 

I am unaware of your supposed army of 5-year-old arsewipers. This isn't Dickensian Britain, nor even Maoist China. However if they really do close the schools and scrap exams, perhaps we will return to those heady Victorian times, with kids up chimneys and down the re-opened coalmines, in which case I will retract my argument.

I share your concern about low pay and insecurity in the care sector. Problem is that with the accession of former soviet bloc countries to the EU, it was possible to recruit very cheap labor: the UK minimum wage is actually higher than the average family income in Romania and I was able to recruit qualified healthcare professionals for less than the cost of a UK student. Brexit should, in the medium term, result in a significant increase in the lowest wages as there is no right of free movement for anyone and the minimum salary for a prospective immigrant is way above minimum wage.

Since every child costs £12,500 per year and produces nothing, if we had fewer children we could pay care workers more.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 19/03/2020 20:49:10
One immediate realisation has been that children are an economic burden, not an asset.
That depends on your timescale.
Nowadays you need a degree to wipe an arse,
You have equated nursing with arse wiping.
Is that due to ignorance or was it a lie?

Not sure that Brexit will change that, but it will permit the recruitment of staff whose first language is English. 
It may have escaped your notice, but most of the staff in the NHS already had English as their first language,

Brexit happened; you "won". you can stop telling those silly stories now.


In the 1950s the army trained radiographers in 6 weeks.
In the 1950s shoe salesmen were working as radiographers.*
Then we realised it was a monumentally f***ing stupid thing to do.

Also, in the 50s radiographers didn't have to learn about NMR or a host of other techniques.

It's as if you set out to post something to make yourself look stupid.


* yes, really
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe-fitting_fluoroscope
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 19/03/2020 20:50:36
I am unaware of your supposed army of 5-year-old arsewipers.
That's because it's a strawman you made up.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 20/03/2020 08:00:55
Also, in the 50s radiographers didn't have to learn about NMR or a host of other techniques.
Every technique beyond radiography and fluoroscopy now requires a postgraduate qualification.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: jeffreyH on 20/03/2020 08:16:39
What about the elephant in the room? In the US they are currently proposing to give everyone UBI. No one is saying how are they going to pay for that. They just have to do it or the pitch forks will be out.
Governments PRINT the money. If they wanted they could give everyone a million pounds TOMORROW! We invented a system that hides the slavery in something we call society. If we don't pay a mortgage or rent we get kicked out onto the streets and admonished.
Why are we still discussing this BS.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: jeffreyH on 20/03/2020 08:24:51
Oh and BTW they only started taking this pandemic seriously when people like Tom Hanks or political figures started getting sick. Now they have to quarantine the peasants so that it doesn't affect polite society. That means that they have to shut them up in their houses with enough money to keep them happy until NORMALITY can be resumed.
Have a think about that for a few quiet minutes.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 20/03/2020 10:13:01
Why are we still discussing this BS.
Because freedom, democracy and greatness depend on everybody having a gun (except in NRA meetings) and nobody having free health care (except the President). Ask any Republican.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 20/03/2020 10:54:58
Also, in the 50s radiographers didn't have to learn about NMR or a host of other techniques.
Every technique beyond radiography and fluoroscopy now requires a postgraduate qualification.
Yes, they do. Because they are quite complicated.

So?
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 20/03/2020 12:04:03
Drifting way off topic, but my concern was that plane radiography and fluoroscopy are now a lot less complicated than 60 years ago - the equipment is vastly safer, more reliable, and does most of the thinking for you, and human anatomy really hasn't changed much in my lifetime. I was involved in a WHO project to develop a machine and handbook that allowed anyone vaguely numerate (not literate - one book for the whole world) to take 95% of all textbook x-rays with no training whatsoever - and it worked. But it now requires good science A levels and a 3 year degree to do the same thing.

Your profound insight and explanation will be very welcome.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 20/03/2020 12:10:14
Meanwhile, my chef son has realised that the world is changing. Pubs and restaurants all closing, but there's no shortage of food, just more demand for fresh stuff to eat at home, so he's left the hotel and is working for a supermarket instead, hoping to develop the home cooking market into something more lasting.

Any other signs of medium-term societal change?   
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 20/03/2020 12:28:41
Drifting way off topic, but my concern was that plane radiography and fluoroscopy are now a lot less complicated than 60 years ago
It's not clear what your topic was in the first place but... whatever.

Yes, new technology (where it is available- which excludes most of the world but... ) will make it easier to do the easy stuff.
It's probably more or less fair to say that my dental xrays are pretty much the same as dental xrays always were.
Yes, guess you could train a bright 10 year old to do that.

But, here's the thing you seem to deliberately miss.
Things have moved on.
People expect more than a simple shadowgram.

And because there's more to do, it takes more to learn how to do it.

Why is that such a difficult thing to understand?
Do you think the trainees spend their time reading the newspapers or something?
Or do you accept that, maybe, there's simply more to know about radiology than there was in 1950?
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 20/03/2020 12:48:18
People expect more than a simple shadowgram.
But that's 95% of what they get.

Quote
It's probably more or less fair to say that my dental xrays are pretty much the same as dental xrays always were. Yes, guess you could train a bright 10 year old to do that.
In fact dental radiography is one of the more difficult aspects to get right - the picture book approach isn't entirely adequate. The old NHS Dental Estimates Board rejected over 50% of submitted plane x-rays as clinically useless and therefore not eligible for payment - and those were the good ones!

There is indeed a lot more to radiology than there used to be, which is why it's a further specialised branch of medicine, not radiography.

Quote
Yes, new technology (where it is available- which excludes most of the world but... ) will make it easier to do the easy stuff.
Interestingly, the WHO Basic X-ray Unit project ended up with some of the most sophisticated hardware because it is inherently more reliable and easier to maintain and use than the "simple" stuff.  The problem was laid out at an early conference by a radiologist who said there were more x-ray engineers in Bristol than in the whole of East Africa, so could we please make something that didn't need engineers.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 20/03/2020 20:37:16
Quote from: JeffreyH
If we don't pay a mortgage or rent we get kicked out onto the streets and admonished.
Why are we still discussing this BS.
It looks like the old economy is going to be in the doldrums for maybe a year (depending on how seasonal this COVID-19 turns out to be).
- Some people's jobs will disappear, as will food on their table, and the roof over their heads
- Other people's jobs (mostly knowledge workers and critical infrastructure) will continue with working from home, and they will expect to be paid, and will expect to be able to buy food and pay rent
- But who pays the people with jobs, when many people without jobs aren't buying stuff or paying their bills?

It's almost like we need the old Jewish idea of the "Year of Jubilee", where all debts are forgiven. Then we reset the accounts, and next year, we start again with a blank slate...

But in the meantime, we all need to be fed, which will require us to continue doing our jobs as long as possible, even if its not clear how long we will be paid.
- To be self-disciplined, and stay isolated when we have any symptoms (even if we think it might just be hay-fever; you really can't tell the difference, at first!)
- To be helpful to our neighbours, friends and family when they are sick and can't go out to buy food
- Continue spending money (especially those with a job), even though it's not clear how much longer the money will last.
- Find innovative and helpful ways to help people without physical contact, like offering traditional services over the internet* 

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jubilee_(biblical)#Origin_and_purpose
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 20/03/2020 20:44:35
Quote from: OP
Time for a new economics?
In Australia, the government has so far refused to let schools move to online education - they mandate that government funding is dependent on teachers having face-to-face lessons with students.
- This also provides a route for infection between students and families.
- The education department is stuck in "old school" technology, and will soon need to move into the 21st century.

In the meantime, I see that in the UK, schools will be closed from today (until further notice)...
- Are they planning to move to online education?

Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 20/03/2020 21:06:55
In the meantime, I see that in the UK, schools will be closed from today (until further notice)...
- Are they planning to move to online education?
Define "planning".
It's going to sort of happen because there's a big demand from parents.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 21/03/2020 09:46:40
If it works, this could be revolutionary for the teaching profession. The Open University delivers an absolutely standard syllabus in dozens of subjects at very low cost, though admittedly to a strongly motivated audience. Why not extend this initially to the A level cohort, and guarantee that exam results are based on pupil ability and aptitude rather than the quality of teaching?

A general shrinkage of economic activity could lead to a reduction in workforce, with an increase in stay-home parenting which, coupled with universal high quality teaching at primary and secondary level, could produce the best-educated population since the 1960s.

I just came across a neat resilience trick yesterday. My daughter's company has rigidly segregated the workers into two shifts that never meet face to face: red shift is in the office on even dates, blue shift on odd dates; work from home or make site visits if you are not in the office. If anyone gets infected, only half the company is quarantined and the other half can split, and so forth. If the worst comes to the worst, they have at least delayed the inevitable whilst maintaining some central office facility to the bitter end.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 21/03/2020 18:22:39
What about the elephant in the room? In the US they are currently proposing to give everyone UBI. No one is saying how are they going to pay for that. They just have to do it or the pitch forks will be out.
Governments PRINT the money. If they wanted they could give everyone a million pounds TOMORROW! We invented a system that hides the slavery in something we call society. If we don't pay a mortgage or rent we get kicked out onto the streets and admonished.
Why are we still discussing this BS.
They are giving a weekly hand out in one country in scandinavia, so far no change, but sociologicaly it early days. I agree massively  with the social point of kicking people out homeless and the general tone of your point. I felt i should say that.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/feb/08/finland-free-cash-experiment-fails-to-boost-employment

Sorry jeff its not open to new entrants
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 21/03/2020 19:52:11
I just came across a neat resilience trick yesterday. My daughter's company has rigidly segregated the workers into two shifts that never meet face to face: red shift is in the office on even dates, blue shift on odd dates

Great, but you need damned good cleaners.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 21/03/2020 21:18:10
Quote from: alancalverd
My daughter's company has rigidly segregated the workers into two shifts that never meet face to face: red shift is in the office on even dates, blue shift on odd dates
Some banks have split their call center: half working from the regular call center, half from their emergency call center.
- This solves the cleaning problem mention mentioned by bored chemist
- Since virus can remain viable on surfaces for more than a day
- The problem will be further reduced if everyone uses the same workstation every day
- And workstations are spaced a meter or more apart
- But the risk will be far lower again if call center workers can work from home

The difficult thing with splitting the shifts across different sites is doing the initial allocation:
- I can imagine an instruction like "Everyone who is going to get the virus go to site A, and everyone who is not going to get the virus go to site B"

In reality, almost everyone will eventually get the virus (or maybe a vaccine, if it arrives in time).
- What we need is a test or criterion by which the recovered people can safely go back to work, without risk of infecting those who haven't been infected yet.
- That will mean a rule like "Don't return to work until X weeks after symptoms cease"
- or an antibody test?
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 21/03/2020 21:52:05
Quote from: alancalverd
My daughter's company has rigidly segregated the workers into two shifts that never meet face to face: red shift is in the office on even dates, blue shift on odd dates
Some banks have split their call center: half working from the regular call center, half from their emergency call center.
- This solves the cleaning problem mention mentioned by bored chemist
- Since virus can remain viable on surfaces for more than a day
- The problem will be further reduced if everyone uses the same workstation every day
- And workstations are spaced a meter or more apart
- But the risk will be far lower again if call center workers can work from home

The difficult thing with splitting the shifts across different sites is doing the initial allocation:
- I can imagine an instruction like "Everyone who is going to get the virus go to site A, and everyone who is not going to get the virus go to site B"

In reality, almost everyone will eventually get the virus (or maybe a vaccine, if it arrives in time).
- What we need is a test or criterion by which the recovered people can safely go back to work, without risk of infecting those who haven't been infected yet.
- That will mean a rule like "Don't return to work until X weeks after symptoms cease"
- or an antibody test?
They have adopted a similar practice at a doctors surgery in london, a hot floor, and a cold floor, one dealing with coughs cold etc and the one with arthritis etc. Doctors being doctors however accept that all of the doctors on the corona floor will get corona, being replaced with a new batch. If they split call centres, there will be 2 sites with corona ! They would have been better having a replacement crew, sending half the workforce home, that would slow the spread !
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 22/03/2020 20:25:48
Quote from: OP
decreasing economic activity on the entire ecosystem including human happiness, and possibly to radically review the underlying expansionist assumptions of politics and economics.
It's true that humans are not happy if they feel they are getting less of something, and only happy if they are getting more.
- That means "less than they used to get": That is problematic when a lot of the economy must shut down to prevent an even bigger economic and social disaster (high death rate, critical industries shut down because all the workers are sick at the same time)
- And "less than someone else": That is problematic when knowledge workers and people in critical industries will continue to get paid, while all the waiters, barmaids, event organisers and musicians have no work.

The large handouts announced by governments in a number of countries will give:
- the newly unemployed more than they would have received previously, so they are not too upset
- the employed will receive what they previously received, so they are not too upset
- This is effectively "printing more money" (even though cash is seen by some as an infection risk...)
- When you increase the money supply, while simultaneously reducing the amount of goods and services produced, this produces rampant inflation
- Let's say that production output is halved over winter, and the money supply is doubled. Effectively, we can expect 200% inflation over the year.
- What the government has done is to effectively:
       + reduce the wages of those in work (whose wages probably won't keep up with inflation),
       + while reducing the wages of those out of work
       + without letting the income of the unemployed fall to zero, which would produce starvation, desperation, theft and riots: ie the total breakdown of law & order
      + Shuffle the income between the "haves" and "have nots" in such a way that both groups think they haven't lost any money
      + Even though the real availability of goods and services is reduced
- The list of goods and services that remain available are: food/water, electricity/fuel, medical/hospital and TV/Internet.
-  Everything else is considered "non-essential", so you have to live off what you already have (or which others will share with you)
- As happened in China, new and innovative ways of providing services over the internet will appear, which will consume less resources than digging up stuff to sell.
- The level of air pollution would be improved in cities.

So, I expect that some new economics will appear for a while
- while retaining the basic human mantra of "I want more; I want more than everyone else; and I am really annoyed if I get less of anything.".
- Some sociologists have done experiments, and found that people are quite irrational about this
- People are twice as angry about losing something
- As they were happy about getting that same thing in the first place!

The Old Book had a word for this: to "covet" is human, but it doesn't necessarily bring out the best in us...
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Blimey on 23/03/2020 10:21:24
I suggested we convert to a single world currency based on toilet paper. I don't think anyone took it on though.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 23/03/2020 11:49:50
Many a true word is spoken in jest. A currency based on essentials rather than speculation about the future of luxuries, might just evolve. And our concept of essential is changing. A local cleaner has been offered double her usual hourly rate  and has invested in hazmat kit. Delivery drivers are still working crazy shifts but can see that the demand for their services is beginning to exceed supply, with the usual inevitable consequence.

I've written to my MP suggesting that the simplest form of financial help for the selfemployed would be to refund a proportion of last year's income tax. This will reward those who honestly declared their profits, and not those with offshore holding companies and other avoidance wheezes.

The real elephant in the UK economy is the cost of housing, which accounts for around 30%  of GNP. If there is any mechanism by which COVID19 can reduce house prices, this country could become a great place to live and work. 
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 23/03/2020 12:19:12
If there is any mechanism by which COVID19 can reduce house prices, t
Think about it...
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: RD on 23/03/2020 15:43:22
If there is any mechanism by which COVID19 can reduce house prices, t
Think about it...

If there is "increased demand for" the "death management system" ...
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-what-it-will-do/what-the-coronavirus-bill-will-do
Funerals will become more expensive & house prices will drop.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 23/03/2020 17:54:22
Funerals should get cheaper. No preparation of the corpse, no visit to the funeral parlor, no cars full of sniffling relatives, no crowded service, no wake in the pub. Just the registrar and the crematorium operators (no gravediggers!).   
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 23/03/2020 19:13:23
Quote from: Blimey
I suggested we convert to a single world currency based on toilet paper.
My daughter was talking to Yanice, recently turned 4 years old; Yanice was describing what it is like to be sick: Germs are yucky. And all the people are eating toilet paper. They are being so silly!

Quote from: US
e pluribus unum:Out of many, one
I heard of a US actor who picked up a respiratory virus.

He went to get tested for COVID-19, only to be hit with a bill for almost $US10,000 for the test kit.
- That actor probably has health insurance, so he would get most of it back. If not, he can probably afford it.
- But the bulk of the US population does not have health insurance (or it's tied to their workplace, which might soon get shut down).
- And the bulk of the US population can't afford hospital care
- So the bulk of the US population can't afford to be tested for COVID-19, even if they met the criteria
- That will lead to a tsunami of undetected community spread

In the home of free enterprise, there seems to be no understanding that when it comes to a pandemic, out of the neglect of the many comes a massive blight on the whole country.

It will be interesting to compare the health outcomes in the USA ("every man for himself") to Canada (which has a public health system).
- For a pandemic virus, it is every man to every other man (and woman & child...)

Quote from: OP
Time for a new economics?
The major change we need in our economy is to properly value "externalities":
- Externalities in economics are the things that we get for "free", but really cost someone something, just not the person who benefits.

In this case,the costs of selling endangered species (habitat destruction) is not considered by those profiteering from the sale
- They may even see impending extinction as a benefit: if there are fewer pangolins (or rhinos) in the wild, there won't be as many on sale in the the markets, and you can sell them for an inflated price!
- Until they go totally extinct - and people discover that pangolin scales and rhino horns are made of the same stuff as human hair and fingernail clippings (keratin).

But the real cost of these illegal wildlife markets will be borne by everyone - world economic output reduced by perhaps 25% over the winter months, premature deaths of many grandparents.

Now, if only we could cost in externalities in a more general way...
- We could start with polluting industries (as was done with lead in petrol)
- And apply it to a carbon tax (the fossil fuel industry currently don't get charged for this externality; and they have hired the merchants of doubt away from the tobacco industry to delay this impact as long as possible)
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 24/03/2020 00:17:44
Just the registrar and the crematorium operators (no gravediggers!).   
And two hours later, our revered government has clamped down on all travel and public gatherings except funerals - possibly the only group activity that cannot have any value whatever.   
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 24/03/2020 09:21:05
Quote from: alancalverd
clamped down on all travel and public gatherings except funerals
Since most of the deaths will be amongst the elderly, most of their friends, and many of their close family will also be elderly.
- Just the sort of people you don't want in a crowd around a body that was recently producing copious quantities of virus...
- Aged care homes are terrified of virus getting into their premises - they can't afford to let someone go out and come back inside...

Seems to be an argument for live-streaming funerals...
- Getting help with the technology will be important for many elderly people!
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 24/03/2020 20:05:38
It seems from today's news that President Trump is keen to get America back to business after Easter (12 April, this year).
- From his political background, maybe he favours big business, and is alarmed by the loss of profits from the current shutdowns?
- Given the large number of people who are currently infected in the community, a return to work will produce an explosion of cases 5-10 days later
- Hospital ventilators could be 100% used by mid-April
- Turning a major exposition venue in New York into a military field hospital is a good idea, but this needs to be repeated around the country

1. If the pandemic is spread out over 4 months through various shutdowns and social distancing mechanisms, then society can limp on, with 25% of critical workers off work at any time
- There should be enough non-infective workers to deliver food, treat medical conditions and repair electricity & water networks

2. However, if you ignore any such measures, you could have most people infected in the same month
- There will be no medical care, food deliveries and failures of critical networks will go unrepaired
- That is likely to cause riots, which will have major costs to the economy
- A lot of older/more experienced workers and managers will die, losing valuable intellectual capital

3. Or you could just encourage infected workers to keep working despite actively shedding virus - that will cause it to spread extremely rapidly.

Which option will cost the economy more?
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 24/03/2020 21:02:46
Evan, anyone over 60 should stay at home, social distance, take precautions for 12 weeks, by such time the virus will have peaked and fallen, few people will still have it, herd immunity etc. They need the populace at large to be immune, if one in ten people have the virus at any time (month long infection remember) it will spread pretty much the same, look at measles ! A vast generalisation I know, but this stay at home policy does not make sense.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 25/03/2020 10:23:37
Quote from: Petrochemicals
anyone over 60 should stay at home, social distance, take precautions for 12 weeks, by such time the virus will have peaked and fallen, few people will still have it, herd immunity etc.
- The predictions I have seen for UK/USA indeed suggest that rates should fall after 12 weeks - if people follow social distancing.
- But the virus will continue to circulate amongst uninfected individuals - only a small number will have recovered and be immune.
- And it will explode when winter months appear, and virus transmission increases.
- Only after the disaster of many people being denied treatment due to lack of hospital beds will there be enough herd immunity to protect older people. They will probably need to wait for a vaccine, or some more effective treatments than we have at present.

See Figure 3 at: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Petrochemicals on 26/03/2020 00:27:49
Quote from: Petrochemicals
anyone over 60 should stay at home, social distance, take precautions for 12 weeks, by such time the virus will have peaked and fallen, few people will still have it, herd immunity etc.
- The predictions I have seen for UK/USA indeed suggest that rates should fall after 12 weeks - if people follow social distancing.
- But the virus will continue to circulate amongst uninfected individuals - only a small number will have recovered and be immune.
- And it will explode when winter months appear, and virus transmission increases.
- Only after the disaster of many people being denied treatment due to lack of hospital beds will there be enough herd immunity to protect older people. They will probably need to wait for a vaccine, or some more effective treatments than we have at present.

See Figure 3 at: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf
I doubt that, if allowed to circulater freely, we would see the exponential rise that people are quoting, but i agree about the summer winter, time is running out for us this winter to develop herd immunity.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 26/03/2020 08:07:26
Quote
the exponential rise that people are quoting
The thing about exponential increases is that they rapidly exceed any limit you try to put on them.

In this case, the ultimate limit for cases of COVID-19 is the world population (approaching 8 billion of us).

So the exponential growth gets curtailed by some limits in the system, often forming a logistic function for the number of affected individuals.
- An initial exponential explosion eventually turns into a negative exponential creep.
- If you look at the number of new cases per day or per week, this is related to the slope of the logistic function, and often forms a bell-shaped curve.
- It is the height of this bell-shaped curve that we need to reduce, if we are to be able to treat all of the severe cases in our hospitals

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logistic_function
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 26/03/2020 11:07:45
I doubt that, if allowed to circulater freely, we would see the exponential rise
If you circulate freely among strangers, you will infect people at random. If you infect x new people each day, and they do likewise, after n days you will have infected xn people. How is that not exponential?

Compared with common or garden flu, the problem with COVID is threefold: the high infectivity of asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers (x>2, n>5), the high incidence of mild symptoms (infective people "carrying on as usual"),  and the high mortality rate (2 - 4% with full treatment, possibly > 10% without).
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 26/03/2020 13:03:39
I doubt that, if allowed to circulater freely, we would see the exponential rise that people are quoting,
That may well be right for the wrong reason.
This graph is on a log/ lin scale. so an exponential growth gives a straight line.
Eventually, the bug runs out of victims so exponential growth can't carry on forever but apart from China and S Korea, everyone is actually showing exponential growth.
It's not a case of "we would see" but "we are already seeing"
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Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 26/03/2020 16:32:00
The graphs pretty well confirm the obvious. Early growth is exponential unless and until the authorities prevent free movement, and the curve will eventually turn over when there are more infected or immune survivors than uninfected virgins.

It would be interesting to normalise the number of cases by population. Do  you have any raw data?
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: Bored chemist on 26/03/2020 17:24:44
Yep. The initial growth is almost bound to be practically exponential.
Do  you have any raw data?
No. That clip is from the Financial Times. They might cite the original data.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 26/03/2020 20:00:22
Quote from: Bored chemist
That clip is from the Financial Times.
Thanks for posting the graph & explanation.

There is a saying "A week is a long time in Politics."
We can now add "A week is a long time in Pandemics."

When posting graphs like that, a date would also be helpful, as it will be well and truly obsolete a week later...
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 26/03/2020 23:18:50
Good explanation of the Korean figures on Channel 4 news tonight. They cited massive testing and exceptional public compliance (though one clip showed metro passengers queueing as densely as any in the UK) . What isn't clear is how they managed to produce a useful test, manufacture it on the required scale, and mobilise not only testing staff but also temporary offsite test booths, on a very short timescale. Powerful use of all available tracking data too: central tracking of credit card transactions of any confirmed carriers led to focussed testing and isolation. Just shows that if you put public safety before all else, you can indeed protect the public.

Meanwhile the UK creaks into some semblance of action. An antibody test demonstrated on TV last week has been sort-of-ordered subject to the usual grinding of gears over Medical Device certification, likewise production of ventilators, and the police, not wearing PPE, stick their heads into people's cars or stop solo motorbikes and issue spot fines for any journey they consider inessential, as if there was a fuel shortage too. An old skeptic might ask how anyone sitting in a car or wearing a full face helmet and leather gloves can possibly  infect anyone (apart from said police officer). Plus a public information film shaming someone for walking his dog about a thousand yards from any other sign of human presence - is COVID transmissible to rabbits? So plenty of posturing here.

Anyway I'm pleased that the Chancellor has taken up my suggestion of a tax rebate for the self-employed.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: pensador on 28/03/2020 16:07:32
If people continue to work from home after the Pandemic, it could have great benefits for pollution. It might even help global warming to slow down a bit.

If there is a global financial collapse due to this pandemic, a new economic model could be introduced. Trekonomics might even catch on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trekonomics :)

If the majority of the elderly die of in the epidemic, the worlds politics might change to a more liberal view point. ie the older people get the more to the right they tend to go, younger people are more optimistic and want change. Old folks generally resist change with the NIMBY attitude :)
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 28/03/2020 16:26:45
the older people get the more to the right they tend to go, younger people are more optimistic and want change. Old folks generally resist change with the NIMBY attitude
Don't you believe it! The older we get, the more sceptical of those in office and authority. How many pensioners are gulled into joining the most reactionary islamist cults? Middle-aged goths populating self-harm websites? I think not.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: jeffreyH on 28/03/2020 16:29:45
Good explanation of the Korean figures on Channel 4 news tonight. They cited massive testing and exceptional public compliance (though one clip showed metro passengers queueing as densely as any in the UK) . What isn't clear is how they managed to produce a useful test, manufacture it on the required scale, and mobilise not only testing staff but also temporary offsite test booths, on a very short timescale. Powerful use of all available tracking data too: central tracking of credit card transactions of any confirmed carriers led to focussed testing and isolation. Just shows that if you put public safety before all else, you can indeed protect the public.

Meanwhile the UK creaks into some semblance of action. An antibody test demonstrated on TV last week has been sort-of-ordered subject to the usual grinding of gears over Medical Device certification, likewise production of ventilators, and the police, not wearing PPE, stick their heads into people's cars or stop solo motorbikes and issue spot fines for any journey they consider inessential, as if there was a fuel shortage too. An old skeptic might ask how anyone sitting in a car or wearing a full face helmet and leather gloves can possibly  infect anyone (apart from said police officer). Plus a public information film shaming someone for walking his dog about a thousand yards from any other sign of human presence - is COVID transmissible to rabbits? So plenty of posturing here.

Anyway I'm pleased that the Chancellor has taken up my suggestion of a tax rebate for the self-employed.

Oh that's just the start of creeping authoritarianism. This is the perfect time for a trial run. Whatever they can get away with now they can also attempt in the next crisis. Only next time it'll be more severe. Fines are a good way of topping up the slush fund for the sociopathic classes.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 28/03/2020 23:22:07
Quote from: alancalverd
What isn't clear is how [South Korea] managed to produce a useful test, manufacture it on the required scale, and mobilise not only testing staff but also temporary offsite test booths, on a very short timescale.
I understand that South Korea was severely affected by the 2018 outbreak of MERS (a different coronavirus, apparently derived from Egyptian tomb bats, and conveyed into the human population via camels).

As a result of that 2018 outbreak, the South Korean government introduced policies to stockpile reagents and test equipment, which were able to be rapidly applied for this new coronavirus outbreak.
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East_respiratory_syndrome
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 28/03/2020 23:33:17
Quote from: OP
Time for a new economics?
It's time for us to think about what is really important - even a 0.5% to 1% chance of death in the next 2 weeks makes you reevaluate your priorities!
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 28/03/2020 23:36:09
At present, production & distribution of food will be slightly impaired, due to a fraction of the people directly involved being sick or in isolation
- But soon, production and distribution will become more significantly impacted because of indirect effects - you can't:
- Produce the food because the water pump is broken and the electrician is not considered "critical"
- Or deliver the food because the truck is broken, and the mechanic or the spare parts warehouse is not regarded as "critical".
- Or sell the food because the barcode scanner technician is not regarded as "critical"

One unfortunate side-effect of people trying to keep 2 weeks of supplies in their homes is an increase in food waste.
- More food will spoil and be discarded, compared to people who buy only a few days food at a time.
- That is not helpful, at a time of potential shortages.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 29/03/2020 10:40:24
Quote from: OP
Time for a new economics?
Donald Trump orders Ford & GM to make ventilators, using powers reserved for wartime...

The USA is more addicted to cars than most countries. Perhaps this shows that breathing is more important than driving?

Of course, a car production line optimized for gas-guzzlers is not really suited to producing compact medical devices acting as gas injectors - but amazing things can happen in wartime...

See: https://www.bbc.com/news/52071611
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: hamdani yusuf on 03/04/2020 10:08:54
The pandemic forces us to prioritize our needs. Some non-essentials may be sacrificed to fulfill the essentials. We are facing a real world troley problem. Poor people who got locked down lose their income. Some say they will die from starvation before getting infected by the virus.
Some office workers can work from home. It tells us that their jobs are mostly involving data processing, which can someday be replaced by AI. Surgery can already be done remotely, which makes it prone to be replaced by AI. Food delivery can be done by drones. It also tells us that a lot of transportation spendings are superfluous, in addition to lost of productive time in traffic jam, pollution from combustion engines and infrastructure construction involving concrete and steel. The future will show us benefits from localizing resources, such as domestic solar cells, vertical farming, 3D printing for household utensils, etc.
Most stock transactions are done by AI. Richest people get their income mostly due to their share in stocks instead of their tangible services to society. So basically they can be readily replaced by AI. Some rich people are known to have sold some of their stock just before the price plunged. It may be because they have made insider trading, but it can also only means that they have used a good AI to manage their stock transactions.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 03/04/2020 11:09:05
Of course, a car production line optimized for gas-guzzlers is not really suited to producing compact medical devices acting as gas injectors - but amazing things can happen in wartime...
And just when they had got the hang of high pressure fuel injection, they get an order for low pressure carburettors!

Meanwhile, back to government economics. Now the UK at least has introduced tax rebates and government-financed basic incomes, perhaps it's time to consider an idea I've been playing with for a few years.

1. Get rid of all avoidable taxes such as income tax and corporation tax. Sensible and well-paid people don't pay any of these anyway - you are employed at a miserable salary by an offshore company that contracts to supply your services at huge expense, then invests the tax-free surplus in your retirement fund, your children's education, and the yacht or island that you can "borrow" from time to time.

2. Then increase an unavoidable tax - VAT - to cover the loss, and charge it on all imports including services.

3. Now give every adult something around £5000 per year to offset the VAT on personal survival essentials like fuel.

The beauty is that offshore and multinational companies cannot reduce their tax liability by claiming negligible profit on their franchised UK operations: every transaction within the UK incurs a 40% government levy, like it or lump it, and a government that gives every adult £100 per week simply for being British, is going to be very popular.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: hamdani yusuf on 03/04/2020 11:58:31
Of course, a car production line optimized for gas-guzzlers is not really suited to producing compact medical devices acting as gas injectors - but amazing things can happen in wartime...
And just when they had got the hang of high pressure fuel injection, they get an order for low pressure carburettors!

Meanwhile, back to government economics. Now the UK at least has introduced tax rebates and government-financed basic incomes, perhaps it's time to consider an idea I've been playing with for a few years.

1. Get rid of all avoidable taxes such as income tax and corporation tax. Sensible and well-paid people don't pay any of these anyway - you are employed at a miserable salary by an offshore company that contracts to supply your services at huge expense, then invests the tax-free surplus in your retirement fund, your children's education, and the yacht or island that you can "borrow" from time to time.

2. Then increase an unavoidable tax - VAT - to cover the loss, and charge it on all imports including services.

3. Now give every adult something around £5000 per year to offset the VAT on personal survival essentials like fuel.

The beauty is that offshore and multinational companies cannot reduce their tax liability by claiming negligible profit on their franchised UK operations: every transaction within the UK incurs a 40% government levy, like it or lump it, and a government that gives every adult £100 per week simply for being British, is going to be very popular.
Do you know any country that already implement your proposals?
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: alancalverd on 03/04/2020 20:46:56
Not explicitly, but Jersey, for instance, has a maximum income tax of 20% for residents and no corporation tax, and Alderney has no VAT, whilst VAT in Bhutan is 50%. Rates of all taxes vary enormously even across Europe.

Income tax was introduced in the UK to pay for the Napoleonic Wars, which I think are now over, so we are in a position to restructure anything and everything once we have established a proper Customs border with the rest of the world. There's no great hurry. The VAT rate has been changed a few times since it replaced Purchase Tax, and Selective Employment Tax came and went in my lifetime. I think a gradual increase in VAT and corresponding decrease in Income Tax, plus the introduction of a national "entitlement card" and universal basic benefit, would  be accepted if the net result for those below the 75th percentile of incomes was nil or favorable.

The concept of an entitlement card is worth considering. Suppose you had a government-issued photocard (you probably already have a driving licence and a passport, so nothing new so far) with a chip and PIN that could be read by any cash machine. At the lowest level of use, this would give you cash access to whatever government benefits you were entitled to, or you could use it as a debit card for online and store purchases with no overdraft. So at a stroke we have made it a lot simpler to issue benefits.

But we can go further. Since the card identifies you, it could also give authorised users (emergency services) immediate access to any critical allergies or illnesses that you care to upload through your GP's portal, and if you wish, you could enter your PIN to give a non-emergency practitioner access to your entire health record. Any second party accessing your record would have to use his own code, so there would be a record of who looked at it and when. More to the "entitlement" point, since the full card would only be issued to UK citizens, it could eliminate fraudulent use of the NHS, or grant time-limited emergency access to visitors whilst obtaining any national or private insurance details that they have entered.
Title: Re: Time for a new economics?
Post by: evan_au on 03/04/2020 23:43:25
The premiere of a number of big-name movies has been delayed by periods of up to 6 months: the next James Bond film with Daniel Craig, a Top Gun sequel with Tom Cruise, and many others..

The reason is that a number of people in the movie industry look down on electronic delivery, and refuse to accept anything delivered over streaming media as "art".
- It caused a stir recently when one of the cinema awards recognized a movie that was not released first in cinemas
- So, while movie theaters are shut down, so is release of many big name movies.

Today's 4K TV (and tomorrow's 8K TV) provide as much resolution as you can perceive on a movie screen
- So maybe it is time to recognize streaming as a valid delivery mechanism
- Which will require a different way of scoring popularity other than "box office earnings at cinemas" or "bums on seats in bona-fide cinemas".
- home sound systems and echoey wall coverings are rarely up to theater standards.

PS: One benefit of this delay in release date is that TV, movie and streaming content production is now on hold (or at least severely curtailed), which might produce a drought of content in 6 months time - just in time for release of these potential blockbusters...