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domingo, 29 de março de 2020

Coronavirus, China's Responsibility - A. J. Cave

Coronavirus, China's Responsibility

Q and A (A. J. Cave, USA)
(Recebido: 29/03/2020)

A. J. Cave writes:

It looks like my points weren't clear in my previous post(s), so here is another crack at it. 
Q: Is China (meaning the Chinese Government) responsible for the spread of the coronavirus globally? 
A: Yes. 
Q: Should China (meaning the Chinese Government) pay for the coronavirus pandemic? 
A: Yes. 
Q: How? Confiscate their assets in US? Impose additional tariffs? 
A: No and no. 
As I said, it's a lot simpler than that. No, I am not going to say what, because we are not there yet, so there is no point in bringing it up. We need to stay focused on beating the pandemic and stay away from any distractions, especially all the partisan nonsense we have to digest on hourly and daily basis. The Chinese government and Chinese (and hyphenated Chinese, like Chinese-Americans) are not the enemy. The pandemic was not started intentionally. 
So, let's keep our eyes on the ball and stop poking each other in the eye until we all go blind! 
Q: When did the President know about the pandemic? 
A: I don't know. If I were going to guess, I would say by January 20 the latest. By then, coronavirus was detected outside of China in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. This is the very definition of a pandemic (when it crosses borders). 
January 20 is the date when coronavirus is finally registered on Wikipedia's current events portal as a pandemic. Right now, it's the line in the sand, but it could probably move backwards. 
CDC announced the first coronavirus case in US on January 21. 
China locked down Wuhan on January 23. China is a day ahead of the US (so, January 22 in US, the next day). It is a virtual impossibility that we (meaning the President and the administration or the intelligence community) weren't given the heads-up (informed) about the lockdown of a major Chinese city to stop the spread of the virus. Wuhan has a population of about 11 million. It is like the "Chicago" of China. 
On February 2, a man died from coronavirus in the Philippines. That was the first death outside of China. And from there, it snowballed. 
Q: Is the President responsible for the spread of the pandemic in US? 
A: No. 
He did try to slow down its spread by imposing travel bans first on China and then on Iran, which was probably the best of a series of bad options. It was already too late by then, because this virus can spread without manifesting symptoms in the carriers for as long as 21 days in some cases. Deaths represent 1.5-2% of the infected population. Each death means at least 50 people are already infected. 
And the infection rate is exponential: 
1x2=2x2=4x2=8x2=16x2=32x2=64x2=128x2=256x2=512x2=1,024x2=2,048x2=4,096x2=8,192x2=16,384x2=32,768... That's just back-of-the-napkin math. It means one infected person coming in contact with 2 people can create an avalanche to bring down the whole mountain. This is something that people can't get their heads around. 
I am sure someone in the administration must know the factual state of our healthcare system (not the glossy fictional TV/movie/commercial sanitized version of it). As I always say, US healthcare system is both state of the art and archaic. Our medical research is cutting edge, but our hospitals (where rubber meets the road) are a mess, thanks to cost-cuttings down to the bone. 
When you go to a US hospitals, the first question is not what is wrong, or why are you here, or how are you feeling? It is "Do you have insurance?" So, the focus of our healthcare system hasn't been and isn't on curing the sick, it is to make sure the sick can pay for the services. The system is not designed from the start to handle a massive pandemic like this. In computing terms, we call this "garbage in, garbage out." It means bad input always produces bad output. You simply can't flood our hospitals with massive patients infected with a serious disease (that we don't even know how to treat) and expect anything other than the massive death rates we are experiencing. 
Q: Could the President have done more at the beginning? 
A: Yes. 
You can always do more. Monday morning quarterbacking is always 20/20. In my view, he should have sent the entire CDC (Center for Disease Control) to collect as much data and samples as possible from Wuhan and China's neighboring countries (like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and others, because of their brush with SARS and other infectious diseases) and get our scientists to start working on a vaccine as soon as possible--preferably collaborating with countries with experience in creating vaccines. If the virus hadn't crossed to US, he would have been hailed a humanitarian. And once the virus crossed to US, we would have had a headstart (however small) on the road to a vaccine. 
Q: Didn't the Chinese invent "social distancing"? 
A: No. 
"Social distancing" and "flattening the curve" are marketing concepts, designed to make "physical distancing" (sort of opt-in house-arrest) palatable in a democracy, by putting a "social" wrapper around it. However, that "social wrapper" is not fake or useless. Setting aside the social predators, just about anyone with an internet-connected device (laptop, phone, tablet) can connect to anyone on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites for various forms of mental and emotional and parental support. Chinese citizens don't have that "social" luxury. They are under strict government surveillance. Their online activities are constantly monitored and any word against the government can end in their disappearance. It was that very impulse to suppress all the bad news out of Wuhan that created this unholy mess in the first place. US citizens can criticize the President, the administration, and every single politicians until the kingdom comes and no one shows up at their doors to haul them to jail! 
Q: Why the world should be lining up behind US during this emergency? 
A: Is this a trick question? 
This is not a "national emergency," or even an "International catastrophe." It is total war. 
So, who should the world follow here? 
Let me see: South Korea, Singapore, Japan, and Taiwan, all have a much better playbook (benchmark for best practices) on how to handle this pandemic at their own national levels, than we do. Which one is inspiring enough? Which one should we pick to follow? 
Microsoft wasn't the first, or the best, either. 
Let's say, there are 197 countries in the world. Which one can kick-start the global economy after the crash of the financial markets? 
The President and the administration, the Feds, and all the hangers-on, don't have to be inspiring, or using best practices, or even wash their hands regularly, they just have to guarantee liquidity in the financial markets. 
Q: Are we going to survive this pandemic? 
A: Yes. 
JE comments:  Your final optimism is reassuring, A. J.  But the world has already changed, for good.  (And I mean permanently, not for the better.) 
I have to ask:  When are you going to share with us your China Solution?

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