Thinking about Externalities

Because the concept of externalities came up in a recent Forum post I thought it might be useful to explore it. What I learned turned out to be fascinating.

To an economist, “an externality is a cost or benefit for a third party who did not agree to it” (Wikipedia). Most of us can easily think of examples; air pollution and public education come to mind.

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President Biden announces new COVID-19 vaccine mandates

It’s official. The U.S. is now the U.S.S.R.

We can trace the beginning of Leviathan’s slide into totalitarianism back to 9/11 and the order to begin searching the public at airports. Today our president expands upon that intrusion by using Covid-19 as an excuse for federal involvement in the daily lives of all Americans.

Stumble Joe is a creature without shame. I see him as the most anti-American president of my lifetime.

A Former Peace Corps Volunteer Responds to News from Afghanistan

Source: Frontpage Mag.

It is hard to know what to say about the substance of this article. The details both fascinate and jar, as when passing a gruesome car wreck on the highway. Still, some lessons stand out:

  • Not all cultures deserve respect or obedience.
  • It is false charity to help others in ways they will not help themselves. Put another way, people must work for the benefits they want.
  • You can’t change the world by not changing it; this might be called the Fallacy of the Prime Directive, otherwise known as _cultural relativism_.

In Afghanistan the Taliban are a modern phenomenon, not an ancient one. They have power and resources, including public relations and media. The question is whether they have the sophistication to create a modern, liberal state, or even want to.

Having SARS-CoV-2 once confers much greater immunity than a vaccine—but vaccination remains vital

Source: Science.

One of the more distressing consequences of the push for universal Covid-19 vaccination is the emergence of in-group/out-group thinking. The vaccinated became the cool people (in-group) and the unvaccinated became the uncool people (out-group). This is distressing because witch hunts, systemic prejudice and totalitarianism all begin with similar thought processes.

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Vaccines show declining effectiveness against infection overall but strong protection against hospitalization amid delta variant

Source: The Washington Post, via MSN.

A couple of weeks ago media were widely promoting 98% as the ratio of unvaccinated Covid-19 patients to vaccinated patients in hospitals. This item today reports that breakthrough infections account for about 15% to 20% of hospitalizations. That’s a big difference, a shift of almost 20%.

The likely explanation is that the earlier percentage was just a guesstimate, whereas the newer percentages are data-driven.

I’m not inclined to speculate on what the data is telling us, except to note that you can’t really blame hospital capacity shortages on the unvaccinated with so many vaccinated patients taking up beds.

The breakthrough infection hospitalization rate bears watching.