the virus did not wreck the economy

the pointless response did.

the effect of politics on covid response is almost impossible to overstate. it drove huge divergence in response.

  • this drove massive divergence in economic and social outcomes.

  • this drove NO difference in covid outcomes.

public health policy is everywhere and always a cost/benefit analysis. when costs are large and benefits non-existent, that it the literal definition of a total fail.

this was not disease doing economic harm. the culprit was partisan politics.

the case could not be more clear. let’s look.

“the economy would be much worse had we not locked down” is a common talking point, but this claim falls apart in the face of the relative outcomes of US state economies. red states dramatically outperformed blue. (SOURCE)

this is a huge divergence, way too large to ignore. it was obvious to many long ago and certain internet felines were posting about it all last summer. this was the last update:

this is based on the vote for president in the last 4 elections. (blue is all dem, red is all GOP, and the middle categories are all 3:1) i added “no lockdown” as a subset. all such states were red.

so, i think we can pretty definitively say that state employment drops were highly correlated to politics and lockdowns. but was it causal?

it sure looks that way. to establish cause, we need a mechanism of action. that mechanism was lockdown. i used google mobility data and worldometer deaths per million data to plot the drop in social interaction (as % based on simple average of time at work, on public transit, in public spaces, in restaurants and entertainment, and in shopping/grocery. i plotted peak lockdown against aggregate covid deaths per million.

red states and blue states (by governor) varied widely on lockdown intensity.

red were down 19%. blue were down 36%.

but they had essentially identical deaths per million from covid.

red averaged 1,647. blue averaged 1,651.

and, as can be readily seen, there is a strong correlation between lockdown intenstiy and job losses.

taken together, this tells quite a story.

the blue states locked down much harder, paid a much higher price in unemployment, and got no benefit in covid outcomes from it.

anyone lionizing these policies and making claims that “we saved you” or “the economy would be so much worse if we had not locked down” is simply not on the side of the facts.

it’s a whitewash to try to justify the most damaging and least efficacious peacetime policy in human history.

do not let these people pin medals on themselves and strut like heroes. these were villains and fools and unless we call them out as such, they WILL do this again.