Blessed Are The Covidians

Back when the Covid-19 panic started, a clever fellow pointed out that one possible way out of it would be a vaccine that did not work, but with enough effort could convince people it did work. The rulers could claim it is 80% effective at preventing infection and there would be no way to know it was a lie based on medical statistics. The vaccinated who got Covid would just be those for whom the vaccine did not work. If the producer could keep the secret, no one would be the wiser.

The reason for this is simple math. The claims about the infectiousness of this virus were always nonsense. A year of aggressive testing has resulted in about 10% of the public having tested positive. We know that the false positives are very high, but we also know many infected people never get tested. Either they have no idea they have been infected or their symptoms are so mild they ignore it. Like the flu, Covid can be expected to infect around 20% of the public in a year.

If your vaccine is 80% effective, then that 20% is miraculously accurate. A clever ruler could roll out a fake vaccine and claim it is doing as it claims. The gullible media and research community would fall for it completely. Unless someone in on the scam spilled the beans, no one would know. In the age where the media is just the marketing department for the corporate state, whistleblowers are ignored. Given the money involved, a fake vaccine program is not a bad bet.

One problem with this scheme is that Covid quickly went from genuine public health concern to lucrative racket. Billions are being made maintaining the panic. It turns out that reorganizing the economy around lock downs is hard to reverse. Then you have the celebrity Covidians. Guys like Dr. Fauci are never going to let go of this thing as it is making him famous and rich. Of course, Covid is now a stock part of the media, like the weather or the previous night’s sports scores.

Then you have the Covidian problem. The fervent, but mentally unstable, have gravitated to the Covid panic as a new religion. The people who used to carry their groceries in grimy canvas sacks in order to show their love of Gaia are now wearing eight masks when alone in their car. They really care and they really care most about making sure you know how much they care. Take away their masks and they have no way to tell you how much they care.

This has created a perfect storm. The racketeers are pushing the vaccine, but also saying that nothing changes. Once everyone is vaccinated, according to people like Fauci, everyone will still have to wear masks, stand an arbitrary distance from one another, and carry on like the atmosphere is poisonous. This pleases the Covidians no end, who arf like seals at this idea. Millions are rushing off to be vaccinated so they can keep wearing masks and staying home.

Since most of the media has now joined the Church of Covid, they are looking for proof that their plans for your future are science! This story from the New York Times says a member of the unclean caused a pandemic among the faithful, despite the fact they had performed the proper sacraments. They were vaccinated and they were wrapped in layers of shrink wrap. Despite that, the mere presence of an unclean made Covid angry and she took out her wrath on the nursing home.

A reasonable person would look at this and wonder why anyone is bothering to get vaccinated when you still get sick. In fact, many people are wondering why we bothered with the vaccine at all, given that everyone will have to keep pretending this is the zombie apocalypse. We stopped using the iron lung and lumbar punctures once the polio vaccine was created. That is the point of a vaccine. You get vaccinated so you are no longer at high risk of contracting the targeted disease.

Of course, the Covidians are never giving up on this new religion, so their take is that the vaccine only works when the sinners are forced to be vaccinated. Again, it is not science with these people, even though they are fond of telling us how much they trust science, peace be upon her. You see, this miracle of science only works when everyone believes in it. If just one heretic refuses the blessed sacrament of vaccination, the whole community, maybe the whole world, is at risk!

Those with a taste for history cannot help but notice the Puritan notion of communal salvation running through this panic. The idea that a community can be brought low by the presence of a lone sinner has been with us since the beginning. It was the justification for the witch trials. Today it is the justification for the media destroying the lives of people who donate money to the wrong sinner. Soon, the unvaccinated will be forced to wear a scarlet letter-C on their chest.

The Covid panic has revealed the real plague on American society. It is the plague of mentally unstable individuals searching for a purpose to their lives. These are people who would have been religious fanatics in another age. In this age, their disordered minds cause them to seek the order of ideology. Toting around grimy canvas sacks, displaying pronouns on their e-mail signature and wearing eight masks in the car are about the need for structure to give them a sense of order.

Does any of this mean the vaccine is fake? Probably not. The drug companies are craven enough to try it. The media is dumb enough and cynical enough to go along with what they are told, but none of these people are creative enough to think of it. The more likely scenario is the drug makers dummied up their studies knowing the FDA was under pressure to play along. These vaccines are probably not all that effective and probably less effective for the old than the young.

Allowing crazy people to call the shots is never a good idea. Time will tell if it was a good idea to vaccinate the public with a hastily conceived vaccine. It took about five years before the monstrous effects of thalidomide became clear. Five years from now the same people lecturing us about mask wearing could very well be lecturing us about the dangers of allowing untested drugs onto the market. The solution to their current panic will be the cause of their future panic.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


The Ongoing Panic

Depending upon when you mark the start of the Covid mass hysteria, we are either coming up on the one year anniversary or have just past it. Panic was setting in as early as January, but that was mostly with people who saw a profit in it. It was in February when the mass media started picking up on it. For example, no one was wearing a mask at CPAC 2020, which was in February. By March you could not buy a mask anywhere, along with toiletries and paper products.

A year on, we are getting a better picture of what happened in what may go down as one of the great mass panics in human history. Given that the panic is still with us, the picture that is emerging is blurry and incomplete. In parts of the US and Europe, Covid has turned into a weird religion. It is not just a public health issue to be managed and navigated, but a stand-in for Old Scratch. The faithful are not only vigilant, they are Covid vigilantes, minding everyone’s business about it.

One thing we are seeing is a collapse in the number of confirmed cases. This is in line with what we know about past pandemics. The number of cases is slow at first, often because we have no way of testing for the new bug. Then the number of cases rises quickly, partly due to awareness and partly due to panic. In the mass media age, the need for attention surely drove the case count. Contrary to media narratives, the drop in cases has nothing to do with government efforts.

In fact, there is no evidence that any of the measures, public or private, had any impact on the spread of Covid. The fact is the only way to slow the spread of a virus like this is what the Chinese did and that is lock everyone in their homes. Even the Chinese found this to be close to impossible. What the West could do and is doing is theater. It is about protecting the political health of the ruling class, by convincing enough people that the government is doing something about the virus.

Political theater is an essential element of liberal democracy. We live in the modern version of a Dionysian age. All public acts are public performances, and all public performances are part of the larger morality play of politics. Facts and the discourse upon facts is purely a private affair. It is why everything about Covid has been politicized and only came to our attention when it could be politicized. For a year we have been watching Covid theater, rather than a public health response.

Once the drama runs its course on the big stage, and it seems to be reaching that point now that Mumbly Joe is staggering around the White House, it will go off-Broadway and then close up shop entirely. The mass roll out of vaccines with highly questionable claims to effectiveness looks like the way out for government. Once the old people are vaccinated, they can then claim herd immunity has been reached and the rest of the public can get the jab at their leisure.

One caveat to that prediction is that the Covidians are getting worked up over the new strain of Covid. This is the super-Covid that the oracles prophesied back in the before times when this all started. This one is “armed with enhanced capabilities.” Apparently it has infrared vision and portable drones. Additionally, the Nth wave people will be with us forever, it seems. Then you have the Covid industrial complex that has invested heavily in lockdowns and all that surrounds it.

Assuming that the panic does end, and this drama moves off the stage this year, we will also start to get a sense of the degree of madness we have witnesses. For example, we are already getting a hint in the annual flu numbers. In Britain, the number of influenza cases was zero this flu season. Maybe we have witnessed a miracle or maybe Covid kills the influenza virus. Most likely, the flu numbers have been re-classed as Covid, which appears to be the case in the US.

The truth is most cases we call the flu are caused by unknown pathogens. In fact, only about 20% of flu cases treated by the medical system are known to be the flu. The rest are from something else. Since the medicines for treating the symptoms do the job, no one really cares what caused the symptoms. It is why we do not mandate testing for the flu or the common cold. Up until the past year, we just accepted the fact that people get sick in winter and sometimes need to be treated for it.

Once the dust settles and the sober minded can begin to look at the data, what we will find is that the number of deaths was wildly exaggerated. Similarly, the number of people needing hospitalization was also exaggerated. This is common to all pandemics in the modern age. Even the Spanish Flu was exaggerated. A lot of the deaths attributed to it were from other factors, like poor hospital conditions, poorly trained doctors, bad nutrition, and other pathogens.

Another lesson will be that modern government is not capable of managing a genuine crisis, even a mild one like Covid. The story emerging from New York shows that the people making the decisions not only lacked the basic skills to manage a crisis, but they were obsessed with the politics of the moment. Like everything about partisan politics, everyone chose sides. The left-wing states chose first, so the right-wing states were left with the right answer by default. That is no way to run a country.

It is not just a partisan political problem. It is a systemic one. This paper examining the political economy of this panic looks at the role of mass media. The initial reality of the virus was amplified by the mass media, which the decision makers in government rely upon as their primary information source. They acted on the exaggerated claims, which had the effect of confirming those claims to the public. This was picked up and magnified by the media and we had a vicious cycle.

The interesting bit in that paper is the parallel between how a virus spreading faster in a dense population and how panic spreads in a media dense population. Before the mass media age, most people were outside the media environment, in the same way most people were outside urban areas in agrarian times. Just as a pathogen needs a network of people, bad information needs a way to pass from person to person. Our connected age is now a breeding ground for informational pandemics.

Another aspect to this is a growing number of people seem to need the emotional energy that comes from crisis. We saw this in the early days of Covid. The auxiliary volunteer army of scolds were suddenly swarming the public square. That energy eventually transferred to fighting the virus that they call Trump supporters and insurrectionists but is now looking for a new host. They will need another panic this spring and you can be sure one will be supplied.


A new year brings new changes. The same is true for this site as we adjust to the reality of managerial authoritarianism. That means embracing crypto for when the inevitable happens and the traditional outlets are closed. Now more than ever it is important to support the voices that support you. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you prefer other ways of donating, look at the donate page. Thank you.


Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.

The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.

Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link.   If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb.  Just email them directly to book at sales@minterandrichterdesigns.com.


Death From Above

Imagine a small kingdom that is faced with a disease outbreak of unknown origin and unknown severity. The king, upon being briefed by his staff, gives a speech to his people informing them of what is known and what efforts are being made to determine the severity of the disease. He asks his people to take reasonable precautions, as they would during the cold and flu season. As more information is gathered, he will inform the public so they can act accordingly.

As it becomes clear that the disease is hard on the very old and very sick, but not much of a threat to everyone else, efforts are made to insulate the very old and those in nursing homes. The public is informed of this and told to be extra cautious around the very old and very sick. Resources are made available to those charged with caring for the very old and sick. Otherwise, the public is asked to go about their business as they would in the cold and flu season.

This probably sounds completely insane to most people, but it used to be the way rulers handled public health matters. In the Asian Flu and Hong Kong flu outbreaks last century, the public was informed and reasonable precautions were taken by local government to limit the impact. Schools might be closed for a few weeks until the wave passed through a community, for example. The flu came and went, as they always do, with a varying degrees of impact on communities.

Of course, this was not the case with the Covid pandemic. Instead of doing what has always been done, our rulers rushed to the nearest television camera and told everyone they are going to die. Hairy old men in sundresses were sent out to scare the public and not just over the idea of mentally disturbed men in sundresses being put in charge of public health. No, their job was to convince the public that this is the end times and that everyone must lock themselves at home.

Not only was it not the end times, but it is looking like what skeptics have been saying all along, a tougher than normal flu season. The CDC has updated their kill data, adjusting the death toll down a modest 94%. Just six percent of deaths can actually be attributed to Covid. That’s about ten thousand people. The rest were afflicted with other diseases that were likely to kill them. Covid may have hastened their demise, but that is speculation. William Briggs has a good summary of the new data.

The long and short of it for those looking for the condensed version is that Covid by itself is not much of a threat to most people. Even old healthy people are not particularly vulnerable to this virus. It is the very old and the very sick, especially the very sick, who are at risk of this disease. In fact, the man-made panic may very well have killed more people than the disease itself. Think about all of the health care not being done due to closing hospitals and doctor’s offices.

Now, the obvious push-back will be that we did not know six months ago that this disease would not live up to the promise. The panic was a necessary precaution against the possibility of a much more lethal disease. The implication here is that we must assume the worst-case scenario in every instance and react accordingly. The fact that the worst case is also the rarest case, means we have to operate as if the natural world is nothing but exceptions, a world of miracles.

Even if one wants to turn the precautionary principle on its head this way, we had enough data early on to know it was not going to be the Black Death. Data from Italy and China showed that Covid was a killer of the very old and the very sick. The early models used to justify the panic were invalidated from the start. as far back as April, the justifications for the panic were undermined by what we knew. There was never a good reason to do what has been done in response to Covid.

The bottom line in all of this is the man-made panic has done more damage to American society than the virus. There are the unnecessary deaths and suicides that were caused by the panic. There is the massive transfer of wealth from small business to corporate giants. This will accelerate the decline in social capital, accelerating the decline in local community. The Covid Panic is not the Xhosa Cattle Killing cult, at least not yet, but the comparison is too obvious to ignore.

Perhaps the most important take-away from this man-made disaster is that none of the people responsible for it will be held accountable. In a sane world, there would at least be a truth and reconciliation commission, where the people responsible would explain themselves and ask for mercy. Instead, these people peddling panic will face no consequences and no doubt profit from their crimes. They won’t even have the decency to admit they were wrong about the severity of the disease.

Finally, this is example six million that the people in charge of America are too corrupt and incompetent to perform the basic duties of rule. In order to live something close to a normal life, Americans have to navigate around a thicket of pirates, bandits and incompetent bureaucrats all looking to rob the public. Slathered onto that is a ruling class ham-handedly addressing problems of their own creation. American are being strangled by an anaconda of incompetence from above.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Covid Capitalism

For most people, buying a car is not a pleasant experience. Getting a new car is always nice, even if you are not a car person, but the process of getting it is almost always a hassle due to how cars are sold in America. Getting a used car can eliminate the hassle of the dealership, but then you have to worry about getting hustled by someone trying to unload their lemon onto a sucker. The car market is extreme capitalism, where no one gives a sucker an even break or smartens up a chump.

Strangely, this makes it the ideal place to understand what has happened to our society over the last six months. For example, every car dealership website now has a prominent banner informing the visitor just how much the car dealer cares about the health and safety of their customers. There’s usually a link to their page detailing just how much they care about you, the sap they hope will buy a car from them. All of these mission statements are titled, “Our Response to COVID-19.”

In case it is not obvious, a business built around the phrase caveat emptor is not concerned about the safety of anyone, even the employees. Like every business in extreme capitalist America, the car dealers see an angle in presenting themselves as guardians of public health. At the far end of capitalism, the business must be both rapacious and patronizing. Telling you how much they care about your welfare while stripping you of what they can is the standard business model.

The thing about all of this that goes unnoticed is how predatory economics has not just been normalized, it is now celebrated. Forty years ago, soulless money grasping was seen as immoral. The movie Wall Street presented a morality tale about how extreme capitalism was soul destroying. Today, the ruthless businessman is in the morally superior position, while the person doubting the ethics of his behavior is portrayed as a naive and stupid person, possibly even dangerous.

Maybe it is just a case of monkey see, monkey do with these dealers, but all of their steps to show just how much they care are the same across the board. They have “contactless” car buying, which is a very strange thing, when you consider it. How much physical contact would one normally have with the the car salesman under normal conditions? Of course, since their goal is to screw the customer, maybe this is a strange inside joke or possibly a cry for help.

Of course, all of this is just a racket and everyone gets it, except for the people firmly in the panic camp. They see it as confirmation. In fact, that’s the point of all these ads from giant corporations telling us how much they care about us and the communities they are destroying. It is pure partisanship. On one side there are the people sure this pandemic is punishment for Trump. On the other side are people who are sure the other side is using the virus to advance their ideological goals.

This is the world of today. There are now two camps of people. One camp consumes every event and metabolizes it into fuel for their ideological war. As soon as the virus became news their chief concern was in how to turn it into another weapon in their social war to control society. As soon as the hated Trump declared his side on the virus issue, the Left immediately embraced a set of positions on the virus. Every left-wing and adjacent governor blew up his state to spite Trump.

The second camp are the people who realize that the new issue is becoming politicized and they form up an opposition to the Left. In the case of the virus, they started as curious or maybe mildly skeptical. These were the people who said it was just going to be a very bad flu most likely, but we needed more information. Now they are the people who say the face muffler is the six pointed star of totalitarianism. For them, the facts of the virus no longer matter anymore.

In this environment, there’s no truth or even the desire for truth, as all truth is determined by which side of the line you stand. The car dealers, for example, would have lepers selling cars if it moved more product. It is in their interest to go along with the safety campaign, so they go along with the safety campaign. They would have their people in hazmat suits putting the buyer through a delousing station if that’s what it takes to sell cars. They care, because they don’t care.

Everywhere else, the caring capitalists are either proof that the plague is real and a punishment for the Orange Man or it is just part of the fraud perpetrated by people obsessed with hating the Orange Man. Not only does this make everything extremely simple, it means the simpletons rule the day. If you’re inclined to automatically take one side or the other based entirely on your feelings toward the people on each side of the line, this is a glorious time to be alive.

The car dealership is now the metaphor of our age. The people running it engage in the most extreme form of ruthless transactionalism. They do so while pretending they care deeply about the people they will gladly fleece. Meanwhile, on the lot, one group of buyers is misty-eyed over how much the dealer cares about this plague sent to spite the Trump people. The other group grits its teeth behind its face mufflers, fantasizing about the revolution and that sports car in the showroom.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Custodialism

Every political philosophy starts with a set of beliefs about the human condition that are claimed to be universal and timeless. Based on these assumptions, there is a critique of the present state of affairs and the political organization responsible for it. What comes after that is an alternative. The claim is that the alternative will more closely correspond to man’s natural condition. Usually, there is a list of principles put forward that are intended to increase the good and diminish the bad.

Communists, for example, assumed that human beings are naturally cooperative, but that private property creates conflict. The greed of a few, exploiting the many, results in conflict between the classes. Eliminate private property and you eliminate that social conflict. They argued that the move to industrial societies meant scarcity could be eliminated through collective ownership of capital. The elimination of private property would lead to the equitable distribution of production.

Libertarians see cooperation as the result of the diversity of talents among humans and their rational self-interest. Once two people figured out that they could increase their output by combining their efforts, the foundation of society was set. People soon figured out that combining diverse talents increases collective productivity and material prosperity. Because humans are motivated by self-interest, they naturally cooperate with one another to increase their material prosperity.

The people who currently rule over us, start from the assumption that all humans possess the same natural raw material. The differences we see in people are the result of racism, poverty, inequality and the legacy of white supremacy. Otherwise, people come into the world as amorphous blobs that can be shaped into whatever society makes of them. Whether the rulers truly believe this is not important. Public policy is based on the blank slate and extreme egalitarianism.

If the starting point for a political philosophy is a set of universal truths about the human condition, then it is necessary that those truths be based in reality. Marxism has been a bloody disaster, because it assumes things about man that are contrary to the reality of the human condition. Marxists tried to remedy this by killing off the inconvenient, but it turned out that you just can’t kill enough people to make it work. Transforming society into an abattoir lowers productivity, rather than producing plenty.

Similarly, but without the bloodshed, libertarianism has been a complete failure as a political movement, because homo economicus is not real. Material self-interest is certainly part of the puzzle, but humans are motivated by all sorts of things. More important, the assumption that people will deal with one another in good faith, once the monopoly of the state is removed, is false. Every society has some portion motivated to rule over the rest. Someone will always be in charge.

Much of what vexes the modern West is that the people in charge have embraced a political philosophy based on invalid assumptions about human nature. People are not born as amorphous blobs that can be molded into model citizens. Instead, they are the genetic result of thousands of mating decisions that came before them. Further, nature does not distribute her gifts equally between individuals or groups. The diversity of man extends to all aspects of the human animal, not just the superficial traits.

The main reason the West is struggling to square what it believes about humanity with what is happening in the world, is that the core assumptions of the West were formed in the Enlightenment. The great debates about the nature of man were between Europeans, who were primarily concerned with how Europeans would organize themselves, manage relations between groups of Europeans and conduct commerce between and within groups of Europeans.

Another issue is that Western style liberal democracy is a creation of an age when smart people knew very little about the human sciences. Their speculation about the evolution of settled society was a work of imagination. They may have had some sense that humanity progressed from savagery to civilization, but they had no understanding of genetics, evolution or the interplay between culture and biology. They had no knowledge about what we inherited from our simian ancestors.

The big flaw is the assumption that there is some reason, beyond the material, for why humans are the only intelligent species on the planet. We’re special. As such, there must be some reason for it. The very notion of human progress assumes there must be a reason for our existence. After all, to what are we progressing if there is no purpose to our existence? What is the point of the arc of history if it does not have a beginning, middle and end? There must be some reason for it.

Current events are a good lesson in the reality of the human condition. Humans are not relentlessly pursuing their self-interest or naturally cooperative. The engine that drives humanity is the need for safety. We see that all around us as people meekly hide in their closets because they are told the bogeyman is outside. The great panic would not be possible if people were driven by self-interest. Why would the overwhelming majority sacrifice for the one or two percent vulnerable to the virus?

The fact is, people have gone along with this because down deep, in the store of man’s oldest desires, is the urge to huddle in the cave with the rest of the tribe, as the storm rages outside. That is man’s oldest desire as a social animal. To bind together in a shared fear of the natural world is what makes us human. The great motivator of mankind is the desire for safety. If there is a point to our existence, it is to shelter with our cave mates trembling in fear at the great danger outside.

For sure, people do more than just shelter from the danger, but it is the desire for safety that drives our actions. We will cooperate with one another to defeat some threat and will profit greatly from saving people from a threat. Safety and its traveling companion comfort are the great drivers of human progress. A great way to get rich is to eliminate a danger from life. The most popular way, however, is to make the sheltering from the dangers of life as comfortable as possible.

If there is to be a new moral philosophy for the post-Enlightenment age, it will have to be based, at least in part, on man’s nature desire for safety. In fact, the neo-liberal order may very well be the moral philosophy to first root itself in safety. The legion of schoolmarms and harpies monitoring our speech and making sure we have no unclean thoughts are all here for our collective good. They even say their role is to create safe spaces for every conceivable type of person.

The Enlightenment was as much about observing what was happening on its own as crafting blueprints for future societies. Marx, for example, had plenty of examples to draw from to form his ideas. Maybe that is what we are seeing today. As the custodial state forms up, what we call the neo-liberal order will become more formal and get a new name that captures its essence. Perhaps we are living at the dawn of Custodialism, the politics of keeping everyone safe from any possible danger.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Great Retreat

It is becoming increasingly clear that the great zombie apocalypse of 2020 is not going to live up to the hype. At this stage, the models and their experts said we would have bodies in the streets and chaos at the hospitals. Instead, what we have is a shuttered country and hospitals furloughing staff due to a lack of sick people. The curve benders keep changing their forecasts, but the virus keeps letting them down. The big question now is how will everyone retreat from this debacle.

To his credit, President Trump has sensed the end game from the very beginning and has been talking about “reopening the country” for a while. He knows this cannot go on much longer and his job will soon shift from battling dingbats in the press room over the virus to battling dingbats in the press room over the economy. If he is to continue in his role, he will need the promised V-shape recession. If it is a depression, then he will be replaced with the first Alzheimer-American to run for president.

This may turn out to be what saves his presidency. He will have six months to go around the country talking up the economy. He will also be able to blame Congress for a whole host of things in the process. Running against Congress is a good way for a President with soft support to win over skeptics. If the economy is quickly recovering by the fall, with employers hiring back furloughed workers, Trump can run as the guy who not only saved us from the invisible death but also saved the economy.

A lot of that will depend on the local politicians. They have suddenly found their spines in this panic and are now claiming to control our destiny regarding the lock down. They are coordinating their plans to re-open, which is smart politics. They don’t want to give Trump credit, but they don’t want to risk being the first to open up. They will pretend to be operating as a team in order to not risk getting blamed if the media does not follow orders and continues to report on the virus.

That’s the big part of the coming retreat from this panic. The media will have to be coached carefully so they don’t screw up and accidentally report the truth. A whole new gaggle of experts and actors playing experts is being prepped to explain why it is now okay to go outside. At the same time, they still have to blame Orange Man for the deaths that never materialized. In the end, they may just drop the whole thing and pretend it never happened, like the impeachment fiasco.

Perhaps the hardest hit by the great virus flop has been the curve benders. They will have the task of explaining why they are still smarter than the rest of us, but were ridiculously wrong about the biggest event in their lives. As RamZPaul pointed out the other day, in most professions, being this wrong gets you fired. Being an internet expert, however, means never having to be right, so maybe they just follow the lead of the media and forget the whole thing happened.

The problem with that plan is the curve benders personalized this from the start, calling the skeptics all sorts of names. It is unlikely that the skeptics will forget how Nicky Taleb threw his dress over his head and ran around squealing like a girl. Many of the curve benders will be able to recover their reputations, but some will not. In a better age, the curve benders would be packing their stuff and heading out of town right now, but in this age, they will probably be rehabilitated without much effort.

Then there are the people who fell for the hype and then piously lectured the rest of us about how the virus was more important than the economy. Many of these people claimed to be on this side of the great divide. They had lectured for years about how the media can never be trusted. Then they swallowed the official line on the virus like good little boys and girls. The internet never forgets, so they will be reminded of this for the remainder of their days, especially on this side of the divide.

It’s not so much that they were wrong or acted like smug bleeps. It’s that they revealed themselves to be every bit as out of touch as the mass media. This was just another game for them to play on-line, like their politics. Their clapping for the lay-offs and business closures revealed that they have no skin in the game. It is a good reminder to never take business advice from someone who has never signed the front of a paycheck and never take political advice from people without jobs.

As far as timing, we are getting close to the point where the lines of the alarmists and curve benders break. The one guy consistently right about this thinks the great retreat is coming soon. Governors are now preparing to declare victory, so they will be scurrying away from this in the next couple of weeks. Local business is already showing signs of rebellion, so they may set the pace for the governors. Trump now has a task force to re-open the economy. It even has his dingbat daughter on it.

What all this suggests is that in a couple of weeks, everyone will be talking about the economy and going back to work and school. In another month, the only people talking about the virus will be conspiracy nuts and the remaining curve benders who refuse to let it go. If the summer is a great recovery in the economy, this whole sorry episode will be sent down the memory hole. The great retreat from the panic that will change everything will be complete and no one will remember any of it.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Cui Bono?

Early in my working life, I found myself managing a few salesmen, along with some entry level managers. Since my area of responsibility only required three salesmen, it did not warrant a sales manager, so that duty was mine, as well as operations. It was a good training job for a young guy. One thing I learned from the sales guys is something that stuck with me forever. That is, no one cares about a deal more than the salesman working the deal. He’s the one that will make it happen.

You see, even in a big company, every salesman is like a small business. His expenses are his time and his revenue is his commission. The really good salesmen are shrewd in how they spend their time, never wasting a minute on a bad deal. They never fight the commission structure. If selling the crap product gets a bigger commission, then they sell the crap product. If the product is so crappy, they can’t sell it, they find a new job where they can hit their commission goals.

Since sales drives everything about business, it was a great lesson about the reality of business and bureaucracy. The managers have goals and they try to craft incentives so their people naturally work toward those goals. The trouble is, they often see the world through their own myopic eyes, rather than through the eyes of their people. Alternatively, they will foolishly think their people will make personal sacrifices on behalf of their goals. They think everyone cares about their deal as much as they do.

We are seeing this play out in the response to the pandemic. The people making the models and making predictions care about things that are important to them. It has always been assumed that they care most about being right, but as the models have failed and they are now “updated” on a daily basis, it turns out that accuracy really was never all that important to them. Marc Lipsitch, the guy largely responsible for the panic, was never all that concerned with being right.

Similarly, the people making public policy were always working their deals, rather than working your deal. By that I mean they were not issuing crack down orders on people because it was good for the public. They did it because it was good for them or at least they assumed it was good for them. It is why we had a race between states to see who could arrive at the most absurd policies. The nation lies dormant now because of a bizarre beauty pageant among the nation’s governors.

The response from our imperial rulers to this shuttering of the country is another deal that means everything to the people who passed it. Trump and Congress were really proud of themselves for having done the deal in such short time. It turns out though, that the deal was a great public relations stunt, but not much of a deal for the nation’s small business people. This post at the Federalist walks through the math of the Payroll Protection Act. Be prepared for breadlines this summer.

Of course, the most glaring example of this is the health care system. In response to a theoretical problem, it is in the process of creating real problems by faking death certificates and indefinitely postponing medical care for people with real diseases, in order to perpetuate the crisis atmosphere. The system is acting in the interest of the system, because the people at the top making the decisions care about their deal more than anything else. They closed the system to save it from the virus.

All of this should be a good reminder about the reality of anything that has the word “managed” in its label. Whether it is a managed health care system or a managed economy, the people doing the managing care more about their deal than anything else, thus the system they manage comes to reflect their interests. The stone-heads on our side cheering the crisis and demanding managed health care and a managed economy will soon find out what that really means. Enjoy the bread lines.

Of course, the stone-heads will argue that destroying the civil life of the country is the price to be paid for discrediting the current order. That may be true, but that does not mean the people cheering it will suddenly be vaulted to the top by the people being made to pay the price for this disaster. Again, those people at the top with the monopoly of force will surely take care of their deal before allowing anyone else to profit from the turmoil that is coming our way this summer.

The point of all this is even small organizations become very complicated in a hurry, because people have lots of priorities individually, which can coincide with and contradict their collective priorities. Fine tuning those while working your own deal is beyond the skill of most managers. It is why bureaucracies become self-serving and why managed anything is a fool’s errand. Whether it is managed economies or managed health care, eventually, the deal that matters most is the manager’s deal.

Circling back to those salesmen I managed, the second big lesson I learned in that job was from my boss. I complained to him that the commission structure I inherited worked against our interests because it was too complicated to manage. He told me to make it a flat commission on gross, but that I was responsible for the performance of every deal I signed off on going forward. It did not take long for the sales staff to know what was good business for me and what was a waste of their time.

That’s the lesson the stone-heads from the planned economy camp and the free market zealots never grasp. The choice is not between a system managed by angels or a system run by the invisible hand of magic. The choice is always between clarity and opacity. When the incentives are clear and individual interests are clear, everyone makes better decisions and demands more rational sacrifice. When those things are hidden, it is when our virtues are soon turned into vices.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Market Report Week Three

The market was very crowded today, suggesting that either the effects of the first round of hoarding have worn off or people fear the worst is yet to come. In the initial round of hoarding, people probably loaded up for two or three weeks. Therefore stocks could be running low now. Perhaps there is a second wave of hoarding that follows the first for some people. Alternatively, the news could be re-frightening people with prophesies about the real doom and gloom really coming this time.

The number of masks were much higher than last week. It was not just blacks and Asians wearing them. About a third of the people had something on their face, like a bandanna, medical grade mask or the stuff workmen use. Probably forty percent of this group was kitted out like they were going to rob the payroll stage coach traveling down from Albany. For some reason they did not look as silly as the people with the dust masks on their faces, but they did look foolish.

Masks probably have some impact on slowing the spread of an infection, but nowhere near what the alarmist claim. Life is a not a sterile environment and people are not wearing those masks 24-hours per day. What they are doing with those masks is reducing the number of times they touch a foreign object, like the carts at the market, and then touching their faces. Unless they are sanitizing every surface and then washing their hands vigorously, they are not avoiding the bug.

The market itself was completely stocked, except for cleaning supplies, which probably says we have moved from the fear of not having snacks phase to the people have been cooped up in their homes too long phase. The homes of America have probably never been so clean. At some point that will get tiresome and the demand for household cleaners will return to normal. People respond to what they see. If the promised bodies in the streets do not show up soon, the great cleaning frenzy quickly ends.

The lines at checkout were very long, about 40-minutes. The procedure was the same as last week, but the higher volume and the lower number of checkout people made for a long wait. The store has started refusing the grimy canvas sacks the anointed have been using to display their love of Gaia. It turns out that the nation’s octogenarians are more important than climate change. It also means these dingbat moralizers will have to find a new way to display their virtue. Perhaps they should wear masks.

In front of me in the checkout line was a women probably in her mid-30’s. In front of her was a pudgy guy in his mid-40’s. Let’s call her “Desert” and he can be “Thirsty” in this little drama. Thirsty kept trying to strike up a conversation with Desert. She was having none of it, doing the thing women do in clubs to blow off some loser. She kept responding with short answers that would not naturally elicit a response. Poor old Thirsty kept trying, which is why he is so thirsty.

Eventually, Desert turned around to me and started making small talk. Maybe under different circumstance I would have been flattered, but I hate standing in lines and I had just watched her shoot down poor Thirsty. I decided to display my power level by doing to her what she had just done to the poor loser in front of her. Of course, this only intensified her interest in me. I’ve never been much for game, but it was a nice reminder that the fundamentals of human nature never change, not even in a panic.

Watching a fashionable sort try to hide her grimy canvas sacks, now that they are no longer a positive moral signifier, I thought about the alarmists. The HBD crowd has gone totally mad over this virus. Any deviation from their extreme position on this is now treated as heresy. There’s a UFO cult quality to what’s going on with those people, as if the coronavirus is a savior, rather than a fact of nature. The slightest bit of skepticism is treated as if the person is denying there is such a thing as a virus

One reason for this is a lack of confidence. Fanatics tend to attack the less fanatical because the mere presence of them calls into question their extreme position on whatever is the main belief. On the one hand, there is status that comes from staking out the most pure position. On the other hand, those who are unwilling to following along call into question that extreme position. They must, therefore, be anathematized and discredited to maintain the extreme position.

There is a good chance we will get to see a large scale reenactment of what was described in When Prophecy Fails. We are probably at the 12:05 mark of that process, maybe the 12:10 mark. We were supposed to have hundreds of thousands in the hospital at this point and it is twenty thousand. With the fever abating in Europe and the economy in ruins, the political class will be lifting the siege in the next couple of weeks. That’s when the clock strikes 4:00 AM for the great virus scare.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


The Great Unknown

If we use President Trump’s address to the nation on March 11 as a start date, the coronavirus panic is now three weeks old. That Thursday morning, the airlines were overwhelmed with requests to cancel and change flights. People ran out to buy a lifetime supply of toilet paper. States began to clamp down on civil life with shut down orders and so forth. In the fullness of time, that speech will be seen as the point we moved from indifference to complete panic over the virus.

Now, the week following the initial panic was not a total lock down of civil life, as only a few states had started down that road. It was the following week when the great shutdown of the economy started in earnest, so we are just about ready to wrap up the second week of limited economic activity. Friday is when the government releases the weekly unemployment claims. Last week the number was 3.3 million and this week the number is expected to dwarf that figure.

As this goes to post, the estimates for the number of new claims are between 3.5 million and 5.25 million. The record for number of claims in one week was set last Thursday, so the next report is expected to be the new record. To put that into perspective, these are numbers four and five times higher than previous highs. There is no precedent with tens of millions of people being suddenly furloughed, as businesses are forced to close around the country, because they are told to close by the state.

Right now, 31 US states have some form of lock down in place. Not all are the same and not everyone obeys the edicts. There are plenty of people out and about, but major east coast cities now look like ghost towns compared to normal times. Lots of people are working from home, of course, but retail life has just about come to a halt, which means wholesale life is also slowing to a trickle. No one knows how long this will go on, but conventional wisdom currently says another month.

What this all means for the economy is completely unknown. The St. Louis Federal Reserve is out with a report claiming 47 million people will be out of work at the peak of the fallout from the lock down. That equates to a 32% unemployment rate. We are in unprecedented territory now. According to the report, “These are very large numbers by historical standards, but this is a rather unique shock that is unlike any other experienced by the U.S. economy in the last 100 years.”

Now, there is some hope that the depression will be V-shaped. That is, the economy comes back on in May or June and all of a sudden all of those furloughed people are hired back as business reopens. There will certainly be some of that, as the businesses that have not run out of cash will reopen, hoping to remain viable long enough to weather the storm. Many will have gone under, having run out of cash. Even in a V-shaped recession, it takes a while to fully recover.

The stock market is not always a useful guide for judging the economy, but in this case it can give us some clues. Right now, the robots that do 99% of the trading have factored in what they expect over the next six months. They have also factored in what they expect from government stimulus and bailouts. The Dow Jones has settled in around the 21,000 mark this week. The big sell-offs have subsided and investors are slowly buying into what many think is the bottom of the market.

Still, it is all guessing at this stage. Some states are talking about extending the lock-down into May or even June. China having a second lock-down is going to be seen by the alarmist as a sign the lock-down must continue forever. Given that we’re still at peak hysteria and have yet to hit peak infections, it is not unreasonable to think this carries into May. That means the lower end of that V-shaped recession gets much deeper and the angle coming out of it becomes much more gradual.

The only thing we can be sure of at this point is whatever lies on the other side of this is going to be very different from just a month ago. Politics, for example, are already changing, as the players respond to the new reality. Trump is turning into the wartime president, which is always good for the president’s numbers. He will no doubt become the great cheerleader of the recovery this summer, as he will want to take credit for the recovery from the lock-down, assuming there is one.

The question though is what will politics look like in a world of 30% unemployment, even if it is short-lived? If half the furloughed workers come back by June, that still means a world of unemployment levels not seen in generations. The last time we had double digit unemployment was 1982. You have to go all the way back to the Great Depression before seeing double digit unemployment again. Even allowing for the way these numbers are calculated, no one alive has seen what’s coming.

Lots of people will rush forward at this point arguing that these unprecedented times will suddenly make their preferred world view popular. The libertarians are smugly sure that this time, people will lose faith in government and join the libertarian revolution. The neocons are sure their treachery will be vindicated. On this side of the great divide, there are lots of cheers for the death of the economy, in the belief that putting millions of white people out of work will radicalize them.

That’s the thing though. This is uncharted territory. America is not Weimar Germany or 18th century France or 19th century Russia. We have no examples of a country turning itself off like this. We don’t really know why our rulers are doing this. The claim is the virus threat, but we have had worse virus threats and the ruling class did not go insane like this, so something is different this time. All we can say for sure is we moved from a world we generally knew and understood into a world of the unknown.

How will a people used to excess respond to a world of want? It is entirely possible that we get lots of real poor people again. That is, people with barely enough to feed themselves and a place to sleep. More important, those poor people will be visible to the middle-class again. How will people respond to that? How will people look at the plutocrats in a world with real poverty in plain sight? How will those plutocrats respond to such a world? No one has thought about it, so no one knows.

That means the politics of the future are probably not going to look like anything we have imagined. The old Left-Right axis makes no sense. The Left-libertarian versus Right-libertarian dynamic is now as relevant as Whiggism. If it is a short depression, then politics will revolve around the new state controls that are credited with “saving the economy” from the virus. If it is a long depression, then politics becomes a zero-sum game to see who fills the void of the discredited old politics.

Perhaps we are the first people to look out into the distance and get a glimpse of what comes after post-scarcity society. Maybe it is just a return to scarcity. Maybe it is a world with a high tech palace economy and fewer and fewer people working. Maybe the white nationalist get their wish and everyone becomes a dependent of the state. Maybe this look into the void frightens us and we scurry back to the safety of the past. For now though, we are staring out into the great unknown.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!


Thinking About The Unthinkable

Last summer, cable personality Tucker Carlson started doing a bit where he claimed to believe in things like extra-terrestrials, or at least believe they are possible. He would go through a list of things that he used to think were impossible, then finish with how in a world where Donald Trump is president, anything is possible. The point was not to talk about little green men, but to highlight how our old assumptions have to be abandoned, because many of them have been proven false by events.

It is a good thing to keep in mind when evaluating predictions about what comes after the great lock down. Trump is no longer talking about Easter as the back to normal date and has extended the lock down through April. Governors are now in a race to see who can come up with the bleakest prediction for when things get back to normal. The Brits now lead the race with six months as their estimate. This is an unprecedented time, which means what was considered unthinkable is very thinkable.

For example, ten years ago most Americans assumed the political classes had learned a hard lesson from Watergate. They had let the security services run wild for too long and suddenly they were a threat to the politicians. The days of a J. Edgar Hoover spying on people were over. Not only was that false, but there was a plot among FBI officials to interfere in the presidential election. They went so far as to concoct an impeachment trap in order to remove Donald Trump.

Six months ago is was unthinkable that these same security agencies would have the president removed by some other means. Six month ago we did not have a third of the country hiding under their beds. We did not have major cities turned into ghost towns by quarantine orders. How unreasonable is it to think that the same people who launched the seditious plot in 2015 would find themselves a Lee Harvey Oswald? It sounds crazy, but we live in an age where the crazy quickly becomes the norm.

What about something less cloak and dagger like martial law? State governors are getting pretty close to the line between state of emergency and assuming dictatorial powers over their states. New Jersey is supposedly issuing travel passes to citizens and arresting people for gathering in their own homes. Los Angeles has suspended the second amendment. Trump has contemplated a Federal quarantine of New York City, which would probably mean troops on the streets to enforce it.

On April 27, 1861, Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia so military authorities could silence rebel dissenters. In a world where governors are calling up the National Guard in order to enforce a lock down, is martial law really unthinkable? Sure, some nutty judge would no doubt challenge Trump on something like this, but what about governors? Would a corrupt judge like Amy Berman Jackson challenge a fellow party member like Cuomo on this?

What about the upcoming election? The Democrats have already suspended many of their state primaries for this virus. Given that Joe Biden is in such poor health now, they may force the suspension of the remaining primaries in order to have an easier time finding a replacement for him at the convention. That’s a precedent that could easily be used to delay the general election in November. What if New York and California have a second wave of the flu in the fall? Unthinkable?

How about something way out there with Tucker Carlson’s space aliens, like a military coup to topple Trump? The military is riddled with multicultural lunatics these days, so you know many are fanatical Trump haters. You can be sure there are a few generals who think they are Napoleon trapped in the body of a mediocrity. Given what we saw with the FBI, it is not unreasonable to think that the same “us versus them” mentality has crept into the officer ranks of the military.

Of course, for a military coup to work, it needs at least some support down the line, but mostly it needs civilian support. An ambitious general would need someone that really hates Trump to be the fig leaf for the coup. Would a vindictive old bat like Nancy Pelosi entertain such an idea? Would a group of Senators from the neoconservative cult consider such a thing? It seems unthinkable, but again, we live in an age when the unthinkable is not just thinkable, but happening in real life.

Of course, military coups and revolutions at the top have the habit of setting off civil unrest, as some portion of the public protests what’s happening. Locking people in their homes and communities will have unanticipated consequences. Lots of things that were out of the question now start entering people’s minds. The riots in Wuhan after they lifted the lock down is a good reminder that forcing people to do something does not change their unhappiness with the policy. It just intensifies it.

If this does go on for months and the cracks in the ruling class begin to show, is civil unrest really unthinkable? Is civil war unthinkable? Rhode Island now considers New Yorkers persona non grata. Pennsylvania is doing the same. Mainers are now going vigilante on suspected New Jerseyites. Sure, concern for the virus is the stated reason, but a general dislike for New Yorkers is the real reason. There are lots of such divisions in this country. Is civil war really so unthinkable?

Just because something is possible, does not mean it is likely. It is possible to hit the lottery for a billion dollars, but the odds are very small. What we’re talking about here though are the things that were thought impossible or close to impossible just six months ago that are now suddenly possible. Maybe they are still unthinkable within the ruling classes, but we thought the FBI and CIA spying on presidential candidates was unthinkable until not so long ago.

We live in an age where the unthinkable, like the fog, quietly creeps up on us until suddenly the unthinkable is the new normal. Just as “shelter in place” is the new normal whenever it snows, mandatory lock downs will be the new normal whenever too many people get the sniffles. The unthinkable not only becomes thinkable, it becomes impossible to think otherwise. It also means that everything unthinkable today is suddenly on the table, maybe even the menu, for tomorrow.


For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!