Friday, March 13, 2020

Beat Coronavirus -- Go Spend Money


The latest strain of a common cold virus has world leaders in abject panic. Part of the reason why they're freaking right the hell out is that this strain's higher-than-usual lethality rate threatens to swamp their government-run, inherently inefficient public healthcare systems. It is a fact--people are going to die because free healthcare is worth every cent you pay for it. We don't (yet) have such a healthcare disaster and we have an opportunity to keep it from happening when we vote in November's Presidential and Congressional elections.

We also have an opportunity to help the U.S. economy weather the storm of panic and reduced human contact. Common sense tells us to take precautions to reduce the rate of the virus' spread, and that means less person-to-person interaction and a slowdown in economic activity. These events--which economists refer to as "externalities"--are not caused by typical up-and-down economic cycles. The 1970's oil crisis was one. The 2004-2005 hurricanes were another. Sadly, so were the 9/11 terrorist attacks. No fiscal or monetary policies undertaken or contemplated cause these things to happen. They just do, and things usually right themselves sooner or later.

So, in the meantime, if you'd like to do your part to minimize the economic damage of COVID-19, go spend money.

It's ok to buy as much toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, rubbing alcohol and bleach as you can afford. The people who make all that stuff will just make more of it. By all means, stock up on canned goods, batteries, peanut butter, saltine crackers, bottled water, bandaids and aspirin/tylenol/ibuprofen. Their makers are also glad to have the business and will cheerfully restock shelves with all of your favorites.

If you don't need more of these things and are a little shy of people thinking you're a hoarder prepper doomsdayer, that's ok. Your car could probably use an oil change. Maybe a new set of tires or at least an inflate/rotate. Maybe fix those brakes or replace those belts that are whining at you all the time. Here on the gulf coast, mild temperatures and sunny days mean lots of pollen. and the automatic carwash folks are open for business. So, why not?

You know who else would appreciate your patronage? Your favorite fast food joint with drive-thru service. Sorry Five Guys... McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's are social-distance friendly and their burgers ain't that bad, either. Tacos, chicken sandwiches, hotdogs and seafood are out there too, y'all. Partake in some nom-noms and be glad you did. Starbucks does drive-thru, don't they?

Earlier this month two of the most corrupt, authoritarian regimes in the world had a falling out over an oil price collusion scheme (that was doomed to fail, anyway). Both Russia and Saudi Arabia have thus opened their oil spigots in an attempt to drown each other in petroleum. As a result, gasoline is under $2.00/gallon on the gulf coast. Fill up your tank and smirk at the smarmy ecologist driving his now uneconomical electric golf-cart masquerading as a road-safe automobile. Funny how these things work, ain't it?

In the economic long run, free markets are never wrong. The collective, freely incentivized actions of consumers and suppliers will always allocate scarce resources in the most efficient manner. Unconstrained, unassisted buyers and sellers will always set the optimum price, and the desire to satisfy one's wants and needs will be met. As long as buyers buy, sellers will sell. People will have jobs and jobs mean money to spend, so forth and so on forever and ever, world without end, Amen.

So exercise your economic freedom, America.

Go buy stuff.

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