Jerry Bowyer | On April 2, 2020
Healthcare workers wearing PPE amidst Coronavirus
Seems like we need to tune down the emotional heat, overconfidence, ideological thinking, magical thinking, conspiracy theories, and dodgy math.
I’m seeing a lot more f-bombs and ‘raca’ talk, calling people idiots and other names, etc. Every interaction is a nudge back towards civil order or a nudge away from it. Nudge in the right direction, please.
What we don’t know is a lot. I’ve been puzzling over a good deal of this and am pretty handy with stats, but the unknowns are quite large. I’d be happy to detail out some of the wrinkles, base rate fallacies, etc. to those who ask. I’m seeing loads of sloppy math. Applying death rates of symptomatic populations to guesses about future infected (including non-symptomatic infected) persons will give us much bigger death tolls than defensible math will. It matters what’s in the denominator.
Conservative ideology tends to say this is all exaggerated because, “It’s a plot to get Trump,” “People used to be braver,” etc. Liberal ideology tends to be to pump the panic because Trump initially downplayed the virus or because scientists are the heroes. You see how none of that really matters? It’s noise, not knowledge.
“We’re America, we can do anything,” has somewhat of a tinge of magical thinking. I don’t know if we can do anything. Many truly great civilizations ended. We won’t know that we can defeat all of our challenges until we defeat all of our challenges. As motivational talk, that’s fine. As analysis, it smacks of what Peter Thiel calls ‘optimistic indefinitism’.
Ditto for religious observations. There is no guarantee of protection by the eucharist or anything else. Through much of history, going to take the Lord’s supper vastly increased your risk of martyrdom and probably disease. Our eternal destiny is protected by God, but our infection rates are according to the same laws by which God’s creation is ordered. Rain of the just and unjust. One of the carriers with the widest spread in South Korea was a woman in a megachurch.
Conspiracies multiply as fast as infections during pandemics. ‘They’ (big pharma, wall street, deep state, government — pick your poison, or more like pick your poisoner) will be blamed. Facile blaming is just another nudge of the mob towards eventual scapegoating.
Bottom line: Detach, pray, take precautions, rest, build or rebuild relationships. Though death tolls might be much lower in reality than some of the dodgy math would indicate, some people will die from this. Might be me, might be you. Just in case it is you… What do you want your last words to be? Who do you want your last words to be to? Words of abuse, anger, and fear to strangers on the internet? Or words of blessing to people in real life?
Originally published on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.
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