Money Talks, Talent Walks

I’ve been gone from Microsoft for about 15 months, and over that time I’ve talked to various people who still work there. Some wonder how a particular executive can run so much talent out of the company, and yet continue to be empowered in “our culture” Others, that the company has become inefficient, confused and bureaucratic. And some, that they are on a treadmill and being burned out.

What I’m about to write was knowable to me while I worked there, but I didn’t want to know it. Indeed, if your goal is to go to work every day and try to be effective and make a difference, it’s critical that you do not know it. Being paid to not know it helps.

These things are not accidents. They are not the result of management asleep at the wheel. They are by design.

Part of Satya’s strategy is to not need to build anything substantive. And by substantive, I mean Windows, Office, Exchange, SQL, Visual Studio, .NET, Xbox, Hotmail, OneDrive, Bing etc. Anyone who worked on those things knows that the company now wouldn’t have a clue what leaders to empower and how staff and drive such projects forward now. It isn’t possible to build such things at Microsoft now.

Nor is required. Or desired. Microsoft sells Office, Windows, SQL, hosted Exchange and Sharepoint to the largest companies in the world, and talks a lot about the cloud. Looking at the headcount and where they are allocated, one might conclude that the long term product pipeline is, well, thin.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. A person critical of Balmer’s leadership might conclude that he wasted many 10s of billions of dollars on product pipelines, like Windows Phone, that were never successful. And that’s with the blessing that Jerry Yang gave us by making the worst business decision in the history of business.

It’s not like Microsoft’s customers expect, ask for, or want innovation from the company. They want the things they are required to buy and use to work correctly.

Satya’s Microsoft is selling, servicing, and supporting products that were built decades ago, have huge innate value, and are extremely difficult to replace. Also, talking about the cloud. And Xbox.

Satya is a brilliant leader and CEO. He observed, correctly, that people were bored with hating “Microsoft”, but it had become a habit. He figured out that both Balmer and the old Microsoft culture, while effective at building things that lasted 25 years and changed the world, was a lightening rod for this animosity. And he saw the Woke Supertrend coming. He rebranded Microsoft as  King of Woke Tech companies – no easy task. And he reformed the heavy handed sales org.

A side effect of this is that folks who built things that lasted 25 years and changed the world found themselves in mandatory as a condition of continued employment diversity training, where they learned that they were the root of all evil in the world. They did not learn much about software at these sessions.

The exodus of talent from the company has been going on for a long time. The local area (Bellevue), has for a decade tried to capture these folks in satellite offices, but this trend is accelerating at scale. Significant amounts of office space, and real development is moving to Bellevue by most of the important players. And the startup scene here is real. Just as Microsoft did with the cancellation of Live Mesh, they are once again seeding the industry with talent. This is yet another altruistic gesture from our culture. In my observation, many folks land and do pretty well post Microsoft.

Another supertrend driven by Satya and Amy is the change from a fiscally conservative company, to an ordinary, indebted company that makes shareholders rich by transferring retained earnings, current income and future income to current shareholders, just like every single other company in the world. The primary mechanism, once the balance sheet has been depleted, is long term debt that is used to buyback shares. The balance sheet of the company looks very different than it did 10 years ago.

There’s nothing wrong with this, of course. Indeed, the shareholders and happy.

Money talks.

The bad (old) culture had good and bad qualities. On the good side, we built things that lasted 25 years and changed the world. On the bad side, there was a scary, arbitrary ruthlessness to it all that if you found yourself on the wrong side of, was, not good.

Money talked then too.

My experience with the new culture was that it could be just as ruthless, but not in an American street-fighter way. It’s a superficially caring, sophisticated, almost British ruling class culture. It’s not so good at building things that last 25 years and change the world, and if you find yourself on the wrong side of it, well, that can be not good. And it’s surprisingly easy to do, just by trying to build things that work.

The company is a now a conveyor belt of sales, service, security, support, money and keeping the online stuff running. Much daily work consists of a seemingly endless series of important, difficult but boring tasks, with 3 people asking for status for every one trying to fix things.

Microsoft supplies the platforms that run the world. This stuff has to work. Many people go to work every day and keep this stuff working. It’s a good job, and it’s honest work.

But it’s different. The company that for long fearing becoming “IBM”, is now resembles Gerstner’s IBM and Welsh’s General Electric with a little Sun Microsystems and Oracle thrown in.

BobMu got the last laugh, it seems.


Everything in this post is publicly available information or sheer conjecture.

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The Big Words, No Oxford Commas

What is Really Going On Here?

Why the perpetual anger toward white men?

There is a real problem in America with low level offenders and the “criminal justice” system. Once you are arrested and charged, the charge hangs over your head forever. Probation hangs over your head during  job applications  and is too frequently cause for re-arrest. The system seems designed to trap and churn out criminals and ruin lives, and it does.

This goes far beyond the police. It includes lawyers, the courts, lawmakers, prosecutors, probation officers, social workers, and the Jailer Industrial Complex.

There’s reason to be angry about this, and work to change it.

Riots and murder will make it worse. That said, it’s very unclear that today’s riots and murder have anything to do with blacks, and certainly nothing to do with the welfare of blacks.

For the moment, let’s ignore 50 years of the left’s denigration of men, fathers, boys, families and marriage (i.e. the Everloving Patriarchy). Let’s ignore the constant bashing of Christians and churches, including black churches. Also, a culture of dependence on the state and defeat. Bad government schools. Gangs, guns, drugs, and the drug war. Declining opportunity for blue collar workers. The fragmentation of society into the elite, self-important coastal money-tech class, and everyone else.

Let’s also ignore the fact the system is deeply structurally biased toward those with access to massive amount of debt, cheap money, lawyers, bankers and executives. In subtle ways that are difficult to understand. The results are obvious, but the mechanisms (i.e. long term debt, share buybacks, IPOs, crooked accounting, etc.) less so. Blame in on tax rates. Ignore the fact that the government spends more money that it doesn’t have with every passing year.

And then explain it all away by accusing everyone else of racism.

One wonders how we could possibly have gotten here.

Diversity and Inclusion is a term that means gender and race based structural favoritism at hiring, firing and promotion time. The phrase Diversity and Inclusion was invented when too many people figured out that Affirmative Action is a phrase that means gender and race based structural favoritism at hiring, firing and promotion time, which itself was a replacement for the much clearer Quotas.

Indeed, if you are privy to corporate diversity programs, you will recognize the columns of Quotas (sorry, Quotas are illegal – Targets). The language of differences make us stronger is not used so much anymore, as nobody believes it in a climate of thought oppression.

But all is not well in the diverse and inclusive world.

The current wave of gender and race based structural favoritism at hiring, firing and promotion time is predicated on the theory of Intersectionality. Intersectionality is contemporary liberalism’s latest New Testament-esque grand unifying theory. It teaches that every special interest group waging constant war against while men is not as effective as a coordinated assault. And it’s not. Indeed, much ground has been gained under the umbrella. You would be hard pressed to find a government organization or large corporation not waging slow motion low grade bureaucratic war against white men, under the cover of altruism and fairness.

Consider the LGBT wing. It now seems that what gay men wanted all along was to be safe, accepted and not denied opportunity based on their orientation. And, they got it. Score one for the woke. But once achieved, they seemed less interested in being a perpetual victim/quota group. And the left got bored with them as soon as they were no longer a tool in their minds to offend Christians or a victim group.

It’s little unclear what lesbians and bisexuals wanted, but they didn’t get anything. They are lumped into the LGBT column on the corporate / government spreadsheets, which are dominated numerically by gay men. And the entire LGBT group is often mentioned, but not recruited aggressively.

Transsexuals, the latest tool of the Intersectional left, have found themselves gaining no structural advantage at hiring, firing and promotion time, but on a fast conveyer belt to the Industrial Surgical Complex. Now one might wonder if this is compassionate, well thought-out and concerned with the welfare of transsexuals, but in the current climate, one would be wise to wonder that in silence. The Contemporary Intersectional left books no dissent, no freedom of thought. How this squares with Diversity (i.e. differences) is no longer of interest.

Blacks, over the last ten years, have discovered that despite having a dedicated column in the spreadsheets, have made few gains. This is dramatically true in the tech world, where the elites are still dominated by Asian Indians and white men.

Indeed, the real action in D&I is women’s gains at the expense of white men. None of this should be surprising, as the power center of these programs has been feminists at universities and think-tanks, and this group now controls “diversity” programs in corporations and government.

It remains acceptable to publicly discriminate against non-Indian Asians, white men, and Christians, and to privately discriminate against Jews.

How this is inclusive is not explained.

As blacks find themselves either self-selecting out of the tech-moneyed elite, or excluded form it as a result of public education, or excluded from it as a result of racism, they also find that blue collar opportunities are shrinking, and they are increasingly competing with Latinos for a smaller and smaller pie slice.

Latinos are already demographically dominant, and growing increasingly more so. And they are not yet falling in line in their place in the Quilt of Intersectional Victims. If Latinos pass blacks to become yet another demographic to succeed in America, and the tech-moneyed class continues to grow, there will be hell to pay here.

Maybe we should do something different.

Treating people like people, with dignity and respect perhaps?


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The Dreaded Second Wave


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Covid19 Bullshit for Dummies

Do you ever wonder how dangerous Covid19 is? If it’s getting better, or worse? If the things we’re being forced to do are helping?

Excellent places to not learn anything are the NYT, WaPo, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, The Atlantic, Slate, Rolling Stone, CBC (sorry), BBC (sorry), political campaigns, the President, The Prime Minister, Dr. Fauci, facebook, google news, Drudge, Twitter, TickTok, Grindr.

The following graphs were all generated from the same dataset ( They were generated to illustrate how easy it is to use data to tell stories, also called lies.

Consider the first graph:

This is the graph I would choose if I wanted to tell a story about how badly the USA has managed the pandemic. And, if I were running for office, I would tell the story about how pathetically the folks in power – at least the ones I don’t like – managed things. If I were in power, or defending the budget of my Dept of Bureaucracy that was in some way supposed to help, I likely wouldn’t choose this graph. Perhaps, if I was attacking a competing Dept of Bureaucracy, it might be a good choice.

Certainly if I was frightened beyond belief of Covid19, I’d be angry about this one.

If I wanted to make the case that the lockdowns were necessary, and useful, I might start with a graph of the growth in “cases” (positive tests), and deaths, windowed for Mar-Apr. I would also use this to show that cases are leading, and proportional indicator of future deaths.

It’s important to note that deaths are on a different scale than cases. Hold that thought.

In Mar we didn’t have much information. We didn’t know when  the infection would stop, or why (we still don’t). We didn’t know that it isn’t deadly to a majority of people. For a worst case scenario one simply had to do a little linear extrapolation on the curves and see that

Very fortunately, the worst case is not what actually happened.

It’s important to note that deaths are on a different scale than cases. Hold that thought.

What actually happened is that cases continued to rise, roughly as predicted, but deaths no longer tracked cases.

Why? Perhaps …

  • Sending infected patients back to nursing homes was a bad idea.
  • Some demographics are highly vulnerable; many are highly resistant, and policy can be adjusted to save lives.
  • Medicine got better, and learned, quickly, how to save lives.
  • Lockdowns, The Grocery Dance, Social Masking, Karens, virgins in volcanoes, etc.
  • The virus seems to slow down dramatically long before the 60-70% immunity we have been told is God’s actual truth.

So, we don’t quite understand why, and maybe we got a bit lucky, but the news is all good.

Even this doesn’t tell the whole story. Let’s remove the scaling on deaths and place them on the same axis as cases. This gives a more accurate visualization of the danger of a positive test.

Now without the text, this graph clearly shows that cases don’t predict deaths. But with the text, it’s even more dramatic. Deaths have remained relatively constant even as the virus traveled geographically (South and West), and impacted as vastly larger population.

Finally, lets remove all scaling and look at cases, deaths, and tests.

One might conclude from this that testing cures Covid19. That is counter-intuitive, and likely asinine, but “supported by the data”.

I’ll leave it as an exercise to form an opinion about how effective the world government’s response has been.

They will do better with your colonoscopy.


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Some Concrete Covid 19 Predictions

This is a follow up to some questions about this, some analysis of these numbers, and (rare for me) some concrete predictions.

The formula for chance of dying from an event is chance of dying, as measured, per unit of exposure (hour, mile, flight, dive) x units of exposure. Skydiving and mountain climbing are fantastically dangerous per unit of exposure, but the average the death toll is tiny because so few people do these things.

Driving is much safer, but the average probability of dying much higher to higher exposure.

The mortality rate – the chance of dying from Covid 19, over the last 8 months has been 0.06%, or 1 in 1833.

That’s 330,000,000 / 180,000. It’s not CFR, or IFR, or a model, or a prediction.

It a backward looking measurement of what actually happened.

Now 1 in 1833 is still a little scary for me. But remember, in March the experts were predicting “up to”3%, (1 in every 34 people) and policy was made based on that.

Globally, if you believe the numbers, which you shouldn’t, the probability of death is 0.013%, or 1 in 8152.

For context, in the USA, over a year, the probability of dying in

Auto accident, 0.01%, or 1 in 9805.

Flu, 0.01% or 1 in 9661 (2018-19).

Cancer, 0.19% or 1 in 551.

Heart disease, 0.2%, or 1 in 504.

Now averages over large populations have serious limitations. If you are under 20, and in classroom, your chance of dying of Covid 19 is easily less than 1/100’th the average. If you are over 75 and in a New York nursing home under Comrade Cuomo’s regime, it was even money with surviving a firing squad or the Titanic’s maiden voyage as cook.

But consider the year: masks don’t work, masks are the only thing that works, the Grocery Dance, Karen, work from home (“work” from home as I used to say), lockdowns, bankruptcies, a spike in overdoses, suicides, depression, anxiety, debt and fraud on an Old Testament scale.

Was it all worth it? Did we win? What did we win? Are we still winning?

Now, let’s get to the hard stuff. What happens next?

To answer we need to know this:

What is backward looking death rate once infected? Will it remain constant?

How many are infected? How many have recovered? How many have immunity?

How many have to acquire immunity to stop the little bastard dead in it’s tracks?

What are the patterns of spread? Do we have any control over them?

Is a safe and effective vaccine coming, or should we just fly to Russia and mainline some Putin Juice we get on the street? (I have no clue)

Committees of government experts assume the IFR (death rate once one has the disease) will remain constant, that the thing will not ever stop – it is The Terminator – until 70% are infected and recovered.

Now, we’re going to have to use some noisy PCR data, which I’ll note may be mostly noise at this point:

6,600,000 positive test results. Assume this means immunity. That’s 2% of the population. So far, 190,000 have died, and to get to the needed 70% we’ll need another 230,000,000 million people to test positive, which will kill 6,621,000 more people.

Bad news. Fauci’s line is currently in “the millions”.

Is this likely to happen?

Around the world (except in places in the geometric rise phase) we’re seeing positive tests go way up, and deaths in the absolute go down, and deaths/M go way down. What is happening? Perhaps we’re getting better at isolating the vulnerable, or better at treating it, or it’s having a harder time traveling, or it’s exhausting the supply of vulnerable and is a mild illness in everyone else, or maybe the masking et. al. is working. Perhaps the PCR is crap.

Regardless of the cause, the lethality of this thing continues to decline. Sharply. So the 6,000,000 is likely high by maybe 5,500,000 or so.

Now maybe it’s the social masking. It’s hard to prove that it isn’t. But strangely the curves in different countries, with different policies and varying levels of compliance, are nearly identical. And Sweden’s curve, having never masked, barely doing the Grocery Dance, and not closed schools, is also identical.

But maybe masking and dancing and sacrificing virgins to volcanoes works. In which case we’re on track to do it for another decade.

I have often noted the odd “stops at 35%” phenomena. First on cruise ships and navy ships. In fact, there are few populations that have reached 35% outside of small high groups, that have not seem infections fall. Not just deaths, but infections/immunity. It seems – maybe – that herd immunity, or something, stops it long before 70%.

This observation has required some leaps of math, with huge margins of error. There are lots of weak indicators that the infection has already travelled much further than positive test indicate.

But if you trust 1 PCR as positive as 1 immunity, and you believe positive rate numbers tell you if you sample is large enough, then the thing has burned out at 10% infected, or we stopped it with the virgins in volcanoes.

I don’t believe them, and think we’re somewhere in the 25% range.

But this is pulling the magic 35% lower.

So far, in writing about Covid 19, I have not made many predictions. I have observed patterns and tried to model them, and worked on various hypothesis as to what dominant variables might be, hopefully working toward a functional model of what does and does not work in practice. What I have noticed is that committees of government experts are always wrong, always in the same direction, and often by the same magnitude. Indeed, the probability of a committee of government experts being wrong is better than even money. In an odd, unexpected development, banks’ research depts have been consistently doing far better than committees of government experts, or Dr. Fauci, who we honor as a saint of science.

Predictions are dangerous, with a faulty model and noisy data. Throwing caution to the wind:

1. Sturgis will not be a super-spreader event. The death toll will be low.

2. Places that have successfully maintained full suppression will find it increasingly difficult to maintain for another year. The price to be paid will be closed boarders.

3. Places that lost control, and Sweden, that experienced exactly the same 4 month geometric spike, flat top / slow decline and then geometric decline will not see the same magnitude wave again, unless a very important dominant variable changes. A lot.

4. The dominant variables will be population density, local travel patterns, global travel in/out patterns, average age, policy around effectively protecting the vulnerable, healthcare systems.

5. Social Masking, the Grocery Dance, Authoritarian Karenism and restrictions on surfing will not be dominant variables, except if you are effectively implementing full suppression.

6. Once 1% of the population is infected, full suppression cannot be achieved outside of China.

7. Herd immunity will not require 70% infected. I’ve been predicting 35%, but now I think it might be lower.

8. Ten years from now, we will look back at this year as a bizarre synchronized cult-like global mania.

9. A random number generator, seeded with the average time of an eyeblink of 100 random people, randomized by multiple atomic level observations, will be vastly more accurate than anything Neil Ferguson says.

Or I could be wrong. About everything, and might die from an unsanitized credit card reader.


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Covid 19, by the Numbers (Sept 2020)

Technically, a “case” is confirmed, symptomatic infection.

A positive PCR test includes viral loads too low to cause infection, harmless fragments of DNA from previous but now recovered infections, asymptomatic and mild infections that will result in immunity, and symptomatic and life threatening cases.

The large and growing split between PCR positives (“cases” as incorrectly reported in the press), and death rates is a clue here that we’re getting this wrong.

The failure of many models to account for this is either corruption or incompetence.

We now know that, so far, the mortality rate in the USA – the probability that you will die (looking backward over the year) is not 1%, or 3%, as was assumed in Mar, but 0.06%.

If you get virus in the USA (i.e. become infected, including asymptomatic and mild scenarios), the probability that you will die in is 0.2% (CDC, June, with a wide margin of error). Over time, the CDC has been revising this number down.

If you become significantly symptomatic in the USA (the correct definition of a “case”), the probability that you will die is 3%.

The vast majority of people who become infected do not develop significant symptoms.

All of these numbers are averages across the entire population. If you break them down by age, the vast majority of cases and deaths are in the 60+ age demographic. The numbers for folks in their 30s are roughly an order of magnitude more favorable.


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Most people are conscious of propaganda and authoritarianism as tools to control thought and action. People, when subjected to overt threats to their  life and liberty, threatened with imprisonment or worse, will as a survival tool pretend to believe what those in power want them to believe. But at some basic level, they will understand they are being coerced. And, while they may not succeed in escaping this system, they will often try.

There are more effective ways to control thought and action, and to restrict freedom. And they can be a little harder to see, especially when you are part of them. But 2020 has been a raw year, and these things are less polished.

Recursive Social Inclusion: Hypothetically, if were to speak or write now of the importance of wearing a mask, I would be rewarded with agreement, likes, and other positive reinforcement. If anyone did not agree with me, other people would immediately give them the outgroup treatment, or simply attack them. Taking the accepted side of an issue is rewarded in ways that make you feel wise, informed, thoughtful and generally helpful. Taking the not-approved side of an issue results in isolation.

The reward loop and social “graph” results in a large number of people converging on a thought pattern quickly. Once stable, that group tends to reject new information quickly, and without thought.

A curious quality of this effect is that it is obvious when observed in others when they are an outgroup, but nearly invisible when you agree and bond with an ingroup. Those on left see Christians doing this, but not themselves on the issues of sex change operations, gun control, global warming, public health care, the pay gap between men and women, and many other issues. It’s pretty obvious when the Branch Davidians or Scientologists do it. Less so when Muslims do. Steve Jobs did it. Microsoft HR does it. Entire societies do this during times of war, and right now, with Covid 19

Note that the underlying belief being echoed around isn’t subject to much actual debate, scientific testing, or individual reasoning. The reward cycle drives these things out. And, in time, strongly held beliefs are often proven to be incorrect. Remember the Population Bomb / Global Famine, the Oil Crisis, the coming Ice Age, Repressed Satanic Abuse Memories, 20 foot sea rise, choking deadly pollution, acid rain, DDT, and many others. But formerly strongly held beliefs are forgotten easily, and replaced with new strongly held beliefs.

Another counter-intuitive quality of Recursive Social Inclusion is that highly educated, intelligent people are generally more vulnerable to it.

This is not all just random. The elites of society and the media seed these ideas, and reinforce them, until they become self-sustaining.

Social Patriotism: Patriotism, or tribalism, is powerful on its own. And often a defensive and offensive tool in wartime. But when combined with Recursive Social Inclusion, as most social democracies have successfully done in support of the established government power structure, it becomes even more powerful. The public health system in Canada is not just a fair, efficient, well run system – indeed over the long term that message would be difficult to defend against actual experience – it is a component of the very essence of being a Canadian. The belief here is different than the rational “fair, efficient, well run system” – it is the belief in the essential goals of the system, and it is robust even as these goals are not met. Social democracies use this often to sustain the regime even as the actual results fail to meet expectations.

Economic Jail: There is an enduring implicit and explicit promise in the social democracies, that in exchange for giving up some of your income, the state will provide for you in times of need or hardship. And there’s lots of debate about if this does or doesn’t work. But folks often fail to notice that once you’re a few generations into this deal, it can’t in practice be reversed. What generation would decide that after paying so much in taxes life to date that they could not save for retirement, that they will now defer benefits because the system is broke.


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Procedure for Disposing of Unordered Seeds from China, A summation of Guidance From the US Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Commerce, Homeland Security, Health and Welfare and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabaco and Firearms. Aug 1 / 2020

  1. Don an approved mask, gloves and eye protection.
  2. Procure 12-15 campfire sized sticks of dry oak, and 2 buckets of pine sawdust, and 2 bags of bbq charcoal. Soak everything in bbq starter fluid.
  3. Place the unopened seed package in an airtight freezer bag. Close it tightly. Place the tightly closed freezer bag in another airtight freezer bag. Close it tightly. Place the tightly closed freezer bag is a cardboard box and seal with approved acrylic tape. Soak the box in lighter fluid.
  4. Dig a pit, outdoors, 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide. Place the charcoal in the bottom of the pit, and light. Allow to burn for 75 minutes.
  5. Add the pine sawdust and oak to the fire. If it does not ignite, add some bbq starter fluid by spraying it from the can from a distance no less than 11 feet. Do not under any circumstances use Tannerite to relight the fire.
  6. Drop the cardboard box into the hot fire and leave the scene.
  7. No less than 10 hours later, refill the fire pit, and leave an approved sign warning future generations of the danger.


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The Trust Fund Fraud

You might know that more Social Security is collected every year than is paid out. And the extra is “in” a trust fund. You might think it’s a very trusty fund – a lockbox. And when needed, the extra will be paid back in the form of distributions.

None of this is remotely true.

Imagine a society with 10 people working, no children, and 5 people retired.

Each of the 10 pays $100 in income taxes, and $20 dollars in social security taxes.

The government has 10 x $100 = $1000 to spend from income taxes. And 10 x $20 = $200 to spend on social security.

Each retiree gets $20 dollars, or $100 total. The social security fund has an extra $100 to save for the future.

Reasonably, you might think it is deposited into a savings account like thing, and “saved”. A trust fund. A trust fund in a lockbox.

The social security part of the government “invests” the $100 in treasury bills, which are issued by the same government. The $100 is now part of the government general fund, where it is spent. The government spends the $1000 it collected plus the $100 it “borrowed” with a promise to repay later to … itself.

10 years later, let’s say the trust fund is needed. Note that there is no actual money. It’s all been spent. The government either has to pay back the money it owes to itself by defunding something else, or raising new taxes.

Since the government never defunds anything, we should assume new taxes. To pay for money that was collected, and “saved” on our behalf, but was actually spent.

Imagine that.

Sadly this is becoming increasingly unimportant as total US debt and money print rise to levels that no society has survived before.

Perhaps this is why the government would rather you focus on pronouns.


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How Bad Is It?

The last time I wrote about Covid19, Jun 24, we were 5 weeks into a combination of planned reopenings, unplanned race riots and things like masking for show only. To be fair, Nancy Pelosi had been social masking months earlier.

At that time, infections were climbing, but deaths were flat or declining, down by 4X from the peak in April. I speculated that the next few weeks would tell us a lot about the actual effectiveness of mitigations. What I hoped was that the virus would stall out with about 25% infected, but I was prepared to see a wave of deaths following the rise in infections.

So what actually happened?

Looking at the news, things couldn’t be much worse:

“Florida Sets Grim Death Toll Record”

“The US Leads the World – By a Large Margin – In The Number of Covid-18 Deaths and Cases”

“Orange County See Highest Two-Week Coronavirus Death Count”

And so on.

Most worryingly, infections were growing geometrically in the dangerously backward Trump places due to reopening too soon. Fortunately, enlightened and loved progressive leaders like Andrew Cuomo, with a proven track record of success, were willing to offer advice to the ignorant leaders of places like Florida.

Just how bad is it? Let’s look at the numbers:

According to the WHO, the record for daily deaths was set on Friday May 1, at 2909. Since then, deaths have falling, hitting a low in early July at 550, and slowing increasing since then to about 1000. Recently, the rate of growth has slowed.

Infection rates (“cases”) have outpaced the deaths quite dramatically. On the day of peak deaths (May 1), new infections were 30,000. New cases/day stayed flat for 6 weeks, and then started climbing. On Jul 26, it was 62,000. Some of this is explained by increased testing. On May 1st we were running about 20,000 tests/day, and now, about 60,000 test/day. But positive rates also climbed, especially in the states populated by unenlightened people, according to the New York Times.

We got better at managing the disease, resulting in some better outcomes.

The big trend is that for some reason, the disease became less-lethal in the populations it was infecting. Dramatically so. This make intuitive sense if you note the highly selective lethality of the virus.

Somewhat curiously, the rate of growth of new infections was slower in the places that had suffered more in the first wave, than those that seemed to escape. If you live in a place where the infection rate has remained low – for whatever reason – you might want to hold off the press releases for a bit.

So what about that enlightened blue state / backward red state story?

The US has had 141,000 deaths to date. 49,000, or 35% of them have been in New York + New Jersey (population 17,000,000). 12,000 or 8% have been in Texas + Florida (population 50,500,000).

Increasingly, it appears:

Social distancing slows, but does not stop infections.

The virus will infect the general population, eventually.

There is a huge difference in lethality between the vulnerable, and the broader population. Far greater than historical infections.

For a majority of people, it is less lethal than influenza.



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