Sunday, July 05, 2020

Covid 14, Selected articles by Mahar Mangahas on the pandemic

I like these three papers by SWS President Mahar Mangahas. Reposting portions of them below. All  photos here I got from the web.

(1) Allow people the freedom to earn a living 

By: Mahar Mangahas - @inquirerdotnetPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 05:05 AM April 18, 2020

The responsibility for surviving the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately lies with the Filipino people, not the Philippine government. The government, having been set up by the people, is tasked with helping to protect the people, by means of scientific, intelligent, and credible guidance and assistance….

Unnecessary restrictions on personal movement. As long as persons wear face masks and keep adequate distance from each other, it does not make sense to inhibit them from moving across barangays, cities, or provinces within Luzon. The mere act of moving across a boundary does not imply the act of crowding. Checkpoints do not make sense; in fact, they promote crowding by creating queues where there were none.

Curfews do not make sense; in fact, being able to go somewhere at night lessens the need for it during the day. Use barangay tanods or even Boy Scouts, not armed policemen, to discourage partying. A one-entrance-one-exit policy does not make sense; in fact, having multiple entrances and exits for a public place makes it easier to keep one’s distance. Limiting the hours of groceries or banks does not make sense; in fact, the longer the hours, the shorter the queues (like at outdoor automated teller machines).

Public transportation does not have to be crowded. Trains, buses, taxis, jeepneys, and even tricycles can all be modified/configured to carry only as many face-masked passengers as will allow physical distancing (see “Restore jeepneys and tricycles,” Opinion, 3/21/20). Let associations of transport operators develop their own protocols for disinfecting their vehicles, and screening passengers for symptoms…

Let occupational groups find ways to operate and also observe physical distancing. With the use of face masks and shields, client screening, disinfecting, configuration of premises, and adjustment of business hours, there are ways for dental clinics, barbershops, salons, repair shops, exercise gyms, etc. to operate without compromising public health. Let them do their own protocols, without requiring approval from any agency. As it is now, their clientele will be limited.

A time of pandemic does not require any official determination of “essential” versus “non-essential” products, services, or occupations. What is truly essential is for the people to be able to freely earn a living.

(2) Hunger, fear, caution, dependency 
By: Mahar Mangahas  08:24 AM May 30, 2020

…from Social Weather Stations’ media releases in the past week, based on its May 4-10, 2020 mobile phone survey about the COVID-19 crisis.

1. The hunger rate exploded. The proportion of families that experienced hunger due to lack of food, in the three months before being interviewed, was 16.7 percent, almost double the rate of December 2019, when previously surveyed.

2. COVID-19 brought fear of illness to a record high. The survey found 73 percent of Filipinos worried a great deal that they or someone in their family might get infected by COVID-19. This compares to an extremely worried 49 percent about contracting the Ebola virus in 2014, 56 percent about getting Swine Flu in 2009, 48 percent about Bird Flu in 2006, 62 percent about Bird Flu in 2004, and 54 percent about severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2003, based on SWS national surveys in those times.

3. In line with their fear of COVID-19, the great majority of Filipinos take proper precautions. With respect to using a face mask when going out, the SWS survey found 77 percent saying they do this always.

4. The lockdown has caused a state of dependency among the people. Given its continued reluctance for the people to resume their customary livelihoods—in particular, its sluggishness in permitting ordinary public transport to operate—the government must keep devising schemes to keep millions of people on “amelioration,” and new ways to finance the doles. Otherwise it may bring on a second wave of hunger.

(3) Try the invisible hand
By: Mahar Mangahas -  05:05 AM July 04, 2020

At this stage of the pandemic, the main problem afflicting the economy is the heavy hand of government.

After over three months of lockdown, only some—I think less than half—of the nation’s jeepneys are returning to service now. It is not because jeepney operators (the supply side, in tens of thousands) are unwilling to provide the customary service, or because commuters (the demand side, in the millions) are unwilling to use the customary service.

It is because the government is unwilling to allow the supply and demand sides to freely transact with each other. Why have a few sectors—agriculture, banking, the stock exchange, business process outsourcing, offshore gaming—always been allowed freedom to operate, but not the extremely vital transportation sector, which links very many sectors together?

Without need for prodding, public transport operators have reconfigured their vehicles to cope better with the pandemic. Without need for special warning, public transport users have limited their demands to travel. Both sides do this out of their own self-interest, for the sake of their livelihood and health.

This is how a free market works, for the benefit of both sellers and buyers. Of course, prices of commodities and services shall have to adjust accordingly, in order to equalize demand and supply; so be it. (That’s the time for parties that feel socially mistreated to seek assistance from government.)…

Adam Smith, one of the founders of economics, observed centuries ago (“The Theory of Moral Sentiment,” 1759; “The Wealth of Nations,” 1776) that there is “an invisible hand” that keeps an economy in order, and benefits society as a whole, even as individual people freely pursue their personal self-interest.

It was my good fortune to study at the University of Chicago, and learn first-hand from the great economic freedom fighter Milton Friedman (“Capitalism and Freedom,” 1962: “Free to Choose,” 1980). For Friedman, freedom is the end, and capitalism is a means.

I am a founding member of the Foundation for Economic Freedom (, where the prevailing general sentiment, I believe, is that the people’s economic well-being has already suffered too long from the government’s overly restrictive policies.

The authorities, both national and local, have issued too many questionable rules. Preventing senior citizens and youngsters from going out is discriminatory. Many families have children cared for solely by the grandparents; when outdoors, they would not want to walk six feet apart, for the children’s security.

Curfews are not justified by the pandemic. The COVID-19 virus does not travel any more swiftly by night than by day. Using the nighttime for work (as well as play) allows more physical distancing in the daytime.

Family members who live indoors unmasked do not need to avoid close contact with each other when outdoors. It is cruel to disallow masked riding on a motorcycle behind a spouse, parent, or sibling (and to question their family relationship is an invasion of privacy).

The invisible hand promotes cooperation without coercion, at no financial expense. 

After 5 months, February until today, all the scary Frankenstein scenarios of massive deaths (tens or hundreds of thousands in PH alone) from Wuhan virus, it should be clear by now that the scenarios are not true. Fictional and not real. Many medical professionals also observed that this virus is not as dangerous as previously thought.

We should focus on the economy and jobs. Millions have been displaced. PSA labor stats April 2020, unemployed 7.3 M plus 3.0 M didn't join the labor force, didn’t bother to look for a job, total 10.3 M working age people were idle. The economic damages are real and factual, not fictional. The continuing hysteria continues to wreak havoc on soooo many lives. If we can, we should go out and spend money somewhere and help those that govt has forced to be jobless or impoverished.

Cases are not deaths. Infection are not deaths. Covid cases may rise 200%, even 1,000% but deaths may be flat or decline. If we are tested today of Ebola virus, H1N1 virus, MERS virus, etc, some of us may even be positive. But asymptomatic, not sick, not needing hospitalization. Group or herd immunity. We already have immunity to the estimated 380 trillion viruses in our body, adding a few mutated ones won't cause another round of massive deaths. Only massive hysteria by people who want to "feel good" that they are "doing something." Like prolonged lockdown and killing jobs and businesses.

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