Friday, May 8, 2020

No, Governor Fredo, That's Not the Question

I heard New York Governor Andrew Cuomo deliver a soundbite yesterday that nearly made me spit.  When talking about keeping New York in shutdown until some mythical things happen, he's quoted in Reason saying:
"How much is a human life worth?" he asked. "That is the real discussion that no one is admitting, openly or freely. That we should. To me, I say the cost of a human life, a human life is priceless. Period."
No governor Fredo.  At best that's about half of the question.  Maybe it's a quarter of it.

Get this through your thick skull:  No Matter What You Do People Will Die.  Like when you ordered nursing homes to take covid positive patients in and killed more people in nursing homes alone than have died in total in all of my state (Florida)?  Like how 66% of patients with covid in NYC supposedly were isolated and staying at home - if it's even possible in NYC to stay in your apartment and not breathe the air from the whole building.  Or the whole block you're on. 

The big question is whether what you're doing is saving more lives than it's costing.  Add up all the good things you're accomplishing, add up all the bad things you're causing and weigh them against each other.  You can't answer that because you don't know any of those except the death count.  You're looking at one thing and only one thing: the politics of your situation and if you can use that to your advantage.  What a surprise, right?  He's a politician.  That's what they do: they look for advantage and if there isn't advantage they blame someone else.

Oh, but you have models.  Ooooh.  You have computers.  I Don't Give A Shit.  If I had nickle for every time a computer model lied to me, I'd be a millionaire. 

Let me put it this way: how much gets spent on verifying and improving those models every year?  How many independent parties have evaluated them?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  More like two college freshmen?  Have they ever been validated by independent testing or are they like global climate models that are never verified?  If there's no incentive to get models right, by testing them against the real world, finding what doesn't agree, modifying them and retesting, constantly, they won't be right. 

Let me tell you how it works when there are real incentives.  For over 30 years I worked in a specialized engineering field.  Relentlessly ruled by physics, so it should be easy, right?  It's just Maxwell's equations; just run a simulation.   There were two competitors each of whom spent millions of dollars every year improving their models and having independent experts test and certify them.  The modeling systems got better every year and as a result we pushed the envelope.  We designed things that were more advanced and harder to model.  Has anyone ever put that kind of pressure on your models?

Cuomo is applying the evil fallacy that "if it saves one life, it's worth it," but that's only for the sound bites in front of cameras and microphones.  As author Jacob Sullum at Reason puts it:
"A human life is priceless" may sound like a nice sentiment, but its moral implications are grotesque. It requires us to ignore any amount of suffering that's not reflected in mortality statistics, as long as the policy that inflicts it can be expected to prolong even one person's life.
The fallacy implicitly means that you can do anything to someone as long as you don't kill them.  The implications reach a dead end when we have to consider the thorny questions like saving a life of someone today at the expense of denying elective surgeries for the last two months and thereby killing some number of new cancer patients who would have survived if they had gotten their cancers removed before they spread.  That's balancing the probability of saving some number of lives today by increasing the probability of killing some number of other people in the next couple of years.  But some of the people you save today will also die within the next couple of years.  Not so straightforward is it, governor?

Governor Andrew "Fredo" Cuomo at a March press conference.  I only call him Fredo because I understand he hates it.  If that's wrong and I'm only insulting his brother, I'm OK with that.


  1. If it saves one life? Coming from the scum bag that believes in abortion up until the time of birth? Typical liberal hypocrite.
    The hate I have for this piece of human excrement, is beyond words.

    Whitehall, NY

  2. 1) Human life is not priceless. That's been the one constant of biology for aeons.
    2) On a long enough time scale, the efficacy of the medical arts is 0%. Since ever.

    A germane question is, how many people are you willing to kill through deliberate stupidity?
    I would argue that the answer for that should be as close to zero as possible, factoring in all other information. Because at some point, even getting out of bed in the morning entails a risk of death.
    Enjoining the government from killing people at either end of the teeter-totter, however, is always good policy, since the most efficient killer of human beings, after disease, is government, back since at least Hammurabic law.

    And FTR, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is Michael Corleone, son of capo di tutti capi Godfather Mario.
    Fredo is his do-nothing lackwit brother Chris, whose CNN sinecure, like the payola gig of Chelsea Clinton at NBC, is simply laundered money for backdoor political graft to certain Democrat royal families. Looking at the revolving door between Democrat politics and the media, it's pretty blisteringly clear that the entire media gig is nothing but a place to park apparatchiks and presumptive heirs, to funnel cash to the chieftains and claim respectability for the heirs, and give them something to bring in a few bucks and provide cover for their layabout ways until a government office can be secured. Recall that JFK was a correspondent between WWII and Congress, and the dodge has been going on much longer than that.

  3. I like the comments (above) a lot.

  4. Yes, Aesop is correct.

    Fredo is the dancing monkey at CNN, not in the governor's office.

  5. Aesop wrote:

    A germane question is, how many people are you willing to kill through deliberate stupidity?
    I would argue that the answer for that should be as close to zero as possible, factoring in all other information.

    Hizzonor Cuomo failed that test spectacularly. Where the lockdown is effective is in isolating highly vulnerable populations like assisted living residents. Cuomo's policies forced centers to take in infected patients.

    Oh, and not only did he not shut down the plague infested subway, he didn't even make them clean it for two months.

    The idea that Government can act non-stupidly is, well, stupid. Of course they act stupidly - these people aren't very smart. Ruthless, yes. But not smart. Aesop said that very well.

    1. The MTA even cut back on the number of trains in use so the cars were packed more than they should have been. However, “should have been”, would be that the subway was shut down entirely.

  6. If a human life was priceless, hitman fees would be prohibitive.
    Nursing homes would be overfunded.
    Abortions would cease.
    Militaries would be idled.

  7. Granted, every life is priceless. I would add, every person has the right to stay at home without being told or ordered to.

    So, people who either are at risk, or afraid, can stay home and complete Generalissimo Cuomo's mission and the rest can get back to work and let the chips fall where they do for themselves.

    If Cuomo has a magic wand that will stop the virus from spreading, why is it that we have 66 percent of the new hospitalizations coming from shut down stay at home people???? No answer????? Here is an easier one.

    Why is it we allowed people to leave New York City when it was obvious it was the HOT SPOT of the nation when the outbreak started?????? This one too hard too......Last chance.

    Why is it they did not shut down the germ factory that is public transit in New York City early on? Or at a lesser level, Clean and sanitize the equipment back in March??????

    None of these are hindsight questions. Good community health practice would isolate the population with the massive outbreak from the rest of the area let alone the nation. Further, Subways and Buses are mass gatherings in motion and again, are frowned upon during an epidemic.

    Cuomo has blood on his hands and it is apparent that his decisions doomed thousands of New York residents to death.

    1. 's not a problem for Democrats, Glenda.

      Once people are dead, they can vote Democrat forever.

  8. Demonrats do not, have never and never will two shits or a damn about human life. Cuomohole is lying. It's what the left does. The ONLY thing most politicians and ALL demonrats care about is POWER. And they will happily climb over a mountain of innocent corpses to achieve that power.

  9. From his perspective Gov. Cuomo is absolutely correct, much like Lord Farquaad from "Shrek", to him HIS human life is priceless, the rest of us not so much. I know he doesn't care about the Constitution, but ruining the economy of New York won't leave him much to rule over. I suppose he could be planning on upgrading his fiefdom to the White House, if (when) Biden has a (politically) fatal accident in Milwaukee, but then in addition to the Republicans, he have to go to the mattresses with the Bernie family.