Friday, March 27, 2020

A Taste of Socialism

The empty shelves themselves become the reason for the panic buying. We’re not used to this. We’ve never before seen this. Aside from some empty bread and bottled water aisles during hurricane seasons, and some difficulties finding shovels at Home Depot during snowstorm warnings, Americans by and large are a buy-what-we-want, when-we-want-it lot. And if it ain’t in the store, we’ll get it online, shipped overnight. 
We get pizza delivery by drone, for crying out loud. 
Now, Nike has shut doors. States have declared emergencies. Toilet paper is on backorder — tissue boxes, too. Meat bins are emptied; canned goods are dwindling; milk is a luxury that can’t be found for sale anywhere. In other words: It’s a good teaching moment for millennials. For Sen. Bernie Sanders’ fans. For Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s advocates. 
If you like socialism — well, here’s socialism, upfront and personal. 
“The first time I couldn’t buy food at the grocery store,” wrote Daniel Di Martino, in USA Today in February, 2019, “I was 15 years old. It was 2014 in Caracas, Venezuela, and I had spent more than an hour in line waiting. When I got to the register, I noticed I had forgotten my ID that day. Without the ID, the government rationing system would not let the supermarket sell my family the full quota of food we needed. It was four days until the government allowed me to buy more.” 
Di Martino said that socialism, which he lived with until 2016, when he came to the United States as a student, destroyed his country. The government, seeking to distribute necessary products in a fair and equitable manner, “imposed price controls,” “nationalized the most important private industries,” took over the free market and hampered the individual’s ability to create and produce. Shortages, predictably, were the result. (Read more.)

From the Ruth Institute:
After China, Italy has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus. Ruth Institute President Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., said, “Italy’s aging population is a factor in the spread of a disease to which the elderly are particularly susceptible.” 
Morse noted, “As of March 17, there were almost 28,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,158 deaths in Italy. Only China has more cases. And while China has the world’s largest population, Italy’s cases are concentrated in a numerically much smaller population than China’s. The number of total cases in Italy is roughly 460 per million population,* far higher than China’s 56 cases per million population. Worse, while the growth of new cases has slowed in China, it’s speeding up in Italy.” 
Italy’s demographic problem of falling fertility should be seen as the backdrop to its coronavirus crisis. “Italy’s fertility rate is now 1.33 children per woman, far below the replacement level of 2.1,” Morse explained. As a result, Italy has a rapidly aging population. Almost a quarter, 23% of Italy’s population is now over 65 years of age. In 2019, the median age was 46.3 years, projected to rise to 51.4 years by 2050. This in turn has given Italy a shrinking economy and rising public sector costs, due to pensions and health care. The nation’s growing elderly population has also put a strain on its health care system, as the coronavirus situation illustrates. 
“The answer is obvious,” Morse said. “Italy should be (and should have been) promoting procreation. Russia has a National Conception Day to address its fertility crisis. Hungary has recently introduced birth incentives. Instead of trying to get more women into the workforce or admitting more migrants– both short term solutions, at best – Italy should be encouraging Italian families to have more children. A nation without children has no future.” 
“We must do everything we can to limit the spread of the disease,” Morse said. “But we must also understand the role of demographics in creating the sort of population prone to the coronavirus and other pandemics. With any luck, and by the grace of God, Italy will experience a post-COVID baby boom. Any new baby is a sign of renewed hope in the future. Certainly, new babies conceived in Italy now are a great sign of hope.” (Read more.

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