Covid-19 and Game theory

 

Could this crisis be a successive build-up of more and more restrictions according to the decisions of the players involved? I am not at all an expert in game theory but I want to share some thoughts.

Situation:

The virologist

The virologist is asked by the politician what to do as there seems to be a pandemic coming. The virologist has two options to offer:

Option A: do nothing

Option B: do quarantine

With option B the virologist has far less responsibility because the result is a) in the future and b) it is not he but others who implement the restrictions. When asked later, he can always say «I spoke from the perspective of a virologist, I am not a politician …» what is, of course, correct.

But option A makes him practically alone responsible for the outcome. If the catastrophe comes, he will be blamed for all future deaths. Therefore the virologist chooses B.

The politician

The politician sitting on coals due to all the frightening media reports – has two options:

Option A: do nothing

Option B: do quarantine

As long as possible he chooses option A because of economics. But then the media heats up the situation and neighboring countries take measures so he gets uncomfortable. If others take measures but he not, all will blame him. So he does what other countries do: take measures (option B) and deflects responsibility to experts and others.

Next

After imposing restrictions, improvement is needed at all cost. The politician has three options:

Option A: end restrictions

Option B: continue with balanced & adapted restrictions

Option C: constantly increase restrictions

Option A is impossible as it would directly contradict the step taken before. It would look like a confession of the wrong decision.

The measures must bring positive results. If the more extreme measures were needed or not can only be verified much later and not with 100% accuracy so all strict measures will be right for now. Option B, on the other hand, even if it were the better option bears a big risk that people will complain that he didn’t do enough.  If more restrictions would improve the situation nor not is just secondary. The risk of «he didn’t do enough» looms to frightening.

Option C is the safe bet: Even if the draconic measures will just have a slightly higher chance of reducing the infections, it will be impossible later to discern if the measures were truly necessary or not (or the findings come months of years later when the public does not care any more).

«We tried everything possible» (Nb. possible not best) is the slogan. So the politician will rather increase restrictions for some time.

Back to normal

With time – a few weeks to a few months – the public longs for and expects that things become normal again. As people long for it, the politician can now reduce the restriction step by step to please people. If the reductions of restrictions do not create a spike in infections then the decision will be accepted as everyone wants them.

 

Let’s see the crisis as a change. One looser is already obvious: the free market and capitalism do not solve the crisis.

But Solidarity does.

 

 

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Hands Off Venezuela

US interventions in other countries – a.k.a regime change – have brought innumerable suffering and death to millions but never fulfilled the stated aims: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria among others have been ruined with billions of dollars needed to rebuild the infrastructure and much more to heal the wounds inflicted. The goals like spreading democracy, reducing terrorism, etc. were never fulfilled and in case of terrorism the conditions have even been substantially worsened.

The well-being of the people is never the goal of US intervention. Simple measures for improvement like ending sanctions, normalising diplomatic relations, opening borders are routinely ignored and after destruction the people are left alone with their fate. Reparations are never paid.

International Law clearly forbids the use of force and the threat of it. The US routinely ignores International Law, using force and threatening to use force against independent states.

We all remember the lies that lead to Iraq war 2003 («weapons of mass destruction») – and we remember the outcome! Do not be fooled this time again.

Say no to meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

 

#HandsOffVenezuela

 

 

further reading:

A Call to Halt an Illegal Invasion of Venezuela

The War on Venezuela is Built on Lies

Why Venezuelan is Rejecting U.S. Aid

DemocracyNow/Venezuela

 

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On my way to North Korea

What a horrible country!

Every year the people celebrate their bloody uprising that replaced the ruling class but left thousands dead. With this revolution a reign of terror was unleashed. In trials that can only be described as mocking justice within a year more than 17’000 people had been executed.

But people are brainwashed and do not want to question the official doctrine. They identify with and believe that the event was their liberation and brought them an equal society. It is difficult to comprehend that such a doctrine is accepted by the masses when the privileged have everything but the poor do not know how to make ends meet.

Of course, there is a part of society that can be labeled middle class but the ideals that the state worships as credo is by far not met. Some few do have plenty and a growing underclass is simply poor. That does not reflect the promoted doctrine.

About 50 years a demonstration of a minority group was brutally shattered with hundreds (!) killed. The river of the capital is said to have been filled with corpses on that day. But the public is not aware of such incidents. What does not fit the grid of idealistic superiority is overlooked, suppressed, ignored. And so is its partially aggressive foreign policy and agitation in other counties with serious human rights violations mostly unknown.

Freedom of speech has its limitation, too. Dissident opinion became more and more difficult in recent years with teenagers being arrested for posting ironic comments on a social media platforms! Freedom of expression is just granted when it does not conflict with state-doctrine.

Uff. I reach Paris Charles-de-Gaulle airport where I will take my plane to North Korea leaving France behind me. I really hope people will become aware of their history and that liberté, égalité, fraternité will be put into practice at all the levels of this society …

Notes:

  • From the beginning of 1793 to the Thermidorean Reaction, 17,000 people were sentenced and beheaded by some form of revolutionary court in France (in Paris or in the provinces), in addition to some 25,000 others who were summarily executed in the September Massacres, retributions in the War in the Vendée and elsewhere. The Paris Revolutionary Tribunal was responsible for 16% of all death sentences. [wiki]

 

 

  • The Paris massacre of 1961 was a massacre in Paris on 17 October 1961, during the Algerian War (1954–62). Under orders from the head of the Parisian police, Maurice Papon, the French National Police attacked a forbidden demonstration of some 30,000 pro-National Liberation Front (FLN) Algerians

 

 

  • It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.

 

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recommended: Jonathan Cook about the true colour of the Guardian

The Guardian’s Vilification of Julian Assange

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/12/03/the-guardians-vilification-of-julian-assange/

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How should heads of states greet Muhammad bin Salman?

At the G-20 summit the question «how to greet Muhammad bin Salman?» has become the litmus test for politically correct behaviour. The public judges and rates politicians for how they greet Saudi Arabia’s crown prince. Putin’s «high-five» to Salman was especially despised on social media.

Well, there are a few aspects to consider here.

Etiquette

The fist aspect is that state representatives have to respected. It is rather silly to think that we can solve human rights violations or any other problem by simply spitting another head of state in the face. Showing contempt for a representative that one is meeting is a contradictio in eo ipso. Just don’t meet him or her if you want to express contempt. But refusing to talk will rarely solve things.

In most cases the best option to solve a problem is dialogue. And dialogue can only happen with manners and politeness. Protocol applies[1].

The war in Yemen

Next, this one murder is just a tiny, almost insignificant detail in the main killing spree of Saudi Arabia[2]. The war in Yemen with probably more than 50’000 dead and children starving daily surpasses this single assassination by orders of magnitudes. Indignation about this killing has an odour of hypocrisy.

Business with Saudi Arabia

But not only Saudi Arabia is guilty of murder, mass murder. All the countries that continued and continue making business with Saudi Arabia in general and selling weapons to Saudi Arabia in particular during the last years are guilty of supporting the massacres in Yemen.

Should a ugly face when greeting the Prince Salman be enough to whitewash all the complicity?

A vicious world

When Trump was asked about who should be held accountable for the killing, he deflected the question and said that «maybe the world should be held accountable, because the world is a vicious place. The world is a very, very vicious place».[3] Meanwhile a vicious world can’t whitewash murder, that the world is a vicious place is correct: the one million killed in the Iraq war since 2003, the war in Afghanistan, the 500’000 children killed by US-imposed sanctions (Iraq 1991-2003), the chaos in Libya after US intervention, the drone strikes, etc. The list of US crimes is long but only a few on the radical left demand that we stop shaking the hands of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Barack Obama, etc.

20’000 dead children daily

Every single day about twenty thousand children die from preventable diseases due to lack of basic necessities (clean drinking water, malnutrition, etc.).[4] The cause is mainly the current global world order, i.e. (US-led) neoliberal capitalism. If we feel indignation about the murder of Khashoggi, we must feel indignation for the murder of all these children, too.

Acting collectively

The world is indeed a vicious place but most of it is man-made[5]. As long as head of states do not attempt to change neoliberal capitalism, the daily mass murder continues. Most of the guests at the G-20 summit are the guardians of the neoliberal world order. In such meetings – in principle – world order can be changed: military de-escalation, nuclear disarmament, Tobin-tax, carbon-tax, fair trade commitments, poverty alleviation, etc. are possible. It all just depends on political commitment, unlikely at the moment but possible …

Leaving NATO …

The states themselves can do their part, too, even when the current political climate is clouded by Trumpian egoism. European states could leave NATO and say no to an increase of military budgets. The EU could promote fair business with development countries[6] and increase development aid.[7] That would also help reduce some of the causes for migration.

The minimum …

Of course, to stop selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and to any other state that is involved in illegal wars is the top priority. That means that not just Saudi Arabia has to be banned from receiving weapons but also Israel and the US!

It is obvious that these actions will not happen – not because they are impossible but because our leaders are so deeply entrenched in the global neoliberal world order that they don’t care about the twenty thousand children that die daily nor for the children in Yemen nor about US crimes. They care only for business.

The Khashoggi murder – with its exceptionalism – is therefore a welcomed opportunity to show indignation without having to act and change. Praise to our moral superiority …

 

1 There is a distinct difference between form and content. Formal politeness does not mean to agree in content. And it is a entirely different case when one personally knows and meets a person in private compared to a meeting between states.

2 Unless we introduce the concept worthy and the unworthy victims (unpeople) and rate a wealthy Washington Post columnist like Khashoggi as worthy in relation to the unworthy Yemeni, continuous mass murder is far worse than a single murder.

3 https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/26/whitewashing-murder-is-simply-wrong/

4 http://www.whatnewsshouldbe.org/front-page-news/11-million-kids-die-each-year-whose-deaths-could-have-easily-been-prevented

5 To be honest, I guess some women have also their share in it …

6 Like ending the flooding African markets with cheap meat and other goods that destroy local production especially agriculture.

7 A long-term demand of NGOS is the raise of development aid to 1% GDP, a “burden” the Western nations could shoulder easily.

 

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McCarthyim on steroids or the ferocious aggressiveness of Anti-Assad-Propagandists

RT brought a story about a new entry on medium.com called International Assadists References Directory” listing alleged ‘Assadist’, i.e. people that whitewashed or defended Bashar Al-Assads regime or actions in any way.

Apart from the fact that the page contained factual errors, the page labels anyone an ‘Assadist’ that dares to say that the Syrian conflict is not black and white and sees faults and responsibility for the conflict not only by Assad alone.

I came in contact with Kester Radcliff, the creator of the article, about two years ago. We were friends on facebook where he spilled his propaganda blaming Assad and Assad alone for the situation in Syria. When I pointed out that the reality was not so black&white as he portrayed it and posted a link to an article by Robert Fisk, he got wild. After a few exchanges of arguments – if I can call his answers arguments – he blocked me from his fb page and cancelled the friendship. No more dialogue.

Kester Radcliff is a good example of what I would call Anti-Assad-Propagandist (AAP). The characteristics of how these AAP behave and ‘argue’ is as follows:

  1. put all the blame on Assad
  2. propagate that view emotionally (i.e. use expressions like “the worst mass murderer of the last 65 years”, “genocide”, etc.
  3. don’t tolerate other views. If someone disagrees, get as much angry as possible and discredit the person for even thinking outside of the above parameter.
  4. do not argue on an intellectual level. Just use emotions to discredit the other. “You want to defend the worst mass murderer …”, “how dare you to say … when 500’00 people have been massacred.”,
  5. do not accept the standpoint ‘neutral’

As it was rather difficult to get trustworthy information about Syria and the Western media – as usual – favoured the NATO view, contradicting someone that and calls himself a “human rights activist”, holds a seemingly rock-solid opinion and passionately defends it, is not so easy. Especially when you are part of the “volunteering family” you will not want to loose your community. I guess many agree therefore or at least do not oppose the view as they want to save the friendship and not end up as an “outcast”.neurality

Kester Radcliff is not the only one. There were other people I met on facebook behaving similarly. A woman deleted all posts critical to her original posts that tried to whitewash the “White helmets”. First she retorted in short phrases like “Educate yourself before you comment please”, then she had to enter the discussion as the poster showed that he was educated. But a day later only the reaffirming posts remained on the page. See the page before and after. (At least she had a discussion even when deleting it after.)

The question is not about political opinion. The question is that a some people are trying to suppress any meaningful discussion before it even starts and demand loyalty. By bullying people into adopting an emotion-based opinion that is entirely black&white and refusing to acknowledge the existence of – fact-based – other perspectives is not at all in accordance with the alleged ideals of liberal Western democracies this people claim to represent. On the contrary, their behaviour resembles – in essence – much more those authoritarian dictatorships where censorship is standard and deviation from doctrine is forbidden. A free society where plurality of opinion is honoured and welcomed would neither bully nor censor. Welcome to Western hypocrisy.

Kester Radcliff’s list that can be described as McCarthyim on steroids” would be laughable had it not so many followers that praise it.

But anyhow, as Eva Barlett wrote:

“In fact, instead of successfully smearing us, Kester has compiled a go-to list of people to follow for original and truthful content on important international issues today, particularly Syria, Palestine, and Yemen,”

So, Kester, put me on that list, too. I would be an honour!

***


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Russia hysteria as Anti-Sanders campaign

The whole Russia hysteria that storms through the Western world (Swiss newspapers are full of Anti-Russia rhetoric)  is at the bottom line a big Anti-Sanders campaign. The Democrats to not want to acknowledge the epic failure of their neo-liberal candidate Hillary Clinton so they do everything to invent and pad out Trump as a “Manchurian candidate” that was voted in by fraud and manipulation by a foreign power. This focus on Russia’s alleged interference will allow to keep Trump’s neo-liberal achievements and continue on that path but present an illusion of change to the public — especially to the liberal-left — when Trump is gone. The Russia hype is a (desperate) smoke screen to hide the failures of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party on one side and prevent focusing on Trump’s real sins: dismantling of environmental regulatory bodies, tax cuts for the rich, increased military spending … i.e. the full spectrum of Trump’s hard-core neo-liberal policies. Focusing on real issues would demand that the Democrats would reverse such decisions once in power.

Hillary Clinton’s loss against one of the weakest opponents in history and Sanders popularity in addition clearly demands that the Democrats nominate Sanders in 2020—or at least correct their party program massively to the left. Such a step would be the most logical conclusion. But the Democrats showed soon signs that a correction of the neo-liberal path was not a goal. Favouring Tom Perez over Keith Ellison was a clear indicator that the Dems did not have any aspiration to change the elite-run party to more grass-root participation. In other words, the «consultant-ocracy»*, making sure that the interests of the 0.1% of society always come first, was not challenged.

With the Russia frenzy occupying the minds of the public the Democrats have a useful alibi to not take steps to move the party line to the left and address real issues like environment, climate change, demilitarisation, education, poverty and all other topics that demand a clear rejection of neo-liberalism.

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