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EricN Publications by Eric Niewoehner
EricNPublications by Eric Niewoehner

When Does Ten Percent Matter?

February 25, 2022


To beat them into conformity, mandates have been applied. Their access to hospitals and restaurants and the border between Canada and the US have been blocked. Proposals have been afoot keeping them from traveling, the infamous “vaccine passport.”

Image of Ottawa Truckers Protest Ottawa Truckers Protest

Is it just me, or I am hearing over and over again that 10% of the people don’t seem to “get it.” Sounds like 10% of all Canadians are unvaccinated, and 10% of all truckers haven’t taken the jab. Only 10% of all the fire fighters are fired, while the percentage may be higher for police officers. Only 10% of our fighting force was discharged. Only 10% of our nurses were fired. Only 10% of our school teachers terminated. You know, the percentages may even be more or less. But for simplicity, let’s just stick with 10%.


I suppose the nice thing about our current situation is that dismissing 10% of the work force is no big deal. After all, it is only 10%. Doing it during a labor shortage seems to make a lot of sense, doesn’t it? These people do not matter, correct? According to one report, only 1% of the nursing staff have resigned, been terminated, or suspended. Yet isn’t it curious that they were replaced with the National Guard – you know – spend a lot more money on personnel who are displaced from their ordinary jobs because, after all, we are not missing those 1%? As regards the truckers, I am sure Canadians and Americans aren’t feeling it when just a few things don’t arrive at the warehouse or appear on the grocery store shelves because there is presumably a “labor shortage.”


Speaking of truckers, there is a big labor shortage of drivers because they can’t find people who carry a commercial drivers license. Why? Let me guess – to drive with a CDL you need to pass a drug exam. Being that about 10% of Americans seemed to be coked up on some sort of drug, we not only subsidize their dependency and absorb their low production in the work place, we also pay the cost of not having sober people to do many of our jobs. But – alas – it is only 10%. A bit ironic, isn’t it, that of the 10% of truck drivers that haven’t been vaccinated they are also drug-free?


For a society that prides itself for “following the science”, it is surprising that a bit of common sense seems to be totally absent. What do you call it when 100% of the population conform to a decree? Last I checked, it was called “totalitarianism.” Yet we think it undesirable that at least 10% of the people do not conform. Instead of looking at the science and seeing the statistical probabilities of what COVID is, what it entails, the effectiveness of the treatments, the efficacy of the vaccines and the preventive capabilities of masks, we throw all of our uncertainties and failures onto 10% of the population that do not conform. The President had a nice word for them: Neanderthals.


To beat them into conformity, mandates have been applied. Their access to hospitals and restaurants and the border between Canada and the US have been blocked. Proposals have been afoot keeping them from traveling, the infamous “vaccine passport.” But, alas, this shouldn’t be a big deal. It is only 10% of the population. Right?


How does this work? You fire the nurses who worked their hearts out during the pandemic, exposing themselves daily to the maximum risk of catching the virus. Then the hospital realizes that they need more personnel. They start searching out the pool of applicants, hoping to replace nurses who were highly experienced and loyal, with replacements who will most likely be less capable. What you discover is that the applicant pool is quite thin because, alas, almost any nurse looking for a job is unvaccinated. To fill the open positions, you have to pay more to get less. There is a word for that – inflation. It is double-inflation when you appoint the National Guard to do the job because you are paying them twice: once for the duties they fulfill and secondly for the vacated positions they leave behind. In economic jargon, this is called “opportunity cost.” We forget that those who serve work regular jobs and perform needed functions in the civilian workforce.


Take truckers. Certainly something as simple as driving a truck can easily be filled. But you discover the same dynamic because the truckers you need are not hired, they are contracted. They garner a rather unusual lifestyle of life on the road and they are highly independent. You find that with the high-demand resurgent economy, drivers are scarce. People like them do not appear every day. But, alas, who cares about dropping 10% of the independent truck drivers from the list? Deliveries fall short because you cannot find enough truckers. Tough luck.


Common sense is that you don’t fire nurses during a labor shortage. Common sense would arbitrage non-vaccinated nurses in locations where risk is minimal. Common sense would dictate that you maximize transport capacity during a supply-chain shortage. Common sense would be that you wouldn’t fire teachers or fire fighters or police officers. What sort of idiocy fires first-responders and nurses that require months, if not years, to train before placing them on the job? But, alas, they are only 10% of the work force.


Draping over this whole discussion is the lunacy that has thrown a trillion dollars onto the economy to pay people NOT to work.


Remarkable, isn’t it, that this whole mess could be fixed in one afternoon. Drop the mandates, drop all the vaccine passports, and get people to work. The people most at risk of catching COVID are the non-vaccinated who have yet to contract COVID. It is their choice. Close to 99% will survive the ordeal. In an instant, you would have available 10% of the trucking market. As regards hospitals, rehire those you fired, place them in low-risk areas of the hospital if at all possible. Not only would you refill the job openings, you would reduce the stress on the staff that has remained. The National Guard can return to their homes and their jobs.


As I noted above, I just picked 10% for simplicity. The real numbers are out there are for you to explore (see below). Canada still has more than 10% of it’s population that remain unvaccinated. Depending on the subject matter, you will see in some contexts nearly total conformity to vaccination mandates. Yet in some sectors, such as in the African-American community, there is less than 50% vaccinated.


As regards all those establishments that require I present evidence of my vaccinations? I am fully vaccinated, have my booster, and yet remain deeply offended by all this nonsense. I may eat out of necessity at your restaurant, but only once. After that, I am never coming back. But, alas, I am only 10% of your customer base. I am sure you don’t need us.




Government of Canada COVID Statistics


John Hopkins COVID Data


How many employees have hospitals lost to vaccine mandates? Here are the numbers so far”, Fierce Healthcare, by Dave Muoio, February 22, 2022

By Eric Niewoehner

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