So, he’s providing a list of companies that might be more deserving of my dollars. Good to know.
I have to give props to the well-employed intellectuals at Coca-Cola. Trump advertised for them with his diet coke thing for years and now they get a chance to shake him off and re-align their branding with more broadly popular ideals (eg. functional democracies).
I don’t even like soda, but now I’m planning to enjoy some Cuba Libre.
My partner likes coke and despises Il Douche (and by despises, I mean, she hates him with a burning passion). I have good news for her!
April 5, 2021 (Monday)
For people sick of news, there is nothing happening that cannot wait, so tonight’s letter is a good one to skip.
Otherwise, there are lots of developing stories today. Top of the list is the story of Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who is implicated in what appears to be a significant sex scandal involving underage girls.
Running a close second is the story Shane Goldmacher at the New York Times broke this weekend: in the closing days of the 2020 election season, the Trump campaign scammed supporters out of more than $122 million by tricking them into “recurring” donations. The campaign had to refund those donations after the election, and it apparently did so by using money raised after the election by asking for funds to challenge the election results. In effect, supporters unknowingly made a no-interest loan to the campaign.
Today’s overarching story is connected to this one. It is the same as yesterday’s big story, and the day before that, reaching on backward until the 2020 election. Republican Party leaders continue to insist, without evidence, that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 election and that Democrats stole it from him through voter fraud. A new Reuters/Ipsos found that six in ten Republicans believe this Big Lie.
This falsehood has been rejected by bipartisan election officials and the courts, including the Supreme Court, but in 43 states Republican legislators are using it to justify election laws that will make it significantly harder to vote.
Those new laws have met with significant pushback, leaving Republicans scrambling to argue that the laws actually make it easier to vote, not harder. This is not true. Former Wall Street Journal correspondent Douglas Blackmon wrote a tremendously clear thread on Twitter spelling out how the Georgia law, for example, makes it illegal for Georgia voting officials to send absentee applications to each voter, and makes it harder to get absentee ballots. It eliminates most drop boxes for ballots, as well, and makes it harder for working people to vote. Blackmon says the law’s “intent seems to be causing much longer & slower lines at the polls, which… will mean large numbers of working class, elderly, and sick voters who just give up and go home.”
The passage of a new voter suppression law in Georgia has opened up a rift between Republican lawmakers and corporations, which in the past have been firmly in the Republican camp. After all, Republicans hailed the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which overturned election restrictions that had been in place for more than a century and permitted corporations to spend unlimited amounts on elections. The justices argued that corporations and other groups had a right to spend money under the First Amendment’s right to free speech.
Now that corporations are taking a stand against the Georgia election law, Republicans are no longer so keen on corporate free speech. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has long advocated the use of big money for his political causes and who in 2020 got the most money from the nation’s top chief executive officers, today issued a statement calling the corporations who oppose the Georgia election law bullies. He said: “Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order. Businesses must not use economic blackmail to spread disinformation and push bad ideas that citizens reject at the ballot box.”
McConnell’s sudden turn against corporate political speech is not as counterintuitive as it seems. He wants corporate support in general, of course, but he also appears to need corporate money to fend off a revolt in his caucus. While corporations got cold feet about the Republicans after the January 6 coup and the refusal of 147 Republican lawmakers to count the certified ballots for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, small donors turning out for Trump’s Big Lie made up for the lost corporate money. Now, as corporations stand against the Trump wing of the party in Georgia, it appears the power in the party is shifting away from McConnell’s corporate wing and toward Trump followers who like the extremists promising to continue fighting the culture wars.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is similarly struggling with his conference as far-right representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) try to use procedural tools to snarl congressional operations, turning every last House operation into a partisan fight.
While Democrats are pushing quite popular legislation, Republicans are shifting toward lawmakers who are not only aiming a wrecking ball at Congress, but also are facing one of the biggest sex scandals in a generation and one of the biggest funding scandals ever.
It’s no wonder McConnell is unhappy.
Just call it what it is: Jim Crow Part 2.
April 6, 2021 (Tuesday)
I spent much of today thinking about the Republican Party. Its roots lie in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in spring 1854, when it became clear that elite southern slaveholders had taken control of the federal government and were using their power to spread their system of human enslavement across the continent.
At first, members of the new party knew only what they stood against: an economic system that concentrated wealth upward and made it impossible for ordinary men to prosper. But in 1859, their new spokesman, Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln, articulated a new vision of government. Rather than using government power solely to protect the property of wealthy slaveholders, Lincoln argued, the government should work to make it possible for all men to get equal access to resources, including education, so they could rise to economic security.
As a younger man, Lincoln had watched his town of New Salem die because the settlers in the town did not have the resources to dredge the Sangamon River to increase their river trade. Had the government simply been willing to invest in the economic development that was too much for the willing workers of New Salem, it could have brought prosperity to the men who, for lack of investment, failed and abandoned their town. The government, Lincoln thought, must develop the country’s infrastructure.
Once in power, the Republicans did precisely that. After imposing the first national taxes, including an income tax, lawmakers set out to enable men to be able to pay those taxes by using the government to give ordinary men access to resources. In 1862, they passed the Homestead Act, giving western land to anyone willing to settle it; the Land-Grant College Act, providing funds to establish state universities; the act establishing the Department of Agriculture, to provide scientific information and good seeds to farmers; and the Pacific Railway Act, providing for the construction of a railroad across the continent to get men to the fields and the mines of the West.
In 1902, Republicans fascinated with infrastructure projects joined forces with southern Democrats desperate for flood control to pass the Newlands Reclamation Act. Under the act, the federal government built more than 600 dams in 20 western states to bring water to farmland. “The sound and steady development of the West depends upon the building up of homes therein,” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote. Water from the western dams now irrigates more than 10 million acres, which produce about 60% of the nation’s vegetables and 25% of its fruits (and nuts).
Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt combined this focus on infrastructure development with the need for work relief programs during the Depression to create the 1933 Civilian Conservation Corps, which planted trees, built fire towers, built trails, stocked fish, and so on. In 1935, Congress created the Works Progress Administration. During its existence, it employed about 3 million workers at a time; built or repaired more than 100,000 public buildings, including schools and post offices; and constructed more than 500 airports, more than 500,000 miles of roads, and more than 100,000 bridges. It also employed actors, photographers, painters, and writers to conduct interviews, paint murals of our history, and tell our national story.
As the country grew and became more interconnected, pressure built for a developed road system, but while FDR liked the idea of the jobs it would produce, building the road fell to Republican President Dwight Eisenhower. Three years after he became president, Eisenhower backed the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act, saying, “Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods.” The law initially provided $25 billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of road; at the time, it was the largest public works project in U.S. history.
In America today, there is good news. The Biden administration has rolled out vaccines at a faster pace than anyone foresaw. Today, President Biden announced that health care workers have administered 150 million doses of the vaccine and, at an average of 3 million shots a day, they are on track to administer 200 million by his 100th day in office. He is moving the date for states to make all adults eligible for a vaccine from May 1 to April 19.
The vaccines have dovetailed with the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan from last month and the spring weather to speed up the economic recovery. Economists had expected a job gain of about 660,000 in March, but nonfarm payrolls actually rose by about 916,000. And now Biden has rolled out a dramatic new infrastructure proposal, the $2 trillion American Jobs Plan.
So why was I thinking about the Republicans today?
In this moment, Republican lawmakers seem weirdly out of step with their party’s history as well as with the country. They are responding to the American Jobs Plan by defining infrastructure as roads and bridges alone, cutting from the definition even the broadband that they included when Trump was president. (Trump, remember, followed his huge 2017 tax cuts with the promise of a big infrastructure bill. As he said, “Infrastructure is the easiest of all…. People want it, Republicans and Democrats.”) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warns that Biden’s plan is a “Trojan horse” that will require “massive tax increases.”
Biden has indeed proposed funding the Democrats’ infrastructure plan by raising taxes on corporations from their current rate of 21% to 28% (but before Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, that rate was 35%). It ends federal tax breaks for oil and gas companies, and it increases the global minimum tax—a tax designed to keep corporations from shifting their profits to low tax countries-- from 13% to 21%.
This is in keeping with our history. Americans since Lincoln have proudly used tax dollars to develop the country. During Eisenhower’s era, the corporate tax rate was 52% (and the top income tax bracket was 91%). The Newlands Act was designed to raise money through public land sales, but in 1928, when Congress authorized what would become Hoover Dam, the Bureau of Reclamation began to operate out of the government’s general funds.
But it was Lincoln’s Republicans who first provided the justification for investing in the nation. In the midst of the deadly Civil War, as the United States was hemorrhaging both blood and money, Republican lawmakers defended first their invention of national taxes. The government had a right to “demand” 99% of a man’s property for an urgent need, said House Ways and Means Committee Chair Justin Smith Morrill (R-VT). When the nation required it, he said, “the property of the people… belongs to the [g]overnment.”
The Republicans also defended developing the country. In a debate over the new Department of Agriculture, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee William Pitt Fessenden (R-ME), famous both for his crabbiness and for his single-minded focus on the war, defended the use of “seed money.” With such an investment, he said, the country would be “richly paid over and over again in absolute increase of wealth. There is no doubt of that.”
April 7, 2021 (Wednesday)
Last night, commentator Kevin Williamson published a piece in National Review justifying voter suppression by suggesting that “the republic would be better served by having fewer—but better—voters.” Representatives, he says, “are people who act in other people’s interests,” which is different from doing what voters want.
This is the same argument elite slaveholder James Henry Hammond made before the Senate in 1858, when he defended the idea that Congress should recognize the spread of human enslavement into Kansas despite the fact that the people living in that territory wanted to abolish slavery. Our Constitution, Hammond said, did not dictate that people should “be annoyed with the cares of Government,” but rather directed that they should elect leaders who would take those cares upon themselves.
It is the same argument wealthy men made in the 1890s when they illustrated that laws calling for “better” voters meant that white registrars would hand-pick the nation’s voting population. In the South and the North both, legislators wrote new state constitutions to keep Black men, immigrants, and poor workers from the polls. Leading Americans argued that such men “corrupted” the vote by electing lawmakers who provided public infrastructure like schools and hospitals, paid for with the tax dollars of hardworking white men. To keep poor voters and men of color from the ballot, new state laws called for literacy tests, in which white registrars personally judged a man’s ability to read; poll taxes for which one had to keep the receipts; grandfather clauses, in which a man could vote if his grandfather had, and so on.
Williamson’s is the same argument Arizona Senator Barry’s Goldwater’s ghostwriter made in 1960 in The Conscience of a Conservative, when he wrote in frustration about the New Deal government that was wildly popular despite businessmen’s hatred for it. The framers had absolutely not created a democracy, he wrote, but rather had worried about “a tyranny of the masses” who would vote for laws that redistributed tax dollars into projects that would benefit themselves.
The theory of government that lies behind the argument for limiting the vote to “better” voters was also articulated by Senator Hammond in his 1858 speech. He explained that the South had figured out the best government in the world. It had put a few wealthy, educated, well-connected men in power over everyone else: those he called “mudsills,” workers who produced the capital that supported society but had little direction or ambition and had to be controlled by their superiors. In the South, Hammond explained to his northern colleagues, the mudsills were Black, but in the North they were wage workers. It was imperative such men be kept from political power, for “[i]f they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than ‘an army with banners,’ and could combine, where would you be? Your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property divided… by the quiet process of the ballot-box….”
In 1859, Abraham Lincoln rejected this vision of government by wealthy elites and replaced it with one of his own. Government worked best not when it protected the property and thus the power of a few wealthy elites, said this poor man’s son, but when it protected equality of access to resources and equality before the law for everyone. Rather than concentrating wealth upward, society should protect the rights of all men to the fruits of their own labor.
Throughout our history, adherents of these two different visions of what constitutes the best government for the U.S. have struggled. On the one hand are those who say that the country operates best when the government is controlled by a few wealthy, educated, well-connected, and usually white and male leaders. The argument goes that they are the only ones with the skills, the insight, and the experience to make good decisions about national policy, particularly economic policy. And it is important that wealth concentrate in their hands, since they will act as its stewards, using it wisely in lump sums, while if the workers who produce wealth get control of it they will fritter it away.
On the other hand are those like Lincoln, who believe that government should reflect the will of the majority, not simply on principle, but because a wide range of voices means the government has a better chance of getting things right than when only a few people rule.
In today’s world, Americans appear to be siding with the popular measures of the Democrats. A Morning Consult/Politico poll today says that 65% of Americans support higher corporate taxes to pay for infrastructure and that 82% want infrastructure in any case. To make matters worse for the Republicans, counties that voted for Biden provide 70% of the nation’s gross domestic product, the value of goods and services in the nation. The large corporations Republicans used to be able to count on for money and support are now eager to court these young, liberal producers.
So, to combat the nation’s drift toward popular government, it appears the current-day Republican Party has taken up the cause of elite rule.
Williamson is not the only Republican to muse about how getting rid of voters might be good for the nation. Arizona state representative John Kavanagh has said of voting that “[q]uantity is important, but we need to look at the quality of votes as well.”
Today, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) reacted to a story about rising crime rates during the pandemic by tweeting that “[w]e have a major under-incarceration problem in America.” He appears to think that we need more people in jail despite the fact that we already imprison our people at a rate more than 5 times higher than that of the rest of the world. We imprison nearly 2.3 million people, with another 3.6 million on probation and another 840,000 on parole. More important for the current struggle over government, though, his statement is that of an authoritarian rather than a democratic leader, and fits nicely with the idea of a strong-handed elite rule.
In Florida, Republican lawmakers appear ready to silence their opponents with a law that would, according to the Miami Herald, “require public colleges and universities to survey students, faculty and staff about their beliefs and viewpoints.” It would also permit students to record their professors without their consent for a civil or criminal case against their school. A lobbyist for the measure, Barney Bishop, told journalist Ana Ceballos that “the cards are stacked in the education system… toward the left and toward the liberal ideology and also secularism — and those were not the values that our country was founded on…. [T]hose are the values that we need to get our country back to.” “The truth of the matter,” he said, “is that kids are being indoctrinated from an early age.”
Also today, a member of the Boogaloo Bois who attended a “Stop the Steal” rally at the state capitol in Minnesota as part of the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election was arrested and charged with illegal possession of a machine gun. He had used a 3D printer to alter a semi-automatic weapon to make it shoot automatically.
The Republican attack on democracy is not playing well at home (although a number of our adversaries like it well enough). A new Gallup poll shows that an average of 49% of Americans consider themselves Democratic or Democratic-leaning Independents while only 40% identify as Republicans or as Republican-leaning Independents. This is the highest split since 2012.
Still, in the end, if Republicans manage to rewrite the voting laws to silence their opponents, how their actions play with the majority of American voters won’t matter in the least.
Fact: German law and parliamentary custom both bind representatives to their conscience, and only to that. They are not bound by assumed or expressed voters will. What their voters want can be very different from what is decided. Consensus is often reached through agreements which need all parties, and the individual representative, to compromise.
The number of parliamentarians has, for procedural reasons, been constantly growing. Parliament so far has not found a consensus on how to fix this, and it has a detrimental effect on the ability to find a consensus (among other detrimental effects).
May I suggest that maybe the US needs, as do other nations, fewer but better representatives?
May I also suggest that having more voters is a step on the way to achieve that?
May I finally be so bold to say that this Williamson persona may have a point that the US needs better voters, because apparently many still support a former president who tried to destroy US-American democracy?
Been there. Tried to do that. Worked for some time, maybe. At least Germany didn’t start another world war so far. OTH, neofascists again are in parliament in Germany, so there’s that.
I agree that he may have a point, that our republic may benefit from disqualifying voters who voted for Trump twice. I mean, that shows for sure that the judgement of those voters is pretty awful.
Oh, what? That’s not what he meant?
He most definitely meant that voters need to be better, didn’t he? That means intelligent, empathetic, educated, maybe even wise.
it absolutely does. and the way to get there is through fully funding public schools and teachers so that they can provide the best education possible
in america, education - even at the youngest age - is framed as being a successful producer of goods. aiming for good grades, good college, good career.
it’s all the wrong focus if what you want to build a successful and functioning democracy. education is the goal, jobs the side effect - not the other way around
slightly different tangent, it’s funny to hear conservatives want the “best qualified voters” when they are so completely anti-science, and anti-fact.
every time there’s a republican president the economy crashes, the debt explodes, and quality of life plummets - yet, we’re supposed to believe they’re the best qualified.
(lets try that with a smaller gif)
It’s the reason why that group has such strong ties with religious groups that teach men are the leaders of families and to be obeyed. They use that belief as a way to control all of the voters in a household//town/district/state. Party leaders tell their members how to vote. They get religious leaders (like Jerry Falwell, Jr.) to tell their flocks how to vote. This is also the reason why schools like Oral Roberts University and Liberty University are major sources for interns, clerks, or support staff for conservative pols. Those are the qualifications that rich and powerful conservatives want - obedience and unquestioning belief.
April 8, 2021 (Thursday)
On April 8, 1865, General Ulysses S. Grant was having a hard night. His army had been harrying Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s for days, and Grant knew it was only a question of time before Lee had to surrender. The people in the Virginia countryside were starving and Lee’s army was melting away. Just that morning, a Confederate colonel had thrown himself on Grant’s mercy after realizing that he was the only man in his entire regiment who had not already abandoned the cause. But while Grant had twice asked Lee to surrender, Lee still insisted his men could fight on.
So, on the night of April 8, Grant retired to bed in a Virginia farmhouse, dirty, tired, and miserable with a migraine. He spent the night “bathing my feet in hot water and mustard, and putting mustard plasters on my wrists and the back part of my neck, hoping to be cured by morning.” It didn’t work. When morning came, Grant pulled on his clothes from the day before and rode out to the head of his column with his head throbbing.
As he rode, an escort arrived with a note from Lee requesting an interview for the purpose of surrendering his Army of Northern Virginia. “When the officer reached me I was still suffering with the sick headache,” Grant recalled, “but the instant I saw the contents of the note I was cured.”
The two men met in the home of Wilmer McLean in the village of Appomattox Court House, Virginia. Lee had dressed grandly for the occasion in a brand new general’s uniform carrying a dress sword; Grant wore simply the “rough garb” of a private with the shoulder straps of a Lieutenant General.
But the images of the noble South and the humble North hid a very different reality. As soon as the papers were signed, Lee told Grant his men were starving, and asked if the Union general could provide the Confederates with rations. Grant didn’t hesitate. “Certainly,” he responded, before asking how many men needed food. He took Lee’s answer-- “about twenty-five thousand”-- in stride, telling the general that “he could have… all the provisions wanted.”
By spring 1865, Confederates, who had ridden off to war four years before boasting that they would beat the North’s money-grubbing shopkeepers in a single battle were broken and starving, while, backed by a booming industrial economy, the Union army could provide rations for twenty-five thousand men on a moment’s notice.
The Civil War was won not by the dashing sons of wealthy planters, but by men like Grant, who dragged himself out of his blankets and pulled a dirty soldier’s uniform over his pounding head on an April morning because he knew he had to get up and get to work.
A motto for our times indeed.
April 9, 2021 (Friday)
The 1918 influenza pandemic killed at least 50 million people across the world, including about 675,000 people in the United States. And yet, until recently, it has been elusive in our popular memory. America’s curious amnesia about the 1918 pandemic has come to mind lately as the United States appears to be shifting into a post-pandemic era of job growth and optimism.
A year ago today, I noted that we were approaching 17,000 deaths from Covid-19. Now our official death count is over 560,000. If anyone had told us a year ago that we would lose more than a half million of our family and friends to this pandemic, that number would have seemed unthinkable. And yet now, as more shots go into arms every day, attention to the extraordinary toll of the past year seems to be slipping.
Remembering the nation’s suffering under the pandemic matters because the contrast between the disastrous last year and our hope this spring is a snapshot of what is at stake in the fight over control of the nation’s government.
Ever since President Ronald Reagan declared in his 1981 inaugural address that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem,” Republicans have argued that the best way to run the country has been to dismantle the federal government and turn the fundamental operations of the country over to private enterprise. They have argued that the government is inefficient and wasteful, while businesses can pivot rapidly and are far more efficient than their government counterparts.
And then the coronavirus came.
The president put his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of the nation’s response to the pandemic. Kushner sidelined career officials who knew how to source medical supplies, for example, in favor of young volunteers from investment banks and consulting firms. The administration touted what its leaders called an innovative public-private partnership to respond to the country’s needs, but a report from Representative Katie Porter (D-CA) documented that as late as March 2, the administration was urging American businesses to take advantage of the booming market in personal protective equipment (PPE) to export masks, ventilators, and PPE to other countries. Porter’s office examined export records to show that in February 2020, “the value of U.S. mask exports to China was 1094% higher than the 2019 monthly average.” Meanwhile, American health care providers were wearing garbage bags, and people were sewing their own masks.
As the contours of the crisis became clearer in late March, business leaders turned to Kushner to provide national direction. He told them: “The federal government is not going to lead this response…. It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do.” When one leader told him the states were bidding against each other for PPE and driving prices up, he responded: “Free markets will solve this…. This is not the role of government.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro was so worried about the administration’s failure to buy critical medical supplies that he undertook to find them himself, haphazardly committing more than $1 billion of federal money to invest in drugs and supplies. Among other things, he bypassed normal procurement chains and arranged for a loan for Eastman Kodak, a company known for its work in the process of photography, to produce drugs to fight the pandemic. (The company’s stock price jumped from about $2 to $60 a share upon the news of the deal, and the loan was put on hold. Navarro called Eastman Kodak executives “stupid.”)
As infections and deaths continued to mount, the administration repeatedly downplayed the emergency. Today we learned that by May, science adviser Paul Alexander and his boss, Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary for public affairs at Health and Human Services, were working to change the language officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used to warn of the dangers of the disease. “I know the President wants us to enumerate the economic cost of not reopening. We need solid estimates to be able to say something like: 50,000 more cancer deaths! 40,000 more heart attacks! 25,000 more suicides!” Caputo wrote to Alexander on May 16.
By July, Alexander was calling for the administration to adopt a strategy of herd immunity, simply letting the disease wash over the country. “Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle aged with no conditions etc. have zero to little risk….so we use them to develop herd…we want them infected,” he wrote to Caputo.
In keeping with the theory that the federal government had no role to play in combatting the pandemic, as the fall progressed and it appeared there might be a workable vaccine by 2021, the Trump administration made no plan for federal distribution of the vaccine. It figured it would simply deliver the vaccine to the states, which could make their own arrangements to get it into people. The states, though, were badly strapped for money either to advertise or to deliver the shots.
Infections surged terrifyingly after November until by late January, when Trump left the White House, new infections had reached about 250,000 a day and about 3000 people were dying of Covid-19 daily. With 170 deaths for every 100,000 Americans, the U.S. outstrips every other country in the world for the devastation of this disease. (Brazil, with 159 deaths for every 100,000 people, is second.)
In contrast to Trump, President Biden has used the pandemic to show what the federal government can do right.
The night before he took office, he held a memorial for the Americans who had died in the pandemic. Once in the White House, he dedicated the federal government to ending the scourge. On January 21, he issued a national strategy for responding to the crisis that began by declaring “the federal government should be the source of truth for the public to get clear, accessible, and scientifically accurate information about COVID-19.”
He begged Americans to wear masks, used the federal Defense Production Act to get supplies, got money to states and cities, bought vaccines, and poured money into the infrastructure that would get the vaccines into arms. As of today, the U.S. is averaging 3 million shots a day, and a third of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine. Twenty percent of us are fully vaccinated, including 60% of those 65 and older.
Cases of infection are dropping to about 66,000 cases a day-- well below the January surge but still high. The arrival of new, highly contagious variants continues to threaten worrisome spikes, but we are not, so far, facing the sort of crisis that Brazil is, where right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro opposes a lockdown, arguing that the damage a lockdown would do to the economy would be worse than letting the virus run its course. Hospitals in Brazil are overwhelmed, and this week more than 4,000 people died in 24 hours for the first time since the pandemic began. Meanwhile, the vaccine rollout in Brazil has been slow.
In America, the two very different responses to the pandemic have given us a powerful education in government activism. “For the past year, we couldn’t rely on the federal government to act with the urgency and focus and coordination we needed,” Biden said, “And we have seen the tragic cost of that failure….”
As time moves forward, if we really do get into the clear, it is entirely possible that the 2020 pandemic will fade into the same sort of vagueness that the 1918 pandemic did. But what it has taught us about government is important to remember.
I, unlike HCR, am not a historian. But I am doubtful about this. It smells and tastes like a myth. And while myths are inspiring, they are, in fact, the opposite of what is described in this particular myth, aren’t they?
Fun fact: Armchair Armin, potential successor of Angela Merkel, apparently said today “We have to much bureaucracy which paralyzes us.” [Please read with a strong German accent.]
That’s the official Twitter of Merkel’s party.
The only people who say things like that are people who have never worked for a private business. And CEOs hoping to take over those public services and cut the delivered services in half while doubling the cost to the tax payer so they can divert all the public money into their swiss bank accounts.