Archive for April, 2020

Tracking the spread of the coronavirus

April 4, 2020

Click to enlarge. Source: Financial Times

.

Click to enlarge. Source: Financial Times

.

Click to enlarge. Source: Financial Times

All the nations and governments of the world are being weighed in the balance as to how they respond to the coronavirus pandemic.  Success or failure in bringing the disease under control is an objective measure not skewed by ideology or prior bias.

International comparisons are tricky because nations have different ways of counting and different degrees of reliability in counting.  But these reports from the Financial Times, updated daily and available to the public, give as good a report as any available.  What do they tell us?

LINKS

Coronavirus tracked: the latest figures as the pandemic spreads by the Financial Times.  Contains additional charts.

Why Western Elites Are So Incompetent and What the Consequences Are by Ian Welsh.

A thought for our time

April 4, 2020

A hero of the pandemic

April 2, 2020

Dr. Sara Cody

Nassim Nicholas Taleb once observed that we all honor heroes who save the day in emergencies, but the greater heroes—usually unknown and unsung—are those who prevent an emergency from arising in the first place.

In the coronavirus pandemic, the heroes of foresight are the public officials who take action before the virus becomes established, instead of waiting for the crisis to develop.

With infections doubling every few days, a delay of a week would mean the number  would be at least five times greater, or probably much more, because hospitals would be overwhelmed.

Ron Unz, editor of the online Unz Review, pointed out that one such hero is Dr. Sara Cody, public health officer for Santa Clara County.   She and other public health officers in the San Francisco Bay area issued a “shelter in place” order on March 16, as soon as the virus made its first appearance.

Los Angeles County followed a few days later, and Gov. Gavin Newsome extended the order to the whole state a few days after that.  Public health officials warned him that if he failed to act, 25 million Californiana could have become infected, resulting in up to 1 million deaths.

There was no precedent for the first lockdown.  Somebody had to have the courage to go first.

LINK

The Government Employee Who May Have Saved a Million American Lives by Ron Unz for The Unz Review.

Neoliberalism’s failure in a time of pandemic

April 1, 2020

The United States is unprepared to deal with the coronavirus pandemic—short of hospital beds, short of test kits, short of ventilators and other medical supplies.

This is not merely because of the negligence of a few individuals.  It is the result of acceptance of the philosophy of neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism teaches that business corporations should be structured so as to keep costs as low as possible and revenues as high as possible, and that all institutions should be like business corporations.

It also teaches that accumulation of wealth by individuals and corporations is a good thing because private investment is the source of progress and economic growth.

What’s wrong with that? you may ask.

What’s wrong is what we see now—national needs neglected and the whole society put at risk.

Hospitals and other health care providers are told they must operate with maximum efficiency.  All resources must be fully utilized all the time—no empty beds, no unused equipment, no moments to relax for nurses and other staff.

This means there is no slack in the system.  It is hard to provide for the ebb and flow of illness and injury even in normal times.  In an emergency, such as this one, the health care system is overwhelmed.

Also, hospitals and other health care providers must obtain their supplies from the lowest priced source, even if that source is a sweatshop on the other side of the planet.

This means that the United States depends on China and other foreign countries for medical supplies.  If the leaders of these countries decide to limit shipments to the U.S. in order to guarantee supplies for their own people, what can we Americans do about it?

(more…)