COVID-19 is destroying the foundational ethos of individual liberty and small government, to the point where conservatives have been at sea, unable to respond effectively to the health crisis. It comes down to serving the public interest versus the self interest of elites and vested interests, which is not a conflict confined to conservatives: centre-left parties are fully capable of ignoring the public interest and looking after their mates. But in a pandemic, it seems, left-wing governments are more inclined to impose the restrictions necessary to control the virus. Two current illustrations of that are the mess in New South Wales and the crowds at Lord’s this week watching England v India, mask free. The NSW Liberal government was reluctant to lock down hard enough and deprive its citizens of liberty, with the result that the Delta version of COVID-19 is now out of control. The federal Coalition supported that, and criticised the Victorian Labor government’s hard lockdown, but is now forced into embracing total lockdown, along with Gladys Berejiklian.
Source: Alan Kohler: Modern conservatism offers few answers for a pandemic
The building blocks of new-variant capitalism are already there. Governments are going to tax and spend more, and they will use regulatory powers to weaken monopolies. There will be selective use of nationalisation – as happened with UK defence manufacturer Sheffield Forgemasters this week. Another roaring 20s? We need to do better than that Dan Davies Read more Governments will borrow money to invest in infrastructure projects and to increase the budget for science. Industrial and regional policies will be back in vogue. The idea is to harness the power of the state with the dynamism of the private sector and, as was the case with Keynes, to save capitalism from itself.
Source: During the pandemic, a new variant of capitalism has emerged | Larry Elliott | The Guardian
Scott Morrison is hoping the vaccine scarcity that has led to the lockdown of half the nation’s population will be close to resolution by December, and along with it a reversal of his political fortunes. But as fate would have it, that timetable coincides with our next summer.
Source: Paul Bongiorno: Vaccine rollout a foretaste of Australia’s climate response
Much of Australia is back under pandemic lockdown thanks to Coalition mismanagement. The Liberals have used the crisis to bolster big business. Now the workers’ movement needs to champion its own measures to counter the pandemic and rebuild the economy.
Source: Australian Business Has Used the Pandemic to Attack Workers — Now It’s Time to Fight Back
After claiming “official” discussions with Pfizer had only started in December, Health Minister Greg Hunt has finally confirmed that the government met with Pfizer last July to discuss purchasing the Pfizer vaccine. Sources say Australia was given options for as many doses as needed to be delivered in January this year, yet government officials turned down the offer Callum Foote reports.
Source: Government’s “appalling” error, rejects offer of 40 million Pfizer doses in July 2020 – Michael West
For example, the Biden administration has moved aggressively to roll out vaccines here in the United States. But it has rejected global appeals to waive patent rights for vaccines, to share vaccine technology, and to require transparency from pharmaceutical companies about their pricing. The result is “vaccine apartheid” on a global scale. As of early April, 20 percent of the population in North America had received at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to less than 1 percent in Africa. Global inequalities play out on so many issues like these that it is no exaggeration to talk of a more general “global apartheid.” This global system is structured not only by race, but also by class, gender, and national origin. There are many different levels of privilege and vulnerability. But similar patterns are repeated from the local to the global levels.
Source: Thinking Globally About Racial Justice
The House and Senate hearings provided a necessary public accounting of the CPFB. However, without federal intervention, people will have little choice but to rely on predatory lenders and their high-cost debt for surviving the pandemic. And they’ll have fewer protections, thanks to the CFPB’s final rule that promises to widen racial economic inequality during a pandemic instead of narrowing it.
via Trump’s CFPB Deploys Predatory Lenders as Pandemic First Responders
The latest GALLUP POLL indicates, “[only] 13% of U.S. adults are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
The Pandemic: Late in April, the U.S. had 1 million coronavirus cases (and 56,000 deaths). Now we have 5 million cases (and 163,000 deaths).
via Trump’s Trifecta: Update | The Smirking Chimp
Jonah is at home on the SS Florida the Whale is waitng in antcipation (ODT)
Florida accounts for 10 percent of the country’s COVID-19 cases, with almost half a million cases and already 7,021 deaths. Fifty-one hospitals have run out of ICU beds as the state still is adding another 9,725 new cases on average a day. The hurricane has only contributed more chaos to the equation. State-run coronavirus testing sites have closed on Florida’s eastern coast in anticipation of the storm (originally, the state considered consider closing all of its testing sites before Isaias changed tracks). And hospitals also must plan for the worst. Florida Governor Ron De Santis said he doesn’t “anticipate hospitals needing to evacuate patients.” But one small hospital in Brevard County, which is in the anticipated path of the storm, already has moved its COVID-19 patients. The state has had to stockpile supplies in preparation, including 20 million masks, 22 million gloves, 10 million gowns, 1.6 million face shields, 270,000 coveralls and 20,000 thermometers, while ensuring there are generators for nursing facilities should the power go out.
via A Hurricane, a Pandemic, and Trump: The Triple Crisis Is Barreling Down on Florida – Mother Jones
When I talk to local people, like a city council or a schools’ committee, I say, “What cost are you willing to accept for being wrong? What is an acceptable cost to you?” Frankly, we got lazy, and we’re not prepared for something like this. Even people like me and my colleagues, we would look at the data and kind of think, can it really be that bad? It’s hard to admit to yourself that it really can be that bad, but you have to know in the back of your mind that it may well be.
via How Our “Balkanized” Health Care System Made the Pandemic Far Worse – Mother Jones
The independent hearings into one of the most controversial projects in NSW history, Santos’ coal seam gas dream for Narrabri, are wrapping up. Meanwhile, new NSW guidelines to fast-track developments look set to turn into a nightmare for community groups, writes Callum Foote.
via Pandemic ‘a smokescreen’ to ram through controversial mining projects like Santos gas in Narrabri – Michael West
Hospitals have been instructed to send COVID data to a central database in Washington, bypassing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The information will no longer be accessible to the public, raising concern that the data is being hidden for political reasons and the lack of transparency will make it easier for the administration to mislead the public.
The administration is also blocking CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield from testifying before Congress about the safety of reopening schools. They are attempting to block GOP senators from allocating billions of dollars to the CDC, Pentagon, and State Department for pandemic response. And the administration even opposes sending billions to states for testing and contact tracing.
via Trump’s Authoritarianism is Ill-Suited to a Pandemic | The Smirking Chimp
How many Holes can a President have in his foot?(ODT)
On why the United States should not pull out of the World Health Organization: WHO is not a perfect organization, but it is the only international infrastructure that we currently have that creates the platform on top of which sovereign nations can collaborate, and share data and technical expertise. There is nothing else like that out there. And so, for us to pull out of that basically means that we need to depend on bilateral relationships with countries you know, or regional organizations. It’s just shooting ourselves in the foot.
via The Selfish and Unselfish Case for Sending Scientists and Doctors Abroad – Mother Jones
We don’t have to leave ourselves at the mercy of the most profitable sector on Earth to get the drugs we need. We must nationalize the pharmaceutical industry and turn the medicines millions rely on into public goods.
via It’s Time to Socialize Big Pharma
Tens of millions of Americans are cashless, many desperate to feed their children. Meanwhile the richest Americans merrily float on a rapidly rising tide of money thanks mainly to Trump & Co.
via The rich are making out like bandits in this pandemic (we’re talking US, but same goes for “us”) – Michael West
While some pundits extol the virtue of strong government (i.e., dictatorship) in fighting Covid-19, Middle Eastern activists are once again mobilizing to insist that democracy is not a luxury in a time of pandemic. “Systems of government that are more democratic and transparent will keep citizens safe,” argues Mai El-Sadany. Because the human rights of all citizens are at stake, not just those of a minority, she explains, “this is a unique movement of norms creation.”
via Democracy is not a Luxury in Times of Pandemic
Terrorists killed fewer Americans over twenty years than coronavirus has in two months. Yet the Right, which insisted after 9/11 on the need to give up core civil liberties to “save lives,” is now demanding that we accept mass death for the sake of profit.
via Give Me Liberty — No, Wait, Give Me Death
You cant privatise a pandemic Scott Morrison (ODT)
It will be difficult for Morrison to backtrack on measures already put in place to cope with the economic effects of the virus and more government financial assistance can be expected before we are out the other side. The fragility of the economy will require nurturing by the State for some time to come. The funding of childcare, universities and the increased funding of Newstart will not be easy to reverse even when the economy is stronger given likely voter resistance. It will give the Labor Party a platform.
via After COVID-19, a change is overdue