by Amy S.
“It Isn’t Coronavirus That’s Killing People It’s Their Immune Systems”
Government becomes Big Pharma.
Steph Sterling is vice president of advocacy and policy at the Roosevelt Institute, and co-author of the forthcoming paper “In the Public Interest: Democratizing Medicines through Public Ownership.”
The coronavirus has laid bare the failures of our costly, inefficient, market-based system for developing, researching and manufacturing medicines and vaccines. COVID-19 is one of several coronavirus outbreaks we have seen over the past 20 years, yet the logic of our current system—a range of costly government incentives intended to stimulate private-sector development—has resulted in the 18-month window we now anticipate before widespread vaccine availability. Private pharmaceutical firms simply will not prioritize a vaccine or other countermeasure for a future public health emergency until its profitability is assured, and that is far too late to prevent mass disruption. The reality of fragile supply chains for active pharmaceutical ingredients coupled with public outrage over patent abuses that limit the availability of new treatments has led to an emerging, bipartisan consensus that the public sector must take far more active and direct responsibility for the development and manufacture of medicines. That more efficient, far more resilient government approach will replace our failed, 40-year experiment with market-based incentives to meet essential health needs.
BIG PHARMA WANT US TO BE ILL: “It Isn’t Coronavirus That’s Killing People It’s Their Immune Systems”
Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How.
A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. Here are 34 big thinkers’ predictions for what’s to come.
For many Americans right now, the scale of the coronavirus crisis calls to mind 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis—events that reshaped society in lasting ways, from how we travel and buy homes, to the level of security and surveillance we’re accustomed to, and even to the language we use.
Politico Magazine surveyed more than 30 smart, macro thinkers this week, and they have some news for you: Buckle in. This could be bigger.
A global, novel virus that keeps us contained in our homes—maybe for months—is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, even to each other. Some changes these experts expect to see in the coming months or years might feel unfamiliar or unsettling: Will nations stay closed? Will touch become taboo? What will become of restaurants?
But crisis moments also present opportunity: more sophisticated and flexible use of technology, less polarization, a revived appreciation for the outdoors and life’s other simple pleasures. No one knows exactly what will come, but here is our best stab at a guide to the unknown ways that society—government, healthcare, the economy, our lifestyles and more—will change.
Deborah Tannen is a professor of linguistics at Georgetown and author, most recently, of You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships.
On 9/11, Americans discovered we are vulnerable to calamities we thought only happened in distant lands. The 2008 financial crisis told us we also can suffer the calamities of past eras, like the economic meltdown of the Great Depression. Now, the 1918 flu pandemic is a sudden specter in our lives.
This loss of innocence, or complacency, is a new way of being-in-the-world that we can expect to change our doing-in-the-world. We know now that touching things, being with other people and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be risky. How quickly that awareness recedes will be different for different people, but it can never vanish completely for anyone who lived through this year. It could become second nature to recoil from shaking hands or touching our faces—and we might all find we can’t stop washing our hands.
The comfort of being in the presence of others might be replaced by a greater comfort with absence, especially with those we don’t know intimately. Instead of asking, “Is there a reason to do this online?” we’ll be asking, “Is there any good reason to do this in person?”—and might need to be reminded and convinced that there is. Unfortunately, if unintendedly, those without easy access to broadband will be further disadvantaged. The paradox of online communication will be ratcheted up: It creates more distance, yes, but also more connection, as we communicate more often with people who are physically farther and farther away—and who feel safer to us because of that distance.
A new kind of patriotism.
Mark Lawrence Schrad is an associate professor of political science and author of the forthcoming Smashing the Liquor Machine: A Global History of Prohibition.
America has long equated patriotism with the armed forces. But you can’t shoot a virus. Those on the frontlines against coronavirus aren’t conscripts, mercenaries or enlisted men; they are our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store clerks, utility workers, small-business owners and employees. Like Li Wenliang and the doctors of Wuhan, many are suddenly saddled with unfathomable tasks, compounded by an increased risk of contamination and death they never signed up for.
When all is said and done, perhaps we will recognize their sacrifice as true patriotism, saluting our doctors and nurses, genuflecting and saying, “Thank you for your service,” as we now do for military veterans. We will give them guaranteed health benefits and corporate discounts, and build statues and have holidays for this new class of people who sacrifice their health and their lives for ours. Perhaps, too, we will finally start to understand patriotism more as cultivating the health and life of your community, rather than blowing up someone else’s community. Maybe the de-militarization of American patriotism and love of community will be one of the benefits to come out of this whole awful mess.
A decline in polarization.
Peter T. Coleman is a professor of psychology at Columbia University who studies intractable conflict. His next book, The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization, will be released in 2021.
The extraordinary shock(s) to our system that the coronavirus pandemic is bringing has the potential to break America out of the 50-plus year pattern of escalating political and cultural polarization we have been trapped in, and help us to change course toward greater national solidarity and functionality. It might sound idealistic, but there are two reasons to think it can happen.
The first is the “common enemy” scenario, in which people begin to look past their differences when faced with a shared external threat. COVID-19 is presenting us with a formidable enemy that will not distinguish between reds and blues, and might provide us with fusion-like energy and a singularity of purpose to help us reset and regroup. During the Blitz, the 56-day Nazi bombing campaign against the Britain, Winston Churchill’s cabinet was amazed and heartened to witness the ascendance of human goodness—altruism, compassion and generosity of spirit and action.
The second reason is the “political shock wave” scenario. Studies have shown that strong, enduring relational patterns often become more susceptible to change after some type of major shock destabilizes them. This doesn’t necessarily happen right away, but a study of 850 enduring inter-state conflicts that occurred between 1816 to 1992 found that more than 75 percent of them ended within 10 years of a major destabilizing shock. Societal shocks can break different ways, making things better or worse. But given our current levels of tension, this scenario suggests that now is the time to begin to promote more constructive patterns in our cultural and political discourse. The time for change is clearly ripening.
A return to faith in serious experts.
Tom Nichols is a professor at the U.S. Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise.
America for several years has become a fundamentally unserious country. This is the luxury afforded us by peace, affluence and high levels of consumer technology. We didn’t have to think about the things that once focused our minds—nuclear war, oil shortages, high unemployment, skyrocketing interest rates. Terrorism has receded back to being a kind of notional threat for which we dispatch volunteers in our military to the far corners of the desert as the advance guard of the homeland. We even elevated a reality TV star to the presidency as a populist attack on the bureaucracy and expertise that makes most of the government function on a day to day basis.
The COVID-19 crisis could change this in two ways. First, it has already forced people back to accepting that expertise matters. It was easy to sneer at experts until a pandemic arrived, and then people wanted to hear from medical professionals like Anthony Fauci. Second, it may—one might hope—return Americans to a new seriousness, or at least move them back toward the idea that government is a matter for serious people. The colossal failure of the Trump administration both to keep Americans healthy and to slow the pandemic-driven implosion of the economy might shock the public enough back to insisting on something from government other than emotional satisfaction.
How People Are Controlled With This Pandemic Crisis – David Icke Predicted The Future
Eric Klinenberg is professor of sociology and director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. He is the author, most recently, of Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure Can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life.
The coronavirus pandemic marks the end of our romance with market society and hyper-individualism. We could turn toward authoritarianism. Imagine President Donald Trump trying to suspend the November election. Consider the prospect of a military crackdown. The dystopian scenario is real. But I believe we will go in the other direction. We’re now seeing the market-based models for social organization fail, catastrophically, as self-seeking behavior (from Trump down) makes this crisis so much more dangerous than it needed to be.
When this ends, we will reorient our politics and make substantial new investments in public goods—for health, especially—and public services. I don’t think we will become less communal. Instead, we will be better able to see how our fates are linked. The cheap burger I eat from a restaurant that denies paid sick leave to its cashiers and kitchen staff makes me more vulnerable to illness, as does the neighbor who refuses to stay home in a pandemic because our public school failed to teach him science or critical thinking skills. The economy—and the social order it helps support—will collapse if the government doesn’t guarantee income for the millions of workers who will lose their jobs in a major recession or depression. Young adults will fail to launch if government doesn’t help reduce or cancel their student debt. The coronavirus pandemic is going to cause immense pain and suffering. But it will force us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and, in the long run, it could help us rediscover the better version of ourselves.
Religious worship will look different.
Amy Sullivan is director of strategy for Vote Common Good.
We are an Easter people, many Christians are fond of saying, emphasizing the triumph of hope and life over fear. But how do an Easter people observe their holiest day if they cannot rejoice together on Easter morning? How do Jews celebrate their deliverance from bondage when Passover Seders must take place on Zoom, with in-laws left to wonder whether Cousin Joey forgot the Four Questions or the internet connection merely froze? Can Muslim families celebrate Ramadan if they cannot visit local mosques for Tarawih prayers or gather with loved ones to break the fast?
All faiths have dealt with the challenge of keeping faith alive under the adverse conditions of war or diaspora or persecution—but never all faiths at the same time. Religion in the time of quarantine will challenge conceptions of what it means to minister and to fellowship. But it will also expand the opportunities for those who have no local congregation to sample sermons from afar. Contemplative practices may gain popularity. And maybe—just maybe—the culture war that has branded those who preach about the common good with the epithet “Social Justice Warriors” may ease amid the very present reminder of our interconnected humanity.
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New forms of reform.
Jonathan Rauch is a contributing writer at the Atlantic and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
One group of Americans has lived through a transformational epidemic in recent memory: gay men. Of course, HIV/AIDS was (and is) different in all kinds of ways from coronavirus, but one lesson is likely to apply: Plagues drive change. Partly because our government failed us, gay Americans mobilized to build organizations, networks and know-how that changed our place in society and have enduring legacies today. The epidemic also revealed deadly flaws in the health care system, and it awakened us to the need for the protection of marriage—revelations which led to landmark reforms. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some analogous changes in the wake of coronavirus. People are finding new ways to connect and support each other in adversity; they are sure to demand major changes in the health-care system and maybe also the government; and they’ll become newly conscious of interdependency and community. I can’t predict the precise effects, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing them for years.
Ai-Jen Poo is director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Caring Across Generations.
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed gaping holes in our care infrastructure, as millions of American families have been forced to navigate this crisis without a safety net. With loved ones sick and children suddenly home from school indefinitely, they’ve been forced to make impossible choices among their families, their health and financial ruin. After all, meaningful child care assistance is extremely limited, access to long-term care is piecemeal at best, and too few workers have access to paid family and medical leave, which means that missed work means missed pay.
This crisis should unleash widespread political support for Universal Family Care—a single public federal fund that we all contribute to, that we all benefit from, that helps us take care of our families while we work, from child care and elder care to support for people with disabilities and paid family leave. Coronavirus has put a particular national spotlight on unmet needs of the growing older population in our country, and the tens of millions of overstretched family and professional caregivers they rely on. Care is and always has been a shared responsibility. Yet, our policy has never fully supported it. This moment, challenging as it is, should jolt us into changing that.