The Free Market Case for Staying the Eff Home

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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150 Responses

  1. Avatar Road Scholar
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    says:

    Well said, Kristin.Report

  2. Avatar Mark
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    says:

    There is no question that our current economic system creates tons of products and services. It also creates a great deal of wealth. This wealth is not distributed uniformly. There are reports that the income of the median American has been rather stagnant. Yes, Walmart is giving out bonuses, but for years many (30% I read) of their workers have been part time and using food stamps. The $300 bonus will be welcome, but it isn’t a lot of money. The economy does hum along nicely in good times, but when trouble comes government is required to rescue the economy. We saw this in 2006-8, and we are seeing it now. The problem is that bad times always come. We had stagflation in the 1970s, a downturn in the late 1980s that gave the election to Bill Clinton, the 2006-8 great recession, and now this. What good is a ship that can only sail in good weather? What is praiseworthy about a system that makes a few richer than Croesus while the checker at the market struggles? What is the good of an economic system that has to be kept on trillion dollar infusion life supports.
    There will be another crisis in the future, and none of us know when or what its form will be. We need to figure out a way to make a resilient economy.Report

    • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Mark
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      says:

      “There are reports that the income of the median American has been rather stagnant.”

      Yes, income has, but quality of life hasn’t. Rather than bank account balances, try comparing things like percentage of the populace that has a running water/indoor plumbing/electricity/internet access, a car, a game console, and a flatscreen TV. Income didn’t increase, but when compared against “luxury” items like consumer electronics, actual purchasing power of the median American has increased drastically.

      “What is the good of an economic system that has to be kept on trillion dollar infusion life supports.”

      Mainly? Compounding of wealth. Over time, even a few tenths of a percentage of GDP significantly increases the total wealth of the country, which is what allows it to afford those bailouts when tough times come. Sure, I’d like a less bubble/burst economy too (or at least a way to ensure that most of the boom isn’t going to the top with the bust borne by the bottom), but there’s good economic logic behind running as hot as we can get away with for as long as we can get away with it.Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    To bolster Kristin’s oint, the cost of doing nothing is itself an economic catastrophe.
    Catherine Rampell in WaPo writes:
    Even on narrowly economic grounds, [doing nothing is] the wrong way to go. Credible estimates say that in the absence of mitigation strategies, 60 percent of the population would be infected and 2 million Americans would die. The dollar value conventionally assigned to the loss of a human life in the United States by economists and government agencies is $5 million to $10 million. Using a conventional cost-benefit framework, this policy path would cost our economy around $10 trillion to $20 trillion — more than either Freeze or Mobilization.

    And Kristin’s point is also well taken that we haven’t suffered a collapse of either consumer demand or supply, but of access; the two parties are prevented from getting together. But people are finding inventive ways of producing and consuming.Report

    • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Chip Daniels
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      says:

      You haven’t bolstered any point by quoting WaPo, those ARE NOT credible sources, nor does reopening the economy require abandoning ALL mitigation strategies.

      “The dollar value conventionally assigned to the loss of a human life in the United States by economists and government agencies is $5 million to $10 million”

      If you’re going to put dollar values on lives, it’s worth noting that the deaths of despair due to job loss are concentrated among the economically productive still in their working years, whereas the deaths to COVID-19 are concentrated among those long past their economically productive years, likewise there’s going to be a substitution effect where many of those who die to COVID would have died anyway due to their pre-existing age and health problems, but the same is not true for those put out of work by the shutdown. Triage is harsh, but there’s more bang for the buck out of tilting the balance toward keeping businesses open than closing down the country indefinitely.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Urusigh
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        says:

        See, since you reject the expertise of actual epidemiologists, and reject the source of information, your argument now has to stand without any support whatsoever.

        Why should we think it will only strike those who are economically unproductive? Why should we think there will be a spike in despair related deaths? Why should we even think that the economic damage will be severe? And so on.

        Are you going to cite some expert somewhere, maybe an authoritative media outlet?Report

  4. Avatar Philip H
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    says:

    I have a LOT of problems with both the “let the markets run” approach and the “let the government bail out the big guys” approach. 40 years of supply side trickle down mumbo jumbo has shown us that when you focus your economic engines at the top, the little guy (read labor) never does well.

    omething relatively dismaying I’ve seen this past week is some of my fellow conservative pundits being all like “we’ve got to end this quarantine now and get people back to work and into bars and restaurants because people will literally die of starvation and commit suicide if we don’t”.

    This l;ine of reasoning is perhaps the most infuriating as it totally marginalizes all the people suffering from addiction and suicide under the “Old” economic order that failed them so dramatically. The “market” never had a solution for those folks before, and its ridiculous to now claim we should reopen the economy to keep people from experiencing that sort of thing now. We should keep people form experiencing that period, and since markets won’t step in, government has to.Report

    • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Philip H
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      says:

      “the little guy (read labor) never does well.”

      You clearly haven’t been paying attention to Trumponomics. Until COVID hit, unemployment was at record lows, wage gains were going up faster for the bottom quintile than the top quintile, and having job openings exceed job applicants was giving individual workers better negotiating leverage they’ve had in decades. All that happened while stock market record highs were helping worker’s 401k retirement plans, small businesses recorded record high confidence and started expanding again (we had been losing total small businesses under the Obama administration), entrepreneurship went up, and consumer confidence rose. It doesn’t always work, it does need to be done right, but when it’s done correctly supply side tax cuts achieve exactly the results their advocates claim.

      “The “market” never had a solution for those folks before, and its ridiculous to now claim we should reopen the economy to keep people from experiencing that sort of thing now.”

      Yes, it did. That solution was “hold a job”, which is why we need the economy open. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The single most cost-efficient preventative to addiction and suicide is work. A job comes with a reason to get up in the morning, social circle to notice something is wrong and provide emotional support, a sense of accomplishing something, and potential to advance in life (and in many cases includes the medical coverage to address many of the underlying life/health issues that lead to addiction and suicide).

      “We should keep people form experiencing that period,”

      You can’t. No government in history has found a way to reliably save people from themselves. At best, we can only shift the margins.

      “…and since markets won’t step in, government has to.”

      Usually counter-productive. Authoritarian governments aren’t exactly notable for being better than our market at handling mental health (unless you count letting people die as more efficient). Likewise the data seems to show that our many ncreases in government spending on mental health has been ineffective. Even if you want the government to step in, you’re stuck figuring out “How” since their current intervention methods ALSO “fail dramatically”.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Urusigh
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        says:

        An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The single most cost-efficient preventative to addiction and suicide is work. A job comes with a reason to get up in the morning, social circle to notice something is wrong and provide emotional support, a sense of accomplishing something, and potential to advance in life (and in many cases includes the medical coverage to address many of the underlying life/health issues that lead to addiction and suicide).

        This is all correct in the sense that people seem need purpose and connection, but if you think that was being accomplished by what the _current_ economy (Or, rather, the economy two months ago) was doing, you are massively incorrect. If you think the reason we need the economy is to make sure that people have a reason to get up in the morning and a social circle, than you should also wish the economy to operate massively different.

        The idea that people have better mental health with a job than without, absent the stress that comes comes from not having a steady income stream, is not supported by any evidence. Yes, a few people might be helped with some ‘mandatory’ social connections, but employment is a very very crappy way to give people a social circle, and in fact often _interferes_ with social circles. On top of that, work _itself_ causes stress.

        There’s almost no way that mental health would be worse on average, or that addiction and suicide would increase, if everyone in society was given enough money to live on. There is a very very small amount of extremely depressed people who would finally slip away without forcible employment, but those people are, frankly, _already_ ticking time bombs and need help with their mental health, and were probably going to fall apart _the next time they lost their job_.Report

        • Avatar Urusigh in reply to DavidTC
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          says:

          “If you think the reason we need the economy is to make sure that people have a reason to get up in the morning and a social circle, than you should also wish the economy to operate massively different”

          Believe me, I do. I’d love to have far fewer “bullshit” jobs that seems to exist for no reason but give upper management more headcount than their peers or someone to pin the blame on when corporate needs a scapegoat. I’m not a fan of the “service” economy in general, I’d much rather we were the world’s foremost manufacturer or center of research.

          “The idea that people have better mental health with a job than without, absent the stress that comes comes from not having a steady income stream, is not supported by any evidence.”

          Sure it is. I assume you’ll accept the World Health Organization as a suitable authority on the matter? https://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/712.pdf Chapter 2.

          People on disability, unemployment, welfare, or social security have a steady income stream, but their mental health and social circle are on average worse than that of even the workers holding down minimum wage jobs. Even a McJob is usually better than none (caveat: call center jobs are a blight on humanity and I wouldn’t inflict them on death row prisoners, automate that sh1t out of existence ASAP).

          “Yes, a few people might be helped with some ‘mandatory’ social connections, but employment is a very very crappy way to give people a social circle, and in fact often _interferes_ with social circles.”

          Not just “a few”, try ~42% From a 2019 study: The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Evite, uncovered that one of the reasons 42 percent of adults struggle to make friends is due to introversion or shyness. And the challenge is not just in breaking out of their shell but also breaking into new social situations and circles. The majority of respondents cite friendship-making barriers that include aversion to the bar scene where most people choose to socialize, or the feeling that everyone’s friendship groups have already formed.”

          As an introvert myself, this is true to life. I literally don’t have a single friend who isn’t either a relative or a coworker. “Mandatory” social contexts are the only ones that automatically include introverts. Everyone needs to have at least one place to go where they are part of the group, work does that.

          “There’s almost no way that mental health would be worse on average, or that addiction and suicide would increase, if everyone in society was given enough money to live on. ”

          The results from every communist country ever say otherwise. Addiction and suicide were endemic under socialism. Frankly, so does the generally terrible outcomes of lottery winners. Merely having money doesn’t actually make people happy. Even the psychology and neurology literature is clear on this, satisfaction in life is derived less from what we have and more from the series of small achievements bringing us closer to a desired goal (a career provides a structured example of this with each worker looking forward to the end of the workday, to Friday, to the next pay raise, to the next promotion, even just getting one year closer to retirement). Sure, some people are true self-starters who can organize their own day productively and/or extroverts who can just go out and create their own social circles, but it’s not a majority and too much isolated and/or unstructured time is bad for mental health.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Urusigh
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            says:

            Sure it is. I assume you’ll accept the World Health Organization as a suitable authority on the matter? https://www.who.int/mental_health/media/en/712.pdf Chapter 2.

            No, I actually _won’t_ accept a ‘chapter’ from a document two decades old that is literally a single page, and that the only cite on it is a National Alliance for the Mentally Ill fact sheet…which, incidentally, is merely an an advocacy group and not any sort of medical organization and has done no studies.

            What this actually is an advocacy group for people with mental illnesses trying to argue they should be _able_ to get a job. It’s not evidence of anything, it’s not any sort of study, it’s just a ‘stop excluding the mentally ill from the job market’ plea.

            As I said, jobs can help create some sort of structured situation for people with existing mental health issues. This does not mean, on average, that they improve mental health. To demonstrate that, you’d have to determine whether that is _countered_ by the stress, or even the _problems_ they cause for people who already have mental health issues…which incidentally, that document, after talking about employment can sometimes be helpful for a single page, then spends a lot of the rest of the document talking about how employment often makes mental health worse via stress. Like, right there in the actual document you cited.

            People on disability, unemployment, welfare, or social security have a steady income stream, but their mental health and social circle are on average worse than that of even the workers holding down minimum wage jobs. Even a McJob is usually better than none (caveat: call center jobs are a blight on humanity and I wouldn’t inflict them on death row prisoners, automate that sh1t out of existence ASAP).

            Unemployment, by definition, is not a ‘steady income stream’, being time limited. Same with welfare.

            And, uh, the reason people on _disability_ have poor mental health is not the lack of _job_. It’s usually because disabilities are a bitch to live with. And that’s not even talking about the disabilities _due_ to mental illness, or that directly cause them. As for social security…old people often have poor mental health for all sorts of reasons.

            Basically, you do realize that, statistically, all the people who get a steady steam of income _from the government_ are basically getting it either temporarily or because they can’t work due to age or disability? The government doesn’t normally give able-body people of working age money to live on.

            And on top of that…for the temporary stuff, correlation does not equal causality, and the _really obvious_ reason that people with worse mental health do not have jobs is…uh, they have worse mental health and find it hard to hold down a job!

            Likewise, people with larger social circles are more likely to _find_ a job.

            Hey, you know how we could check this? People who suddenly went from a job to not a job but they have steady money? You mentioned it…lottery winners! Do they have poor mental health?! No, they do not. At all. In fact, people who win the lottery have better mental health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4180795/

            Probably due to lack of stress, although it’s possible they are also able to afford help for existing problems. (Although an argument against that is that it doesn’t seem to make the physical healthier.)

            Now, they’re _really bad_ at keeping the money, they’re absolutely horrible at that. They also engage in much riskier behavior. But…mentally they’re good…well, presumably only until the money runs out.

            As an introvert myself, this is true to life. I literally don’t have a single friend who isn’t either a relative or a coworker. “Mandatory” social contexts are the only ones that automatically include introverts. Everyone needs to have at least one place to go where they are part of the group, work does that.

            First: Not necessarily. Plenty of people work in circumstances where they do not functionally have coworkers.

            Second: That’s…extremely silly as logic. Everyone does need to have one place to go where they are part of a group. There is absolutely no reason this has to be employment. There are plenty of places where you can _volunteer_ if you want to meet people.

            See, _I_ used to not have friends who weren’t relatives or coworkers. So I started hanging out in places online, and then I got involved in theatre. Other people can get involved in all sorts of things, via organizations where working with others is ‘mandatory’ for the volunteers.

            In fact, as recent events have demonstrated…apparently if you leave people to their own devices, they start all sorts of random online chats and invite all sorts of random people.

            Even the psychology and neurology literature is clear on this, satisfaction in life is derived less from what we have and more from the series of small achievements bringing us closer to a desired goal (a career provides a structured example of this with each worker looking forward to the end of the workday, to Friday, to the next pay raise, to the next promotion, even just getting one year closer to retirement).

            And the reason we know this is because modern capitalistic society often _refuses to set up such a system_ for workers. There’s only so long before people can keep looking forward to the end of their shift before finding the entire thing meaningless. And no one has careers anymore.

            And the idea that without a job we couldn’t find places to get satisfaction by achieving goals is utterly inane. That’s literally how the most popular form of media in existence works. It’s called ‘video games’, it made $140 billion dollars last year.

            And…if only we could run some sort of experiment to stop a huge section of the population from working for a month or so, the governemnt gives them money to stay home instead. We could see if everyone goes crazy or starts, you know, figuring out other ways to socialize and set goals to accomplish for themselves. I mean, it would be a cool idea, but the effect on the economy would be rather bad, so seems unlikely we’ll ever do it.Report

            • Avatar Urusigh in reply to DavidTC
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              says:

              “No, I actually _won’t”
              Oh good, you actually follow links and read them. You have no idea how encouraging that is to me (or how many people I disagree with on the internet think the WHO or any global org in general are basically the voice of God). It looks like you and I can actually have a substantive debate based on research and logic. Thank you!

              “Unemployment, by definition, is not a ‘steady income stream’, being time limited. Same with welfare.”

              Shrug, you didn’t specify a duration, but I’d say that 5+ years on welfare (often with extensions or exceptions) is plenty long to call “steady” given that it’s longer than the average tenure at any given employer. Social Security is certainly a steady income and there are old people who continue working even after becoming eligible, so some comparisons can be made. AFAICT, those comparisons show generally no negative effect from continued work (which argues against your “work is bad stress”) and some positive effects (which supports my “work can be good” argument).
              https://publichealthreviews.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1/BF03391615
              Results: Of the ten studies that met the inclusion criteria, none showed a negative impact of working beyond retirement age on mental health. Four studies showed that post-retirement working has a statistically significant positive effect on a range of mental health outcomes.

              https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19096091
              RESULTS: We find that involuntary job loss worsens mental health, and re-employment recaptures the past mental health status. Retirement is found to improve mental health of older Americans. Additionally, we find that re-entering the labor force is psychologically beneficial to retirees as well.

              A 2016 study of about 3,000 people, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, suggested that working even one more year beyond retirement age was associated with a 9% to 11% lower risk of dying during the 18-year study period, regardless of health.

              A 2015 study of 83,000 older adults over 15 years, published in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease, suggested that, compared with people who retired, people who worked past age 65 were about three times more likely to report being in good health and about half as likely to have serious health problems, such as cancer or heart disease. Other studies have linked working past retirement age with a reduced risk of dementia and heart attack. Of course, there are some results the other way regarding people with medical conditions aggravated by work (i.e. hypertension, heart problems, some issues related to the sedentary nature of office jobs or excessive physical strain related to manual labor), but for the most part the trend is that work is beneficial for most and only detrimental to a smaller cohort.

              Lottery Winners. From your link: “In this case, a higher income will have an ambiguous overall effect, by increasing smoking, drinking, calorie consumption, or other risky activities that are detrimental to general health.” Is that the improvement in mental health you’re hoping for from a UBI? That poor people smoke, drink, and eat themselves into an early grave, but smile while they do it?

              “First: Not necessarily. Plenty of people work in circumstances where they do not functionally have coworkers.”

              I’m waiting on your examples and an estimate of what percentage of the problem this solves compared to employment.

              “There are plenty of places where you can _volunteer_ if you want to meet people.”

              “Volunteer” as in activities like assisting a food bank or helping Habitat for Humanity? I consider that “work”. Whether one receives a paycheck for it or not is not essential to my definition. Work in a non-profit capacity is still work.

              “And the idea that without a job we couldn’t find places to get satisfaction by achieving goals is utterly inane. That’s literally how the most popular form of media in existence works. It’s called ‘video games’, it made $140 billion dollars last year.”

              Ironically, this was my exact argument against Chip and his support for UBI when he assumed that most people would naturally take up productive activities even without it being tied to productive labor.

              Video games have a complicated relationship to mental health. Video gaming is known to have some benefits such as improving focus, multitasking, and working memory, but it may also come with costs when it is used heavily. By spending a predominant part of the day gaming, excessive video gamers are at risk of showing lower educational and career attainment, problems with peers, and lower social skills (Mihara and Higuchi, 2017). However, problematic and potentially addictive video game use goes beyond the extent of playing (in hours per week; Skoric et al., 2009). It also includes such issues as craving, loss of control, and negative consequences of excessive gaming. While it is still a matter of debate whether problematic video game play should be considered a behavioral addiction, its status as a mental disorder has been clarified since the release of the DSM-5 in 2013. In the DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association (2013) defined Internet Gaming Disorder with diagnostic criteria closely related to Gambling Disorder. Generally, this decision has been supported by many researchers (e.g., Petry et al., 2014) Several studies, literature reviews, and meta-analyses have focused on the correlates of problematic video gaming, usually assessed as a continuum with addiction marking the upper end of the scale (e.g., Ferguson et al., 2011; Kuss and Griffiths, 2012). The degree of addictive video game use has been found to be related to personality traits such as low self-esteem (Ko et al., 2005) and low self-efficacy (Jeong and Kim, 2011), anxiety, and aggression (Mehroof and Griffiths, 2010), and even to clinical symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders (Wang et al., 2018). Potential consequences of video game use have been identified as well, such as a lack of real-life friends (Kowert et al., 2014a), stress and maladaptive coping (Milani et al., 2018), lower psychosocial well-being and loneliness (Lemmens et al., 2011), psychosomatic problems (Müller et al., 2015; Milani et al., 2018), and decreased academic achievement (Chiu et al., 2004; Gentile, 2009).

              So, while yes, video games are a potential alternative to work, the effects of spending amounts of time gaming even remotely comparable to a normal work schedule are generally negative (though it is hard to establish the causal direction between negative mental health/game addiction and long hours spent gaming). That also leaves the question of whether we, as a culture, are prepared to affirm hikkomori gaming themselves to death alone in their rooms as a valid lifestyle, and if not, what mechanism we intend to use to discourage it.

              “And the reason we know this is because modern capitalistic society often _refuses to set up such a system_ for workers. ”

              Really? When did the occasional pay increase or promotion stop being a thing?

              “And no one has careers anymore.”

              From what I see in the literature this seems to be considered a feature, not a bug, by most of the people actually changing jobs frequently (often for higher pay and/or greater work satisfaction). The majority of older workers still have an average tenure of 10+ years with the same employer, it’s been the millennials emphasizing gig work and job mobility.

              “And…if only we could run some sort of experiment to stop a huge section of the population from working for a month or so, the governemnt gives them money to stay home instead. We could see if everyone goes crazy or starts, you know, figuring out other ways to socialize and set goals to accomplish for themselves. I mean, it would be a cool idea, but the effect on the economy would be rather bad, so seems unlikely we’ll ever do it.”

              The effect on the economy has been quite bad, the correlation between unemployment and suicide is fairly well established, and there are already no shortage of articles and comments regarding cabin fever setting in and people really really wanting to get back out of the house or “desperate” for suggestions of how to spend their time because they have not in fact been effective at setting and keeping goals for themselves.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Urusigh
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                says:

                I had a post earlier, but it seemed a bit rude to me, and I’m trying to be nicer, and way _way_ more concise, so I deleted it, here’s me rephrasing:

                You can only enroll on welfare for six months or a year at a time, and welfare is generally short of what people actually need to live on.

                All studies about retirement mental health conflate laid off vs. mandatory age-based retirement vs voluntary retirement: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029767/

                Additionally, studies about how people who have worked a job their entire life and are now mentally inflexible respond to lack of structure does not really indicate how people would behave in a society without jobs.

                The rest of those studies are about physical health, not mental health.

                Some people who work alone: Truck and other vehicle (taxi, rideshare, limo, etc.) drivers. 3%-5% of the population right there. Also, three quarters of small businesses have the owner as sole employee, although we have no idea what amount of those are real, or really done alone.

                If you include ‘volunteering’ as work, that renders your objections a bit moot. Surely we could just create volunteer work that people could do, if they wanted.

                In a society without jobs, why would we care about the ‘career’ attainments of people playing video games? Or their education skills?

                A ‘series of small achievements bringing us closer to a desired goal’ is literally called ‘gamification’, specifically because video games are _so_ good at it. We don’t have any shortage of that, if people need it.

                “Cabin fever’ is a term used to describe people stuck inside, which is indeed causing stress and anxiety, on top of the whole disease thing.

                What isn’t happening is people stressing because they don’t have anything to do. And articles aren’t really being written about that…they’re being written about people finding silly or clever things to do.

                And…as I explained below, the fact is, at some point we won’t have jobs for everyone…we arguable already don’t, a lot of our jobs exist because the super-rich like to try to steal money from each other and need armies of finacial advisers and advertisers to sway people and all sorts of jobs that provide no real value to anything.

                Asserting (wrongly) that this will be a bad thing because people need jobs for mental health doesn’t change that fact.Report

              • Avatar Urusigh in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                “I had a post earlier, but it seemed a bit rude to me, and I’m trying to be nicer, and way _way_ more concise”

                You and me both, appreciated.

                “You can only enroll on welfare for six months or a year at a time, and welfare is generally short of what people actually need to live on.”

                I was under the impression the express purpose of welfare and the associated programs is to meet the minimum needs people have to live on. If you’re claiming that they don’t actually achieve that minimum, I’d like you to substantiate that.

                “All studies about retirement mental health conflate laid off vs. mandatory age-based retirement vs voluntary retirement: ”

                Not quite all, but that is a problem. Even aside from their cutoff being 2013, their search started with 2276 articles, of which they read 199, and finished with 22, only 7 of which were in the U.S, and their findings regarding mental health were further limited. Here’s my effort to extract the parts relevant to this discussion: “The improvement in mental health shortly after retirement may be linked to a reduction in (work related) stress. A study by Westerlund, which involved trajectories of depression seven years before and seven years after retirement, underlined this short term effect. Solinge indicated that it is not necessarily the type of retirement that influences health after retirement, but the extent to which people feel in control at the moment of retirement. Therefore, when workers perceive little or no control regarding this transition, it might lead to stress and subsequently to reduced health. Although no clear differences between blue-collar workers and white-collar workers were found regarding the health effects of retirement [11,17,28,35,40] some studies demonstrated associations with certain job characteristics. For example, Westerlund and colleagues showed that a poor work environment and high job demands, both physical and psychological, were associated with greater benefit from retirement in terms of improved self-rated health after retirement. Since the studies that reported on mental health were too heterogeneous, we refrained from performing a meta-analysis regarding this outcome. As to perceived general health status and mental health, study quality does not seem to be a source of inconsistency. A second source of inconsistency might be differences in follow-up times, as it seems most likely to find retirement having an effect on health shortly after retirement. In terms of the stressful-life-event approach, feelings of stress or relief and their repercussions on health are expected to occur shortly after the transition into retirement. As for mental health, the included studies were comparable regarding follow-up times, which might have contributed to the similarity in study results. Furthermore, with respect to physical as well as mental health outcomes, mostly self-reports were used.”

                So, we aren’t left with much but some qualified claims. 1) “poor work environment” is associated with improved mental health after retirement, except the study didn’t compare against people simply changing jobs from a poor work environment to a better one, so we can’t necessarily credit that improvement to retirement per se, but rather to leaving the prior work environment. E.G. Some jobs do suck and it’s best to leave them. The rest of it depends heavily on to what extent the person feels in control (which most studies didn’t track) and the duration of the effect is unclear (observed effects were short term and longer term follow ups were not performed). Yeah, that’s not very helpful.

                “Additionally, studies about how people who have worked a job their entire life and are now mentally inflexible respond to lack of structure does not really indicate how people would behave in a society without jobs.”

                I’d dispute that having a career makes one mentally inflexible. We also don’t have a “society without jobs”, AFAICT that doesn’t describe any society ever; we do have a society of working people rapidly losing their jobs, so how people with jobs respond to losing them is precisely the indicators we need at the moment.

                “Some people who work alone: Truck and other vehicle (taxi, rideshare, limo, etc.) drivers. 3%-5% of the population right there. ”

                So, 3-5%? I’d lean toward the lower end of that given that taxi drivers actually do have some social contact from their work (“talkative cabbie” is a stereotype). Fair point though, I’ll grant that those particular jobs are expendable (which driverless vehicle tech seems likely to replace in the near term anyway).

                “Surely we could just create volunteer work that people could do, if they wanted.”

                Not really, AFAICT those opportunities already exist, which means that volunteering does not suffice for the 42% still unable to break into social circles. Worth looking into though.

                “In a society without jobs, why would we care about the ‘career’ attainments of people playing video games? Or their education skills?”

                Because there is a difference between what an individual feels a sense of accomplishment from (i.e.”I’m a max level Wizard with full Raid Gear!” vs what accomplishments actually increase mating value by impressing the opposite sex. Until being a Guild Leader on an MMOs gets girls hot to trot, things like being a CEO or having a degree are still going to be things we care about. Even if I grant you those two, you haven’t addressed the other outcomes: a lack of real-life friends (Kowert et al., 2014a), stress and maladaptive coping (Milani et al., 2018), lower psychosocial well-being and loneliness (Lemmens et al., 2011), psychosomatic problems. Not to mention that you’ve gone from your initial complaint that government needs to do something about addicts, to defending video game addiction as a valid way of life. You’ve got a bit of a hill to climb if you’re assuming that “work stress” has worse outcomes than that.

                “And…as I explained below, the fact is, at some point we won’t have jobs for everyone…”Asserting (wrongly) that this will be a bad thing because people need jobs for mental health doesn’t change that fact.”

                Begging the question. You haven’t established that I’m wrong that people need jobs, we’ve agreed that certain kinds of jobs are expendable, and I haven’t argued that you’re wrong that at some point there won’t be actually worthwhile jobs for everyone (it’s disputable, but whether the future is Star Trek or if human desires truly are unlimited, who knows?). In the current situation however, our society is still structured socially and economically around the assumption of work, therefor people need to be working to be fully participating in society, and outcomes for people who are not fully participating in society aren’t generally good. Whether some hypothetical society could exist that isn’t structured around work is interesting to theorycraft, but at this point we don’t have good data to support it or a clear path to get there without significant transition problems.Report

  5. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    I think this outbreak is going to drive home is the point that has been made for decades and people keep ignoring. Namely, that the world now requires less people to operate it than need a job.

    Like, put every job in two buckets. The necessary and the unnecessary…and those _aren’t_ exactly what’s happened here, I mean, we do need construction people to exist in general, but we can live without them for months, so they can stay home now. And a lot of factory workers too…some of our supply chains have quite a lot of slack in them, and some factories can stop for weeks without problems, but those are necessary jobs. And a lot of people staying home are still working.

    But there’s this large bucket of jobs that it’s fairly clear we don’t actually need at all. And those jobs only really exist because the first bucket sorta wants luxuries from them. Or, they exist to whatever extend that is true. (And, of course, there are the anti-jobs that everyone actively dislikes because they’ve managed to insert themselves as middlemen into process where no one else in the process wants them, like insurance companies, but that’s a whole nother topic.)

    Now, this is all kind of obvious. Movie stars only eat because factory workers pay them to act in movies, and the movie stars turn around and buy things from factories. If the factory workers stopped doing that, the factory workers would be fine, and the movie stars would be screwed.

    What a lot of people never really put together is how it intersects with how much debt we have in this country, and how almost everyone seems to have some sort of landlord, be it an actual landlord or the bank expecting payments on a house. And a lot of these luxury workers are…not movie stars. They are, instead, fast food workers, providing the ‘luxury’ of exchanging time cooking for slightly higher priced food. They are retail store workers that lived on tourist traffic. They are housecleaners, a job 99% of people could do themselves. (And there are also stockbrokers and layers of middle-management and startup-company employees living off venture capital at a company that will never produce anything. And anti-jobs.)

    And this second bucket gets larger and larger because the first bucket gets smaller and smaller. Because we keep automating everything, including (And honestly, we mostly focus here) the necessary things. We have robot vacuum cleaners now, and there exist systems that can create plausible fast food entirely automatically, even if they aren’t cheaper than humans _yet_. And some of the jobs are basically just weird social lag…we could do with half the wait staff in this country if we’d just give each restaurant table a tablet to order and pay with, and that will be how it works at some point in the future. McDonalds already wants you to order with a touchscreen.

    At some point, McDonalds really will be a vending machine with a single staff member with the job of ‘handing food out the drive-through window because the robot isn’t good at actually figuring out where the car is’, ‘calling the police if people start fights or breaking things’, and ‘trying to fix the ice cream machine’.

    And at some point we have to sit down and think about the future and ask ourselves: What do we do when we legitimately run out of things for people to do? Like, if everyone has all their needs, and all the luxuries they actually want, satisfied by, let’s say 90% of the working population. What is the last 10% supposed to do? What happens as that 10% creeps up? I think the official ‘free market’ position is ‘Come up with a way of doing something at 90% of the cost so they can compete’, but that s nonsense there, because that makes this problem worse. Sure, that person now has a job, but they put 1.1 people out of work!

    Two hundred years ago, there was a man named Malthus who predicted resources would run out, and we’d all die. He was wrong. However, there sorta _is_ something that is running out: The amount of things we need humans to do. And we can’t keep inventing extra things forever…because we automate those too. Automation keeps getting better and better.

    And yet…people still have to pay their damn rent. And the joke is…there’s not a shortage of things. There’s literally the opposite of the problem.

    The problem is that there is a very small amount of people who apparently own everything, and we have to pay them to live in their houses and take things from their (at some point) fully-automated factory. Eventually we’ll get to the point that 1% own everything, 20% make stuff for the people who own everything, and what the hell do the remaining 79% do? What do we trade the 1% in exchange for goods and services?

    Anyway, that’s what _I’ve_ been thinking about while stuck at home. Wondering how many people are suddenly going to frown and look around and say ‘Hey, wait a minute…not only does it turn out that a lot of the ‘necessary’ jobs are the very badly paid ones, whereas a lot of very well-paid people are clearly not needed at all…but that total is a lot _less_ than I thought, and honestly the place it wasn’t less was the medical population. Which means, outside of a medical crisis…I wonder just how many people we even _need_ working? And if we don’t need them…maybe trying to hit full employment constantly isn’t the only solution and can’t actually work forever?’Report

    • Avatar Urusigh in reply to DavidTC
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      says:

      Thank you for a comment that deserves to be its own article. Good summary of a hard problem.

      Of course, the end state of this trend is Fully Automated Luxury Space Communism (i.e. Star Trek). When material goods and energy are practically unlimited, the only remaining quality of life asset for individuals to aspire to is increased living space…which means using all that automated manufacturing to launch colonies into space, so literally everyone can have beachfront property (or their preferred equivalent).

      The trick is how to get there without getting stuck in high-tech feudalism or burning the world down/bombing ourselves back into medieval feudalism.Report

  6. Avatar JS
    Ignored
    says:

    Tax the robots.

    That aside, the issue with automation — and how it differs from the industrial revolution — is that first we automated out tasks requiring human muscle and then human dexterity. Leaving mostly human judgement and intellect.

    Digging trenches and foundations? It’s not 100 men with shovels. It’s two guys and a machine, and they get it done in a fraction of the time. And it’s looking like we’re real close to just sending the machines to do it themselves.

    Now — now we’re starting to automate out those jobs that required human knowledge, intellect, and judgement.

    What’s left for humans to add? If you don’t need our nimble fingers, you don’t need our muscles, and you don’t need our brains — what value besides consumption do we add? And how do we pay for consumption in that scenario?

    To use the hoary buggy whip analogy — we’re not longer the buggy whip maker losing his market. We’re the horse. And I note that the number of horses our economy uses has dropped an awful lot.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to JS
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      says:

      What’s left for humans to add? If you don’t need our nimble fingers, you don’t need our muscles, and you don’t need our brains — what value besides consumption do we add? And how do we pay for consumption in that scenario?

      It’s not even who ‘needs’ things. We’ve automated so much of what people _need_ that the per capita hourly cost of just being a human is way down there, if you were to work the math out of ‘actual hours spent’. I’m eating a ham sandwich currently. Like, take every part of the production and shipping to me, and divide it by how much is done at once, and that ham sandwich is probably less than a five seconds of time…which is actually fairly easy to prove, because it only cost _me_ like five cents to buy the parts of, once you split it out. And a lot of that is people tracking things and adding overhead, like I had to pay someone for the groceries.

      Even if you factor in water and electricity and some sort of averaged-over-time cost of building my house and car, the daily actual amount of work it takes to keep a person alive in modern society can’t be more than 20 minutes. Which…is not saying that’s how much people should work. Children and elderly have to be averaged in, people usually only work five days, etc, but if we are talking about the level of _need_, we could probably make enough with a single four shift each week. It’d be in a factory or a factory farm, or a construction worker, or a trucker, but…that’s all it would take at this point to supply everyone. And then double that for the we don’t normally need to live but sorta do, like doctors and firefighters and cell phones and stuff.

      So…one day a week.

      Which means, as people work way more than that on average, we’re already well past ‘you don’t need our nimble fingers, you don’t need our muscles, and you don’t need our brains’ and into ‘you don’t _want_…’.

      It’s so much there’s actually _third_ bucket, of jobs that aren’t even producing luxuries. A good section of society are engaged in middle-manning, including in place where no one actually seems to need a middle man, like health insurance and car dealerships and lots of things. A lot of them are jobs that literally just involve moving money between third parties, and taking a cut. Other jobs are building large rules, and then making sure everyone is following them.

      I’m not saying all those sorts of jobs are bad. Just…we keep inventing luxuries because people desperately need to make money and everyone’s needs are covered…which is supposed to be a good thing, and it sorta is…but we’re automating the luxuries also, and then automating utterly pointless jobs we’re also inventing, and somewhere along the way we have to sit down and have a serious discussion about how this system literally cannot work forever, because at some point we hit post-scarcity, and no one needs to work…and yet, everyone still has to pay rent and buy food from people who…own the robots that product the food. Why do they own the robots? Shouldn’t society make some food robots in general?Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        The explanation against the Lump Of Labor/ Luddite fallacy is that human desires outstrip the reduced need for labor, so the overall need for labor rises.

        Except…there isn’t any iron law that causes this to be true always and forever.

        And you touch on the central point; Who Owns What?

        Who Owns What is fundamentally negotiable; What claims on wealth and property are recognized and given lawful protection is open to periodic renegotiation and adjustment.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Chip Daniels
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          says:

          Except…there isn’t any iron law that causes this to be true always and forever.

          And it’s pretty easy to come up with situations where it isn’t true, even without any advanced tech. There are tons of ‘unrecoverable’ modes of the market, and good chunk of them are ‘One small group of people own so much that they can basically demand any amount for use of it’.

          The obvious situation there is a monopoly, but that’s not the only one. I mean, take things to the extreme: If there’s a village of three hundred people and 50 of them own all the land, and they only eat and drink and whatever enough to only employ 20 other people total, the situation is pretty screwed…eventually all the money ends up in the hands of those seventy people. And, yes, twenty who people might call themselves ‘middle class’, and themselves might pay for for another couple of people, but there’s still the majority of people left out of things.

          Now, the counter argument to this is that labor should bid their price upward, or rather their individual supply downward. If instead of twenty people, everyone in the village bands together and says ‘We’re each going to do ten minutes work of work, and you will pay us enough to pay our rent back to you’, it would work.

          But…that’s not how it works. No one does that. The supply of labor far outstrips the demand, ergo, the price of labor in such a village tries to go down, not up, as everyone competes for that job.

          At least it does without laws requiring it to go up. Some sort of ‘minimal wage law’, to coin a term. Or maybe no law is needed, maybe everyone could merge together into some sort of collective group to bargain and refuse to work unless the entire ‘union’ of people was employed. I don’t know, honestly, I’m sure some people have come up with something.

          But I want to make it clear, my point is not that this is what is happening currently, it’s that every advocate for a ‘free market’ must still admit that there are situations that can be gotten into, and the market can get into by itself, that _cannot be fixed_ by the market. They are unrecoverable errors, they are unwinnable games. They require some sort of external force to fix them.

          We might not _be_ in that situation at the moment, but they can, hypothetically, be reached.

          I just want people to admit, and a surprising amount people advocating for the ‘free market’ refuse to admit it can even hypothetically happen. Or to notice that automating enough things, and having a significant amount of renters (And people who ‘own their house’ but have a mortgage are still fundamentally renters.) _inevitable_ leads to such a situation.

          We can stand here and map it out, that at some point the amount of people that the sum total of people that property owners ’employ’ (Or, rather, are employed in providing them things.) will eventually dip below the amount of money owned to them as property owners, and money will just keep fall in, and will not escape anymore. It’s an event horizon.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DavidTC
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            says:

            The most common metaphor for “free markets” is Darwinian evolution, where the natural systems of survival and adaptation are in a dynamic equilibrium.
            An outside shock to the system- lets say a novel virus attacking a certain species- will result in adaptations and eventual new equilibrium.

            Which is absolutely true and correct reading of how systems work. But what people forget is that extinctions and failure is every bit as natural a part of systems as survival.

            There is nothing in Darwinian evolution that magically prevents entire ecosystems from changing from boreal forest to arid desert, or mass extinction events.

            And likewise, there isn’t any magical force that says that the demand and supply of labor will always yield a price that we would call satisfactory.

            A world where the price of labor drops by half or more from what it is now, is entirely congruent with free market theory.Report

  7. Avatar James K
    Ignored
    says:

    Honestly I don’t think most of this has to do with the economy at all – Trump has decided that the country shutting down would make him look bad, and all this talk about “the economy” is smokescreen for not making Dear Leader look bad.

    The Trumpism that has devoured the Republican Party has transformed into a death cult.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    The thing that I keep noticing is how much the government is getting in the way of stuff.

    Here’s an article from Time talking about how the FDA won’t let ethanol makers sell hand sanitizer that doesn’t have denaturing agents added.

    We could make an entire thread about how the FDA has screwed up this, or that, or this other thing but that right there is probably emblematic of the entire problem. The FDA is making things worse in all sorts of really, spectacularly, dumb ways. We could argue whether or not it should have jurisdiction over this sort of thing but wielding its power like this is the best way to demonstrate that it shouldn’t.Report

    • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      CDC leaders not only bungled their role in developing the first coronavirus test permitted in the country, they also misrepresented the efficacy of early solutions to state health authorities.

      Then, public and private lab directors felt rebuffed by the FDA when they first offered to help troubleshoot the problem by developing their own tests. The agency, through its emergency authority, had placed restrictions on labs that can apply in emergencies but not in normal circumstances.

      In a statement to USA Today, FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Caccomo said validating outside tests is essential in a crisis when “false results can lead to significant adverse public health consequences.”

      A reliable, accessible test was key to averting today’s disaster. Countries such as South Korea had already shown how such diagnostics — developed and scaled up with the help of the private sector at the onset — could be used to identify people with early infections before they spread the virus widely.

      https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/investigations/2020/03/27/coronavirus-test-officials-botched-rollout-derailed-containment/5080781002/

      Not sure I agree with all of it, but it is an article worth reading.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Aaron David
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        says:

        Interesting article. The more I read the more I conclude that our basic infrastructure suffers simultaneously from too little investment but also too much self-interest and ideology. Not sure if these things are related or if there’s a way to fix it.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      It’s not food, and it’s not a drug, and it’s not a cosmetic. If it’s whiskey then it’s the ATF’s problem, not the FDA’s. People also get dirt on their hands, so is the FDA going to claim responsibility for soil quality?Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Sure, we could point out failures of the FDA or the CDC, just as we could point out failures of the Republican Party or Fox News, or the President.

      Of course, the natural question that arises, is, what is our suggested solution?

      Even better, can we point to examples of success around the world that we could emulate?Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        This is a case where I say no, not really. China has maybe turned a corner using its police state if you trust what they report, a huge ‘if’ given their past behavior including with this very outbreak. The free-er countries that have seemingly done well so far are geographically small, much more homogeneous, and have highly centralized governments.

        This is something where we need to find our own way for our own circumstances. We can do it, but it will require some real self-exmination of a culture that puts short term self-gratification above every single other priority.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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          says:

          What are some of the features of those smaller homogeneous countries that we could emulate?

          I’m thinking that one feature that works very well is emulating a culture that places a higher value on group cooperation and trust than the American “rugged independence” model.

          As I mentioned before, the first step in building a herd immunity is to have a herd.

          And I know that term raises the hackles on a lot of Americans, the idea of a herd of sheep or cows.

          But one of the deepest difficulties we as humans have in confronting disease is our refusal to confront our own corporal mortality. That is, that as much as we love our sense of specialness and spiritual uniqueness, as far as the natural world is concerned, we are a herd of fleshly hosts ripe for devouring.

          The virus doesn’t care how tough I am, or how much I love Jesus or even how clever I am. It either thrives in those around me, in which case I may likely die, or it fails to gain a foothold in my community, in which case I will likely live.

          Whether I live or die depends very much on the behavior of my neighbors and community. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are a herd and need to cope with the ramifications of that.Report

          • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            I mean if you’re asking whether our country can ever emulate a small ethno-state like South Korea I think the answer is quite obviously no. And that’s without even getting into all the cultural and historic ingredients that allow for an apparently positive outcome in this particular situation, many of which are wildly inconsistent with our own culture and history.

            The better question is could we spend our money better and tweak our systems to allocate resources in a way that doesn’t leave so many people vulnerable to short-term economic fluctuations or emergencies.

            One of these approaches looks for problems we can solve, the other IMHO is a fantasy land.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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              says:

              I keep hearing people mention how other states are monocultures or ethnically homogeneous or something to that effect, in comparison to America which is culturally diverse and therefore we can’t do what they do.

              And I have to wonder how real that is versus our own blindness.

              Sort of how Americans understand that Texas and New Jersey are very different places and cultures, but assume everything within the borders of China is one undifferentiated hive.

              Do the Koreans and Chinese think of themselves that way? I don’t know much myself.
              But I do know that their histories are filled with rivalrous clans and warring factions and classes. Aren’t there different ethnic groups within China, different identities and cultures?

              When their governments or institutions or leaders suggest that “We Should Do This” do all of them reflexively bow and hop to it?

              Or are there arguments and dissension just like here?

              I’m thinking also of nations like Switzerland, which is comprised of three very different linguistic cultures (French, Italian, German) plus a native language (Romanish) and yet, somehow manage to be very effectively unified and cohesive.

              The idea that American diversity prevents us from doing large national endeavors is, I think a self defeating excuse.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                China is an ethnically diverse state with dozens of non-Chinese ethnic groups like Koreans, Mongolians, Tibetans, and many others living in it. Plus, there are distinct minority groups among the Han Chinese like the Hakka and the Hui. There are about 300 million non-Han Chinese in China.

                People in the West don’t tend to recognize this because we think of diversity in terms of obvious to the eye type of diversity and phenotypes. In Asia and sub-Sahara Africa, this type of diversity is relatively rare but the different ethnic groups take their identity seriously.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                Do you think the way the Chinese government treats ethnic minorities is something to be emulated? Because if that’s ok, then hell, I guess there are all kinds of possibilities.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to InMD
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                says:

                No, I do not. I’m just add evidence to Chip’s statement that the mono-cultural arguments that some people make about why other countries have nice things and we do not is bunk.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                This is crazy Lee. Are you really saying the history of nationalism, itself a relatively recent historical development, has no impact on different government structures and now existing politics in those countries?Report

              • Avatar Stillwaterw in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Lockdown, Day 11: Cooped up liberals start praising China for having nice things.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Stillwaterw
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                says:

                Fish you both. I am making an anodyne factual statement and both of you are giving at a maximum bad faith reading.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to LeeEsq
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                says:

                I’m not trying to be uncharitable but for goodness sakes look at the context of the conversation. You’re implying we should be looking to guidance from a government willing to literally weld people inside buildings… which is really hard to square with the other comments you’ve made about how hard it is to live with our weakly enforced social distancing/stay home orders. It’s even crazier since my example was S. Korea which while conservative, homogeneous, and on the tip of a peninsula is at least a democracy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                I think that saying:
                “China is successful at quarantines because they are a police state” is defensible, if debatable;

                Saying:
                “China is successful at quarantine because they are a monoculture” is probably bunk.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                He’s not talking about China, Chip.

                The example he keeps using is South Korea.

                China, as has been pointed out, is *NOT* a monoculture.

                It’s a Han Supremacist State that happens to also be a Police State.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                My original comment was about the repeated claim that other states are monocultures or ethnically homogeneous or something to that effect, in comparison to America which is culturally diverse and therefore we can’t do what they do.

                I’ve heard it about China but also about Norway or South Korea.

                And I am skeptical that these cultures are really as monocultural as all that, and even more skeptical of the claim that this is the variable that makes us incapable of emulating their success.

                For example, if you just segregated out the portion of America that is white, Christian and with more than two generations since immigration, you would find that the division and rivalry within this group is more than the division between it and other groups.

                And I think this could be replicated in almost any nation you care to find, including South Korea.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If you don’t see it as a toggle, but as a continuum, is it possible to conclude that any given state is more or less homogenous than any other given state?

                I’ve heard it about China

                Oh, you have?

                Have you heard that China is Han Supremacist?

                but also about Norway or South Korea

                I imagine that if I were to argue that Norway was less diverse than, say, China, is there anything that you’d accept as an acceptable measuring stick?

                Because this seems like a weaponized skepticism.

                And I am skeptical that these cultures are really as monocultural as all that, and even more skeptical of the claim that this is the variable that makes us incapable of emulating their success.

                Is it possible to say that there are certain things that are easier in practice when there are higher levels of trust/collaboration and trust/collaboration seems to be higher in more ethnically homogenous populations in practice?

                Or are we going to say that we have no idea what homogenous even means because we don’t know what diversity means?

                if you just segregated out the portion of America that is white, Christian and with more than two generations since immigration, you would find that the division and rivalry within this group is more than the division between it and other groups

                …are you arguing that diversity lowers trust/collaboration? Like, despite yourself?Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Polite and fancy. A two-fer.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                In the coming months, noticing things will be a lot more useful than not noticing them.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                My point exactly.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                trust/collaboration seems to be higher in more ethnically homogenous populations in practice

                Where would we see this, in practice?

                I already gave you the example of white Christian Americans fighting with each other;

                Would we see it in the British Isles, where Welsh, English, Scots and Irish have been killing each other over the centuries?

                Isn’t it a universal aspect of humanity that no matter how small and homogeneous a group, we humans are remarkably clever at discovering differences among us?
                Star Bellied Sneetches, and all that?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Didn’t we already give the examples of South Korea and Norway?

                How’s this? Please provide me examples of the countries that had policies that you wish that the US would adopt.

                “We should be more like Country X!”, you may be tempted to say.

                Would we see it in the British Isles, where Welsh, English, Scots and Irish have been killing each other over the centuries?

                If I say that the only countries that have achieved a particular achievement have a particular set of traits, you pointing out that other countries also have one of those particular traits and they didn’t achieve it isn’t exactly a counter-argument. It is definitely a reason to see what else these countries have in common, sure.

                (And I’ve been on record arguing that there is an Iron Triangle at work. You can revisit those threads here and here. I stand by what I said then, for the record.)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                We aren’t talking about the Iron Triangle of a generous welfare state or immigration.

                The assertion was made that the variable between other nation’s successful endeavors like epidemic response was ethnic homogeneity.

                And I’m saying that for every example one can find of a successful monoculture, we can find an unsuccessful one. And vice versa.

                Ethnic diversity doesn’t seem to be a variable that explains success or failure.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                So let’s look at the ones that were successful?

                Did the ones that were successful share any traits?

                Because if all of the ones that were successful shared traits X and Y, pointing out that other countries also had X but they weren’t successful seems to miss something important.

                So let’s list off the countries that you think we should do a better job of emulating and lets rattle off the stuff they apparently have in common and if they all have X, Y, and Z in common, we can look at other countries and not limit ourselves to saying “well, this other country had X and it didn’t succeed” because we’d know to also look for Y and Z.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The list of nations that have a successful response to the pandemic is pretty short, and subject to change daily.
                But so far, Singapore and South Korea seem to head the list.

                The “trait” they seem to share is high trust and collaboration, a willingness to sacrifice and cooperate for the greater good.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                The “trait” they seem to share is high trust and collaboration, a willingness to sacrifice and cooperate for the greater good.

                Are there additional traits that contribute to high trust and collaboration?

                If so, I think that this is where my references to the Iron Triangle come in handy.

                If not, I guess we’re just stuck wondering if there are other things that they might share in common. Singapore and South Korea… Hrmmmmm.

                Are you sure those are the only examples?

                Because, without getting into homogeneity issues, they both seem to be a lot smaller than the US.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                So its size?

                Italy is a lot smaller than the US, so no, it isn’t that.

                They both start with the letter S?

                Well, Spain is having a bad outbreak so it isn’t that.

                Hey, maybe it isn’t “traits” at all!

                “Traits” as in some immutable aspect which gives them a superior ability to form bonds of trust and cooperation.

                How’s this for a hypothesis- Maybe they just work harder at it, and make different choices than other nations.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Remember when I said:

                So let’s list off the countries that you think we should do a better job of emulating and lets rattle off the stuff they apparently have in common and if they all have X, Y, and Z in common, we can look at other countries and not limit ourselves to saying “well, this other country had X and it didn’t succeed” because we’d know to also look for Y and Z.

                Because I do.

                How’s this for a hypothesis- Maybe they just work harder at it, and make different choices than other nations.

                Does their culture allow them to be more inclined to work harder at it and prioritize different things that allow them to see some choices as on the table that other cultures might not?

                Because we’re asking “why did they succeed when many, many, many other places failed?”, we probably want to see if they succeeded because of pre-requisites that they met that other places did not meet.

                And there are probably multiple pre-reqs. Like, X, Y, and Z. So pointing out that other countries have X too isn’t really a counter-argument to pointing out that these countries have X, Y, and Z.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I think this dicsussion has devoled to making an academic point about what’s possible. “Could the US adopt the policies of South Korea (or China or Italy or Norway…)? Certainly it’s *logically* possible, so yes. Yes we could!”

                InMD and Jaybird aren’t objecting to the logical possibility of emulating other countries, but the practical possibility of doing so given cultural, historical and practical differences.

                Maybe they just work harder at it, and make different choices than other nations.

                Exactly. Countries make policy choices based on the cultural, historical, and practical facts on the ground and not some high ideals about what’s logically possible.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                So I come back to my original point, that every nation has a complex mix of cultural, historical, and practical facts on the ground and yet somehow many of them achieve success where others fail.

                America is failing on half a dozen metrics:

                Our peer nations have better healthcare outcomes; Better transportation outcomes;
                Better educational outcomes;

                And yet, when this is pointed out, there seems to be an instant defensive response to trot out a litany of bullshit reasons why America simply can’t achieve success.
                “We’re uh, too big; We, uh, are too diverse, have too much independence.”

                It isn’t about adopting other nation’s policies; Its about achieving success by whatever means.

                The American citizens have made decades of choices, freely and with our eyes open, which have led to this moment, where the nation is attacked by an entirely predictable pandemic, one which has been predicted for decades, and the federal government is gripped with incompetence and dithering.

                We have chosen to place ourselves here.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                America has spent the last 30ish years optimizing for things being great and everything working well. There are quite a few people who got very, very good at dealing with things when everything was great and everything worked. They managed to claw their way to the top and stay there.

                We’re in a situation now where everything is not going great and quite a few things aren’t working as well as we thought they should.

                And while I’m delighted to think that six months from now is going to be much, much better than today, I’m not thinking that two weeks from now will be better than today. I think it will be worse.

                And there are different kinds of people who do well in situations where things aren’t great and things aren’t working.

                I hope they don’t hold grudges.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the even more basic theme is understanding history. The UK’s adoption of and ability to mobilize popular support for a lot of these policies (particularly
                NHS) seems to me to be intimately linked to the way their society experienced the second world war. Our experience with it was quite different (and indeed the structure of our healthcare system is closely linked to our own industrial mobilization).Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                There was an interesting article in the NYT about Poles in England and their reactions to both he Corona virus and the NHS. And looking at the numbers ie the virus from the two countries is very enlightening. Again, a lot of this might have to do with that counties collective memory of WWII.
                https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/28/world/europe/uk-coronavirus-poland.htmlReport

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                Former eastern bloc countries and their populations have much more recent experience with true domestic crisis than either us or the Brits and I do think it informs the response. It also influences what infrastructure is in place and how its set up to be deployed.

                If I had to put money on it I’d bet we’re better prepared even after 20 years of war to invade countries on the other side of the world than we are to respond to a serious domestic upheaval. We see this with our responses to natural disasters and the way we prioritize allocation of resources.

                Also as an aside the disdain with which a continental European views the NHS should IMO be quite instructive for our own healthcare debate.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah, this stuff didn’t start when Trump got elected. It didn’t start when Obama got elected. It didn’t start when Dubya got elected.

                Wilson, maybe.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t know if I’d go that far back. I would say that the big load bearing pieces of our system were laid during the 40s-60s and they worked well enough through the fall of communism. I mean we’re here and they aren’t right?

                The problem from my perspective is instead of investing and modernizing and building out when it would have been easier we’ve just been coasting off past success.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                The assertion was made that the variable between other nation’s successful endeavors like epidemic response was ethnic homogeneity.

                Nope. That was not the assertion, Chip. A *suggestion* was made that the US emulate other countries successful policies, one example being successfully mitigating epidemic spread, and China was an example of a country which successfully implemented that policy via police-state measures. The focus was *never* on monocultures, but on policies the US should emulate. InMD said the US *could* emulate the South Korean model, because it’s a democracy like us, but that it couldn’t, and shouldn’t, emulate the Chinese model (regardless of Chinese cultural homogeneity) because it’s an authoritarian police-state.

                In the same comment, InMD mentioned that one impediment to adopting the South Korean model was that SK, unlike the US, is a relatively small culturally homogeneous nation, which you (and Lee) objected to by (weirdly) noting China’s success at mitigation despite being culturally very diverse.

                Honestly, I can’t figure out what you’re arguing in this subthread.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Also, one thing to note about SK is that it was a military dictatorship at one point, and that it is neighbors with another, increadibly belligerent country. These might have a big impact on how the country reacts to percieved threats.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s actually a very interesting comparison in the works between SK and Spain. Both were military dictatorships until the 60s, and both have some geographic advantages (though SK is denser and has a higher population).

                My suspicion is that we aren’t going to have a great idea of what worked, where it did or didn’t, and why until well after this is all over.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                It could be due to precieved outside threats. SK has had Norks looming (spectacularly) for decades, while Spain really hasn’t had a true outside threat present. (Moors and Jews are too distant)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m arguing that these reasons that get thrown out for why America can’t achieve success like other nations do:
                Ethnic homogeneity; Small size; Cultural homogeneity; Police State; etc; Are nonsense and don’t hold up to scrutiny.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                See my comment above about logical possibility, Chip. Your position is that the US *could* emulate any country it wants to, full stop, without any consideration of the conditions which give rise to the policy you believe we can emulate. That seems fanciful at best, incoherent at worst.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                This is a complete non-sequitur.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Slade the Leveller
                Ignored
                says:

                Funny what strikes me as a non-sequitur is where I make a comparison to the biggest democracy to turn the corner on covid 19 and people keep responding about China. Even where I expressly say I don’t think it makes sense to compare us to China because of the form of government they have (not their ethnic makeup).Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Well to be clear I think the Chinese government can do what it does because it’s a one party police state with no real accountability to its people.* I’m taking it on faith that no one here wants something like that so let’s put them aside.

                I agree that we can improve our system and society. What I’m criticizing is this sort of outcome based argument, where someone picks one thing or a handful of things it likes about another country and says we should emulate it without really grappling with what it took to get there.

                Most modern European states for example are on a vector starting from mid 19th and early 20th century nationalist movements. This is where the bones of their far bigger and more efficient administrative states come from. And they’re fundamentally inseparable from a hell of a lot of history, some of which is itself quite ugly, and in any case none of it started from anything remotely resembling where we stand today. I find it to be most ironic when this sort of sentiment comes from people who also fret about the dangers of white nationalism in America, the moral imperative to abandon immigration enforcement etc. when these other things they like were mostly built by professed ethnic nationalists, expressly for those percieved as their people and most definitely not for others.

                It isn’t that I really disagree with you that we need to improve a number of things about the US. What I think is fundamentally flawed is looking at an idealized version of a handful of wealthy European countries (several of whom are themselves struggling with covid-19) and seeming to say that we can be just like them. All as if it’s this simple easy thing that materialized out of nothing but good feelings towards each other. It didn’t and we ought to take that into consideration as we navigate our own problems and find ways to meet new challenges.

                *There’s also an assumption that the reports coming from China are true. I think we should be hesitant to believe that’s the case quite so quickly, especially since the Chinese themselves spent months lying about what was actually going on.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                That the outcome of other, more successful nations is “fundamentally inseparable from a hell of a lot of history, some of which is itself quite ugly” is completely fair to say.

                But its also fair to say that history doesn’t stop and that our future, the future of American society is being contested and shaped right now, right here in this moment.

                Stephen Miller and Donald Trump and the white nationalists have a vision for America’s future, and they are willing to work very hard to accomplish it.

                And so do the plutocrats and oligarchs, whose vision is different, but can be effectively allied with the nationalists.

                Their vision is no less fantastical than my vision of a harmonious multi-ethnic coalition dedicated to equality.

                I think we progressive need to be bolder, and less afraid to think big. Its one thing to be incremental and fight the trench warfare of politics, but its good to have a big sweeping vision that can motivate people.

                Like, why can’t we have a national health service, a postal savings bank, labor union participation on corporate boards, free college, and a foreign policy that is a true alliance with other free democracies, where America is one of many equals?

                Sure those things would all require a lot of history, and some of it would be ugly.
                But the outcome of American history, especially the good outcomes, is filled with ugly conflicts because the forces of injustice never get tired.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I operate under two assumptions.

                One is that it can always get worse. Two is that you have to meet people (and problems for that matter) where they are. I’d rather win slow and small than lose big. We’ve done too much losing big.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                And you’re in good company with that sentiment!

                Right now I’m sounding very much like a Bernie fan which I generally reject in favor of incrementalism.

                But, the thought also keeps running through my head that those who thought big and failed- the Hitlers and Stalins and Maos- came to power mostly because the existing governments were unable to think big and confront the urgent need that was facing them.

                The Weimar government, the Czar, the Chinese Imperial dynasty were facing existential crises and failed to have the imagination and boldness of say, a Roosevelt who could meet the threat of fascism with a bold vision of democracy.

                So I don’t really know;
                Part of me likes the idea of a wonkish incremental Clinton or Biden. But another part of me likes the idea of something bolder and less apt to flinch into a fetal position when confronted.Report

              • Avatar CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip, you’re wasting your time engaging in the “small homogeneous countries” theory of why we can’t get have nice things. It has always been just a polite way of saying “No n*****s in [fill in the blank].”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Is and Ought are two very different words.

                And we’re going to learn that lesson good and hard over the next month.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                This is ridiculous and it’s not even my theory. There are 3 countries with some evidence showing they’ve turned a corner, China, Singapore, and South Korea. If you don’t think there’s some pretty important differences between the US and those places I don’t know what to tell you.

                Europe is either in disaster (Italy, Spain) or the jury is still out.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Are there differences between America and countries that have nice things like a functioning epidemic response?
                Of course there are differences! We are grasshoppers, and they are ants.

                Take it away, Robin Pennacchia at Wonkette:

                “America talked a real good game about responsibility, but other countries the world over were the ones actually being responsible. They were building up their health care systems, they were building up their social safety nets, paying taxes. Maybe they had to tax some rich people more than those rich people would have liked to be taxed, but they realized that if they wanted to have a functioning society, that this was a sacrifice they would have to make.

                We were, however, too busy spending fucktons of money on bombing other countries and continuing wars for decades on end. We were too busy making this the greatest country on earth to be a rich person in. We didn’t want to make billionaires sad by taxing them too much. We wanted them to get to have their golden toilet seats. We didn’t want to inconvenience our beloved Paris Hiltons by expecting them to pay an estate tax on all of the wealth they inherited. We didn’t want to make poor people lazy by giving them too much. We wanted the “luxury” of a for-profit health care system, though for reasons I have never quite understood.”

                https://www.wonkette.com/sit-the-hell-down-meghan-mccain-and-listen-to-a-fableReport

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Look I agree with the fundamental criticism you’re making and that piece is making. But you do know every country with universal healthcare has gotten there its own way right? And via systems and circumstances unique to them?

                That’s what we need to do. It doesn’t even mean we can’t learn anything. I’m partial to the German system and think certain concepts they have might work for us. But the best arguments for this involve figuring our shit out, not emulating other countries because we believe they have a panacea.

                They definitely don’t, all involve tough trade-offs, and a few of them (Italy, Spain, and probably soon the UK) look to be getting their asses kicked as well. As for the Chinese? They’re the ones who let this shit out in the first place with their own ass-covering incompetence and have only (maybe) gotten it under control with a level of authoritarianism nowhere in the West would tolerate.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip’s wasting his time because he’s being alterately incoherent or fanciful, but I’d say that any argument to emulate another country is a non-starter because the US, as a nation, should adopt policies on their own merits rather than because doing so makes us *more like* a foreign country.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                That might not be clear, so I”ll say it a different way: there are a limited number of ways (eg) healthcare can be provided and everyone is pretty clear, at least in broad terms, on what they are. Adopting single payer to emulate the British seems like a bad idea to me, since Britain has its own history, cultural expectations, problems, etc built into the cake that is the NHS.

                The single payer model as a system in the US needs US-specific arguments and evidence to justify why it’s a good policy *in practice* *for us*. Leave Britain out of it. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not saying we need to replicate their policies to be successful.

                But we can replicate their success.

                But not until we stop inventing excuses for failure.

                And that’s the pattern I see developing, where any proposal, whether it is health care, transportation, infrastructure or whatever, is waved away as “We Can’t Do It Because Reasons”.

                The purpose of holding up Norway or Korea as exemplars isn’t to say we need to do it the Norwegian way or the Korean way, its to say that yes, universal health care IS possible, efficient transportation IS possible. Other countries have proved that they can be done.

                And the main reason we don’t have those things is because of our own self-defeating choices.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                This is nonsense. Everyone already knows that Britian has a single payer healthcare system. Everyone already knows it’s possible. The reason we don’t have isn’t because we aren’t aware, or have made bad choices re: implementing it. We don’t have it because the vast majority of people don’t want it.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “We don’t have it because the vast majority of people don’t want it.”

                Yes. That’s what I’ve been saying.

                All this stuff about “small monocultures” is bullshit.

                America has failed to implement what other nations have because some decisive plurality of Americans have made the choice to block it with their votes.

                Its not our size, its not our unique history, its not some magic mysterious aether that blocks us.

                News Item:
                17 year old boy turned away from urgent care due to lack of insurance, and dies.

                https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/489957-teen-who-may-have-died-of-coronavirus-was-turned-away-from-urgent-care-due

                Americans have chosen for things to be this way. Americans voted for this, repeatedly, freely, knowingly, making all the choices that led to this moment, and that stupid, obscene, senseless death.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes. That’s what I’ve been saying.

                All this stuff about “small monocultures” is bullshit.

                Good god man. You were the one who asked us to identify policies we could emulate, like those in South Korea. Regardless of whether a person agrees with their policies or not, whether they could scale up to the size of the US or be practical given the cultural diversity here is an entirely different issue.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s like the fact that they have 1% the land mass, easy choke points, 1/6 the people, and a culture of military-like readiness and compliance with authority has nothing to do with how they’re able to respond.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Ok, so lets not adopt Korea’s policies.

                Instead, lets create uniquely American policies that provide universal healthcare, efficient high speed transit, and higher education that the world would envy.

                And most importantly, lets not listen to people who insist that they can’t be done.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                The best response to this argument of yours is to quote something you said moments ago:

                “Americans have chosen for things to be this way. Americans voted for this, repeatedly, freely, knowingly, making all the choices that led to this moment, and that stupid, obscene, senseless death.”

                They had the chance to nominate Bernie.

                Instead they nominated Biden.

                It’s not that these things can’t be done. It’s that we were given the option of doing them and declined.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                What makes you think Joe “Obamacare is a big fuckin’ deal” Biden represents a decision to decline nice things?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Stuff like this:

                “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of health care being available now,” Biden responded. “If they got that through in by some miracle or there’s an epiphany that occurred and some miracle occurred that said, ‘OK, it’s passed,’ then you got to look at the cost.”

                Does that answer your question?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If the question is “What Is An Irrelevant Non Sequitur for $1,000 Alex” then yes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Remember when you used the hospital turning people away as an example of something we, as a society, have decided to do?

                Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                To me this means Joe Biden wants to find a different path to universal care than Medicare for All.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                People haven’t voted for change in sufficient numbers because the existing system we have, including pre-ACA worked well enough for most people for a little over 50 years. No, it wasn’t perfect or perfectly equitable, it has proven itself unsustainable in the face of ever increasing costs, and we’re beyond the point where cracks are showing.

                But, our history and culture go a long way to explaining how we’ve gotten here (and others to where they are) and understanding that is vitally necessary for fixing things. It seems like all you really want is a simple story about morality and will swerve all over the place to get to the point where we talk about the moral failings of America and its people. And hey fair enough, we have loads of those. But it does not seem like you’re at all interested in actual policies or how these systems function, here or anywhere else.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                What’s also vitally necessary is for the citizenry (meaning you, me and everyone reading these words) to decide that the status quo is awful, and that a different future is both desirable and possible.

                If someone says that the status quo suits them just fine and something like universal healthcare or efficient transit or education is not desirable, well, I can’t do much about that.

                But when they start with this stuff about how it is impossible because “small monoculture” I think its important to refute that because it’s nonsense.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I totally think we should abandon the status quo!

                For one thing, the FDA is far too restrictive and does a lot more harm than good. We need to completely re-think its role.

                I can’t believe some of the people who have argued that we should keep the status quo.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Person A gives example of X.

                Person B starts talking about X or Y, then X and Y, and then Y.Report

              • Avatar George Turner in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Note: This subthread would be much easier to read if people would say what they mean instead of implying what they think other people are implying their implication is.

                Just tossing that out there.

                I blame call-out culture, and possibly 1950’s British Imperial policies in Singapore as contrasted to French Indochina, from the perspective of a New Zealand foreign affairs writer covering Indonesian politics when put on the spot at a cocktail party hosted by the US ambassador to Japan.Report

              • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                “I keep hearing people mention how other states are monocultures or ethnically homogeneous or something to that effect, in comparison to America which is culturally diverse and therefore we can’t do what they do. And I have to wonder how real that is versus our own blindness….The idea that American diversity prevents us from doing large national endeavors is, I think a self defeating excuse.”

                That’s a fair question, but are you really open to an answer that doesn’t fit your ideological priors? Because there’s really three overlapping issues that you’re lumping together and they really need to be addressed separately and only then in combination.

                Does the proposed solution scale up effectively in size (both by population numbers and by geographic distances involved)? A lot of “we should do THAT!” examples point to a country that has a population roughly the size of LA county. So there are very reasonable objections to assuming that same framework necessarily works the same at an operating scope magnitudes greater. Let’s try those at a State or county level before we jump the gun straight to Nation, shall we? We may need a mix of those, not a one-size-fits-all.

                Then we get to “cultural diversity” / “ethnic diversity” (And every liberal in sight suddenly conflates the latter with the former when saying “well, country x has all these different ethnicity groups and manages just fine”… without actually establishing that those ethnic groups culturally differ in regards to the problem we’re trying to solve. I.E. China uses extreme authoritarian pressure (up to and including “re-education camps” and outlawing ethnic languages and practices) to “encourage” all those groups to publicly conform to the Han Chinese cultural norms. For a more democratic example, France applies strong social pressure to encourage a sort of hybrid where “We celebrate diversity”… but “all French citizens are first and foremost ‘French'”… while carefully dancing around actually defining “French”. So ethnicity isn’t necessarily a reliable proxy for cultural diversity. To borrow your own example; if “rugged individualism” is a uniquely American cultural trait, than it shouldn’t be surprising that other countries manage to be simultaneously ethnically diverse and yet culturally homogeneous in regards to certain problems and solutions.

                “When their governments or institutions or leaders suggest that “We Should Do This” do all of them reflexively bow and hop to it?”

                I certainly looks that way more often than not (with the exceptions resulting in riots instead, e.g. raising fuel prices significantly tends to get less voluntary compliance than “Wash your hands and wear face masks”). You might recall I previously brought this up as a problem with high immigration and “salad bowl” multiculturalism vs assimilation. Voluntary compliance relies on shared values (and to some extent, shared temperament and local conditions) so people’s risk calculations and tolerance are similar enough to form a consensus behind the government solution. We don’t have that. Multiple surveys across time and geography consistently show wider gaps in values and preferences across Americans than you typically see in other countries.

                “The idea that American diversity prevents us from doing large national endeavors is, I think a self defeating excuse.”

                No, it’s just a reasonably well supported conclusion from the fact that we are demographically and geographically unique in a variety of ways. To use a metaphor, Linux host packages generally work across most Linux distributions, but you can’t just download them on a Windows enterprise and expect them to run. That fact isn’t necessarily an insurmountable obstacle to adapting solutions or creating our own, but it does mean that dismissing that obstacle is just an excuse to not do the hard work of compensating for it when proposing and evaluating solutions.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Urusigh
                Ignored
                says:

                When was America ever not-diverse?

                When the typical American saw himself this way-

                “Why, I could make anything a body wanted—anything in the world, it didn’t make any difference what; and if there wasn’t any quick new-fangled way to make a thing, I could invent one—and do it as easy as rolling off a log.

                Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court

                How, I wonder, did the party of Ronald Reagan, he of the “shining city on a hill” sunny optimism somehow become the party of “We Can’t Do It!” sullen cynicism?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m wondering how to take the ruler that you’re using here and use it myself against other countries.

                How would it be possible to measure Denmark’s diversity using this method?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You can’t even measure American diversity, since the boundaries of what divide one part of the culture from another are arbitrary and always shifting.

                Which I think is the point, that “monoculture” is an arbitrary grouping, and the people that we point to as examples of it, probably don’t consider themselves as such anyway.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So American Diversity cannot be measured.

                Can Diversity be measured in other countries?

                Or is Diversity something that is like “God’s Love”, something that we know exists and that we know is good but, you know, we can’t exactly point to it.

                Except by pointing to crowds of people and saying “isn’t it beautiful?”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I guess, yeah.

                Diversity is a very weird part of the human experience.

                Like, I can’t tell the difference between a Serb and a Croat, or a Ukrainian and a Russian. Here in America they are both just “White European”.

                But in their home country, they are at times bitter enemies, and the gulf between them seems vast.

                Or like how in the UK, a group of Irish, Scots, Welsh, and English was at one time, a remarkably diverse crowd.Report

              • Avatar Urusigh in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                “When was America ever not-diverse?”

                Shrug? When WASP was the monoculture and the points of cultural difference were primarily abstract theological disputes rather than practical policy differences? Hard to say. Most of its history the U.S. benefited from a sort of self-selection where it tended to draw exactly the sort of entrepreneurial individualists who share “The American Dream”, so a certain psychological profile and value set could be pretty much assumed and social structures built around.

                As a more practical matter, diversity wasn’t as big an issue because the federal government didn’t attempt to do as much (the stakes were lower), politics in general had more cross-cutting views in both parties (less partisan gap), the people weren’t so sorted out by ideology (fewer “safe” districts for primary threats, more battlegrounds), and quite frankly politics was more a position one held (and could be persuaded to change without massive social stigma) rather than something most people consider a significant part of their identity.

                “How, I wonder, did the party of Ronald Reagan, he of the “shining city on a hill” sunny optimism somehow become the party of “We Can’t Do It!” sullen cynicism?”

                That’s an easy one: When the question stopped being “how can we be an example of freedom to people trapped under authoritarianism?” and became instead “how can we copy examples from authoritarian regimes and take away our peoples freedom?”

                I find it interesting you mention that speech though. It has some useful parallels to Trumpism.

                “We stood, again, for freedom. I know we always have, but in the past few years the world again–and in a way, we ourselves–rediscovered it….Some pundits said our programs would result in catastrophe. Our views on foreign affairs would cause war. Our plans for the economy would cause inflation to soar and bring about economic collapse. I even remember one highly respected economist saying that “The engines of economic growth have shut down here, and they’re likely to stay that way for years to come.” Well, he and the other opinion leaders were wrong. The fact is, what they called “radical” was really “right.” What they called “dangerous” was just “desperately needed.” They called it the Reagan revolution. Well, I’ll accept that, but for me it always seemed more like the great rediscovery, a rediscovery of our values and our common sense. Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So, we cut the people’s tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before… We’re exporting more than ever because American industry became more competitive…Common sense also told us that to preserve the peace, we’d have to become strong again after years of weakness and confusion. So, we rebuilt our defenses…The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we’re a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way. But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours. …Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: “We the People.” “We the People” tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. “We the People” are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which “We the People” tell the government what it is allowed to do. “We the People” are free. …when I began, it seemed to me that we’d begun reversing the order of things–that through more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government was taking more of our money, more of our options, and more of our freedom. I went into politics in part to put up my hand and say, “Stop.” I was a citizen politician, and it seemed the right thing for a citizen to do. I think we have stopped a lot of what needed stopping. And I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts. are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents in the long history of the world? Those of us who are over 35 or so years of age grew up in a different America. We were taught, very directly, what it means to be an American. And we absorbed, almost in the air, a love of country and an appreciation of its institutions…some things have changed. Younger parents aren’t sure that an unambivalent appreciation of America is the right thing to teach modern children. And as for those who create the popular culture, well-grounded patriotism is no longer the style. Our spirit is back, but we haven’t reinstitutionalized it. We’ve got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.”

                Or to give you the short answer, we aren’t “We can’t do it!” cynics, we’re the practical party who remembers “The lesson of all this was, of course, that because we’re a great nation, our challenges seem complex. It will always be this way.” Or to use another great quote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.” ~H. L. Mencken. That’s the modern Democrat Party in a nutshell: always calling Republicans “dangerous” and “radical”, always claiming our platform will lead to war and/or destroy the economy, always calling for more and more rules and regulations and confiscatory taxes, the government taking more of our money, more of our options, more of our freedom, always ready for any complex problem with a solution that is clear, simple, and wrong.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Urusigh
                Ignored
                says:

                “When WASP was the monoculture…”

                This is what’s called, “Saying the quiet parts loud”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Not really. We’ve already established that we can’t distinguish between Scottish people and Welsh people and we can’t determine whether any country is diverse compared to any other.

                There is no quiet part to say out loud nor loud part to say quietly.

                There’s nothing.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                It would be pretty to think so, wouldn’t it?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not the one who argued that it was, Chip.

                I kind of believe that it is possible to compare two things and make distinctions between them. Perhaps even say that one is better than the other.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                This is what’s called, “Saying the quiet parts loud”.

                Chip, you’re not really making the point you think you are. National unity in the US, to the extent that it existed, was the product of *white people* agreeing on a set of national level policies. Once that unity finally broke down in the lead up to the Civil War, the country was literally torn in two.

                And if you think the past is dead, you need to read some Faulkner. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                The point that I’m making is that MAGA means, literally, a return to the days when WASP culture was the hegemon, and all others were tolerated at their whim.Report

        • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          I was talking to a friend about this today and he made the same point. “It’s the first time since Pearl Harbor that our national resolve has been tested, and we are failing gloriously.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s like you don’t even remember the times we’ve discussed whether the FDA is too restrictive.

        Here’s from two weeks ago. The discussion it alludes to is from 2016 in which we discussed whether the FDA should merely be as restrictive as Europe’s equivalent instead of as restrictive as it actually is.

        And here’s where we discussed the whole issue of saying that we should be less of something and hammered out whether that’s the same thing as saying we shouldn’t have anything at all.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          If you remember those discussions as I do, why would you say “the government is getting in the way” as if it were always a problem?

          The government “got in the way” of people smuggling fake test kits.
          The government also “got in the way” of people peddling phony miracle cures.

          So maybe government “getting in the way” is sometimes a good thing, as well as a bad thing.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            Not only do I remember those discussions, I remember when you asked “what is our suggested solution?” and “can we point to examples of success around the world that we could emulate?”

            To which I pointed out suggested solutions that used examples of success from other world regions.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        “we could point out failures of the FDA or the CDC, just as we could point out failures of the Republican Party or Fox News, or the President.”

        the current people running the FDA and CDC were mostly appointed by the Obama Presidency, and most of the rest by the Bush Presidency, but I doubt you care about thatReport

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          I thought the political appointees generally turned in their resignations when the White House changed hands. Certainly one of the complaints that has been leveled at the Trump administration is that they have been very slow to fill the lower levels of appointments, leaving them empty or with civil service people filling in temporarily. Are the FDA and CDC different with respect to that?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Michael Cain
            Ignored
            says:

            “I thought the political appointees generally turned in their resignations when the White House changed hands.”

            It’s not the political appointees who are making the decisions.

            The person who was emailing test-kit companies and telling them it was a felony crime to manufacture test kits without FDA approval was hired during Obama’s first term.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              So far as DC goes, I consider “hired” and “appointed” to be two different things. A habit I picked up from a friend who spent several years in the top levels of the civil service at the FCC, and who always made sure people knew he wasn’t appointed to his positions.

              Civil service ineptitude/overreach/etc seems to be largely independent of who was at the top when the people got hired.Report

            • Avatar Philip H in reply to DensityDuck
              Ignored
              says:

              the permanent career civil servants are independent of the administration they were hired by. I came into the federal government right after 9/11 and yet I hope we can all agree my politics in no way matched the president I was hired under. Likewise is used to have a coworker whose mom grew up with Donald Trump who was hired under the Obama Administration (and her politics were not Mr. Obama’s politics). We work as apolitically as we can for each Administration that’s elected.

              So if you have a problem with the political appointees that’s fine, but lets stop pretending the career folks are “Obama people” or “Bush People” etc.

              Its insulting.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                “lets stop pretending the career folks are “Obama people” or “Bush People” etc.”

                sounds good to me, sweetie, but do keep in mind that this means you also do not get to go around gassing about how this or that bureaucratic roadblock is Obviously Trump’s Fault.Report

              • Avatar Philip H in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                you know it doesn’t work that way. Federal civil servants may not “serve at the pleasure of the President” but we are duty bound ultimately to do what he wants. That’s why Dr. Fauci won’t contradict him in public even when he goes off on a rant about how his ratings are more important then anything.

                And that aside, how we do our jobs is in direct proportion to the support of the WH and the funding from Congress, which these days means we have to do the Presidnet’s and Mitch McConnell’s bidding.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                Also too, lets not ignore that Trump operates entirely different than almost any other modern President, in his Tammany Hall style of quid pro quo corruption.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Philip H
                Ignored
                says:

                “you know it doesn’t work that way. ”

                you just goddamn said that it did!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Lol you can’t even readReport

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip: “Trump’s administration is a failure!”
                Me: “The people failing weren’t hired by Trump.”
                Philip: “[T]he permanent career civil servants are independent of the administration they were hired by. We work as apolitically as we can. We also do the Presidnet’s[sic] and Mitch McConnell’s bidding.”

                So, yeah, trying to have it two ways.

                PS careful about replying to me, Stillwater, you know how you get.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Following your own summary:

                Chip said the Trump admin is failing in it’s mitigation response; Philip said careers implement the policies of the current administration, which reinforces Chip’s point and undercuts yours.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “Philip said careers implement the policies of the current administration…”

                Thank you for agreeing that the Obama-era IRS disproportionately targeted conservative fundraising groups for politically-motivated reasons.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck
          Ignored
          says:

          I wouldn’t suggest that the FDA under Obama was perfect, and probably had numerous flaws in any of its responses.

          None of which excuse the utter incompetence and depraved indifference of the Trump Administration.

          And the larger point is that the government could perform much better.
          But we as citizens would have tho shake off this passive resignation and acceptance of failure and demand better.

          Specifically, currently elected officials have to be fired and replaced by those who are able to handle the job.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            So that’s what you think the criticism is? “The FDA ought to be perfect and it’s not”?

            Because we were pointing out shit like the hand sanitizer rules and the surgical mask sterilization throttling.

            Defending that with “Nobody’s Perfect” is a defense of the status quo.

            Which, seriously, is weird.

            Our argument is *NOT* “FDA Delenda Est”. (Well, not yet, anyway.)

            At this point it’s something as banal as “The FDA should be less restrictive and more like the EU’s European Medicines Agency.”

            You know, like when we were arguing about the FDA being too restrictive when it comes to Epipens back before we had a global pandemic.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              And if you were wondering “why can’t we have a health care system like they have in the EU?”, well, just look at how you defend the FDA against the idea that it should be more like the EMA.

              That’s why we can’t have a health care system like they have in the EU.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              “Too restrictive ” versus “Not restrictive enough” assumes a one dimensional framework when the reality is a bit more three dimensional.

              For example, it could be that the FDA is too restrictive here, but not enough there, and just restrictive in this instance, but ineffective.

              As a layperson I can’t prescribe public health policy any more than I can prescribe military policy.

              But as a citizen I can vote for those who show a respect for expertise and a demand for accountability and results.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Instead of adopting a one-dimensional framework, can we instead say something like “Let’s make the FDA more like the EMA”?

                Or is that too one-dimensional and just goes to demonstrate why we can’t have a health care system more like the one like countries in the EU have?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                A stronger argument in your favor would be:
                “The EMA protects their citizens from unproven quack medicine, and yet still provides a timely provision of supplies, so why can’t we do that here?”

                To which I would respond, “Sure, I’m open to it. Lets see what our medical experts have to say.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                But we as citizens would have tho shake off this passive resignation and acceptance of failure and demand better.
                Specifically, currently elected officials have to be fired and replaced by those who are able to handle the job.

                Now I see what that looks like in practice.

                Gotta say, it looks a hell of a lot like defending the status quo.

                Again: if you’re ever again wondering why we don’t have European Health care, just go back and reread your comments from when whenever someone said that the FDA should be more like the EMA.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t understand this comment.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                The italicized part is a quotation from you from earlier in the thread.

                Our discussion of whether we should maintain the status quo with the FDA is what your italicized quotation looks like in practice.

                If you don’t understand why we, as Americans, don’t have a more European health care system, I’m suggesting that you look at how you respond to the suggestion that we move away from the status quo and become more European with our health care system.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Saying “Sure, I’m open to it. Lets see what our medical experts have to say” is an example of defending the status quo??

                I’m really not getting what you’re saying here.Report

          • Avatar Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels
            Ignored
            says:

            We as citizens would also have to be willing to pay what government actually costs, and to pay government workers well enough to get a higher level of competence (though in many areas federal civil servants are as good if not better then their private sector counterparts).Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Philip H
              Ignored
              says:

              It reminds me of the periodic cries to “DO SOMETHING!” about homelessness.

              Any possible “solution” to homelessness requires a crap-ton of money, and no one- conservatives and liberals alike- likes to admit that, so the conversation ends up going in circles.

              A case can be made that government is like any other product or service, that the most economical in the long run is the one that costs the most up front. But citizens often behave like consumers in that regard.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Related:

      Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        On the other hand:

        The Washington Post: FDA authorizes the widespread use of unproven drugs (hydroxy-chloroquine) to treat coronavirus, saying the possible benefit outweighs risks

        I mean, the benefit of allowing 160,000 masks to be sterilized every day doesn’t outweigh the risks of not sterilizing them, obviously whereas it does when approving an untested drug, that’s just science.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      The thing is, though, that — one assumes — not everybody is gonna die from this.

      And everyone who doesn’t die is gonna say “well we did (thing) during the crisis, so why don’t we KEEP doing (thing)?”

      And every exception to a rule, every special waiver, every Just Fuckin’ Do It, those are all going to be revisited and re-litigated and re-requested. “Well I thought it was OK so I kept doing it.” “You never sent us a formal statement that the restrictions were reinstated.” “There’s still cases, this is still going on in a lot of places.” “You let those OTHER guys do this, why can’t WE do this?”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      Related:

      Report

  9. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    Well, as someone who’s rent-payer is cleaning and sanitizing public spaces, I’m imagining my job is less threatened than that of a wedding tweeter right now, although I’m not expecting a huge raise.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F.
      Ignored
      says:

      As for the people saying the “free market conservative” case is for going back to work en masse, I think most of us assume those people have no real beliefs or values and are just talking out of their hats. Their motivation is greed and greed is boring, so you’re right to not listen.

      At the very least, anyone who talks about sacrificing the older generation as “unproductive” is in no sense a conservative.

      Really, the experts have long said the most sensible approach in pandemics is to act quickly, test widely, disseminate accurate information, and encourage widespread social distancing practices. Given that the United States leadership has failed catastrophically at the first three, it’s not a surprise its gearing up to fail at the last one.Report

  10. Avatar CJColucci
    Ignored
    says:

    Chip, you’re wasting your time engaging in the “small homogeneous countries” theory of why we can’t get have nice things. It has always been just a polite way of saying “No n*****s in [fill in the blank].”Report

  11. Avatar Urusigh
    Ignored
    says:

    “Something relatively dismaying I’ve seen this past week is some of my fellow conservative pundits being all like “we’ve got to end this quarantine now and get people back to work and into bars and restaurants because people will literally die of starvation and commit suicide if we don’t”. And I’m sorry, but that is just dumb.”

    I’m disappointed, your articles are usually better than this. “that’s just dumb” is an ad hominem, not an argument. Baseless dismissals without fact or logic to them may be dismissed on the same (lack of) grounds. Your entire straw man argument is “just dumb” and contradicted by your own examples.

    This (A) “But I AM a huge fan of the idea of quarantine itself. I think we’re doing the right thing by staying home to slow the spread of Covid-19 and flatten that curve” and this (B): “Because that money is being spent in other ways,…Those in essential services like first responders and UPS guys and plumbers and the folks in charge of the grid and garbage men like my stalwart husband are still working and will keep working, God bless ‘em. And of course, as people have and recover from the disease (which is already happening) they will be able to return to life as we knew it, getting back to work and back to being good little consumers.” are contradictory. You’re railing against the conservatives who want to reopen the economy, but that point (B) is essentially a restatement of their position.

    Likewise, “Precious time to do things like TRAIN those unemployed massage therapists to act as health care assistants and for factories to HIRE those unemployed bartenders to make masks and sanitizer and to figure out if any of the treatments various researchers have suggested actually help and for the drug companies to EMPLOY those out-of-work baristas to make those medicines in vast quantity.” is an argument AGAINST widespread quarantine; all those people are NOT unemployed or working from home, they are going to offices/labs/factories “business as usual”.

    “But different doesn’t mean “millions of people will be dying of starvation and committing suicide in despair,”” & “But no one needs to commit suicide in despair over this economic upheaval and it’s IMO silly to suggest it – at least for those who purport to believe in the free market in ordinary circumstances”

    Unsubstantiated claim. “Millions” no, but Covid-19 isn’t likely to kill millions in the US either. Tens of thousands extra suicides, quite possibly. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/06/bad-economic-news-increases-suicide-rates-new-research/ So you can lose the disdain for the usual “suck it up, buttercup, pull yourself up by your bootstraps” conservative sentiment. Until the economy reopens, these ARE NOT “ordinary circumstance”. “Find another way to provide for yourself” is great advice when there are jobs to be had, but that also means we NEED to ensure that there are jobs to be had (e.g. reopen the economy as much as the situation allows). Unemployment literally can kill, the data on this is comprehensive across multiple countries and timespans.

    “The free market. It’s a good thing. Don’t you think, conservative chums?”

    Sorry Der Commissar, but the Market isn’t “Free” when businesses are ordered by government to close their doors and employees are ordered to remain home. The “Free Market” is by definition a product of individual decisions, not government mandates. I thought you were supposedly a libertarian, not an authoritarian.

    “There is a vast gulf of wiggle room between the government stepping in and controlling all commerce everywhere and demanding that life return to absolute normal again immediately, damn the consequences.”

    “Reopen the economy by Easter” isn’t “absolute normal, damn the consequences”. There will still be social distancing, hand sanitizer everywhere, lots of people wearing masks. and employees who show the slightest sign of illness sent to be tested immediately, but none of those require that businesses can’t be open and customers out and about buying goods and services. A principled position can be significantly to the Right of yours in that “vast gulf” and not be “extreme”.Report

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