BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
The president gave a press conference today from the White House on the coronavirus outbreak and his administration’s response. He praised his administration’s handling of the disease thus far. To be fair, his administration has taken steps to ameliorate the spread of the disease.
Yet, as we’ve seen, the response has been insufficient.
What’s more, as the members of the president’s cabinet said during the press conference, the situation with the coronavirus outbreak is “evolving.” In other words, we will have no idea in the long-run if the president’s decisions to limit (not stop) the spread of the disease are working until it’s too late.
Still, he should be commended for having done the initial restrictions on travel. Although, I remain unconvinced that they were sufficient.
The fact is, we cannot be taking either China’s word or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) analyses on the spread of the disease because China is lying about the severity and origins of the disease and the WHO is taking their talking points from the Chinese government.
In this way, then, the president’s decision to begin restrictions on the travel to and from China (and now, after today, other countries afflicted with the disease) was a good move and is likely the reason why many more people have not yet been infected in this country.
Given the rate of infection and global proliferation–to say nothing of the utter unpreparedness our system has for handling such an outbreak–it is unlikely we will be able to praise these early moves for very long, as many more people will come down with this disease–and the economic and social impacts will be felt for years.
Now, we are presented with the question of what the Hell does all of this mean for us?
On the one hand, Vice-President Mike Pence just said to audiences that we don’t need to “buy face masks” because the likelihood of catching the coronavirus is a “low-risk” prospect. Then again, the vice-president followed that up with the declaration that the US government would be buying up tens of millions of face masks. So, on the one hand, you shouldn’t be worried. On the other hand, the administration is moving to have as many face masks available.
Well, because despite what they’re telling us, they know that the coronavirus will be spreading here–BIGLY. It is heartening to hear that they seem to be somewhat ahead of the curve. What they are not doing well, however, is giving us as much information as possible. They are only giving us as much information as we require at this moment.
But anticipation is key. And, while the administration is ahead of the information curve, they are only just slightly ahead–and do appear more interested in managing the political impacts of the information rather than the actual medical and scientific sides of it. Plus, our inability to adequately test for the disease, let alone detect it in a timely fashion, implies that the White House is actually not on top of the information flow; they’re just ignorant (as are the other world governments and organizations dedicated to stemming the outbreak).
The difference between this president and his predecessors is that he has the capability to totally reinvigorate and reorganize our system. Rather than playing according to the rules of those who came before him, he should be giving us as much information and he should be encouraging us to start moving away from the Old Ways of doing things and embracing new ways of doing things.
Here is where decentralization and federalism can work to our favor: the president should be empowering local and state authorities to take all measures they need to wage war on this disease. He should be encouraging localism and regionalism. Disaggregation and decentralized networks are the only ways to survive in today’s world.
The coronavirus, as I have said, will allow for Trump to implement his more radical elements of the trade and immigration programs he campaigned in 2016 on. It would allow for him to ding the Democrats by claiming the infrastructure he’s been trying to reinvigorate and the healthcare reforms he has sought are all in limbo because the Democrats have stopped both infrastructure and healthcare reform from going forward in Congress.
All in all, our government has responded better than most. Yet, there remains much to be done. And, falling into the old patterns of handling crises like these (managing the information flow too restrictively and pretending like everything is OK–when it is not) will prove insufficient and both economically and politically damaging to the president.
Clearly, this disease is not going away. It will be more severe than the seasonal flu. There is no viable vaccine–yet.
The best move you could make would be to prepared for things now. Do not panic. But understand that no one knows the future. And, those who keep saying “everything will be fine” are being far too optimistic and likely have as much of a political agenda as do those on the Left who insist on blaming the president for all our troubles.
This is not Trump’s fault. This is China’s fault. We must decouple now from Beijing–and never look back.
As a citizen, you must read between the lines and take reasonable precautions and start preparing to take more precautionary measures to protect yourselves and your families. The markets will come back, as the president insisted. But, I disbelieve that they will be anywhere near as strong as they’ve been. What’s more, it will take time.
This disease is here. It is going to proliferate. On the high end as much as 5.4 billion people could be exposed to this disease by the year’s end. Whatever happens next, the basic nature of our society is going to change. But, there is both real political and economic opportunities here, if one has the gumption and foresight to take advantage of these changes.
With a 2.3 percent mortality rate, there could be more than 100 million worldwide who perish from this disease. Please don’t believe the Pollyannas telling us that there is nothing to be concerned about and the reset button is a few weeks from being hit on this thing. It is not. There is no reset button. All of the happy talk will only get us so far. Besides, the politically craven among us will work hard to ensure that this outbreak redounds to their political benefit.
The Great Contraction is starting. Get ready because this is going to impact our social policies, our economic programs, and our foreign policy.