Sunday, May 24, 2020

This Phase Of The Plan Failed Because Not All Palestinians Will Cooperate


benjaminstudebaker |  All around us, the quarantine is beginning to die. In the United States, the Southern states are slowly abandoning it and many Midwestern states are planning to follow. But it’s not just Republicans. The European states are bailing too. If you ask Democrats why states are beginning to defect, they will tell you it comes down to greed and stupidity. They’ll tell you the rich Republicans are greedy and the poor Republicans are stupid. But this policy was never a good fit for either the American or European political systems. To work, it needed a lot of economic support from regional authorities, and it never got that support.

For most of the last century, the social pact in America has been pretty simple. If you’re willing to work, you get healthcare and housing. If you’re not willing to work, you lose both. If there are no jobs available, the government promises to create them, and to take care of your healthcare and housing in the interim. Full employment protects against precarity. The quarantine violates this pact by deliberately annihilating millions of jobs. It intentionally sets about destroying full employment.

If we’re to end full employment, there needs to be an alternative way to provide healthcare and housing. These things will have to be guaranteed to us regardless of employment status. That’s really expensive. Individual US states don’t have the tax revenue to pay for that. The European Union’s fiscal rules would ordinarily prohibit that kind of spending. To get it, we’d need action from the federal government and from the EU.

But nobody consulted political economists. Public health officials conceived of the quarantine policy in a deeply naive way. For them, the only goal was to save lives. They pursued that goal at the expense of the social pact, with no plan to replace it. For weeks, they dismissed any discussion of the economy as indicative of greed or stupidity, ignoring the immense cost of their policy and the political consequences of the cost. Any attempt to introduce complexity into the public discussion was equated with denying the threat of the virus. Because of this, the quarantine is going to end, and when it ends the virus will take off again. Through their absolutism, the advocates of the quarantine have guaranteed the very result they sought to avoid.