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What if government was good, actually?

To watch this pale, slim-suited dilettante breeze into the middle of a deadly crisis, dispensing business-school jargon to cloud the massive failure of his father-in-law’s administration, is to see the collapse of a whole approach to governing. It turns out that scientific experts and other civil servants are not traitorous members of a “deep state”—they’re essential workers, and marginalizing them in favor of ideologues and sycophants is a threat to the nation’s health. It turns out that “nimble” companies can’t prepare for a catastrophe or distribute lifesaving goods—only a competent federal government can do that. It turns out that everything has a cost, and years of attacking government, squeezing it dry and draining its morale, inflict a heavy cost that the public has to pay in lives. All the programs defunded, stockpiles depleted, and plans scrapped meant that we had become a second-rate nation. Then came the virus and this strange defeat.

George Packer on government.

2020-04-22T11:33:29+10:0022nd April, 2020|Tags: covid-19, politics|

Is-ought.

The more disturbing corollary is the attitude among the right that takes a step from “the government can only cause harm” to “the government should cause harm”. The idea of a punitive government, Orwell’s vision of the future as a “boot stamping on a human faceforever” is why I refer to ‘pseudo-libertarians’ because when the notion of what minimal functions they believe the government should have they are almost always the punitive functions. This is yet another reason why the step from internet-libertarian to internet-fascist has never be difficult or inexpiicable or requiring complex re-writings of political spectrums. Slipping from the proposition that government is bad to government should be bad is like rolling down hill.

Camestros Felapton on government.

So originally I was going to quote this post for the bit about, The sense that things can’t last and that change can only mean destruction is a recurring thread within American fringe beliefs. That 2020 has brought an apocalypse that has a slow, laid-back script where people stay at home and watch Netflix is almost seen as an offence to the classics.

But then I got to the paragraph above and… oof.

2020-04-21T10:53:13+10:0021st April, 2020|Tags: covid-19, politics|

Brains: Still weird.

Do you live with anxiety and/or depression? Has out current global disaster situation made you, ironically, feel better rather than worse? Then fear not; you are not alone

2020-04-07T09:06:28+10:007th April, 2020|Tags: covid-19, mental health|

No war but the class war.

[T]he relative ease and comfort that many in the professional-managerial class are experiencing during the pandemic—ostensibly a result of digital platforms like Amazon, Instacart, and GrubHub—is actually the product of thousands of low-paid “invisible” workers who are paying the costs, and exposing themselves to considerable risk, on behalf of those who are better off.

[…]

In New York City, children of those classified as “essential personnel”—first responders, medical professionals, sanitation and transit workers, and some other civil servants (later expanded to include some grocery store employees and pharmacists) are being provided supervision and care at city-run “regional enrichment centers.” But there is another group of workers recognized by New York as providing “essential services”—cooks preparing food, fulfillment center workers, and those making deliveries, among others —and their children have largely been left to fend for themselves. The services are classified essential, yet the personnel providing these services are not. Indispensable labor; disposable people.

Musa al-Gharbi on the system.

2020-04-09T07:47:44+10:001st April, 2020|Tags: covid-19, culture, economics|
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