Thoughts for Independence Day

Why Coronavirus Is an ‘Existential Crisis’ for American Democracy. Danielle Allen has a 2,500-year view of democracies, wrote Harvard’s pandemic resilience road map and thinks American government is like a Ferrari we haven’t learned to drive. But she’s not totally pessimistic: We can take hope, she says, from New Orleans.

This is a good time to reflect on governance issues raised by the response to Covid-19

Pandemic Response Does Not Bode Well for a Potential Cyberattack

From the WashPost: America’s pandemic response doesn’t bode well for a potential cyberattack. 

America’s botched response to the coronavirus pandemic is a warning that, unless our broken political and administrative systems are fixed, the country could experience a similar breakdown in future national crises, such as a massive cyberattack.

This stark message was contained in a little-noticed white paper recently released by the bipartisan Cyberspace Solarium Commission, titled “Cybersecurity Lessons From the Pandemic.” As the paper highlighted, the covid-19 outbreak has been a stress test for our national crisis-management system — and that system has, to a frightening extent, failed. The challenges of a cyberattack would be even greater.

GAO Report on Opportunities to Improve Federal Response and Recovery Efforts Re Covid-19

Covid-19: Opportunities to Improve Federal Response and Recovery Efforts
GAO-20-625: Published: Jun 25, 2020. The Abstract, Highlights and Full report all available on the website.[ Not sure how many pages the full report is.]

The GAO also mentioned this report on its WatchBlog and asked for comments.

Update on June 26: GAO Staffer testimony about the report.

The Diva thought that the GAO was unusually direct and blunt in its criticisms in this report.

Ways the World Is Better Off Dealing with a Pandemic in 2020 Compared with 1918

From The conversation: 5 ways the world is better off dealing with a pandemic now than in 1918

Near the end of the First World War, a deadly flu raced across the globe. The influenza pandemic became the most severe pandemic in recent history, infecting about one-third of the world’s population between 1918 and 1920 and killing between 50 and 100 million people. It was caused by an H1N1 virus that originated in birds and mutated to infect humans.

Now a century later the world is amidst another global pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease that “jumped” from wildlife to people, a novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. While we do not want in any way to diminish the hundreds of thousands of personal tragedies caused by this virus, we see reasons to be optimistic. If managed competently, this fight may turn out differently, resulting in lower rates of infection and mortality and, possibly, fewer deaths.

Economic Analysis of Covid-19 Effects

From Vox: A new paper finds stimulus checks, small business aid, and “reopening” can’t rescue the economy. Real-time data on how the economy responded to Covid-19 suggests the problem is the disease itself.

The picture that emerges in a new working paper based on the economists’ findings is of an economy frozen in place. Simply declaring the economy “reopened” does not seem to do anything to spur high-income people to spend more, and it’s not clear that anything can until the real threat passes.

The tool, the Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, was launched by the Harvard-based Opportunity Insights group. The research was led by Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, John N. Friedman, and Michael Stepner, and the tool was assembled by a team of 39 collaborators. It aims to provide a service that has never existed before, but is badly needed during the pandemic: a real-time, day-by-day, ZIP-code-by-ZIP-code snapshot of how the American economy is performing.