Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Why a failed opening today may lead to a slower recovery when the epidemic has faded

Matt Yglesias has a good piece up explaining why “opening” the economy now won’t save the economy.  The reason is that people will continue to avoid contact with others until the epidemic is brought under control.  Simply allowing restaurants, theaters, and workplaces to open will not change this basic fact.  Indeed, airlines are still open […]

Epidemiologists, government failure, and COVID-19

Jason Brennan has a new post up doubling down on his earlier criticism of epidemiologists and government policy in response to the COVID crisis.  I responded to his earlier blog posts here.  I am still not convinced, but there are useful lessons to be learned from going through his argument. Brennan continues to claim that […]

What does the COVID-19 epidemic teach us about the role of government?

What lessons should we draw about the role of government from the COVID-19 epidemic?  I want to address this question in a few posts.  I’m going to start by examining a blog post by the libertarian philosopher Jason Brennan.  Brennan makes the following claims: Many medical journals published misleading papers based on bad statistical analysis […]

The Democratic COVID-19 Testing Strategy

Senator Patty Murray has released a Democratic proposal to increase our capacity to test for the coronavirus.  The report quite rightly emphasizes that expanded testing is critical for containing the epidemic and re-opening the economy.  It criticizes the Trump administration for it’s failure to recognize the need for extensive testing: Democrats demand a clear, detailed […]

News flash: Libertarian invents new reason not to help people!

Thinking about the coronavirus is bleak, so let’s do some political philosophy to cheer ourselves up. Libertarian philosopher Jason Brennan has a new post up claiming that our obligations to help strangers are much weaker than we might think they are, and may not exist at all, because most people are “morally very bad”. Brennan […]

Can the House Democrats drive a hard bargain on CARES 2?

Michael Grunwald argues in Politico that House Democrats have a lot of bargaining power in negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill, but that they are not aggressively using their leverage.  He suggests that Democrats are holding back because they are worried about being labeled obstructionist and getting blamed if legislation does not pass. I […]

Where-oh-where would we be without Trump’s firm leadership in this crisis?

Kevin Drum reminds us that our fearless leader restricted air travel from China after the airlines had already done so. And today’s New York Times: New research indicates that the coronavirus began to circulate in the New York area by mid-February, weeks before the first confirmed case, and that travelers brought in the virus mainly […]

Trump’s blame-avoidance is politically shrewd

Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is predictably chaotic, vengeful, irresponsible, and impulsive.  His actions have worsened the epidemic, they have led to unnecessary deaths and to a very painful economic lockdown.  Coming in the year before he is up for re-election, this seems self-defeating:  if Trump could re-run history I have little doubt he […]