Pandemics Are Not Survived On Hope
Monday, March 23, 2020
"Rebellions are built on hope." - Star Wars' Rogue One.
Pandemics are not survived on it.
There's a persistent hope that this is going to be over soon. The administration and at least one giant bank are pushing such narratives, too.
Let me take yet another moment to dash that hope.
There is no national coordination system to prioritize, allocate, and distribute critical national resources.
Critical resources in this pandemic include virus tests, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, pharmaceuticals, and so on.
In the absence of a coordination system, and without proper, thorough activation of federal authorities such as the Stafford Act and the Defense Production Act, states, local governments, and private entities are COMPETING for the same limited critical national resources.
The state of Illinois today announced a major purchase of critical resources.
Here's a different issue. We know from homeland security research that the large majority of small businesses fail in a disaster when critical infrastructure is out for more than one week.
We don't know how small business failures will happen in a pandemic that may or may not include infrastructure outages, but which does include massive closures of everything else.
It won't go well for small businesses.
The main reason they fail in disasters without infrastructure is because very few have the resilience to make it through a short window with very little income.
The federal government is choosing not to fully leverage the authorities that it has to mitigate risks to public safety, leaving local governments, states, and the private sector to compete for critical resources.
Prices for critical items will go up. Tax bases (i.e., available emergency funds) at the state and local levela will decrease, especially because the federal government put off tax filing until summer. Cascading effects. Congressional failures to push money to local levels will have impacts. Some local governments will be overwhelmed as healthcare systems become increasingly overwhelmed in the next few months. As the economy shrinks (more so than it already has), so will state and local access to tax revenue. And therefore to response capabilities.
Congressional decisions that don't support local governments will worsen the damage. Federal decisions NOT to mitigate risks to public safety mean that the damage to the economy will extend and worsen.
The way that we fix the economy is we deal with the virus properly.
We're not doing either well.
There's a lot of pressure out there in the political worlds to get the bills passed by Congress. We need the same kind of pressure on the administration to use the authorities it has to make this less bad. And we need Congress to push money to local governments.
The complete and deliberate paralysis and inaction of the Trump Administration, and the oligarchical actions of the Republican Party, are putting the national security of the United States in jeopardy.
It's as simple as that. Our economy is going to be the least of our worries if the United States crumbles.
We need some people to keep their eye on the ball.
I can't make that happen. I'm not in a position to.
Your governor might be. Your mayor might. Your county executives. City council. State representatives. Senators. Federal representatives. Etc.
My governor (IA) has chosen a bizarre sort of middle ground. We don't have deaths at scale yet here.
Rebellions may be built on hope. Pandemics are not survived on hope. They're mitigated with science, courage, leadership, and decisive public health action. Pandemics are about keeping more people alive than would survive with no action.
Think this is dark?
Well how about this. We know from emergency management research and response that people do better in a crisis when they have thought through how bad things can get. What they might do when it's that bad. When they deal with some of the fear and terror up front, and have actions that they can take when the crisis reaches them.
Work through some scenarios. Have the tough talks. Put some contingencies in place. Do you have a hospital go kit? What if you go and don't come home? Do you have a family separation plan in case of quarantine? Have you said the things you need to say? Printed out the phone numbers? Met your neighbors? When this gets dicey, it will be helpful to know the people next door. Or for them to know you.
Get resilient. Try and solve at least some of the problems within your own sphere of influence. Hold on to some community. Grow connection.
This is what we're going to be doing for the foreseeable future. There will be choices. They won't always be great, but they will be choices. In fact, some of them are going to suck. A lot.
It didn't have to be this way. I don't know how to stop it from being this way now, though. Even if I was deep in government, I wouldn't know how to stop it. These are leadership decisions. These developments are consequences of elections.
This post isn't partisan. Both political parties are making huge mistakes and missteps.
One party's actions are more dangerous, deliberate, wider reaching, and apparently anchored in greed, denial, and a manic attempt to hold onto power. Doesn't mean both parties aren't making enormous mistakes. They won't be undone soon. We're all going to be paying the price.
Long term, yes, there will be some transformation. I'd like to shift my energy more that way. For now, I'm trying to have things in place so I can breathe for the foreseeable future. Hard to do any good short or long term if you're worried about breathing. So here we are.
But everyone who wanted to burn everything down is definitely going to get a sense of what looks like.
Have you been wishing for a revolution? A disruption? From the safety of your livingroom?
Well, we're in a disruption; now. Welcome to the moment. You who wanted to see it all burn down get to live your wish. A lot of stuff is going to burn down. Hopefully not totally literally. But at least some of that is coming.
Long-term maybe we can rebuild in a way that's much more lovely than what got us here. Short-term, we have to survive. That's going to look different for every single person. Some humanity and some empathy will go a long way. If we can stick to those things, we'll be better in the long term... when we get to the transformative, rebuilding part.
Godspeed to you and yours as we make our way through.
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