• Zeynep Tufekci makes an excellent plea for better organization (and increased amounts) of public health data collection, distribution, and then better analysis on which to base advice and make decisions. A very nice essay in the NYT – Show Me the Data!
• Just an excellent column by Ezra Klein, writing on the perils of our collective national hubris in his NYT column “Let’s Not Pretend That the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem“; an excerpt:
“It is callous to suggest that the only suffering we bear responsibility for is the suffering inflicted by our withdrawal. Our wars and drone strikes and tactical raids and the resulting geopolitical chaos directly led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Afghans and Iraqis.
This is the deep lacuna in America’s foreign policy conversation: The American foreign policy establishment obsesses over the harms caused by our absence or withdrawal. But there’s no similar culpability for the harms we commit or that our presence creates. We are much quicker to blame ourselves for what we don’t do than what we do.”
Food for thought.
• The NYT has a good discussion (with examples) of the byzantine intricacies of US hospital billing practices. Hospital data seems deliberately obscured by interested parties (typically both hospitals and insurers). The money being made by third parties is often spent lobbying to prevent health care reform, especially any form of the feared universal single party health insurance. Read “Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices. Here’s Why.” by Sarah Kliff and Josh Katz.
• Paul Krugman has it right in his NYT opinion piece “The Quiet Rage of the Responsible.” An excerpt:
“So how do you feel about anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers? I’m angry about their antics, even though I’m able to work from home and don’t have school-age children. And I suspect that many Americans share that anger.
The question is whether this entirely justified anger — call it the rage of the responsible — will have a political impact, whether leaders will stand up for the interests of Americans who are trying to do the right thing but whose lives are being disrupted and endangered by those who aren’t.”
• Eric Lander, the President’s Science Adviser, has an excellent opinion piece in the Washington Post describing some of the measures we should take to protect the public’s health going forward: As bad as covid-19 has been, a future pandemic could be even worse — unless we act now
Kim Stanley Robinson does a superb job of rendering climate change’s near future earth in The Ministry for the Future. Warning – the book’s first chapter is one of the most harrowing I have ever read. The author says “the situation we’re in is radically dangerous” and thoroughly convinces you that it is so. Interwoven throughout are some possible social, scientific, and economic interventions that may be of value – or ultimately necessary, solutions that may result in a reduction in global inequality. Ezra Klein’s most important book of 2020, one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year. Bill McKibben writes in the NY Review: “Kim Stanley Robinson’s new book is a gift to the world–a novel pitched perfectly to this precise moment in the climate crisis.” and “The New Yorker once asked if Robinson was “our greatest political novelist,” and I think the answer may well be yes.” Hopefully reading this work will inspire many to work for change. Read it.
• Paul Krugman, writing in the NY Times on personal freedom as an excuse for vaccine hesitancy:
“Once you understand that the rhetoric of freedom is actually about privilege, things that look on the surface like gross inconsistency and hypocrisy start to make sense.
Why, for example, are conservatives so insistent on the right of businesses to make their own decisions, free from regulation — but quick to stop them from denying service to customers who refuse to wear masks or show proof of vaccination? Why is the autonomy of local school districts a fundamental principle — unless they want to require masks or teach America’s racial history? It’s all about whose privilege is being protected.“