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America might wield its ultimate weapon of mass disruption (economist.com)
49 points by known 72 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 106 comments



The US is pushing against every nation, except IL. Even old partners from five eyes are not save anymore. Recent pushes against Canada demonstrate that. - The rest of the world is constantly shocked about US actions against almost every nation or institution (UN, WHO, ICJ, many more). Slowly they realize that they need to build new alliances that are not only in favor of the US. China sees the vacuum and is being pushed in new directions. Latest move: In the Middle East, cooperating with Iran, shocking Israel with that move. - The US are hurting themselves in the long run by trying to make politics by brute force.


The next president is going to have to go around and sew broken relationships the current administration has torn apart.


This is so melodramatic. The vast majority of our interactions with the world are institutionalized to a point where one president can't unhinge them. The things the current admin changed were on flimsy standing to begin with. An under-appreciated truth about the Obama era was their foreign policy was mostly rife with ineffectiveness and lack of results. The current admin didn't inherit much.

Furthermore, our allies are pretty accustomed to America's always shifting between hyper focus and apathy towards the rest of the world. Think about things on a larger context, think 100 years not 4 years.


Bad news: people outside the US have memories longer than 4 (or 8) years.

Even if the next POTUS does make nice, there will thereafter always be the memory of how rapidly Trump tanked the USA's relationships. As a result, nobody will be able to count on US cooperation/amity for long term planning purposes without building in contingency plans for a "what if the next POTUS reverses course abruptly" situation.

It might be fixable with a constitutional rebalancing to reduce the ability of the president to rule as an executive without congressional oversight, but that hardly seems likely short of there being a revolution or civil war.

So US "soft power" is probably irrevocably damaged, at least for the next 8-20 years.


Yeah no one's going to forget that a big chuck of the US voted for the current administration and will vote for them again. And they especially aren't going forget that the majority of business leaders are supporting the current administration. That includes all FAANG companies.


At the cost of trillions of dollars and millions of jobs from Americans no doubt. Historically our international relations have been a disaster for the US and Trump is nothing new.


Americans voting for Trump again would only make the world a better place. Finally more countries would try and work together and leave the US out in the cold. Maybe we could make stronger and more diverse bonds against tyrants like Trump and his ilk.


As a Trump supporter, I agree with everything you wrote except the part where you call Trump a tyrant.

The US shouldn't be the world's babysitter. Countries need to work together and not look to a single country for leadership.


OK, calling him a tyrant isn't correct, but he doesn't have the country's best interest at heart - his interests trump (pun unintended) those of his fellow countrymen and women.

> The US shouldn't be the world's babysitter.

The US declared itself the world's babysitter. The current state of multiple countries that "require babysitting" has been a direct effect of unwanted and unwarranted American involvement. A lot of it was due to an extraordinary fear of communism, but most of it due to corporate interests.

America may like to think itself the best and the most important, but it would do well to reign in its corporations and government from putting fingers where they don't belong. There are far more domestic issues to be tackled first than foreign ones: opiods, healthcare, weapons, internet freedom, monopolies, discrimination, fake news, education, the prison industrial complex, surveillance and lots more. Take care of your citizens first.


> Take care of your citizens first.

Oddly enough, Trump's mantra is "America first", which many people take to mean exactly the things you just mentioned.


That's one thing I can agree with him on. He doesn't seem to be doing a good job thereof domestically, but internationally that looks different.

So yeah, Trump 2020!


China government is eager to try following the steps of USSR with better starting conditions - at least some of them. We can turn to history and see what steps were taken in Cold War and how they turned out to have some rough prediction of results today.


Everyone knows how that turned out for the USSR.


> And it, too, has a last-ditch deterrent: selling its $1.1trn stock of American treasury bills, equivalent to 4% of the total outstanding. America’s highly liquid bond markets may prove capable of absorbing the shock.

The Fed would be forced to buy those bonds to maintain its interest rate targets. And since the Fed by law must remit its profits to the Treasury, the end result would be the net interest rate on that debt would drop from whatever it is now to zero. Hardly what I'd call a crushing blow. Imagine trying to threaten your banker by telling him if he's not careful you're going to move your money from your savings to your checking account.


People are overlooking one important point here

The system is a detail here, a major one sure, but the main thing is that the Yuan is not fully convertible

Cutting China off means that either they turn the Yuan into a fully convertible currency or they'll use something else (limited choices here)

Cutting China off: US sellers can't pay China. Will they cut everybody else from transacting with China? I think that China would see this as justification for very harsh actions.

Funny thing is, if China is forced to make their currency convertible, this will result in a more Open China, not less. Weird times we're in


A more open China would mean trillions more in capital flight, a complete non starter for the CCP. If you genuinely believe that there is even a chance of a more open China, you have no been paying attention to the actions of the emperor for life.


Won't this just encourage China to make their own system like they're doing with computer chips now?


China has supposedly been trying to make their own system. The big problem with that, as I understand it, is that they have massive currency controls - people and companies outside China aren't generally allowed to buy and hold their internal currency, and people within China aren't generally permitted to take it out the country or exchange it for other currencies, with some exceptions that have been clamped down on heavily in the last few years. That means they're not a terribly attractive option as the big central clearinghouse for international payments compared to US dollars.


Maybe, and if they succeed, what will the US do then? This is a terrifying path.


Just another cold war


What is a Cold War called when only one side is playing? Because that’s been the history for the last three decades.


not only one side is playing. China has a history of blatant violation of copyright law (helping Chinese companies steal research & tech that US companies spent billions of R&D money on) and using that to attempt to undercut US companies.

China also constantly bans US companies[1] from accessing Chinese customers (eg. Facebook, Google, YouTube, Twitter etc).

It's imperative that the US castrates China & CCP and doesn't allow it to spread its toxic influence further.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_ma...


Somehow it doesn’t feel like the Cold War ever stopped.


That own system needs participants to be useful for international deals, and USA can extend the same embargo to that new system, so that all financial institutions have to choose whether they break the embargo, participate in the Chinese system and be banned from the main USD systems, or pretend that the Chinese system does not exist and keep all their non-Chinese business functioning.


If you're trading internationally, and have to denominate on a given currency, would you use the one backed by China, or the one backed by the US? Would you use a new currency with nothing yet denominated in it, or the one in which trillions of assets are denominated into? The one backed by a legal system that in the end is a reflection of the whims of a single ruling, communist party with an inaccessible and arbitrary hierarchy, or the one backed by the, yes, imperfect, but still pretty much free and open legal system?

It's never about the actual money. Or the technical aspect of it. It's about trust.


More like accelerating their efforts to make a new system.


After the first Gulf War, the attempted embargo on oil from Iraq led to a limited market in which oil was priced in Euros. That was bad for the US.

An attempt to cut China off from the USD international payments system will lead to a parallel system denominated in some other currency, possibly Remnimbi. That will be bad for the US too.

Not for nothing they call Afghanistan the Graveyard of Empires.


The Chinese cannot lead with a RMB system which maintains the capital controls which they currently enforce. For an RMB system to take hold it needs to be freely exchangeable, and that would lead to trillions in additional capital flight from China. A complete non starter for the CCP.

The fact is that the dollar is king. Even the BRI, which many describe as China's master plan to influence the world, are denoted in Dollars.


Correct, this is why it is reported that China and other nations like Iran are trying to create an alternative currency to sidestep dollar restrictions.


And that won't much more useful to them than the RMB. The Saudi's, whom supply a significant percentage of China's oil, don't want RMB nor some new currency which has the Iranians involved. The Saudi's don't buy as much from China as China buys from them. So they don't want to be stuck with billions of a currency they can't use for anything. But dollars? They can use to that to buy whatever they want from whomever they want.

That's because USD is used one one side 88% of all FX trades[1]. If you were going to buy something from another country you already were going to use dollars.

[1]: https://stats.bis.org/statx/srs/table/d11.3


And they won't succeed, because currency is about trust, and dictatorships can't generate any of it long term.


The gulf war was 1990-91 and the euro was created in 1995-99



This would just hasten the demise of the already broken US.

Lot's of silent downvotes - I'm happy to debate, do not be afraid to comment and tell me what you disagree with.


Unsubstantive flamebait makes for poor HN comments. If you want to start a substantive discussion, include more information in what you say, not just a drive-by oneliner. Especially on provocative topics like nationalistic ones.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

(Please note also the second-last guideline, against going on about downvotes.)


I think people look too much at our recent ills and project that to their view of American's place in the world. When looking at things with a historic perspective, I think it's hard not to see that we may be at a period where the American century is just getting started. The US still has a lot of advantages.

The best geography in the world for food, energy, transport, physical security. The best security apparatus. Favorable demographics. The largest group of dynamic and diverse people and economy in the world. Outside of North America, the American system does not need trade with the wider world to survive and prosper.

The United States is one of the very few countries in the world that does not need to consider security(food, energy, physical, etc) when it interacts with the rest of the world. That grants it huge flexibility. The US hasn't had a coherent foreign policy for 30 years. This domestic funk may last a decade, but some day Americans will figure out what they want from the rest of the world. Until then, the rest of the world should be happy America is taking a break.

I admit that I may be coming at this from too much of an American point of view.


Agree. If you think of a country that can dethrone the US, its really only one player, China. The other countries (Germany, Japan, Russia) are very far behind in terms of military might, commerce, and also population. Given the US also has considerable amounts of land/resources(oil, minerals, timber, farming land) and a lions share of the worlds largest companies(Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Chevron, Wal-Mart, Google, Intel, P&G, Exxon to name some) its hard to say the US is going anywhere anytime soon. I feel like a lot of this negativity right now is based on the covid-19 pandemic which btw the whole world is suffering not just the US. Think things are bad in the US? at least it didn't suffer a 20% drop in GDP like the UK did [1], sure the US has the most cases, but looking at mortality the US is roughly middle of the pack at 3.2% [2]

[1] - https://www.ft.com/content/c8b172e2-8f70-4118-9e81-423e9a4b6... [2] - https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality


Mortality as a % of diagnosed cases is a number that is easily increased or decreased by the whims of the leadership team. Ironically, the sounds coming from the President indicate that he wants to push that number up (by reducing testing).

Instead, the deaths per 100k of population is a more meaningful number.

Also, don't look at the pretty graphs at the top of the page on https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality, as there are a bunch of countries excluded from that (e.g. Italy, Spain, Belgium, which are all near the top of the list but not featured in the graphs). Instead, look at the table below.

There's nothing 'middle of the pack' about the USA's performance. Like the UK govt likes to refer to everything they do as being 'world leading' or 'world beating', UK and USA continue to be 'world leaders' in killing off their own populations through ineffective leadership.

(I've been stuck in the UK since March, unable to get back to better led lands, watching this train wreck unfold)


Agree.... https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21926865-the-accidental-...

The democratic process is screwed in my opinion, but yes...


Zeihan is Awesome. The Case against China was well articulated by him in his latest book : "Disunited Nations: The Scramble for Power in an Ungoverned World".


The major thing you've left out, is for the past 100 years we've also had many of the best minds in the world. Not that Americans are smarter than anyone else, but many of the brightest and most entrepreneurial people from around the world have moved to America and done amazing things here.

To me, our recent limitations on immigration are the biggest canary in the coal mine as far as how America's future may end up being less optimistic than one would expect by extrapolating from the 20th century.


What are the limits on immigration you are talking about? As far as my research shows, the paths for highly educated immigrants through h1b visa, f1 visa, opt training programs and green cards is largely unchanged and have been constant or increased in recent years.

The United States is still the top destination for immigrants throughout the world. The United States still accepts over 1 million new permanent residents a year. Anything done by executive action by the current administration will be undone.

If you are talking about the recent halts due to the pandemic, I'm assuming those will all be temporary.

I will gladly read your reply if you have a different perspective on this.


Yes I'm talking mostly about things done by executive action by the current administration, and during the pandemic.

They may be temporary, that's why I commented that we still have some time to improve this situation before it starts compounding and becoming a lasting part of the country. I don't think anyone can say for sure that it will all be temporary, at the very least Trump could remain president another 4 years, and republicans could remain in office even beyond that in which case I don't see them repealing anything Trump has done.


Yes.

It's funny; when people say "American ingenuity", I'm not sure what reality they're living in because it often seems like they're claiming we are somehow... inherently brilliant. Do they think we're genetically superior? Or do they think it's the water we drink? It's really a head-scratcher.

As you said: the real answer is of course that we attract talent.


Demise of US is overrated. The Geographic, Demographic, Intellectual advantages of America are not easily replicable. Add to the mix Shale/Energy Independence and brining back reasonable amount of supply chain back to North America.

China does not stand a chance. Look at their BRI track record. Every ally of US during Cold war benefitted economically and places like ROK literally moved out of Poverty to become developed countries.

China has 19 neighbors and adversarial relationship with almost all of them. The disadvantages of Chinese economic system and demographic imbalance are not visible from distance. Their energy has to pass through two choke points and their main commodity exporter is a ally of US.

edited: changed vassal to ally.. but poor Australia does not have much choice. It has to be Tonto for the global maritime power.


It seems, in general, you are talking about China replacing the US.

The US no longer being hegemon doesn't imply China is. I.e., your argument is a straw-man.

China may never become hegemon. But the idea that the US is invincible like it was 10 years ago, is simply untrue anyore. Pride comes before the fall - no one ever expected goliath to fall, but sometimes, goliath does.


It is not a straw man. OP was talking about the demise of the US. Demise compared to what? Seems China is the only "rising star" that can take a similar position. How are you going to measure the demise if not comparing to the closest thing to a peer?

And I disagree too, and not focusing only on China: is there any other country, in the Earth, closer to true autarky, than the US? NOT saying the US is close. I'm asking: could any other country be as independent as the US of international relationships, including trading? Strong internal market, plenty of industry, plenty of new technologies and talent, plenty of resources, can feed itself, has clean water, access to 2 oceans, access to space, vast amounts of land, strong military with unparalleled projection...


It is also likely that both China and USA will thrive in their own worlds after the big initial shock of 3-4 years which will lead to realignment of the supply chains, currency exchange changes etc as long as the countries do not have armed conflicts because it would be in the interests of neither.


How can we debate such a poorly sourced and clearly inflammatory post?

Anyone who starts a debate with "demise of the already broken US" isn't asking for legitimate discussion. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms and geopolitical analysis of the current issues but you're not contributing to the debate at all.

This is just "US bad" level of discussion that educates no one.


If the US is in decline, when was it in a better position than it is now (COVID aside)? I think things in the US have not been improving as quickly as in many other countries, and the US is certainly behind countries like Canada when it comes to things like healthcare, but the US is certainly trending in a positive direction by most metrics. Just look at the crime rates over the last 20 years, or life expectancy, income mortality, median income - they have all been improving.

I often see people online act as if the US is some "third world" country, and while they certainly have problems, and probably more problems than many other western countries, there still aren't that many places in the world where it is normal to own a large house in a safe area with a 30k car and no concerns about how you are going to pay for food.


In relative terms, I think it's safe to say the US was in a better position during the 90s than it is now. The USSR fell apart, China wasn't a real rival, our alliances were at their strongest, and we were running a budget surplus with undisputed control over the global economy.


Or rather America is waking up and realizing that sending it’s entire industrialized base to China was a bad idea.

Or realizing that China’s “partnership” program is really a thin veil for stealing American IP and technology.

It’s better to steal than to create. Just take a look at the new Chinese steal fighter and it’s resemblance to the F-35 steal tech [1]

It’s about recognizing reality, not vilifying another world power.

1. https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/chinas-j-20-stealth-f...


< the new Chinese steal fighter and it’s resemblance to the F-35 steal[th] tech

Modulo that all stealthy fighters will look somewhat similar, you do know why the F-35 looks like the Russian Yak-141?

Yakolev was in a IP-technology-transfer with agreement with Lockheed Martin from 1991 to 1995 (approx) to show LM how it was done.

[1] https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/did-old-russian-jet-h...


You’re making a blanket statement of “America is dead”. What do you expect?

If you have specific things you want to discuss, please do so. “X country is leading to demise” - that’s a pretty powerful statement to make unless you’re talking about a stateless country.


I’ll bite. Looking in from the outside the US is in terminal decline because it lacks:

* a viable education system which has led to the current wave of anti-science sentiment.

* a viable healthcare system which is causing people to get in debt over the smallest of medical issues.

* a viable political system which represents the will of the people.

* a viable economy where the younger generation can expect to do better than their parents.


Some objective data:

Education: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/education/

US ranks higher than France, New Zealand, Austria, UK but behind large number of EU nations.

Health: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/health/

US ranks 7th after Canada, NZ, Australia, Israel, Ireland and Switzerland. Ahead of Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark.

Civic Engagement: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/civic-engagement/

US ranks 8th in the world.

Jobs/Economy: http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/jobs/

US ranks 4th after Iceland, Switzerland, Luxembourg.

I think the data shows otherwise. In terms of Jobs and Civic Engagement, EU nations fare pretty poor compared to US. US has a problem with the education system and it should be the top priority.


1. Fixable without "the demise of the USA". But it probably won't be, as enough people have good enough education to get by.

2. Again, enough people get by, it'd have to be a majority protesting/rioting for things to change. And they can be changed without the country dying.

3. Not unique to the US, sadly. But the government is nowhere near authoritarian enough for people to risk dying to change it.

4. It's one of the world's biggest and healthiest economies, and it's kind of rare in the whole modern world for the younger generation to do better than their parents. With remote work and automation becoming normal, it may be possible for people to live and work in cheaper places.

Even as it is, the US can continue to function for decades, even centuries, more or less. I just don't see it in terminal decline.


This is exactly it. "Enough people get by.." "just enough are educated..."just barely getting through."

More evidence - the era of US exceptionalism is over.

> Even as it is, the US can continue to function for decades, even centuries, more or less. I just don't see it in terminal decline.

The UK still exists despite the demise of its empire. This is what is implied in the demise of the US as a worldwide force or leader.


> the era of US exceptionalism is over.

Yeah, I agree with that. Much of the world has caught up in living standards and opportunities.

> demise of the US as a worldwide force or leader.

No, the US is still a global player/force and will be for a long time. Its economy alone is enough for that, but they also have ridiculous military capabilities.


What are you classifying as “anti-science”. We might have anti-vaxxers and people who are redefining sexes in non biological ways (not saying there isn’t a valid non scientific reason for this), etc., but I don’t think people are anti science.

Basic health for people not covered I grant you that is a problem but it’s not a unique one in the world.

It does represent the people; however since things are more or less 50:50 but polarized, it’s impossible to please two diametrical sentiments simultaneously.

Once your economy is mature one cannot expect to have indefinite growth whereby descendants do better than predecessors. We can teach a better stasis if we don’t allow undermining (like shipping jobs overseas and bringing in low wage workers to upset the economic stasis.


The Covid crisis showed perfectly just how broken the US is. The country in its current state is hopelessly divided, terribly corrupt and it doesn’t have a functioning government or healthcare system. Politicians and civilians seem to pride themselves in making dumb and arrogant statements that show their lack of knowledge and experience. Democracy seems on the chopping block too. Trump is a major cause of this broken image, but for my generation it really started with the potential vice president Sarah Palin.

As a European I can say that the only people who still look up to the USA as a great country are the people who base their views on Hollywood instead of the news.


I don't know what generation you are, but for my generation it started with Newt Gingrich and the "Moral Majority"'s intentional stonewalling and dismantling of government.


It definitely goes back to at least Reagan saying that government is the cause of all of our problems, but it's probably earlier than that. I have a vague recollection of Nixon saying something similar, but can't remember the details.


There's a great podcast about this: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/662/transcript

To me the most interesting part was about how Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan were pretty close friends:

"Then one day, I picked up the paper and read where he had made a statement about me that was pretty harsh. And I called him, and I said, Tip, I thought we had a relationship here, where we could do business together. And, oh, now, I read in the paper that you said--

And he interrupted me and said, well, buddy, that's just politics. He said, after 6 o'clock, we're buddies. We're friends. I did take it that every once in a while, when we had a meeting, I would visibly set my watch at above 6 o'clock."


I wouldn't be too quick to point to Covid as evidence of anything, yet. Unless you are just wanting to say that we have a very divided landscape. Even then, used to be there were lynching and other horrid acts. I wouldn't claim we are past all horrors, but nor do I see any reason to think they are actually getting worse. Just more light on them. (And I am hopeful that that is a good thing, for the arc of progress.)


> I wouldn't be too quick to point to Covid as evidence of anything, yet.

It's evidence of something. The US covid response is a distinct, notable, and quite frankly disastrous outlier in the industrial world. No one handled this as badly as we did, objectively.

Shouldn't we be looking for an explanation for that? And maybe taking lessons that might hold for other things we're doing badly?


Without a counterfactual, it is hard to know what could have made it better. I'm personally very sceptical that we know what could have made things better. This is while still being dismayed at how crappy leadership has been.

So, I think we'll know more in a few years. Hopefully we learn enough that we make better choices next time. As things are standing though, my money is on prior exposure to corona and sars being the largest contributors to places that have "done better." And we aren't out of the woods, yet, as it were.

If that is the case, most of what we are seeing is just more evidence that the majority vote lost out last time. Such that now we are seeing the majority is still upset about that.


> Without a counterfactual, it is hard to know what could have made it better.

You realize there are dozens of other nations that saw the same virus, right? That seems like a nonsensical response to me, as if you're asking "Well, who could have known?". Well, Germany. Germany seems to have known. Also Japan, Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand (especially those guys)... Even nations like Spain and Belgium, which had disastrous early outbreaks got it under control at a time when we had a huge second wave.

You really don't think we have anything to learn from that data?

> my money is on prior exposure to corona and sars being the largest contributors to places that have "done better."

Uh... what? Let's ignore the pseudoscience argument and just talk demographics: you're saying that the United States, alone among all nations in the industrialized world, was unique in that it had no prior exposure to pre-existing coronavirii. Everywhere else in the industrialized world, every nation, had large pre-existing immunity? That's what you're going with? And you think that makes sense?


There is decent evidence that the US did a worse job than other places. That I cannot and do not disagree with. What we don't have is evidence of what exactly would have been different if the US did other things. So, in that, we don't have perfect counterfactuals and I think most of the news has been more speculation on how much better it could have gone than folks are admitting to. There is also the chance that things would have been just as bad as this basically no matter what. (The cynic in me asks "could native populations have just followed social distancing to save themselves from measles and smallpox?" The answer could be "yes", but that feels off to me.)

I'll ignore you being a jackass, and claim I am not saying we are alone in anything. This is a global pandemic of a novel virus. That is not really in dispute. The US is marked in how the numbers are, and there is every chance we remain that way. I just have a hard time reconciling much of the news of how contagious this is, with how well anyone contained it, without using something like vaccination. That would make this not just a novel virus, but a new one that has been contained in ways that we have never contained a virus before.


> my money is on prior exposure to corona and sars being the largest contributors to places that have "done better."

What are your thoughts on how Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Italy and Spain have handled things?


Well, first off, my thoughts are pretty worthless here. I'm doing a "my money" wager where "my money" isn't that much. :D

That said, I haven't checked on numbers a lot lately. Just checking quickly, Spain seems problematic in that they are growing again in cases. (Am I looking at bad data?) Italy is also growing, just somewhat masked by how giant their initial wave was.

Which is all to say, I suspect some places have done something "right" to contain this. I'm not convinced we know what that thing was, yet. Is akin to folks saying beer was drank because the alcohol made it safe. Really, it was the boiling of the water, but the evidence was hard to separate those.

So, to that end, I am not calling for reopening or anything of that sort. So, please don't take my scepticism for that.


> The US covid response is a distinct, notable, and quite frankly disastrous outlier in the industrial world. No one handled this as badly as we did, objectively.

I don't think that assertion holds up. Our economy didn't contract as much as others, our per/capital death rate isn't the worst, we blocked international travel sooner, etc.

https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/393903/

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality

The US is probably one of the most globally interconnected countries also, which epidemiologically speaking is probably a worst case scenario. This is my speculation though, not sure I've seen any reliable information in this regard.


This thing is not over, and the US per capita death rate is not good. In fact it is one of the worst, and you cannot ignore the fact that we still have a huge number of active cases whereas much of the rest of the industrialized world has reduced their case numbers significantly to manageable levels that allow contact tracing and fast turnarounds on testing. The US is still adding to our death rate and case numbers aggressively. Other countries are not. This is what makes the U.S. a disasterous outlier.

And don't ignore the long term impacts either. Just because you the U.S. has a low mortaility rate does not mean the disease will not have long term effects. People may die sooner, or suffer significant health effects later on that leave a lasting mark on the economy.

You suggestion that this is because the US is so interconnected is a foolish one. Europe is quite interconnected, has had similarly bad initial outbreaks, but has subsequently been able to address those outbreaks much better than the U.S.. What would you say about the politicization of preventative measures that we know work - wearing masks and social distancing?


> a huge number of active cases whereas much of the rest of the industrialized world has reduced their case numbers significantly to manageable levels that allow contact tracing and fast turnarounds on testing. The US is still adding to our death rate and case numbers aggressively. Other countries are not. This is what makes the U.S. a disasterous outlier.

It isn't an outlier by any statistical definition that makes sense to me and you are glossing over the way aggressive testing changes the "case numbers" and also aren't being clear if you are talking about "case numbers" or "cases per 1000 tests" or "cases per capita". These details matter in order to have a coherent discussion about the numbers.


> our per/capital death rate isn't the worst

It's close to the worst, though. We're sixth among industrial nations. And moreover that's down to luck: we had a terrible initial outbreak in New York, just as other cities like Milan, Madrid and Brussels did. And if you look at those metro areas, in fact NY is the worst. But we're a big country so the initial deaths were lower as a fraction.

But then what happened? We went to sleep as a huge second wave crested, and everyone else got it under control. So while it's true that we're still behind other nations in deaths, we're catching up rapidly, while their outbreaks are nearly flat (though starting to trend up a bit in many places -- they should watch that).

Give us a month at the current death rate and we'll have passed everyone but Belgium.


I was responding to this statement:

> No one handled this as badly as we did, objectively.

Now if you want to change the goalposts and talk about "close to worst", fine, but let's agree you are changing the goalposts. And of course everyone ignores the fact that we have no idea what the real numbers were in China.

> Give us a month at the current death rate and we'll have passed everyone but Belgium.

What does this even mean? It can only mean that you are trying to count total deaths, I think, which is a meaningless statistic unless you scale it to the population size.

Within the US, the numbers are terribly skewed due to deaths in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in and around NYC. If you consider our national numbers when those outliers are removed things look vastly different. But if you do that you would have to start being a bit critical of some decisions made by people with (D) after their name on TV and of course we all know that is to be avoided at all costs. Much easier to pretend that President Trump failed in some way.


> if you want to change the goalposts and talk about "close to worst", fine

I didn't say deaths though, I said "handled", so if there's any goalpost motion it seems to be on your part. Some cities just had bad initial outbreaks. Madrid didn't make better policy decisions than Berlin in February/March, they were just unlucky.

But in April/May, we knew how this virus worked, mostly. And, mostly, nations around the industrialized world made policy decisions designed to contain it. And it worked.

With one very notable exception. I'll say it again, and stand by it: No one handled this as badly as we did, objectively.

> It can only mean that you are trying to count total deaths, I think, which is a meaningless statistic unless you scale it to the population size.

Clearly I was talking per capita and extrapolating the current curve out. Here, check for yourself: https://91-divoc.com/pages/covid-visualization/?chart=countr...

See how the total deaths per capita are quite flat now across all industrialized nations? See also how the USA is... not?


> As a European I can say that the only people who still look up to the USA as a great country are the people who base their views on Hollywood instead of the news.

Basing your view on the "news" is a huge mistake. Mass media portrayal of the US (or really of any country) is much closer to a constructed narrative than a transparent view of "reality".

Do you think US "news" portrays Europe accurately? (honest question)


Stronger: For the last several years, the US has been the target of a disinformation and agitprop campaign. (Or more than one. And it doesn't really matter if the origin of the campaign is domestic, so you have to count the Republican and Democratic machines, which both paint a picture that things are terrible, and our side is the only one that can fix it.) That doesn't make it easy to form a realistic assessment of how good or bad things are...


I Love America. I don’t think the problems you describe are unique to the US.

> ‘and it doesn’t have a functioning government or healthcare system’

Can you elaborate here? I can have no job or health insurance, and I can obtain treatment at the hospital.

Likewise, I participate in city council and roundtables with city and state officials. They listen to the community and policy changes are affected based on that. Govt seems to work pretty well locally. Federal govt is not relevant at that level.

Could it all be better? Sure. But your hyperbole is a bit much.


> I can have no job or health insurance, and I can obtain treatment at the hospital.

For emergency care, yes. Not for an MRI or a hip replacement or dialysis or physical therapy or cancer treatments or prostheses or cataract surgery or...

This is this weird myth that won't die. It's absolutely true that emergency rooms are universally required to treat anyone who walks in the door. It's also true that ER care makes up something like 3% of US health care delivered.


"I can have no job..." 50 million people in the US are on Medicare or Medicaid, and can and do absolutely receive those services, based on age or income level. The ones who cannot are those whose income is too high for those service and choose to forgo or cannot afford health insurance.


And then pay deductibles and co pays and god forbid your out of network.. your making excuses for a broken system which most of the 1st world surpasses in almost every way


I'm not trying make excuses for a broken system. I'm just trying to add some information that the poster I was replying to may have lacked. I'm not making a value judgement. Those on medicare/medicaid generally have low to no deductibles and co-pays. Those with private insurance may have large deductibles and out of pocket expenses. I certainly do, but I have multiple people in my household with chronic health issues.


My family of 5 pays just 240 euro’s per month. That covers everything.


You can obtain emergency stabilization treatment at a hospital and nothing more, this is paid for by other's insurance payments. Perhaps you live in some idyllic utopia cut off from the rest of the country. Maybe you don't require any mail delivery as you live in an Amish farming community and eschew technology, or a whites only wealthy retirement community with your every wish catered for like the ad I just saw. The real U.S. is becoming a dystopian nightmare for a large percentage of people. Ignoring it is what is a bit much.


I’ll be clearer. Your healthcare system is laughable in comparison to many countries and the federal government hasn’t gotten anything done in the past 8 years.


> As a European I can say that the only people who still look up to the USA as a great country are the people who base their views on Hollywood instead of the news.

For many in the US, the opinions of Hollywood and the major news outlets are equally inaccurate and irrelevant.

Consider that the US is more comparable to the EU as a whole than any individual country in the EU, and a lot of things regarding US politics start to make more sense.


The United States is best viewed as 50 little countries. Culturally Louisiana is as different from North Dakota as France is from Sweden. Our federal government is increasingly powerful, but State sovereignty isn't just a paper promise. The States retain significant real authority and can effectively rebuff the federal government if the political will exists. For better or for worse though, the power of the States has been on a downward trajectory for over a century. Nevertheless the strong fiscal, monetary, and military union between the States has been hugely beneficial in most respects.

The EU on the other hand is broken by design[1]. It appears to be largely forgotten now, but the framers of the EU were well aware that monetary union without fiscal union was unsustainable in the long term. They, perhaps unwisely, assumed that reasonable compromises would be reached in relatively short order.

[1] https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v14/n19/wynne-godley/maastri...


As an American, I have to say I agree and it is sad and frightening to see.

It has been a long-time coming that the US has been getting more and more stagnant and unable to do certain things. It's like we've been on a freighter headed for an iceberg, and the rudder is broken so we're all just watching it in slow motion. Look at infrastructure projects, healthcare, college costs, housing, global warming, etc. They've been obvious, impending issues for decades and we've just sat by and done nothing while they become bigger and bigger problems for more and more people.

Still, at least in my opinion, America has continued to have a "superpower" of innovation in other, less constrained areas. Many of the brightest, most ambitious people in the world have continued to come here and do amazing things, as they have for the past century.

And when things have been truly dire even fairly recently, like the '08 financial crisis or even 9/11, we've managed to take action and address it. In hindsight there were obviously major flaws to our responses to those things, but they were over-reactions rather than inaction, and were arguably still better than doing nothing (with the notable exception of the war in Iraq, but that had a lot of more complex causes and wasn't necessarily America's direct response to 9/11).

For me personally, this is what makes the current moment so devastating to watch, and why I have started feeling like this time is different. We've had one of the top 5 biggest threats of American lives in all of history with Covid-19, and the federal response has been just ignoring it. On top of that, we're now going full steam ahead on shutting down or severely limiting immigration. That strikes me as just about the most idiotic, and profoundly un-American thing I can think of.

These things take time to cause major shifts so I am hopeful we still have a couple of years to correct the course before the effects start to compound too much, but it feels like a particularly fragile time and the future could go either way at this point.


> As a European I can say that the only people who still look up to the USA as a great country are the people who base their views on Hollywood instead of the news.

Not sure what to say about this - I don't think anyone believes what America is on the basis of Hollywood. America is 50 states and depending on which state you're referring to - quality and standard of living, incoming, happiness, etc varies. It is like looking at the state of Romania and basing your views about Sweden, both EU nations.


I went to visit LA 10 years ago. I somehow expected nice roads and well maintained infrastructure, because that is what you see in the movies. It was a shock for me to see how shoddy everything looked.


Definitely, American infrastructure is crumbling in big cities. It is really bad. Roads in SF have pot holes everywhere, the whole thing smells. It is awful.

Did you visit Lake Tahoe and any of the National Parks? The country side infrastructure usually is excellent and well maintained.

Certain states are better - Colorado and Utah have excellent roads even in the cities. Phoenix, Arizona is same.


Considering that the US is so corrupt, with non functioning government and/or health care systems, why are EU per capita death rates close to the American ones? In the presumably more competent, wealthier, and more generous Western European nations, a majority of them have death rates which exceed the US. Why?

Furthermore given the significantly greater number of cases shouldn't US death rates be significantly greater if it's healthcare system is non functional?


America is still in the top 10? And I think the big difference is all the other countries are well past the peak while America is accelerating into a second just as bad as the first?


Europe appears to be also accelerating into a second wave as well[1].

[1]: https://time.com/5876132/europe-coronavirus-second-wave/


Why compare EU countries to the US? Why not countries with states?


Okay, fine let's compare country to country: The UK, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain all have worse if not significantly worse mortality rates per capita [1]. Why have they performed worse than the "terribly corrupt" and nonfunctioning government and or healthcare system of the US? Furthermore France, while having a lower mortality rate, is still within 10% of America's. That a whole lot of Western Europe right there which doesn't anything to show for your implied superiority.

That's not to say there aren't European countries which have done better, there are: Germany, Denmark, Ireland, Netherlands, have thus far have significantly lower death rates per capita. How can you off handily suggest that the US is non functioning and broke while still beating countries which make up half of the EU, by population?

[1]: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality


Ask again in 3 months.


Respectfully you sound like a classic CCP propagandist.

No logic, no reasoning, just bashing the U.S while hiding china's crimes.

The biggest proof that the U.S has a future vs china, is that I have many great chinese engineering friends who have emigrated, ALL of them love the U.S.A and MOST of them are upset with the way the CCP has acted in regards to IP, human rights, and hong kong.

I don't hear the same about people moving from the U.S to china, please keep your CCP propaganda to yourself.


You can't post like this here, regardless of how wrong someone else is or how strongly you disagree. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and stick to the rules.

Edit: you've done this repeatedly (e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23864391). Not cool. We ban accounts that repeatedly break the guidelines, especially when they ignore our requests to stop, so please fix this.


That is fair, will gladly delete, but it appears I cannot since it is flagged.

1 Question, people post the same kind of comment just pro china, I am just taking the other side. Is there a way for me to report those comments to you so that I do not need to break the rules by responding to such a comment with a comment?


You can report a comment by flagging it (see https://news.ycombinator.com/newsfaq.html) or, if it's really egregious, by emailing hn@ycombinator.com.


Got it, will do that in the future


This is like the economic policy of the Hells Angels, borrow vast amounts of money then freeze out, ostracize and threaten. We already have the splinternet evolving fast and Chinese style surveillance in North America. The dollar as reserve currency remains omnipotent and this is naked imperialism imo


'Naked imperialism' wasn't intended to bash the USA, what I MTSW we have come to a point of naked imperialism between the two superpowers: China vs the offshore imperialists who control the USD




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