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The pandemic has eroded democracy and respect for human rights (economist.com)
270 points by prostoalex 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 330 comments

From the article, it sounds like our response to the pandemic has eroded democracy and respect for human rights.

The virus is not agentic, and what they describe are intentional acts by human beings.

This has been a consistent theme to responses to major crisis in US has faced in my lifetime - every time, after the crisis the situation is worse than it was before the crisis. Not because of the crisis, but because of the response. 9/11, the 2008 recession (QE is still with us) and now COVID.

The scars from the first two really should have healed a long time ago. It'll be a pretty dire future if the COVID response isn't completely unwound, some serious compromises to freedom were made through this.

You can see the failure of American leadership and an inability to engage in global crises in a decisive manner since Vietnam due to our inability to get over our incompetence and total misunderstanding of the political situation during the war there.

I have a strong suspicion that American foreign policy wonks still don't understand why we failed in Vietnam; why applying the lens of containment and the same policy everywhere was an asinine idea cloaked in arrogance that has haunted us for decades because of our inability to accept our mistakes. I think this refusal manifests itself as a steady refusal to engage in well-reasoned policy engagements and wasted opportunities to exert US influence in a positive direction.

You see this in the way we celebrated "liberating" Grenada. You see it with the weak humanitarian effort in Somalia. You see it with the increasing reliance on air power and a failure to have firm policy objectives when we do commit land troops.

You see this in the way we celebrated "liberating" Grenada.

A nitpick, but Grenada celebrates the US liberation with a Thanksgiving Day holiday, on October 25:


Appearances at the time were misleading. It is one of the few interventions that I think the US got right.

Well put. There was a book from ages ago called The Ugly American which caused a big stir in US political circles because of the way it decried US foreign policy. It contrasted the US approach (dinner parties in the Embassy) withe the Russians - who learned the local languages, respected local cultural nuances and customs, and taught locals how to more effectively till their lands.

That contrast caused a huge stir in Washington but nothing changed. Americans (forgive my generalization) still prefer dropping bombs to building schools. Hammer, rather than quill.

> who learned the local languages, respected local cultural nuances and customs

The US is the only country who requires every single Foreign service officer to learn the local language before being stationed in a country.

The Foreign Service Language institute is the most prestigious language school in the world.

US foreign policy has plenty of problems, but leaning the local culture and language is not one of them.

The Foreign Service and our embassies and consulates are on of the shinning successes of US foreign policy (among many failures).

My apologies if I got that wrong. Can you provide any references though? I understand from my own research that the ability to speak a foreign language is not mandatory for a posting. Wikipedia only mentions knowledge of a foreign language as influencing an applicant's chances of getting the posting he or she requested, not as a requirement.

Sorry the source is my brother who worked at the FSI, and every single is not really correct because of edge cases, but that's the officers and the people at the FSI talk about it. Some countries speak more than one language, some speak English (which all Foreign Service Officers are already required to speak), and in some countries there are many positions where you will be almost exclusively dealing with English speakers even if it isn't widely spoken there (some positions in Iraq). And finally not all postings are really what you'd think of as being a "diplomat" (dealing with Americans who lost their passport for example).

Each posting has a number of language designated positions, which range from 90% of the total positions in Columbia to 8% in a Iceland (where English is almost universally spoken).

In this example at least 90% of the officers in Columbia are required to speak Spanish (and it's likely that most of the other 10% do as well). If there aren't enough people proficient in a language they will train more at the FSI. In most countries language designated positions are the majority.

So yes it's not strictly required to speak Spanish to be posted in Columbia, but you're only going to be able to get one of the 10% of non language designated positions which aren't likely to be positions that we would think of as diplomatic work.

Additionally when you join the Foreign Service you have 5 years to become proficient in a Foreign Language before you get forced out, and during that time you can only serve in the limited non language designated positions.

There are plenty of religious folks who would debate the bit about Russians (I presume you’re referring to soviet Russia) respecting local culture. Cult (worship) is the root of culture, and the soviets were not well known for religious freedom.

Edit: not a defense of US foreign policy, which has been abysmal. Just pointing out that the track record is abysmal across the board.

> Cult (worship) is the root of culture

"cult" is indeed a substring of "culture", but the etymology is likely the other way around. both come from the latin verb "colo", which concretely means something like "till" or "care for" (in the sense of agriculture). it's used more abstractly to mean "worship", but this likely comes from the idea of caring for / tending to an actual effigy or temple of a deity.

Worship (cultus) is a part of the etemology in most places I’ve read, but yes cultivation is primary. Either way, the main point stands. A central part of nearly all cultures throughout space and time is some sort of local cult. And that was not respected by the Russians. It’s rarely been respected by modern empires.

cultus, which is itself a participle of colo.

I don't disagree with the core point. the rosy image of the USSR respecting local culture does not exactly mesh with my understanding of the history either (though this could be my own ignorance). as an ex-classics major, I simply can't resist the opportunity to engage in some etymological pedantry :)

The Ugly American was a work of fiction.

Not sure I get the point. Yes it was a political novel, a piece of fiction. It was however, based on fact.


“Based in fact” doesn’t tell you much. Plenty of historical movies are based on fact and contain entire fabrications.

Yet the USSR is long gone and we're still here.

Looking pretty path dependent at this point. Don't mistake luck for good policy.

That's not an endorsement of US foreign policy

Domestic policy is the real problem. US foreign policy is always an extension of domestic policy anyway.

The USA had an almost resounding success in Vietnam in its true objectives - it completely destroyed the (somewhat) functional North Vietnamese socialist state, and prevented any kind of spread of that idea in the area. It's true that 50 years later Vietnam is now a relatively well-functioning state again, but after the war in Vietnam there was no other attempt in the area.

The real failure in Vietnam was not retreating soon enough, and letting public opinion turn against the war - that did have a huge effect on future US public opinion about other wars, and could have been avoided if they had finished it earlier.

To be clear, I am extremely opposed for what they did in Vietnam and consider that the amount of war crimes and the fundamentally inhumane objectives are to be condemned. But it is pretty clear that the rational objectives that the architects of the war had set were achieved relatively quickly and efficiently, and with long-lasting effects. This was not a blunder.

Neither were Iraq or Afghanistan for that matter. The real blunders of US foreign policy have been the reinstatement of the Shah of Iran (which led to the Iranian revolution), and the continued failures of taking down Iran and Cuba.

Even in terms of containment, the Vietnam war was a huge failure, shortly after Laos and Cambodia went communist, directly supported by the Vietnamese communists.

I have no idea how you can reasonably claim that the war "prevented any kind of spread of that idea in the area", or that the "rational objectives" were achieved "relatively quickly and efficiently".

The North Vietnamese state successfully expanded to southern Vietnam, Vietnamese-trained revolutionaries took over neutral Laos after and largely because the US dropped as much ordinance on it as Europe during WWII and Vietnam successfully invaded Cambodia and installed its still current leader after Cambodia infamously disastrous experiment with a unique homegrown variant of socialism. And it wasn't as if Vietnam would have been on course to be a superpower without the bombs.

The only part of US Indochina strategy that worked was pumping Thailand full of money. Ironically, dangling that carrot could probably have tempted Vietnam into more "market reforms" and fewer collective farms a lot earlier, given that Ho Chi Minh was fond of quoting the Founding Fathers as well as Marx and appealed to the US when he was fighting his anticolonialist war.

> Not because of the crisis, but because of the response. 9/11, the 2008 recession (QE is still with us) and now COVID.

Is it a coïncidence that all occurred under a GOP/Republican administration?

Clinton treated the 1993 as a crime instead of an act of war, and prosecuted those that were responsible:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1993_World_Trade_Center_bombin...

Meanwhile Bush (really Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz) went galavanting into other countries.

Obama was hamstrung by a GOP Congress with (so-called, supposed) deficit hawks that were screaming about deficits, debt, and austerity… which they promptly abandoned they were in power to pass the giant December 2017 tax cut bill:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_Cuts_and_Jobs_Act_of_2017

Of course now that Biden looks likely to win they're reverting to form:

> The short version: A Senate GOP strategist privately confided to Bloomberg that a key Republican goal right now is to lay the groundwork to revert hard to austerity, should Biden prevail, crippling the possibility of any serious stimulus efforts next year, even amid continued economic misery.

* https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/14/how-repub...

Paul Krugman has an entire section on this in his latest book Arguing With Zombies.

Lumping QE with this is absurd - QE is actually one effective tool for monetary expansion among many.

QE for 2008 recession will pale in comparison with QE for the pandemic. Luckily for us everyone else that matters (that is, who's not New Zealand) is equally fucked, so it's not entirely a losing proposition, but for someone of moderate means and with an income/savings that do not track the stock market these are perilous times indeed. Whatever cash or cash equivalent savings they had are turning into a pumpkin within a few years.

Not entirely. Any fixed rate loans such as the mortgages or student loans that people hold today will be much easier to pay when inflation soars. So go ahead, secure new loans, bundle home and auto and pay as slowly as possible until 25-50% inflation kicks in.

That's how all those Russian oligarchs got rich. Borrow from the government (corrupt, of course), buy a factory, then a year later return pennies on the dollar. The ruble was falling so fast retail prices had to be updated twice a day for a while.

QE for 2008 recession will pale in comparison with QE for the pandemic.

22% of all US dollars that exist were created in 2020. Expect some serious inflation to happen in the next few years.

But we are still nowhere near Weimar levels of money printing, so that’s something. Except in places like Zimbabwe and Venezuela of course but that was happening before COVID.

> 22% of all US dollars that exist were created in 2020. Expect some serious inflation to happen in the next few years.

I think you're looking at M3?

Yes, currently 2.94T, up from 2.3T at the start of the year, so 22% of current money would be about 700B out of 3,000B.

From June 2007 to June 2008 went from 1.5T to 2.3T, so it was valid to say in June 2008 that "34% of all US dollars that exist were created in the last year"

On top of that M3 carried expanding:

From March 2007 to March 2009 went from 1.4 to 2.6T, where you could say "half of all US dollars that exist were created in the last 2 years"

Inflation from 1996 to 2006 was an average 2.54%

Inflation from 2006 to 2016 was an average 1.76%

So for the response to the pandemic, measured in M3, to have the same affect as the M3 from 2008, the US would have to create another $1.6T by January 2022. Then you could say "half of all US dollars that exist were created in the last 2 years"

So far the increase is 74B a month, or 1.8T over 2 years.

I think this is quite telling that the economic aspects almost immediately pops up. I believe that over the decades we have shifted more and more from "people first" to "economy first", to the point that sometimes it feels like people exist only to serve economy.

people first" to "economy first", to the point that sometimes it feels like people exist only to serve economy.

I don’t see these as mutually exclusive. The state of the economy dictates what we can afford in terms of healthcare, infrastructure, education, defence and much more. It is directly correlated with life expectancy and quality of life. Sure top-line numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they do tell a lot of it.

I am no economist, so I am probably wrong there: USA or China have a better GDP than France or Germany, yet the European countries have better healthcare, education systems and life expectancy. Different priorities?

People _are_ the economy. If you don't think economic collapse does not affect "people" I invite you to read about the Great Depression.

No. The economy is people plus a whole lot of relationships that economists ignore, but which happen to be critical to a functioning civilisation.

Of course economic collapse hurts people. But there are only two causes of economic collapse - external stressors, and internal mismanagement.

And the only situations in which they're not the same are when physical disasters permanently destroy significant productive capacity. Everything else should be manageable.

Covid - and the Great Depression - both prove the economy is badly mismanaged. It should be possible to hit a pause button on non-essential activities, keep as many people as possible safe, fed, entertained and possibly even educated, and then hit restart when the threat is over.

"Possible" does not mean "trivially easy." But it does mean "Can be handled successfully with some adjustments and minimal attrition."

This culture just can't do it. Its primary engine is debt-fuelled plutocracy and short-term profit-seeking, and it's so inherently unstable it can't cope rationally with a relatively minor and short-lived challenge like a nasty but not spectacularly deadly virus.

> People _are_ the economy

Most popular economic performance metrics are quite distant from the real world effects on most people, largely because measures that incorporate distribution rather than simple aggregates are not popular.

So while the people are the economy in a very real sense, discussion of economic performance impacts of real or hypothetical policy tend to focus on impacts that have a distant, loose relationship to the experience of most people.

Popular economic performance metrics include things like median household income and the unemployment rate.

I would say that are immediately and direct impacts on the experience of most people.

That's a very long winded and obfuscated way of saying that people would be utterly fucked if the economy collapsed, which was my original point. "Experience of most people" would be pretty awful with 50% unemployment, and once economy stops it's very hard to get going again, let alone get it going to the extent we saw in January.

This did help to stave off (if not prevent) the total systemic collapse of the world economy though. So let's not lose the sight of that.

It had no general inflationary effect at all.

New Zealand's lockdown was announced nine days before it had legal effect, a court case found that was illegal.

Every country has let these values fall in one way or another.

I think the Netherlands hasn't. In fact, commentators everywhere are yelling that they should make face masks obligatory, but they can't because the constitution prevents it (something about personal freedom of movement iirc). They have to pass a new law first and until then it's "strongly recommend".

For reasons I don't get, the Freedom House picture on this article shows NL as orange, meaning that freedom and democracy eroded during the pandemic. I really wonder what's that about, it seems to me that the government tries very hard (too hard, according to just about every columnist and talk show guest) to respect everybody's personal freedoms. I'm pretty impressed, actually.

Mostly because there's lots of rule by decree that has been severely impacting our lives, I presume. That's why everyone's calling for the law to be passed (and also, of course, for that law to be a good law): to restore parliamentary oversight and unerode our democracy.

We have something similar in Ireland: many of the coronavirus regulations (don't travel outside your county, don't have big gatherings in your home) don't have the force of law and/or the police don't have powers to enforce them. The government gave itself some emergency powers back in March, but these lapsed after I think 6 weeks and weren't renewed.

The interesting question is why they didn't renew the emergency powers. They arguably weren't constitutional in the first place, but the only real challenge to them came from the conspiracy theorists /anti-vaxxers who got laughed out of court on about a hundred technicalities.

The court's decision was more nuanced than that. They basically argued that it was technically not legal for a brief period, but justified, necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. It wasn't exactly an erosion of democracy and respect for human rights, and the court made that very clear in their judgement.


Yes, the human beings at the top who wield unchecked tyrannical power.

I have a contrarian take. The ones at the top wield very little power, and those who are 2-3 layers beneath them wield small nuggets of tyrannical power that, in the aggregate, translate to real unchecked - really, unaccountable - tyranny, but of a sort of purposeless variety.

This isn't some crazy conjecture. The book "What Washington Gets Wrong" convinced me.[1] The same phenomenon happens across government, even in the national security, intel and law enforcement areas. In fact, it even happens in corporate America, where the top level execs are fairly well aligned with the interests of the owners, and most of the bad apples are found in middle management to a step or so below the C-suite.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/What-Washington-Gets-Wrong-Misconcept...

The reason religion, grand conspiracy theories, strongmen dictators, appeal to people is it gives them comfort that somebody is in charge.

Jeff Bezos is the richest person on the planet. He doesn't have all the control, he doesn't even have significant control. Trump doesn't either. Nor does McConnell, or Pelosi, or Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. They all have a little control, but ultimately even if all of those people worked together they still couldn't control the US.

But I don't think that any middle managers etc are unaccountable individually either, but in aggregate they are.

The value of good leaders is to herd the cats in roughly the right direction, perhaps nudging the direction along the way.

The pandemic is the match, but I’m going to blame the pile of kerosene soaked rags.

Societies with largely rational, educated populace are weathering COVID just fine, wrt. democracy and respect for human rights.

I'd argue there's no direct correlation. There are societies with lesser regard for rationality doing just fine too. Several countries not in "the path of the storm" can claim credit for anything they did and didn't do as having stopped covid to the point of superstition. Id credit Germans' preference of beer just as much as their February/March response or their penchant for rationality. It's a form of collective survivorship bias. There are several cases of countries next to each other with no particular great early response having vastly different outcomes. Rational, educated populace doesnt explain away the difference between Italy vs Austria, Belgium & Netherlands vs Germany, the US vs Canada, etc. It's too early to gloat and take digs at the US. Were all countries at equal risk of exposure, or were the US, Italy, and other more severely affected countries already major travel hubs for people coming from early affected regions? Some countries have turned "flatten the curve" into "nobody should ever get a fever again" and have gone to great lengths to make that happen but I doubt the temporary security is worth the "emergency powers" theyve given their leaders.

> Rational, educated populace doesnt explain away the difference between Italy vs Austria, Belgium & Netherlands vs Germany, the US vs Canada

In the case of US vs Canada, perhaps it does. Canadians have a high level of trust in expert civil servants, including public health officials. There is also a general Canadian pragmatism that kicks in: politicians from across the country and across the political spectrum have handled the pandemic fairly consistently. The public remains mostly supportive of the federal, provincial and local initiatives. It has not been perfect, but we have not seen local officials warring with the Premier or the Premier warring with the PM on the issue of pandemic response.

In terms of education, Canada leads the world in working-age adults with post-secondary education[0]. Though primary and secondary education is a provincial and local matter, it tends to be consistently good in most of the country.

[0] https://www.bbc.com/news/business-40708421

Canada has little population density outside it’s local hubs. The virus isn’t going to spread so easily there outside of localities. The USA has more metro areas that are drivable to each other. It’s easier to spread in the USA. Look at the massive EU numbers and consider their density.

Rural places in the US are doing a dandy job of spreading it right now.

In this rural county, daily new infections are at something like 400/million. That rate is arrived at with a big enough multiplier, but it is a reasonable basis for comparison. Our cumulative case / million is ~23000.

At a country-level, I'm not sure any conclusion can be drawn for density versus (per capita) infection rates:

* https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/covid-19-death-rate-vs-po...

See also:

> We also find that after controlling for metropolitan population, county density is not significantly related to the infection rate, possibly due to more adherence to social distancing guidelines. However, counties with higher densities have significantly lower virus-related mortality rates than do counties with lower densities, possibly due to superior health care systems.

* https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01944363.2020.1...

* https://doi.org/10.1080/01944363.2020.1777891

I think that’s because population density is notoriously hard to measure. The problem is that most countries have a mixture of big cities, rural areas, and uninhabited wilderness. Taking the total population and dividing by the total land area does not tell you anything useful about the actual proximity in which most people live in a country.

On that scatterplot you linked, Canada is way down there in terms of population density. Yet the vast majority of Canada’s land area is uninhabited wilderness to the north. Most Canadians live within a narrow band of cities running parallel to the U.S. border. In addition, a significant minority live in many scattered rural areas outside of that band.

So the question is: how do you measure Canada’s true population density? Do you only look at the high density band? Or do you include the rural areas? Where do you draw the line between rural and wilderness? There’s no easy answer.

Diseases mostly don't spread between strangers. They spread between family members, close relatives and friends. Everybody has those, even in rural areas.

Look at past pandemics for reference, everybody was hit. The Spanish Flu spread in isolated arctic populations just as well as NYC.

> In the case of US vs Canada

remember that in the US, we're still barely in the beginning of this thing. trying to claim correctness of action is largely meaningless as we neither have herd immunity nor have felt the economic impacts of our policies. 9/10 NYC business can't pay full rent


personally, it seems the economic dangers are far larger than the health effects at this point. with that lens, id prefer a republican next term, even if its trump. well, id prefer a libertarian (and the first female president at that!) but thats a nonstarter for some reason.

You’d prefer someone who lies to the population and downplays science and experts in the field of epidemiology? Do you really think this is going to lead to economic recovery?

> but that's a nonstarter for some reason

Yes, welcome to the nash equilibrium of polarized first past the post politics.

Isn’t Ontario and Quebec going through a massive 2nd wave right now?

And there have been protests against the restrictions including one on Parliament Hill.


Canada has been going through a second wave. (Well, Ontario and Quebec are, with Winnipeg as a bubbling hot spot. But given most of the country lives in Ontario and Quebec…)


The protests have been very, very small. The population, based on polls, supports masks.


What’s going on in Canada is, I think, what’s going on in Europe: pandemic fatigue. It sucks to be socially distanced for this long, and people’s guards go down. I don’t think we are seeing the almost nihilistic denial that you see in parts of the States here; we’re just tired.

The protests have been very small, despite the media doing their best to promote them.

If you look at someone like Doug Ford, the extremely conservative, pro-business premier of Ontario, he has consistently advocated for masking and lockdowns as needed. He was tight-fisted with funds for testing, and overly eager to reopen businesses before fall/winter when outdoor dining would be untenable. That set the stage for our current outbreak, but he hasn't done anything on the level of Trump or Rick Scott.

Had several boat parades involving many thousands of boats, crowds of tens of thousands.

Media had a brief report that a boat flipped over. No other mention of the rally.

Seeing daily rallies and parades Driving around now. Zero mention on local news channels.

Drove threw 3 states. We saw one Biden bumper sticker. No signs. Thousands of Trump signs.

Media is extremely biased in its reporting.

> Drove threw 3 states. We saw one Biden bumper sticker. No signs. Thousands of Trump signs.

Is it at all possible that those three states were “red” states?

2 out of 3

> were the US, Italy, and other more severely affected countries already major travel hubs for people coming from early affected regions?

That only played a role very early on, at the beginning of the pandemic, when imported cases drove spread of the virus.

As the pandemic goes on, community spread becomes the dominant factor, so policies that affect transmission can have a huge effect.

The most dramatic example of this is China. The virus began there, so they had zero time to prepare. They were more "in the path of the storm" than anyone. There was a major outbreak in Hubei province, and the virus gained a foothold in every major city in the country. But then, beginning in late January, China had an extremely strict lockdown that lasted several weeks. Transmission chains ended, and the prevalence of the virus was brought down to a minimal level. Since then, extensive testing and symptom checks in public have kept the epidemic from resurging, and the government has reacted with immediate lockdowns wherever the virus has resurfaced. Compare that to the US (and many countries, though the US is one of the most extreme examples), where the epidemic has been allowed to continue for months.

China was also communicating about the virus to the public in a reasoned way early on. No such thing occurred in the US, it seemed.

I haven’t really understood the certain praise the EU has received by the USA media. The EU as a whole is similar to the USA and has done just as good/bad as the USA. Similar number of deaths. The USA has more cases but I suspect the EU has just not tested as much previously. There’s no reason to suspect the EU would have a higher death rate (USA has more confirmed cases but fewer deaths$. But today EU case totals are higher (much higher recently but I suspect the USA is just lagging a bit) or about the same as the USA which makes sense since both places are doing massive amounts of testing.

I'm pro-lockdown, but I don't know why you're so heavily downvoted. Much of Europe, other than Germany, pretty much utterly botched it.

By excess deaths, the US is doing way better per capita than somewhere like France.

This utopian view of the EU predates COVID. I’m not sure where it comes from.

It's mostly because Germany dominates the discourse, and the impression of outsiders towards the EU. Sure, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia, Netherlands and Belgium are miles ahead of the rest of the EU, but the rot begins once you go south. France, Italy, Spain, etc. are so much worse places with the rest of the EU following in the slow decline. Meanwhile, other places such as Poland and Hungary with rising living standards are turning into ultra-conservative shit holes (to speak broadly. Of course, the story in the cities is usually different).

To a thirsty man in the desert, a muddy puddle is an oasis.

For many of the things that the EU is looked up to in (for instance, racism), the EU seems more like an oil spill.

The idea that Europe is somehow much less racist than the US, for instance, is laughable.

Got to agree with this. You see European football fans make dehumanizing monkey sounds and gestures at black and brown players. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in American sports.

Why do you think EU is testing less then USA?

I don’t think right now. But earlier in the year. I explained in my comment the EU has fewer confirmed cases but more deaths. This implies that either EU citizens are more likely to die from COVID or that they didn’t test as much earlier. Today their confirmed numbers are massive and I suspect it’s because they are testing more than ever.

> EU citizens are more likely to die from COVID or that they didn’t test as much earlier

Both are true -> EU citizens are much older.

The null hypothesis is that the differences between countries so far are more due to luck and timing than rationality and education. If that's correct then over the long run infection rates will roughly even out between most countries.

It’s unlike for all countries to have equivalent transmission rates by default. Further, countries with younger populations (specifically vs 75+) would have fewer death even if their adage adjusted mortality rates are identical.

Italy has a much larger percentage of population over 80 than the rest of Europe due to climate, migration patterns, and WWII.

Compare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Germany#/media... vs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Italy#/media/F...

Did you intentional link to "Population pyramid of Germany in 1933"? This is the most recent chart and it doesn't look that much better than Italy's: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Germany#/media...

Yes, because it gave scale to just how big the WWI and WWII population impacts where. Click the right arrow shows the 1946 version: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Germany#/media... and one more shows the 2019 version: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Germany#/media... (It sadly groups the oldest population only really showing the male vs female ratio despite WWII having killed so many women in that generation.)

Both countries have a similar percentage of 65+ year olds, but COVID gets rapidly more deadly as you get older and Germany‘s very oldest generation is devastated. For comparison 31.30% of US covid deaths are from 85+ year olds.

Now take a look back at the male and female 90-94 and 95-99 year old slices of both of those charts you said looked similar.

There’s another difference. The US healthcare system has strong incentives to find COVID where there is none, or where it’s irrelevant. They get substantially more money from a COVID death than from a normal death. A guy I know lost his friend to a motorcycle accident, but his friend’s death was officially a COVID death.

When you see really strong outliers, you need to at least consider the explanatory power of incentives.

I think the US has mismanaged the crisis, but I also think there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the numbers.

A lot of them might just be better liars; E.g., here in Iran the gov has managed quite a good marketing, but the reality on the ground makes it clear that the hospitals have been severely out of capacity, and infection is very widespread. Still most people are so stupid that they trust official stats to be order-of-magnitude accurate (my guess is the official stat is logarithmic) and think our situation is better than, e.g., the USA.

> E.g., here in Iran the gov has managed quite a good marketing

I think most of the countries claiming to have controlled the virus actually have controlled the virus.

I'm not sure how Hitler winning 1932 German elections improved human rights in Germany and overall Europe. Instead it turned into dictatorship, tyranny and mass murder. And you can not say that Germany at the time was not rational and not educated populace. It was a Physics mecca of the world with people like Max Planck, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein.

My point is education does not equal to rationality, and democracy is not good but it is the best system we had so far.

Germany 1932 was massive mess. It was not rational place in a lot of ways. It was also quite violent place.

Physics and art mecca of few Germany cities were outliers within Germany, not the norm.

"Germany 1932 was massive mess. It was not rational place in a lot of ways. It was also quite violent place."

I know, there was hyperinflation in 1920s and there were violent conflicts and confrontations between right nationalists and left communists. I think huge negative influence was Soviet Union exporting communist revolutions in European countries which eventually escalated to civil war in Spain and almost a civil war in Germany. But Hitler and his ideology were a product of First World War and not a product of unstable Germany or unstable Europe.

There were multiple political murders too. There were fistfights in parlament and screaming. But violence definitely was not just Soviet export. Communists were minority compared to right wing extremists - who started to operate right after WWI.

> But Hitler and his ideology were a product of First World War and not a product of unstable Germany or unstable Europe.

What does this mean? WWI itself was consequence of unstable Europe. Germany was heavily militarized culture even prior WWI. Their imperial ambitions were definitely pre existing.

Hitler tapped into nationalistic, racial and Darwinian trends that already existed.

World War II has been over for a while and Germany has a scientist as the leader of the country.

Human rights in Germany improved as a result of WWII because Germany - unlike any other country - has seen first hand what will happen when you let human rights slide.

I was referring to the guy who said "Societies with largely rational, educated populace are weathering COVID just fine, wrt. democracy and respect for human rights."

My conclusion was that education does not equal to rationality with regards to human rights and that democracy is not good but it is the best system we had so far.

Sure. But China, arguably not much of a democracy did just fine.

So the whole link between the pandemic and political systems is mostly nonsense, the countries where the impact is least are simply the ones that reacted fastest and most decisive. Everybody else is playing catch-up and they may have to substantially pause their 'freedoms' and 'democratic rights' to get through to the other side.

This is a simple result of early incompetence and refusal to assign sufficient gravity to the situation.

So you believe in information that Chinese communist party is providing. A totalitarian regime with mass violation of human rights?! I love China and Chinese people but people suffer a lot under the rule of CCP. They are faking their financial data and they are faking their COVID data as well.

I believe that if a regime shares information that is at face value negative for that regime that we can believe them in so far as that aspect is concerned. China has shared a lot of information around the pandemic that can be classed as 'draconian countermeasures', but they do seem to have the COVID situation under control.

If you want to argue the opposite then you should substantiate that with data and sources, rather than just with claims left hanging without support.

I'm sure there is going to be some discrepancy between the facts and what we get from official communications but at this point in time there are very few governments left that have been 100% transparent during this whole saga. China likely is no exception to that but I would not expect them a-priori to be worse than say Russia or some of the countries of the EU.

OK, don't trust the numbers from China. Do you trust the numbers from South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, NZ?

I definitely do not believe NZ’s claim they eradicated COVID with “95% probability.” [1]

I do not trust that number at all.

[1]: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/07/world/australia/new-zeala...

I'm the guy you refer to. You are confusing broad education with STEM. It is very possible to be poorly educated while being OK at math or engineering.

I think it's more that Germans, unlike most nationalities, had great psychological and political incentives to imagine themselves as the victims of human rights abuses, but unlike real victims of human rights abuses, didn't face an entrenched establishment designed to keep them from asserting their rights.

It's important to remember that Germans, as in present Germans, are very rarely descendants of those who 'saw first hand' the atrocities of the Nazis, unless you count the perspective of the perpetrators. A large part of the post-war German identity was based around the idea that they did not know what was being done, that they would have never allowed it if they had known, and so on.

My opinion here is obviously controversial (especially in Germany), but it goes a long way to explain why Germany, unlike most post-genocidal nations, has very robust defence of human rights at the core of its state. Most survivors of genocide (e.g. the Armenians) face an establishment committed to defending itself against any assertion of wrongdoing, and a society committed to keeping hold of stolen property and lands. In Germany, there were essentially no survivors, and no advocates for the dead, so there was no real pressure either to bring the perpetrators of the holocaust to justice, or to defend them. In Turkey, recognition of the genocide would have been extremely expensive, both in terms of reputations of establishment figures, and in terms of property and land. In Germany, most Nazis and Nazi businesses (VW for instance) could simply go on.

In any case, I'm not sure how you would respond to the Holocaust within the framework of human rights. Retroactive justice is against the german constitution, and what the Germans did in the second world war was predominantly legal. It would have been very hard, even if there was a great desire to do so, to convict anybody of doing acts which were fully lawful at the time.

> It's important to remember that Germans, as in present Germans, are very rarely descendants of those who 'saw first hand' the atrocities of the Nazis, unless you count the perspective of the perpetrators.

On the contrary, the vast majority of the Germans alive today are the descendants of those who saw these things 'first hand'. You have this about as backwards as it gets.

Yes to some extend in relation to holocaust.

No in relation to Nazi victims in general. Jews were not only German victims of it all and most killed Jews were foreign. (German Jewish minority was rather small). As any other regime, it had huge amount of other victims too.

The crimes against non-jewish germans are part of the whole thing and part of reason for robust rights. So was the destruction of Germany after all of that which was pretty profound.

>crimes against non-jewish germans


makes for interesting reading. Particularly the line: "some homosexuals were forced to serve out their terms of imprisonment, regardless of the time spent in concentration camps". Although it's hard to say if that was the Germans or the Allies who were responsible. Perhaps both?

This is an epic side track, but the argument you could make is that Germany's choice at the time was between Nazi-ism and Stalin controlled communism. Liberal democracy was a distant third option that had no real chance.

We know the Nazi option turned out very very bad. But it's possible a German/Soviet Stalinist block would have been even worse.

No, this is absolutely not true.

First, the second most probable outcome was non-nazi military dictatorship that almost happened.

Second, the other largest party was strogly pro democracy. They were called social democrats and were definitely not communist. Trying to cast them as such is just repeating nazi propaganda.

You're assuming election results would have continued to be respected.

Neither communists or nazis had any interest in that.

> We know the Nazi option turned out very very bad. But it's possible a German/Soviet Stalinist block would have been even worse.

Say what you want about Soviet-caused famine, but they never shipped people in trains to gas chambers for the express purpose of exterminating them. Pretty contrived and callous to say that choosing the Nazis might have been the right choice.

Stalin did plenty of genocides of his own, and murdered far more of his own citizens than Hitler did.

If your criteria is that the genocide has to be conducted with a similar train system etc as the Holocaust, you're probably not serious about this discussion.

> Stalin did plenty of genocides of his own, and murdered far more of his own citizens than Hitler did.

Hm, yes - I would like to see the evidence that Stalin directly, intentionally murdered more than 11 million of his citizens.

You're really going out of your way to justify voting for the Nazis, huh.

If you're just going to go ahead and conflate the Holodomor and Holocaust as basically the same thing, then it's not really worth continuing the conversation.

I think it is a bit early to make that call.

those seem to be a minority thou

Seems like USA and UK fucking it up. Who else?

Brazil and Turkey come to my mind.

why Brazil? The Democracy there works fine. There was a change in the power, which brought new dynamics to the Country, but IMO their democracy are eroding much less than in US, France and Germany

Disclaimer: I'm German/Brazilian who lived 10 years in US.

That must be a joke.

Bolsonaro endorsed the protests of a far right movement that literally wants to "return to military rule under Bolsonaro"

I thought protests were democratic and A Good Thing™?

Assuming yes, are protests against democracy democratic?

See also Paradox of Tolerance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance

Yes, they are. If people don't want democracy then they should not have it.

That's what democracy is. The current "tyranny of the minority" that we live in is an anomaly (and quite undemocratic)

I'm sure you can write a book and disprove what Tocqueville wrote about what constitutes a democracy and what does not.

Personally I'm still on the Tocqueville's side.

Not when is Fascists Against Democracy™

Everyone which I don't agree are Fascists (TM)?

> Bolsonaro endorsed the protests of a far right movement that literally > wants to "return to military rule under Bolsonaro

Please, add reference for that.

The democracy is working as usual in Brazil, nothing changed. No rights was taken away from the people and no riots or civil conflicts are worse than before. Look America, France and Germany where the social fabric is partially destroyed.

So you don't know about his endorsement for #SomosTodosBolsonaro and the "fuck you day" and that "in an April rally also attended by Bolsonaro, demonstrators called on Sunday for the closing of the Supreme Court and Congress, and a return to authoritarian measures used during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military government"?

You don't know that he "ordered the country’s armed forces to commemorate the anniversary of the 1964 coup which brought the military to power."?

You don't know about his interference with justice and when Moro presented testimony about it Bolsonaro tweeted that he was "a traitor, a Juda"?

You don't know that "As Bolsonaro’s relationship with legislators and the courts has cooled, he has become increasingly dependent on a cadre of advisers in his government who are active or former military"?

You don't know that in a Facebook live he said “We have the armed forces at the people’s side: the side of order, democracy, liberty,”?

You really don't know any of this?

Tell me. if you can, when in France or Germany the President attended a far right rally where they hoped to return to the nazi period...

As german I can tell you, you cannot compare the center-right in Brazil with Nazi Period, there is no way to continue a discussion with someone with this arguments, sorry.

Edit: specially with a socket puppet:

user: notreallytrue created: 8 minutes ago

> you cannot compare right in Brazil with Nazi Period

Is it true or not that Bolsonaro is against democracy and rallied against it or not?

Can you find a moment when French or German president said something like "the military must be back in power"?

The last time it happened in Europe was when nazi ruled, or when in Spain the fascist ruled, or when in Greece the fascists ruled etc. etc. I think the comparison is apt.

> user: notreallytrue created: 8 minutes ago

I know for a fact what happens to you when you go against far right movements, especially south american ones.

Better safe than sorry.

you are creating a rhetoric that doesn't exist. There are 0 risk to be critics to south american regimes online. Maybe Venezuela?

To compare the Brazilian Government with The Nazi Period, you are not making the Brazilian Government look bad, but you are making the Nazi Period look harmless. From my personal life (my family moved from what today is Poland to Brazil, around 40s). Today 80 years after, I feel safe to wear my Kippah in Sao Paulo, but I don't feel safe to do it in Paris or Berlin (city where I studied and lived).

Bolsonaro as person and citizen has his opinions and he is really vocative about that (which is bad, and populist), but it doesn't reflect on the Politics being made in the Country. As it should be in a democracy, the personal opinion of a President has almost 0 influence.

> To compare the Brazilian Government with The Nazi Period

Never did.

I compared the military coups, which Bolsonaro is rooting for, undeniably, to the military government the nazi-fascists had over Germany and Italy and then Europe.

They came to power thanks to the military support.

As every far right movement usually does.

Bolsonaro is praising and rallying for a return of the military dictatorship.

He was there, in person, endorsing it.

> my family moved from what today is Poland to Brazil, around 40s

So did thousands of former SS officials who went to live there after WW2, protected and kept hidden.

Including Joseph Mengele.

> I feel safe to wear my Kippah in Sao Paulo, but I don't feel safe to do it in Paris or Berlin (city where I studied and lived)

Are you sure?


As much as I respect feelings, they are just feelings.

Sao Pauol has a much higher crime rate and 10 to 15 times worse homicide rate than Berlin, you might feel safer, but you are not safer.

“I hope God continues to enlighten President Jair Bolsonaro because he has a Jew who is at the head of the Senate at his disadvantage, Jews are miserly. Jews are wicked and think only of their well-being.”

Said Bolsonaro's supporters when the first Jewish president of Brazilian Congress was nominated.

Have you seen supporters of Merkel or Macron write something like that?


Remember that Bolsonaro in Brazil controls the media, but he cannot hide that under his government

> And if two key elements had been missing – anti-Semitism and the use of the state apparatus, especially the police, to stifle the press and persecute political dissenters – and thus prevented us from characterizing Bolsonaro and his gang as fascists once and for all, that is no longer the case.

> 1. On its official website and its verified Twitter profile, the Brazilian Army recently honored and treated as a "martyr" Eduard Ernest Thilo Otto Maximilian von Westernhagen, a Nazi major who was decorated by Hitler and killed in Brazil by members of the Colina, a resistance group against the military dictatorship and its state terrorism.

> Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister Sérgio Moro – after being unmasked in the conspiracy against former President Lula and Brazilian democracy as a judge of Operation Lava Jato, which was denounced by The Intercept – decided to use the Federal Police to try to intimidate the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, editor of the prestigious news site, and to persecute me over a conspiracy theory.

Moro is the same man that presented testimony for interference with justice by Bolsonaro that the president from his social account called "a traitor, a Juda"

Moro was chosen by Bolsonaro himself, exactly because he handled the operation "car wash" that illegally put Lula out of the competition.

If a man who obstructed justice to stop a former President to run for re-election is saying that the current President is interfering with justice, it is probably worse than we think.

> So did thousands of former SS officials who went to live there after WW2, protected and kept hidden.

Bolsonaro helped them too?

> Sao Pauol has a much higher crime rate and 10 to 15 times worse homicide rate than Berlin, you might feel safer, but you are not safer.

I don't know if you understood what I meant, but I'm Jewish and because of antisemitism, which we have back in cities like in Berlin or Paris, I don't feel there safe there as I felt in Sao Paulo.

> Have you seen supporters of Merkel or Macron write something like that?

You don't have idea about the CSU/CDU parties (parties from Merkel) in Germany. But again, no reference, "somebody said, bla bla", just the socket puppet in the internet saying.

You are trolling with a lot of "factoids" to support your agenda and to avoid being down-voted you created a socket puppet.

What make you angry are stuff like:

- https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/oct/10/j...

- https://www.businessinsider.com/bolsonaro-more-popular-ever-...

Fun fact IMO which makes the whole South American soup even more interesting and supports my argument that the Government Politics has nothing to do with his personal ideas: He was personally against this "monthly emergency aid payment", and it was mainly pushed by the opposition, but now he is being treated like Hero because of that and enjoying the popularity.

> Bolsonaro helped them too?

He's giving them medals now.

> I don't know if you understood what I meant, but I'm Jewish and because of antisemitism, which we have back in cities like in Berlin or Paris, I don't feel there safe there as I felt in Sao Paulo.

I don't know if you understood that it's your feeling, not a fact.

There are more nazi and nazi heirs living in Brazil than in the rest of the World.

If you feel safer in Sao Paulo than in Berlin, it means you are part of an elite that is not affected by Sao Paulo criminality.

“Massacre the Jews, God, hit them with your sword, for they have left God, they have left the nations. ... God, what you have done in World War II, you must do again, this is what we ask for in our prayers to you: Justice, justice, justice!”” Pastor Tupirani da Hora Lores shouted at dozens of congregants earlier this month at his Geracao Jesus Cristo church"

Have you got news of something like that in Berlin?

Did Bolsonaro said something about it?

> You don't idea about the CSU/CDU parties (party from Germany) in Germany. But again, no reference, just the socket puppet in the internet saying.

I sure have, I'm Italian, part of my family moved to Germany soon after the war and lived in Berlin myself.

Frau Merkel surely didn't ever support anti-semitic or anti democratic groups or movements.

Anyway CSU and CDU are two very different beasts, just putting them together shows that you are just trying to spew propaganda.

> You are trolling with a lot of "factoids" to support your agenda

I have no agenda other than stopping your BS about Bolsonaro the great democratic president.

He is not.

He is a dangerous man.

With dangerous ideas.

> What make you angry are stuff like:


No, it doesn't.

North Korea style propaganda doesn't affect me, sorry.

It’s the opposite. He’s literally arming the population to prevent a future totalitarian takeover: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/31/world/americas/guns-brazi...

Dictators don’t encourage their people to be able to defend themselves.

That's just "2nd ammendment" propaganda that he borrowed from the United States.

It's patently clear that he'd go for a totalitarian takeover himself if he could. He just hasn't yet because he did not have the means to do so.


> It's patently clear that he'd go for a totalitarian takeover himself if he could. He just hasn't yet because he did not have the means to do so.

if the democracy there has eroded why he doesn't have the means to do so? What is blocking him to takeover? Case closed.

> if the democracy there has eroded why he doesn't have the means to do so? What is blocking him to takeover?

That his lies have been exposed.

Especially regarding the unlawful exclusion of Lua from presidential elections.

But he will try again, that's for sure.

Do you really think that previous dictatorship happened overnight?

Who is receiving the guns?

Mussolini did the same thing, he knew very well guns were not going to opposition but to his supporters that used them to kill or oppress his opponents.

The rhetoric of "citizens that simply want to defend themselves" is an empty one.

Hitler banned Jews from possessing guns in 1938.

Russia passed gun control legislation in 1929 coinciding with the beginning of Stalins rule.

Italy's current gun control laws date to the fascist period, notably the public safety act of 1931.

Cuba's gun laws are classified as highly restrictive.

How it looks in Brazil after the decree:

"Getting permission to buy a gun in Brazil still requires a lengthy process — including a mental health assessment and a criminal-background check — that can drag on for months. But shooting ranges and gun stores started to see an uptick in business, even before the new rules went into effect."

So you can have a gun at home, but no carry is permitted.

> Italy's current gun control laws date to the fascist period, notably the public safety act of 1931.

9 years after Fascism raised to power and abolished democracy in Italy.

BTW you are not reading it well, what the Royal Decree No. 773 of 1931 established was that production of arms had to be licensed by the regime and that armed military parade were abolished UNLESS EXPLICITLY AUTHORIZED

Guess who gave the authorizations?

Exactly! the fascist prefects!

After all fascism went to power by marching to Rome in a military armed parade...

right, so again, no comparison with Brazil, where the Pandemic hasn't eroded the democracy. There the Senate rejected the decree from Bolsonaro:


It's Bolsonaro that eroded democracy in Brazil

That's a good point. IMO he is center-right with some influence of liberalism and populist as typical politician in South America. However his govern still open, respecting the diversity, supporting the refugees from Venezuela and respecting the sovereignty of Neighbouring countries.

Tiraflechas, are you serious?

Most wealthy countries are weathering corona quite decently, with woman-led countries being in the lead (e.g. NZ, Germany).

The most notable exceptions are the US, Brazil, UK and Turkey - these four countries have one thing in common: far-right populist "strongmen" in power who are unable to find a line between the demands of medical/epidemiological expertise and their self interests.

Can we have a break from the thought-terminating cliches that abound on HN? Just like Pavlov's dogs: mention the word or phrase and the subject salivates. To suggest that medical expertise as such has a decided opinion on the covid crisis is merely to show that you haven't read the literature but have taken the line that more closely aligns with your political agenda. Reality is rather more complex as indicated by https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deat... giving deaths per capita.

That doesn't disprove that Trump, Bolsonaro, Johnson and Erdoğan are far right populist who fucked up.

On the contrary, it proves that US handled the crisis badly, worse than many other countries less developed and less rich.

Of course Belgium, with 11 million citizens (less than NY) and a population density of 385/km2 (USA is at 36) and headquarter of European political institutions had it worse

NY city death rate is in fact 1,960 deaths/million (2 times Belgium)

NY state is at 1,710/million

New Jersey 1,820/million

It's easy to win the stats game when you do not watch them closely

Of course you can scoff the numbers when you don't know that Belgium is counting any death happening in nursing homes (there are over 15 hundreds of them) as covid related, even the untested ones.

If you wanna talk about complexity, you should at least show that you can handle it.

Why are you equating the response of the UK to Brazil or the USA? The UK locked down for months on end, and continues to lockdown areas depending on infection rates. To me, a Briton, the description of Johnson as "far right" is bizarre -- he's about as "far right" as Harold Macmillan.

Because he is in the same ballpark of the other 3, denial of the covid dangers, a strong sentiment of economy over people lives and the call to sacrifice

Isn Boris Johnson who said “I must level with you, I must level with the British public, Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” just to keep the business going?

I'm sorry but UK had it very bad under Johnson, it's an undeniable fact.

> a strong sentiment of economy over people lives

Huh? No you've got it backwards - the argument at the moment is the Johnson is being too careful to protect people at the expense of the economy - the opposite of what you've claimed.


> Isn Boris Johnson who said “I must level with you, I must level with the British public, Many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time.” ...

Yes. Isn't that just a fact? More people did lose their loved ones. That happened all over the world.

> ... just to keep the business going?

No, again you're confused here - that quote was about enforcing new restrictions to protect people - closing more businesses - the opposite of what you've claimed.


Both of the arguments you made there were fundamentally mistaken and are actually evidence for the opposite of what you're claiming.

> the argument at the moment is the Johnson is being too careful to protect people at the expense of the economy

A variation on that argument, is that careful protection is only an option if the economy is simultaneously protected, by paying people and businesses cash, otherwise people desperate for income will not comply with lockdown directives.

We're seeing that being argued from Manchester right now: They want a national "circuit breaker" rather than local lockdown, because a national one is more likely to be accompanied by financial support, as well as a shorter "tier 3" lockdown in Manchester.

Not mentioned much, but hovering in the background, is a minority but significant number of people who aren't entitled to government financial support of any kind. Some as individuals (no recourse to public funds) and some as businesses (started business at a time that haven't shown figures yet by April, or were in an invest-and-spend phase so low/negative profit). In the absence of any government support, during lockdown they depend on volunteers for food and temporary non-eviction law to keep their homes, so they have a strong incentive to resist lockdown measures.

> the argument at the moment is the Johnson is being too careful to protect people at the expense of the economy

He failed very hard at both then.

I've not heard "denial", a la Trump, from Johnson.

That's the trade off every country is making: dangers of the virus Vs long term effects of response to the virus. It's a balancing act. What would you prefer, wanton destruction of everyone's livelihoods in overreaction? Not everyone is lucky enough to have a job that can be done from home, such as us on this site (typically). Every country is trying to avoid shuttering everything.

The quote from Johnson isn't talking about what you're inferring. It was a broad statement of what was going to happen (and it has, across the world): people will still die, in spite of the lockdown. It was a public address, not a policy statement.

It isn't purely the economics: I've had friends and relatives that have had significant effects to their health (including a death) because of being locked in their houses for months.

> I've not heard "denial", a la Trump, from Johnson.

He literally said it himself when he recovered from COVID-19

> A few hours later, he received a positive test result, and the next day he made a video statement in which he said he was self-isolating, but would continue to work and lead Britain’s coronavirus response.

> But during the next nine days, as he worked in isolation in an apartment above his official Downing Street residence and office, his condition deteriorated, with persistent symptoms including a high temperature.

> Later, he said he had been in denial and continued to work despite feeling groggy and “pretty rough”, until doctors told him firmly to go to hospital.

Boris Johnson was forced to change attitude, but he didn't believe covid-19 was a life threatening disease.

> The quote from Johnson isn't talking about what you're inferring. It was a broad statement of what was going to happen

If he hadn't been in denial he could have acted sooner and save a lot of those people that instead died.

It's the PM responsibility and anybody else.

If we were talking about Italy, for example, I would tell you that 60% of the covid related deaths are a responsibility of Attilio Fontana, the president of Regional Council of Lombardy who left elderly to die in nursing homes while he was subcontracting the supply of medical equipment to his brother in law and when journalists found out he tried to repay the debt using his own money from a Swiss account (yes, he has secret money in Switzerland)

But in UK B.J. is the major responsible for the debacle.

Nonsense. Nothing in your comment is "denial". The guy got progressively iller. He "felt rough" at one point, and then felt worse. He was commenting on his own state and his perception of it, not making some great statement of it being nothing. He self-isolated throughout during his illness, before going to hospital.

This was all against the background of the government shutting down the country's economy in response to the virus. A torturous definition of "denial" if I've heard one.

The guy literally said "I was in denial"

I don't know what more I can say...

If you think it's not bad for you, you also think it's not bad for others

But maybe Johnson says things Johnson doesn't agree with.

Thinking you wouldn't be badly affected (and by Johnson's demographic, statistically it was likely he wouldn't have been), doesn't mean you think it doesn't affect others badly.

I'm in my twenties and fit, and going by the vast majority of cases that means I'll have very mild symptoms. That doesn't prevent me being considerate how badly it affects others.

You're also completely ignoring the context that at that point the country had been locked down: you couldn't leave your house except to get supplies and 1 hour of exercise. Does that sound like the decision of a man that denied the gravity of Covid?

I'm sorry I'm in my fourties, still functioning and while in Italy, France and Spain the virus was causing havoc, Downing street was still taking time to prepare an "adequate response" trying to "find a balance to not take Draconian measures"

We've all seen the consequences of their choices

At one point they also talked about "letting the virus spread through the entire population and take it on the chin"

Either Johnson believed it or not, he said it and people reacted to it.

Was it a communication problem?


Was it a grave mistake

Yes, it was

I'm not ignoring anything BTW, I stayed home 94 consecutive days in Italy, so please don't try to teach me what it looks like to take responsibility for the sake of your community.

You may not be ignoring things with regard to Covid, but you're certainly ignoring context to misquote someone you don't like.

I think you're certainly ignoring facts because you don't like that UK handled covid crisis badly.

Get over it, the empire has fallen, UK is the ghost of what it once was and it's run by incompetents.

I don't have to dislike Johnson to know he is wrong,the numbers alone are enough to judge his actions.

Johnson said himself that "covid has been a disaster for UK" and it has left "the worst confirmed death toll in Europe" anyway.

He failed at protecting people and at the same time at protecting the economy.

If that's the best UK can do, it's really not that good...

The reality is, most people are going to get the 'rona. Germany for example; they didn't get it as much last spring; they're getting it now. NZ, same thing's going to happen, unless they develop North Korea style immigration policies or 12 monkeys style lifestyle. They're better off in general because they have healthier populations than, say, the US or the UK, but putting it off isn't going to work forever.

I don't think the US, Brazil, UK or Turkey explicitly realized this or anything (Sweden did; they're doing fine, and are basically over with it). But ultimately getting it over with is probably going to look better in the long term.

> they didn't get it as much last spring; they're getting it now

That are lives saved. The more knowledge we have about the disease the easier is to treat it. Also, that measure has extended the lives of all the people that would have died months ago.

Gaining time has a lot of value.

> Sweden did; they're doing fine, and are basically over with it

No. A second wave is starting in Sweden. And, the father of a colleague died of Covid19, that is not "doing fine".

Sweden has had mixed results because has applied non-strong measures. Most companies are working remotely and there are strong safety nets for people to stay home if they feel sick. Even with that, it has been far from perfect, and it is far from over.

> A second wave is starting in Sweden.

This. For all the debate about the Swedish approach, Sweden isn't really any better -- or worse -- off than comparable countries.

The one thing that could improve the situation is social distancing for an extended period of time, in combination with contact tracing and compulsory quarantining of contagious individuals. In that regard, Sweden dropped the ball completely along with the rest of the EU, when the EU decided tourism was more important than containing the pandemic.

> And, the father of a colleague died of Covid19, that is not "doing fine".

How is that relevant? Say "5500 people died" if you want to make a real point.

People have been predicting a second wave in Sweden for months now but average daily deaths continue to be only about 2. They must be doing something right.


I'm not sure placing all the responsibility for survival on the most vulnerable is 'doing something right'... Over here in Finland we strive to take care of the vulnerable even if it is no direct benefit to us, and inconvenient.

France was doing worse than Germany in the first wave, and is doing worse than Germany in this second wave. In fact Germany is doing much better right now than the European average.

The only "evidence" that countries that did worse in the first wave do better now seems to come from counties that decided that reducing testing is the easiest way to make the numbers look good.

You fail to understand the fact that everyone's going to get it. You can't control that fact, not even by blowing up the economy. The best thing you can do if you're afraid is to wear a mask and take vitamin-D (or go outside to get some).

Unless there is a miraculous breakthrough in vaccines, which seems unlikely in current year, this disease will be with us for the rest of your life. Just like the flu. If it works like other corona viruses, it will burn through the population kill off the people who are susceptible to it, and remain with us forever, just like HCoV-OC43 probably did in 1889 with the "Russian flu" of that day[0]. Nobody worries about that now.

[0] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7252012/


You can do reasonable steps (masks, distance, no big events) that keep the infection rate to a minimum until we can get a vaccine approved and administered to 95% of the population in 1-2 years time.

Maybe we will live with strains of the virus forever, but that's not the problem. We have many diseases among us that are harmless in childhood and much worse later in live, but they are much more harmless both because people are exposed to them starting in early childhood, allowing them to build some immunity; and because vaccination is an option. That's a much more harmless situation than the initial outbreak ripping through a population that has never seen the virus.

You can do whatever makes you feel better: everyone who is not living in a bubble is getting it, vaccine or no vaccine. Notice how we wiped out the flu with the flu vaccine back in 1956? Yeah, me neither. Lung borne viral ailments do not work that way.

You literally can't go 5km from your house in Australia. How exactly is that "fine wrt respect for human rights"?

More people have died in a few months from Covid in the US than the entire 5 years of WWI

Again, how is that just plain old dandy and nothing to think about?

US joined WWI rather late. It was not fighting for 5 years.

5km rules are in Victoria, yes. The west coast is enjoying the benefits of its natural isolation and I don't hear a lot of complaints from other states.

Locking down hotspots seems rational enough. How else do you control an invisible virus? What alternative do you really advocate for that is effective?

Going to need a citation for that claim. I'll assume you meant "in WW1 operations". Otherwise, whilst I don't have data for total US deaths 1914-1918, even given the much smaller population I'd expect > 1M per year, far in excess of suspected US covid deaths. The main complicating factor is, of course, 1918 saw the Spanish Flu.

Also, the US declared war in 1917. Spool through the main battles of WW1, when and where they occurred and who was in them.

Also, put bluntly, age matters. Wars are fought mainly between young men, and women and children don't exactly get off lightly. France lost ten percent of its active male population. Death, eventually, is inevitable. Death in a field, often over a period of days, when you should have lived another 40, because some ####### ##### of ######### ##### with the collective brains of a ######### #### couldn't do their jobs right, isn't.

In summary, you may not be wrong but its utterly sensationalist to compare the toll of WW1 to covid.

> You literally can't go 5km from your house in Australia.

I am in Norway, taking my flight north of the country today in 4 hours. It's my 5th domestic flight since May, when the country reopened after 6 week long, early, popularly supported, voluntarily enforced lock down.

> More people have died in a few months from Covid in the US than the entire 5 years of WWI


> You literally can't go 5km from your house in Australia.

In Australia? You mean metro victoria, right? Those restrictions are ending at midnight tonight as well.

> You literally can't go 5km from your house

I live in Rome, near the Colosseum, I never travel 5km from home, unless I have to. Being stuck in the traffic jam in your car is not a nice experience.

EDIT: maybe I should add as a disclaimer that the post tone wasn't obvious.

it came out bad.

My fault.

As someone else said after me, lockdown in Italy meant "stay home, don't leave your neighborhood"

I couldn't even go to visit my parents that live 4 kms away.

So if in Australia 5kms look bad, what would they think about staying confined in your homes to live and work, while also trying to keep your kids happy and motivated, because schools are closed?

Not going outside a 5 km radius from home would barely allow me to visit the neighbours. I can imagine the situation is similar for quite a lot of people Down Under.

On the plus side, we were doing social distancing before it was cool.

Good for you that that policy wouldn't affect you. That's not the case for a lot of people with the infringement on their freedom of movement.

It's affecting everybody, I stayed home 110 consecutive days, when, I was living in Milan until July.

What looks infringement of freedom to you, to someone else is the best you can ask for.

I wish I could go as far as 5km from my house when I was in complete lockdown.

In a place like Uganda, an empowered strongman is a greater threat than the pandemic itself. In fact, worldwide, actual loss of life seems like one of the least of the threats emerging from the pandemic.

Over a million dead despite the lockdowns and travel restrictions and the working from home: https://ourworldindata.org/covid-deaths

Strongmen can invent reasons from nothing, and often do.

The specter of healthcare collapse has led to strict lockdowns and economic pain in many countries. If we hadn't taken many of the actions we did in the Spring, we would've seen far more deaths and calls for stronger government responses. Deaths are an important metric, but not the only one, and it's probable we could've been 2-3X higher in deaths with much more "freedom" in our daily lives.

The pandemic didn't destroy the democracy in Uganda. In Uganda there was never a democracy in place. Mr Museveni is the president of Uganda since 1986.

"Never let a good crisis go to waste"

Some plans just need the lube of a 'good crisis', the accompanying increased perceived need for (any) action and the decreased scrutiny, to be pushed through.

The pandemic is not the cause, it is the cover.

The UK may not be on "about the same" in a couple of months, we've just had the "spycops bill" where police and many other agencies will be able to commit crimes, without limitation as long as it's signed off.

Moody's downgraded the credit rating citing "governance issues" just now.

What Moody's think is irrelevant to a sovereign nation with its own currency.

It's rather arrogant of them to think they have anything relevant to say on the matter.

Also Venezuela is a sovereign nation with its own currency. We live in a globalized world where those things do matter. The best you can achieve by isolationism is North Korea.

Venezuela has a peg to another currency doesn't it. And government bonds issued in denominations other than bolivar.

What is the UK pegged to? What alternative denominations are UK bonds in?

There is literally no mechanism by which UK sovereign bonds cannot be changed back into Sterling. None.

So it can only matter in the minds of those people who haven't a clue how currencies actually work.

Maybe slow down a bit before claiming that someone does not have a clue. The Venezuelan bolivar is not really pegged to any currency otherwise its hyperinflation would not have been possible. That is also the reason why nobody would buy bonds in the Venezuelan bolivar.

Of course the UK is in a different situation than Venezuela, being a country with an advanced economy.

Still the rating will have an effect as a lot of institutional investors are bound to very stable bonds. So the interest rates will rise.

Of course the UK can use inflation of the sterling to get rid of its debt. That would however also reduce its ability to issue low yield debt in the future.

In the end the UK is bound to what rating agencies and the market thinks of it like basically any other country.

I don't need to slow down. You've nicely proved it.

"The Venezuelan bolivar is not really pegged to any currency"

It is. There is an official VEF to USD exchange rate. Which means if you get some VEF on the black market you can upgrade it to USD and make a profit. That's the problem.

"So the interest rates will rise."

There is no mechanism by which interest rates can rise unless the government sector permits it. Look at the Weekly tenders for Treasury Bills in the UK. By simply mentioning that the UK would use the Ways and Means Account rises in Treasury Bill rates stopped and reversed and are now negative

Sterling can't go anywhere else - because it doesn't have the feedback loop that kills Venezuela, Argentina and even Zimbabwe, yet again.

30 years of Japan, 10 years of QE elsewhere, and the simple announcement of an account that didn't even get used are the evidence. Sovereign currency markets are supplicants not masters. They get what they are given.

Perhaps time to update your understanding of how monetary operations actually work in reality.

Government bonds are still bound to the market setting rates. Why else would e.g. Germany have lower yield than the UK? And Germany doesn’t even have its own currency.

http://www.worldgovernmentbonds.com/country/united-kingdom/ http://www.worldgovernmentbonds.com/country/germany/

No bonds are bound by market rates that the central bank doesn’t allow.

For rates to go up prices must come down, and the central bank can QE at any price to stop that happening whenever it feels like it.

Carry on betting against Japan though if you believe otherwise. The widow maker trade has taken many over the years.

"There is an official VEF to USD exchange rate"

* Semi-official. They are intervening directly now.

no, it merely pulled back the curtain

It feels like eroded democracy and respect for human led to pandemic. We have known about eroded democracy worldwide for few years now.

Edit: So I am being down voted. At least challenge my reasoning?

Anyways, here's what I think. Of course the headline is true but that does not mean what I said is not true. Remember the doctor in Wuhan who tried to warn officials about mysterious disease?[0]. Instead of looking into his claims he was summoned and admonished by Wuhan police. This is just one example "erosion of respect for human". When this happens a few thousand times across the globe we have pandemic.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li_Wenliang

paywall-free: https://archive.is/bUQcv

All these cries about democracy, and I haven't seen any single core structural change. Even the most hated country on HackerNews, Hungary, whose leader got the emergency power gave it back. Then we have Andrew Cuomo, who still has way more power than most head of states.

In this forum, right here on HN, people routinely espouse desire for more authoritarian restrictions. People gleefully discuss Sweden and almost openly hope that their lockdown-free plan fails.

The article makes it sound as if the erosion of democracy is coming from the top. In the USA, it’s coming from the bottom. It’s coming from everyday citizens.

People aren't asking for authoritarian restrictions. People have been asking for common-sense coordinated and effective measures that we can all rally around (like wearing masks). Instead we have ineffective politically driven responses marked by indecision and incompetence.

People don't want lockdowns, but we recognise that because our containment measures have failed, we have no choice but to shut things. If you don't want a lockdown, the government has to do a better job of coordinating measures to lower the R rate, which they (here in the UK but also in the US) failed to respond promptly with measures that anybody with a bit of common sense would agree with.

Why did it take months for the government to be recommending face masks? Don't say it's because of the shortage of PPE for health care workers because a friend made around 40 cotton masks over a weekend for all of her friends and family back in early April. The Japanese government was giving out 2 fabric masks for every resident at that time while we were arguing over whether they were effective or not.

> People have been asking for common-sense coordinated and effective measures that we can all rally around (like wearing masks). Instead --

We're already doing this.

> because our containment measures have failed, we have no choice but to shut things.

Until when? The shutdowns were supposed to be about making sure that hospitals have time to prepare, research has time to be done, society has time to adapt. This has already taken place.

> which they (here in the UK but also in the US) failed to respond promptly with measures that anybody with a bit of common sense would agree with

Should a layman be expected to know what a common sense response is for a pandemic? If such knowledge were that ubiquitous, we wouldn't be seeing these kinds of issues, so calling it "common sense" serves only to insult people who don't agree with you here.

> Don't say it's because of the shortage of PPE for health care workers because a friend made around 40 cotton masks over a weekend for all of her friends and family back in early April.

Except the virus was thought to be much more deadly at first, and the efficacy of cotton masks has been and is still a controversial subject.

If you truly believe it is "common sense" to do things differently, you might be inclined to think there's some kind of conspiracy going on. I assure you that the more likely scenario is you just haven't taken the actual circumstances into account and are guilty of playing armchair general.

>We're already doing this.

Really? Because all the video's I've seen indicate politicians of a certain political persuasion (and their family members) doing the utmost to avoid wearing masks in situations that they should have known better.

>Until when? The shutdowns were supposed to be about making sure that hospitals have time to prepare, research has time to be done, society has time to adapt. This has already taken place.

Stop building this up into a strawman. Nobody is arguing that lockdowns should last forever.

> Should a layman be expected to know what a common sense response is for a pandemic? If such knowledge were that ubiquitous, we wouldn't be seeing these kinds of issues, so calling it "common sense" serves only to insult people who don't agree with you here.

Is wearing a mask so that your drops of saliva and nasal discharge doesn't reach and infect others that hard to understand?

> Except the virus was thought to be much more deadly at first, and the efficacy of cotton masks has been and is still a controversial subject.

It isn't controversial at the very least, see my post above. It doesn't take a genius to see how a barrier that slows or blocks droplets in and out of your orifices can help to prevent the spread of respiratory disease.

> If you truly believe it is "common sense" to do things differently, you might be inclined to think there's some kind of conspiracy going on.

Nice of you to bring up "conspiracy". And here I am thinking that it was incompetence and politicisation all along.. silly me.

> Stop building this up into a strawman. Nobody is arguing that lockdowns should last forever.

But this is exactly the mindset that I'd characterize as an erosion of "respect for human rights". When the government proposes extraordinary restrictions, it's their responsibility to clearly define how long the restrictions need to last. Answers like "until it's safe" or "stop building this into a strawman" should not satisfy us, because the entire principle of human rights is that governments can't be trusted with such unlimited mandates.

(I should note to be fair that many governments have indeed limited their mandate, saying that they're going to remove all the restrictions once a vaccine is widely available. I don't necessarily agree with that from a policy perspective, but it's much better than an indefinite commitment to stop the disease from spreading.)

> But this is exactly the mindset that I'd characterize as an erosion of "respect for human rights".

Google "positive rights". It is widely accepted that there are some things we are obliged to do. The base state of our existence is not to do nothing.

You're trying portray what is in effect a public health measure into something sinister and I don't think it's working.

I stand by my assertion that the original point was a strawman. By and large, the initial lockdown measures were put into place by different countries with the goal of solving the immediate threat of overwhelmed ICUs and none were designed to last indefinitely. All of which were relaxed in the summer, but now have to be reintroduced partially in many countries due to the lack of other measures put in place to stem a second wave.

What I'm trying to portray is that a lot of people think that Covid-19 is more important than most human rights, and nearly any restriction for nearly any duration is acceptable if it'll slow the spread. I think it's entirely fair to call that an "erosion of respect for human rights", and the source article describes many examples of how that can go wrong. As long as Ugandans share the attitude that controlling the spread is the most important thing in the world, President Museveni will be able to continue oppressing his political opponents.

If you think that the leaders in your area are moral enough that they'd never abuse unlimited power in this way... I'm not gonna tell you you're wrong, I don't know, but I'm skeptical.

I don't see how any politicians are getting much out of lockdowns right now. Especially since polling places are still open and most people can vote by mail.

Again, I'd really suggest reading the source article in more detail, because it lists quite a few descriptions of politicians getting political advantage out of lockdowns.

On the flip side, the more dangerous and difficult a situation, the more difficult it is to give honest and accurate timelines.

In the extreme, your demand would doom governments to fail to manage any serious crisis.

Sometimes bad things happen and we do need to trust each other in order to fix things.

Your response underscores the importance of civic institutions that the population can trust. When government institutions cannot be trusted, conspiratorial mindsets become the norm.

I believe the common sense solution is to protect the vulnerable and elderly, yet I’ve been in complete lockdown for over 6 months. Lockdowns were never the solution to pandemics prior, so why now?

People don’t wear masks correctly at all, they don’t wash it, they don’t pull it down and fiddle with it every other minute. There has been no attempt at public education around this where I live. Old age homes have been severely understaffed, provided with no PPE, have allowed visitors, and their staff have not been continually tested. Over 80% of the deaths in my state have came from these homes alone

Before taking away almost all of a person’s fundamental rights you have to at least try these less restrictive measures. People have been arrested in their home when they’ve made a fb post about protesting the restrictions. The worst part, there is no lack of people supporting these measures. Only recently has it become politically unpopular

I'm not sure the western style lockdowns work very well. In places like Thailand they try to identify the infected and then put them in separate quarantine facilities rather than making them stay home where they can infect others. The local transmission there and places like Vietnam with similar policies is now basically zero. There's a bit of an imposition on your freedom if you get quarantined - I did there but it's only 2-4 weeks and only like 0.01% of the population so overall it's probably less of an imposition than the half arsed mess we have in England where I now am. Also the deaths have been like 1000x less.

> People aren't asking for authoritarian restrictions. People have been asking for common-sense coordinated and effective measures that we can all rally around (like wearing masks).

It’s hard to find persistent daylight between those two things. (For the record, I wear masks outside and in grocery stores, which are the only shops I go to. I find this at least 75% common sense.)

When it comes time though to force someone who doesn’t want to do what you find common sense, where’s the impersonal, referenced only to ground truth, line that says that’s ok under force of law, but other similar-appearing things, well those things would be authoritarian, but these things are just common sense we can all rally around? If everyone is already rallying around something, you don’t need any government force of law to make it happen. (Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection.)

Apply this to guns, drugs, abortion, climate change, restaurant seating capacity during COVID, or whatever topic people tend to have their own individual “common sense” about.

This is a take against all laws if you prop it up a bit more. It doesn‘t make sense. The people enacting these laws are democratically elected. „Common sense“ in this case is not arbitrary. It is the culmination of the „common senses“ if all politicians that were elected by their citizens. This is not undemocratic, it is democracy in its purest form.

At some point in dire situations, as a government, you have to save your citizens from themselves.

That isn't direct democracy. That is a republican form of government. Whenever you have representatives instead of citizens governing themselves, you can have situations where the government saves the citizenry from themselves but also situations where the representatives exploit the government for themselves. Both cases have happened throughout history and are happening with the coronavirus.

In the US, Fauci was initially anti-mask to preserve supplies for health care officers. This theoretically saved citizenry from themselves but at the cost of long term trust in institutions.

Democrat led governments lengthened lockdowns for political gain. Republican led governments shortened lockdowns for political gain.

- Democrats point at the increased infection rates in Republican states as proof that lockdown measures are still necessary but ignore much lower death rates we are seeing.

- Republicans point to the economic devastation that lockdowns cause as cause to end lockdowns without proper planning to limit infection.

- Democrats push for very large stimulus over loosening lockdowns without discussing the long term costs of adding so much to the deficit and the long term costs to the economy.

- Democrats hoist blame at Trump but ignore how certain Democratic run states were some of the worst at initially handling the coronavirus.

- Trump overhypes the availability of vaccines and underplayed the virus.

Fair enough on most of those points, but I wouldn't blame democrats on the slow response. It just so happens that coastal urban centers are blue and were hit earlier and harder than anyone else.

The gravest political failures in regards to the pandemic have been the administration and a few of its most ardent political supporters. (Many republican governors have acted in good faith to protect their state). And that failure was not so much a failure to act soon enough, but a failure to listen to medical and scientific leadership and a propensity to meddle in the public health structure for political reasons.

I think both parties did that. The difference is mostly in the scale of their powers. The administration controlled the federal government and thus had both greater powers and a bigger microphone.

Governors controlled each state. You had Democratic governors and representatives acting just as badly. It is just that they had less scope to do damage. A governor can usually directly harm only their own state and not other states.

Some Republican governors opened lockdowns probably too quickly. Cuomo basically spread covid-19 into nursing homes by sending patients back into nursing homes. de Blasio resisted a NYC lockdown probably increasing its spread.

I would fault the administration on a lack of a coordinated response between the federal and state levels. I wonder if this was from a fear on being blamed for deaths and that they wanted to shift responsibility and blame onto states.

We live in a system with groups jockeying for political power. The groups continue to maintain power as long as they continue to convince enough of the populace to vote for them. They do this in various ways. One way is to form a coalition of subgroups and promising such subgroups favors. Another way is to convince the populace that they are all in it together. One favorite technique is to raise the spectre of an external enemy.

Some current enemies: China, global warming, coronavirus, immigrants, racism.

The longer you live, the more you see these techniques repeated over and over. The situations are rarely as the political parties make them out to be. The political parties mostly lie since entities that don't are disadvantaged at obtaining political power. People as a whole are too easy to manipulate so it is to your advantage to lie.

One thing to note is that the current situation is ripe for massive political power gains since so many things have been thrown into flux. That is why both sides are playing so hard right now. There is much power to be gained and that power will be locked in till the next big change.

When the vast majority of people agree that we should do something reasonable for the common good and you disagree loudly while flailing your arms about, then it doesn't make you a defender of liberty, it makes you an obnoxious moron.

Please don't take HN threads into flamewar. What a wretched subthread this spawned.



Note the words "reasonable", here meaning "proportionate". We're not advocating mob rule here. We're asking you to wear a mask, not to kill your first-born.

COVID restrictions are way more than just masks though. In many jurisdictions, we’re requiring small businesses to remain shuttered while their competitors are allowed to remain open.

A small toy shop is closed. Meanwhile, Target and Walmart are allowed to sell toys in-person (and Amazon online). What’s going to happen to that toy-shop owner 6 months from now after everyone has been trained to shop at their competitors, after they’ve missed a Christmas season, and after they’ve got 6 months of back rent due? The shadow of COVID restrictions don’t end the first day the government graciously allows them to open their doors.

Many of the “solutions” (send a little money and let them delay rent payments) are answers maybe more fit for W-2 employees but not for business owners.

Yes, I agree. Not all restrictions are agreed upon, and for those issues that are not easy to balance, great care has to be taken.

This is exactly the situation Manchester is in right now. The UK government has put it into a higher level of lockdown this week, but without the same type of financial support from the previous lockdown. The local government has been fighting this tooth-and-nail, with good reason.

I'm talking about the "my rights" crowd and generally these issues don't overlap with those.

Just wear a mask, eh? Tell that to the entire cinema industry. Tell that to the 89% of the hospitality industry in NYC that can’t pay rent.

Mask mandates are actually the least authoritarian and least enforced thing the US has done. We’re limiting actual constitutional rights, selectively, to stop the spread of covid. Despite the fact that we effectively flattened the curve months ago.

I was in the middle of treatments when lock downs started. Then I lost Access to all my doctors. Thankfully things worked out eventually, but had some bad scares.

So yea, Lockdowns put me personally at risk. And since I have young daughters that puts them at risk for being homeless.


That is not what religious people believe.

And there has been far more genocide that is secular-based

It funny you mentioned this because the "science and data" overwhelmingly supports wearing a mask to cut transmission, which is also a major factor in why a overwhelming majority of people support wearing one.









Who would have guessed that most people are reasonable and take heed of doctors and scientists?

Why have democracy at all if you don't believe our collective ability to make good choices most of the time?

What's telling is that in your original post, you stated: > Why did it take months for the government to be recommending face masks?"

But all of these links you posted are dated after the April 3 recommendation by the CDC for the public to wear masks. https://www.livescience.com/cdc-recommends-face-masks-corona...

"Based on the best evidence available at the time, it was not deemed that that would have a significant impact on whether or not a healthy person wearing a mask would contract COVID-19," Adams said."

There's not a single western industrialized nation or state that can be pointed to now as a mask success story. There were a few countries in eastern europe (specifically czechia) that were heralded as a primary reason for controlling covid in the spring.

We now know that this apparent good result was not because of masks, but because of geography. Czechia is ranked #1 in the world in cases / million in the last week and #3 in deaths / million (and its numbers are still climbing). Every single eastern european nation had low cases/deaths in the spring and now all of them are having their first large surge.

It's abundantly clear that cloth masks, as a whole, do not play a major role in how the virus spreads in a country.

Thank you for this. I knew 93% of Americans support masks and we're about to enter a third wave in America.

I didn't realize masks were that ineffective in other countries as well.


Opinion pieces? The first link is a study that measured the amount of droplets that each mask type blocks using optical equipment.


If you actually looked at each of the other links, you'd noticed that they were all valid.

I just picked the first one as an example of how seriously we should take your words at.

Now you start going on a tangent with meta-analysis of statistical data, comparing Sweden with America with no appreciation of the difference in the culture, lifestyle and handling of the coronavirus and then attribute their relatively good performance just to the lack of a mask mandate?

Give me a break, man.

You are going to have to go way back in the medical literature to find many peer reviewed studies on masks.

For the same reason it might be hard to find recent studies proving that blood letting is not efficacious.

It's basic physics and statistics. A germ of a certain size can only fit through a certain size whole. Masks of any type will reduce the number of particles and thus reduce your chances of contracting. Same goes for your statistical likely hood of spreading to others.

Like I just said it's clear that masks stop particles. That part is obvious.

What's not clear is if applying a plague vector directly on your face with a virus that remains active on surfaces for days is efficacious.

Is it efficacious at the community level?

It's basic epidemiology. You could be more pro-science and consider these things.

Here's a study from the original SARS epidemic showing that people who had known contact with infected people there was a 70% lower chance of infection when they wore masks[1]. At this point, arguing that masks don't work is absolutely taking the piss -- you only need to look at countries like Japan (which made the political decision to not do widespread lockdowns unlike many other countries in Asia) to see that widespread mask usage clearly works.

> Supporting the validity of this finding, there was a dose-response effect: by multivariable analysis, persons who always wore masks had a 70% lower risk of being diagnosed with clinical SARS compared with those who never wore masks, and persons with intermittent mask use had a 60% lower risk. Many persons who wore masks in the community did not use N-95 or similar highly efficient filtration devices, which have been recommended for use in the hospital setting.

[1]: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3322931/

Did you read that study? Or did you just read the first paragraph summary? I'm seriously asking. Because if you read that study...which is a SURVEY of 100 or so people.. you would clearly not be using that as your bulletproof evidence that masks work.

Did you just read the title?

"""At this point, arguing that masks don't work is absolutely taking the piss""'

Fanatical beliefs with no evidence?

Is Corona a cult?

I look at countries like Sweden and Norway and know that masks mandates don't work.

The idea that there's some set of coordinated post-lockdown measures that will prevent the need for further lockdowns strikes me as unrealistic. Every country I'm familiar with that attempted to control the pandemic with lockdowns has had to reimpose them at least once.

There are also varying degrees of lockdowns that can be effected depending on the situation. My point being that lockdown is a last-resort blunt tool used to prevent an explosion of cases overwhelming health care capacity, it's not something that people inherently support indefinitely. We don't cream our pants thinking about how great a world under lockdown is.

I don't agree. It seems to me that many people will support it indefinitely - not out of excitement, certainly, but out of a feeling that we've just gotta do it if the government says it's the only option. Some parts of Australia have been locked down basically since the pandemic started.

> government says it's the only option.

Over here in the UK, the government was dragged into this with their feet kicking. The fact that we were slow to act to stem the initial explosion of cases is the reason why a longer and more drastic lockdown was needed according to the modelling and borne out by data subsequently.

Three weeks ago the UK government was warned to start re-imposing measures to stem the second wave. The government ignored this, and now this week they are again forced screaming and kicking into a new lockdown regime as COVID hospital admissions start rising to levels last seen in March.

Right, and it's this idea of "forced" that concerns me. Every country that imposes lockdowns on the premise that they were forced, that they didn't have a choice, they just had to stop the disease from spreading. But very few countries have indicated they have a plan for how to permanently stop the disease from spreading - in most countries, experts believe that there is no workable plan and the disease will spread for decades at least. So how can we be confident that lockdowns won't continue for a few years until they just become the status quo?

Let's for a minute live in this world where mandating masks, social distancing, and business closures is not allowed because it's authoritarian and violates people's freedom. So what happens when the hypothetical COVID-2 comes around in a few years, which is 20x deadlier than this pandemic and kills people uniformly across age groups. What do we do?

Do we just have to die, because heaven forbid we infringe on people's rights to go out to restaurants and buy their khakis? We can't make people wear masks, and we can't make them stay home? So everyone just gets the disease and a big proportion of the world just dies. This is what people want??

Honestly, I think we are lucky this one didn't turn out to be as deadly as it could have been. COVID should be a wake-up call, and it should cause us to come up with an actual pandemic plan--so that when a more deadly one comes, we can shut up and save lives rather than argue about whether someone has a constitutional right to get their nails done without wearing a mask.

A hypothetical Covid-2 which is 20x deadlier than this pandemic and kills across all age groups would be a really good candidate to contain via contact tracing well before it reached the point where we needed mass lockdowns - assuming that Covid-19 hasn't totally destroyed trust in the scientific and medical establishments by that point. Remember, 20x deadlier means a lot more people showing up in hospitals, which means a much higher proportion of cases can be detected early on in the pandemic without needing mass testing. Covid-19's fatality rate is probably close to optimal for causing the most damage overall.

> But very few countries have indicated they have a plan for how to permanently stop the disease from spreading

What do you even mean by this? Ever since eradication failed, the plan in every country has been mass vaccination.

Mass vaccination isn't expected to stop the disease from spreading. I know some regions have made plans under the assumption that vaccines will eradicate the virus, but no experts that I'm aware of think that's likely. (Other countries have said that they're just going to be okay with whatever level of disease burden exists after a vaccine, which I think is a defensible plan.)

>People aren't asking for authoritarian restrictions. People have been asking for common-sense coordinated and effective measures that we can all rally around (like wearing masks).

Whether you agree with it or not, how would a mask mandate not be an authoritarian restriction?

I can think of a few reasons:

- 75% of Americans (incl. a majority of republicans) support mask mandates. (The US isn’t a direct democracy, but mask mandates have the green light from the general public). [https://apnews.com/article/ap-top-news-understanding-the-out...]

- One of the main functions of any government is to mitigate the harm that people do to one another. This is the main thing that distinguishes it from anarchy. Not wearing a mask in crowded places (in expectation) causes harm to others. Obviously there is a cost/benefit involved, so welding people into their homes is too extreme.

- There is effectively zero enforcement of these mandates. I’ve never seen cops or workers enforce these rules. On the other hand, if I walked into a grocery store without pants on, I’d bet my ass that I’d get swiftly carted off to the loony bin.

- Authoritarianism can be supported by majority, and that first point is essentially argumentum ad populum. The US isn't a direct democracy for good reason, as that is essentially mob/majority rule, and erodes the rights of individuals.

- If we're referring to the US, it really doesn't matter what the functions of other governments may be. The founding fathers clearly defined the responsibilities of the federal goverment, and it isn't their job to protect you from any sort of harm. I don't see how that would line up with anything in the enumerated powers. Ignoring the US, the act is still authoritarian whether you agree with it or not, as it's an order from the top down which limits individual freedom. Again, whether people agree with it or not is a moot point.

- Your point here is anecdotal, and I don't think selective enforcement of the law is nessecarily a good thing. If it's not enforced at all, why make it a mandate and not a recommendation? Also the enforcement or lack thereof of a law/order has nothing to do with the authoritatian nature of it.

While these points you're making may be reasons you think it's a good idea, I don't think you've made a case that it wouldn't be authoritarian. I'm not even saying that inherently makes the idea bad, but you should call it what it is.

To be clear, I'm not against wearing masks. I've had N95s since before this pandemic and wear them whenever I go out in public, moreso to help proyrct others than myself. I am however very weary of granting the goverment authority like that and setting precedent during a national crisis that would erode our liberties long after the fact, like the patriot act.

You’re right that majority rule is not sufficient by itself, but public opinion should be given at least some weight in a representative democracy.

The US Constitution grants states the right to enact laws that protect the general welfare, and of course gives courts the authority to interpret the law. More specifically regarding public health, the 1905 Supreme Court case Jacobson vs. Massachusetts upheld the power of states to enforce mandatory vaccination laws (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobson_v._Massachusetts):

> ”real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others”

In general, John Stuart Mill’s harm principle is “far and away the best known proposal for a principled limit to the law” (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/law-limits/#cand), and it is a core tenet of liberalism. The famous bit is:

> ”That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

This principle is echoed in the party platform of the US Libertarian Party:

> ”Criminal laws should be limited in their application to violations of the rights of others through force or fraud, or to deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm.”

So if masks only protected the wearer, then a case could be made that mask laws are in violation of this principle. But because masks help limit the spread of a (frequently asymptomatic) disease from myself to others, it’s reasonable that states can require me to wear one in situations where it protects others.

As for the enforcement question, I’d draw a comparison to speed limits. These laws tend to be loosely enforced, yet they guide the general expectations/behavior of drivers. In practice, enforcement is reserved for repeat and extreme offenders. Partial enforcement can induce optimal behavior in an economic/game theoretic sense (if probability of being caught * cost of being caught - cost of following the law > 0, then compliance is optimal). Since the “cost” of wearing a mask is negligible (everyone has one already since you can use any face covering, and the only cost is minor inconvenience or embarrassment), enforcement does not have to be very consistent to induce compliance. That said, uneven enforcement of laws is clearly a major problem in our society (that disproportionately affects minorities).

For mask laws, I also think it gives air cover to both business and individuals. You’ll notice businesses pointing to mask ordinances (“welp, thems the rules” etc.) on their signage and such. Then, enough people comply such that it becomes socially enforced—people generally don’t like to be the odd one out. But in practice, I think you can go virtually anywhere in America right now without a mask and the worst thing that is likely to happen is that someone will politely ask you to wear one and come back.

So if you are not anti-mask but are concerned about genuinely authoritarian action, there are current examples to denounced (e.g. stoking political violence against opposing politicians [see Gov. Whitmer], undermining election integrity, state-sponsored misinformation).

The US Constitution grants states the right to enact laws that protect the general welfare

The writers of the constitution have explicitly said in the Federalist papers that the "general welfare" phrase is not meant to imply anything beyond the enumerated powers listed afterwards. That the courts interpret it the way you say they do is just an example how the Constitution became just a parchment which is taken to mean whatever is convenient at any particular moment.


Sure, let’s talk about the science supporting mask wearing. Read these and come back with a good faith argument:




[Edit: removed “#ref-CR4” from end of first link]

I get you're responding to the other guy there saying we should look at science instead of popularity, but both are invalid if we're talking about responsibility of goverment.

There's plenty of scientific evidence that sugar, alcohol, and tobacco are all horrible for you. Scientifically, it might make sense to ban those things health wise, but that's not the role of government, and would be authoritarian rules that limit freedom for "safety".

"Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

See my reply above. Here’s an expanded quote of the harm principle by JSM (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harm_principle):

> “He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right... The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute.

In accordance with this principle, I believe in the sacred right for an individual to smoke/chew/snort/whatever tobacco and chug high fructose corn syrup to their heart’s content (or more accurately, until their heart fails). But you don’t have the right to expose others to second-hand tobacco smoke (a new development in my lifetime!), since abundant scientific evidence says that this harms others. You can drink yourself into a coma, but you can’t get blitzed and operate a vehicle even if you insist that you’re safe driving under the influence.

This has been a fundamental organizing principle of society since at least the Code of Hammurabi.

Your argument is the worst possible faith argument but I'll bite and let you waste some of my time with your non scientific citations.

Now here's how misguided you are:

Literally from the first article you posted: (which was a fricking opinion piece!)

“"""If you look at any one paper — it’s not a slam dunk. But, taken all together, I’m convinced that they are working,” says Grabowski.""""

"It's not a slam dunk"

Anecdotal beliefs from a random person named Grabonski in an opinion piece article is not science. And this is your 'good faith' argument?

I didn't even read the rest of the links you posted because they're going to say the same thing: that mask effectiveness is inconclusive.

From the world health organization:

"""" At the present time, the widespread use of masks by healthy people in the community setting is not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence and there are potential benefits and harms to consider."""

Not yet supported by high quality or direct scientific evidence....

It's the world health organization saying that...

It's clear masks stop droplets but maybe at a community level continually putting a plague vector directly on your respiratory system for a virus that stays on surfaces for days is not a good idea...

Additionally Sweden has had no mask mandate and Norway has had no mask mandate and they both have the infection under control they both have less deaths per capita than the United States.

Yet you ignore all of this data that counters your narrative.

Because the Corona cult... was wrong about lockdowns and are wrong about masks...and are trying desperately to justify their mistakes so they don't feel bad for putting 40 million people out of work and crushing people's lives for a year.

Your thinking is as bad faith as it gets and I really hope the Corona cult gets the karma that's coming to it at some point.

Your arrogant ignorance is hurting a lot of people unnecessarily.

The second link I posted was co-authored by the director of the CDC. The others are reviews of current evidence that are readable and reputable. There are abundant studies on this subject.

Here is what the WHO actually has to say about masks (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2...):

> “ Masks are a key measure to suppress transmission and save lives. Masks reduce potential exposure risk from an infected person whether they have symptoms or not. People wearing masks are protected from getting infected. Masks also prevent onward transmission when worn by a person who is infected.”

> ” Within wider environments where the virus is spreading, masks should be worn by the general public in settings where it is not possible to maintain at least 1 meter from others. Examples of these settings include indoor locations that are crowded and have poor ventilation, public transport and places of high population density – among others.”

Also, masks are not “plague vectors”. Best practice (from WHO) is to clean the mask daily:

> ” If your fabric mask is not dirty or wet and you plan to reuse it, put it in a clean plastic, resealable bag. If you need to use it again, hold the mask at the elastic loops when removing it from the bag. Clean your mask once a day.”

Your rant is not really worth addressing further. Find a better way to spend your time than spreading obvious misinformation.

Are all legal restrictions on what clothes you should wear in public authoritarian to you? Many of them exist to make sure you don't die (eg. food prep/serving sanitation, medical practice) of preventable causes.

If "authoritarian" includes every rule that affects how we interact with each other in public you've pretty much gone into nihilistic territory it seems to me.

A significant political contingent does indeed object to any and all rules. They call themselves nice words like "libertarian" and "small government", but the basic ideology is really just anarchy.

Is a prohibition of setting your neighbours house on fire an authoritarian restriction?

How about a mandate to clear the pavement/sidewalk in front of your house of snow so that pedestrians don't fall and break their hip?

Having laws doesn't mean you're being oppressed.

Except, by definition, you are. We, as a society, have determined that certain freedoms are given up for certain benefits. Is it age discrimination to prevent having a driver’s license before age 16? Yup! Is a freedom taken from you by having a law preventing arson? Yep, and we mostly all agree that is good.

The important part of a new rule or law is that we accept the trade offs. I’m not convinced we’ve reached consensus that we all need to be wearing masks but most are obliging.

> The important part of a new rule or law is that we accept the trade offs. I’m not convinced we’ve reached consensus that we all need to be wearing masks but most are obliging.

The key factor here is that there are very good and obvious reasons to wear a mask, while the trade-off is a minor inconvenience. It's arguably less effort than shovelling snow from the front of your house.

If the vast majority of us are obliging due to the hope that it has an effect, with little to no negative effects, why are people making this a hill they want to die on? Worse still, why are people making this a hill for others to die on?

Are you suggesting that any government rules on the individual are authoritarian? I think most would disagree with that.

Well. The definition of authoritarian includes the following:

> favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

Is that not the definition? Government authority over individual freedom. Am I missing something?

No, you don't have the freedom to destroy someone else's property.

I get the point of view that "you don't have the freedom to infect others", but where do you logically draw the line with something like that? Why weren't we already required to wear biohazard suits in public? Humans have been spreading disease as long as we've been around.

Your reasoning is so blunt, saying that just become some laws are justified, all laws are justified. Should you not have the privilege to drive, because every time you do you risk your life and others?

I'm only being blunt because I was responding to a blunt assertion.

The fact of the matter is that the temporary restrictions for the purpose of public health are mild inconveniences. Those measure are, by and large, reasonable and proportionate. It's the pushback that isn't.

You're confusing a mild inconvenience for oppressing your freedoms.

You're confusing the ease of compliance with the nature of the order itself.

As an example, banning certain words could be considered a "mild inconvenience", but it's clearly a violation of the first amendment.

Border patrol and other police checkpoints, are a "mild inconvenience". They may very well help catch more criminals, but police need to have probable cause and can't just go on fishing expeditions.

As far as a _federal_ mask mandate, it's clearly not within the enumerated powers. I think you could potentially make an argument for state/local mask mandates when it comes to _public_ areas, given that all powers not granted to the federal goverment are reserved for the states and the people. I would still probably consider that authoritarian in nature.

That's just for masks as well. As far as locking down or limiting size of gatherings, while it may be a very good idea to do something like that during a pandemic, Imo it wouldn't be constitutional, as the freedom of assembly is explicitly protected in the first amendment.

Freedom can be dangerous, but I prefer it to the alternative.

You should see the Netherlands, plenty of people are calling for the military to violently enforce their favorite rules, and getting cheered on by others.

It’s truly insane, disappointing and scary.

> we have no choice but to shut things

Genuinely curious; where is the evidence and statistical analysis that shows the variance of infection rates across the world can be explained solely (or overwhelmingly, as you suggest) by lockdowns?

Where do you think starfallg's comment makes that claim, especially considering the section you quoted?

> we have no choice but to shut things

We have always had a spectrum of choices, and as time goes by we continue to develop new choices that will deliver better results at lower costs.

Broad shutdowns have always been the bluntest possible instrument with the highest amount of collateral damage. This is why even the WHO is inveighing against shutdowns now, noting the increases in cancers left untreated, vaccines not administered, the long-term damage from service cuts when government budgets must pay the deficit, and a massive spike in worldwide poverty. It is cataclysmic, and the worst impacts are in the global south, particularly around education; previous coverage in the Economist has noted that in some places girls are being pulled out of school entirely, and married off at a young age.

At some point, the cure is worse than the disease. We must acknowledge this, proactively declare that there is a choice, and countenance trade-offs which let allow the virus to kill more people — because if we don't, we're certainly going to ruin lives and kill people in other ways. And while it's one thing to make a "Hail Mary" pass attempt and set new world records in vaccine development, the fact remains that if we do not see our miracle then the virus remains likely to kill plenty of the people we "save" in the end anyway.

The type of lockdowns we are seeing now (closure of nightlife and large events) is markedly different than before.

And those drastic measures from back in March and April were only because, at the time, hospital ICUs were being overwhelmed and doctors were dying of complication from SARS-COV-2. I don't think anybody is arguing for us to go back to that type of measure.

Common sense, coordinated, and effective.

And what if I don’t want to do what your common sense suggestions say I should? Or I disagree with you in regard to what is common sense.

Now we are at the fundamental issue.

Regarding masks in the UK, the evidence for their effectiveness is still up in the air. I think the UK gov didn't want to confuse the messages that were already numerous. I think they gave up on that idea when all the other countries went with the masks.

What a totally disingenuous comment your own links acknowledge the nuances about differences in effectiveness between the types of masks and how you wear them.

To breakdown each of your sources.

1. It specifically notes the cloths masks are less effective and the cloth masks they tested were double layered and made from a water resistant material. It also discusses the need to wash them daily and not to take them off in a given sitting.

Where ever I am I seeing people violating these guidelines. Whether its grocery store workers pulling them down to catch a breath or people at restaurants taking them off and on to eat. Also I see tons of people wearing single layered non-water resistant fabrics. And how often are we all washing them? Probably not a lot.

2 & 4: Both focus on looking at observational data comparing places where masks wearing is prevalent versus places where it is not. It even looks at the same places after switching policies. But these are obviously confounded by a whole bunch of other factors. Maybe places that wear masks are better about physical distancing and washing their hands. I find it difficult to take much from this kind of evidence, but I understand why someone else would.

3. Similar to (1), but even harsher on cloth masks. Specifically notes the effectiveness of respirators, says medical masks were not effective and cloths masks were less effective (I don't know how you can be less effective than not effective). Here is the actual line.

"Randomised controlled trials in health care workers showed that respirators, if worn continually during a shift, were effective but not if worn intermittently. Medical masks were not effective, and cloth masks even less effective. When used by sick patients randomized controlled trials suggested protection of well contacts."

This is in no way equivalent to the arguments for climate change. And frankly thank god you aren't a public health expert because by comparing the two publicly you would be doing damage to the environmental movement.

Instead of just trying to make someone look dumb on internet why don't you actually engage in a good-faith argument that acknowledges the very real nuances.

Your comment is a textbook example of moving the goalposts and muddying the waters.

No-one is arguing that cloth masks are better than surgical masks. Much of the effort in those studies was focused on how to protect staff in a clinical setting. No-one is recommending cloth masks for health-care workers.

However, the overwhelming conclusion from those studies is that that wearing cloth masks in almost all cases (one exception is fleece material) help. Thus cloth masks are recommended in non-clinical settings.

For example, take a look at this paper measuring droplet transmission through different types of masks (compared with none at all).


I would argue it’s coming from the system. The national two party first-past-the-post system naturally leads to hyper-partisanship and constantly escalating stakes, meanwhile fewer and fewer Americans truly feel represented by the choices they have on offer - and very large numbers of people have their vote effectively ignored because their voting precinct is gerrymandered to ensure stable one-party rule.

Because the system is broken, people are angry and want to tear down the system and replace it with something else. Unfortunately, history says that authoritarianism is a popular response to broken systems, and that it doesn’t end well. If we don’t want to go down that path we need to quit blaming individuals and get very serious about fixing the system: we need proportional representative multi-party democracy, like almost every other western democracy.

For citations and a deep discussion on this, see: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/44244963-breaking-the...

I’m with you. I have voted for an Nth party every presidential election since I was 18. Every single time I was told that I was throwing my vote away or voting for one of the major party villains. Every single time, I was told that this was the most important election of my lifetime, and just this once, I needed to bite the bullet and vote for a major party.

Not doing it.

That entire narrative needs to change.

> Every single time I was told that I was throwing my vote away or voting for one of the major party villains.

The refrain essentially is that you must vote for the candidate we say is most likely to win and if you don't, then you're helping the next runner up.

I believe that if we no longer reported polling results and had election results reported at the same time, then the problem I describe above would be significantly reduced.

The fact that primaries are not held at the same time leads the results of earlier primaries influencing the results of later ones. The fact that election results from the eastern part of the country are reported while the western part is still voting influences the results.

Reduced? Probably. Meaningfully? I don't think so. It's baked in to the system: if your equivalent (nth party voter) on the other side of the political spectrum switches their vote to the mainstream party and you don't, then the mainstream party you're more aligned with is disadvantaged. There's nothing subjective here; it's just how the system works.

We desperately need a voting system that allows you to express your preferences honestly, and ideally across all candidates, without hurting the outcome. By far, score voting systems are the best at that. Of those, I recommend STAR voting (Score Then Automatic Runoff), because it has some actual momentum[1] (it also has some theoretical advantages, but both it and vanilla score voting, and even Ranked Choice with a Borda count, are such a massive improvement over the status quo that it doesn't matter which we pick).

[1]: https://www.starvoting.us/ -- no affiliation, just convinced by the research (edit: which you can mostly find linked from https://www.equal.vote/)

Agreed that we need voting reform in the US, badly.

It's also unlikely to ever happen, because the only ones with the power to do it are the ones that would be displaced.

Thanks for sharing STAR, I hadn’t seen it before. How does that interact with proportional representation?

We need ranked choice voting nationwide.

So just set aside freedom of the press? You've stated a goal of suppressing polling; what's the legal mechanism you use to do it?

I think it's funny to see people dismiss those who want to "tear down the system and replace it" as something untenable and hard to achieve, then go on to propose proportional representation.

How do you see any sort of path forward for proportional representation being adopted as an amendment to the constitution? I see no path towards 2/3 majority voting for that.

Actually it doesn’t strictly need a constitutional amendment for the president to be elected differently, as every state is allowed to decide how it appoints its electors. Maine and Nebraska come closer to proportional now simply by allocating their electors individually. Any state could choose to go one step farther and allocate its electors by proportional representation.

However, there is only one president, so for this to really matter it needs to happen in Congress, which would require an amendment. The rationale that it could happen is simply that it has happened before: women’s suffrage, the direct election of senators, and the conversion from multi-member districts to single member districts, are all examples of major reform in the US process that were all “impossible” until they happened.

> it doesn’t strictly need a constitutional amendment for the president to be elected differently

Yeah, I assumed we were talking about the Senate - which would require huge, fundamental changes in order to be made proportional.

With the exception of suffrage, I would argue that that is a bigger change than any of the others you mentioned. It would require precisely the people most hurt by the change (small states) to vote for substantially decreasing their voter power.

I'm not claiming it's impossible, but I think it is silly to dismiss calls for more radical action in favor of a constitutional amendment with no path to get there.

Enforcing restrictions for closed spaces or making people wear a mask is not corrosion of democracy. If you think that making you wear a mask attacks your freedom you are a moron.

Corrosion of democracy is when these rules are used selectively and for political reasons.

So I think you comparison to Sweden in a bit unfortunate.

Also the virus was not the reason for the corrosion of the democracy where it happened, it was the good excuse. The problem is far deeper.

Banning people from traveling, meeting each other, and working to earn a living and support themselves, are very much erosions of liberty, and people have been seriously impacted (particularly the poor). You are right, however, that they are not directly erosions of democracy.

However, there are plenty of direct erosions of democracy, even here in the United States. Our democracy in the US is applied through the rule of law, and many mandates have been issued in a manner inconsistent with the law: arbitrary, capricious use of power not authorized by the law. This is why, for instance, a court struck down Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer's extended use of emergency powers.

The court didn't find that Whitmer acted arbitrarily or capriciously, they simply ruled that she lacked the authority for the actions she took.

(for instance, the first finding speaks of the initial 28 day declaration being within the authority of the governor)


I'm being pedantic, but you are implying a narrative that doesn't exist.

> The court didn't find that Whitmer acted arbitrarily or capriciously, they simply ruled that she lacked the authority for the actions she took.

Specifically, it found that that emergency powers act under which she acted was an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority; the fundamental error the Court found was by the legislature, in not crafting an emergency powers law with sufficiently defined boundaries (or, alternatively, by not availing itself of the process to amend the Constitution to create broad emergency powers.)

There have been many suits about many measures in the US. My selection of Whitmer was meant as a single illustrative example, and not necessarily meant to embody all possible civic vices; if you simply wish to clarify that Whitmer was not ruled "arbitrary and capricious" then that clarification provides people with additional factual information which is well and good.

On the other hand, you can go next door to Ohio and find a ruling using that language in Rock House Fitness et al v. Amy Acton and Lake County General Health District. I decline to enumerate further suits at this time; I need to stop somewhere or I'll be here all day and it won't do anyone any good.

> Corrosion of democracy is when these rules are used selectively and for political reasons.

Interesting. You see, in the UK there is a large difference between the government guidance on mask wearing (taken to be rules by many), and what the law says. And yet, the police routinely arrest people not for breaking the law, but for ignoring what is in essence the preferences of a few ministers in government. This is the very definition of a police state: enforcing 'rules' without legal authority.

> Enforcing restrictions for closed spaces or making people wear a mask is not corrosion of democracy.

You’re really understating what has happened and what is going on.

> Corrosion of democracy is when these rules are used selectively and for political reasons.

When Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo limit church gatherings, but not protests, what would you call that?

If you don’t think the rules are being unevenly enforced, and for political reasons, then you aren’t paying attention.

And if you don’t think it is the people who are calling for this uneven enforcement, you’re paying even less attention.

But it’s not the virus that caused the corrosion and the corrosion will not go away if you stop following the rules to help stop the spreading. That’s all I am saying.

As an outsider I do agree with you that democracy in US is going through a small crisis t he last few years, and in my opinion both parties are responsible for that by encouraging hate and trying to polarize people. And both parties are playing games with COVID rules which is a shame.

However by being a mask denier you don’t help fight the corrosion, you just become a pawn in their game.

> The article makes it sound as if the erosion of democracy is coming from the top. In the USA, it’s coming from the bottom. It’s coming from everyday citizens.

Is that not democracy, then?

I would say that, at least in current US politics, it's more like a tyranny of the minority, abusing the system to increase the relative disparity of power.

Sure, tyranny of the minority is one of the reasons to be cautious about listening to loud voices and saying "Well, it's democracy, what can you do?" - you want to make sure the mechanisms you've chosen for implementing democracy actually do represent the will of all the people.

However, the loudest voices against lockdowns, masks, and other measures in the US seem to be associated with the minority-but-ruling party in this country.

It is true that the US is a federation of states, and it's a majority party in several states. In those ones, sure, I agree that a respect for the principles of democracy means that the people could choose differently. But if you've come to the point of arguing, "The real problem here is that anti-democratic policy X is being enacted with the support of the people," it's worth taking a moment to ask if policy X actually is democratic, and if saying "We should avoid policy X even if the people support it" is the actual tyranny of the minority.

Whatever anyone else says here, you're on the money. In the UK we overreact to almost any issue and no longer just in the red top newspapers, but also on radio and TV. It's been like this for decades and it's messed up.

This is basically impossible to parse out because HN is global, includes people from countries with various levels of trust and cultural acceptance for intrusive public health mandates.

If you look locally, where we’re at least disagreeing about the same things, I saw a lot of anxiety and a fierce debate about what measures were appropriate, but it was a lot more around whether it was premature to open indoor dining.

Nobody is rooting for the virus.

>In this forum, right here on HN, people routinely espouse desire for more authoritarian restrictions.

Wait til you start to pick up on the undercurrent of jealousy and resentment this board accrued from hearing about successful startups.

I agree with you completely. I get regularly downvoted here for promoting free speech and denouncing all forms of web censorship.

Websites and their obscure “Terms of Service” and “Community Guidelines” are eroding those rights and should be fully compliant with the first amendment if operating in the United States, similar to how websites operating in the EU must comply with the GDPR.

I forgot how the United States is just about the only country with virtually unlimited free speech, so the downvotes must come from a place of envy.

Edit: Downvotes have proven my point :-)

> Websites and their obscure “Terms of Service” and “Community Guidelines” are eroding those rights and should be fully compliant with the first amendment

This makes me think you misunderstand the first amendment. It concerns freedom of expression from government interference. Free amplification on private platforms is not covered.

Yeah, that’s the common interpretation.

If we need an amendment to extend that to all entities and forums, public and private, then I’m all for it.

I'm not sure a Supreme Court ruling that I'm prohibited from deleting blog comments actually represents an extension of my freedoms...

> that's the common interpretation

Hardly an interpretation, it's stated in black and white :

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Just because the amendment explicitly addresses the government, doesn’t mean that non-governmental entities shouldn’t respect the vision of the amendment. Not everything in this world needs to be driven by legal compulsion.

What we really need is an honor code, or something even simpler: mutual respect for other people’s thoughts and opinions.

> Just because the amendment explicitly addresses the government, doesn’t mean that non-governmental entities shouldn’t respect the vision of the amendment

The vision of the amendment is the government getting out of the way so that progress can be made by the vigorous use of choice of what ideas to publish and distribute by private entities. Private entities promoting the ideas they like and not doing so with those they dislike with all their resource are the purest embodiment of that vision.

It’s trivially easy for any non-government website to be fully compliant with the First Amendment for there is no obligation to grant someone a part of your platform or other property to enable them to speak.

I can see why politics is somewhat discouraged here, it seems like it always brings out the worst possible takes.

==People gleefully discuss Sweden and almost openly hope that their lockdown-free plan fails.==

What I see is the opposite, lots of people who want to copy Sweden’s plan regardless of the toll it took on human life. Others want to put mask orders in place to protect more people.

Meanwhile, we have unmarked federal agents roaming cities, a President who fires Inspector Generals and ignores subpoenas without punishment, and a sitting Senator calling for “no quarter” for protestors. Those are all pretty authoritarian moves and they come straight from the top. If you think “everyday citizens” are the authoritarian threat, your risk analysis might be off.

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