But watching the US and Canada (one more so than the other) screw up the basics of this, leading to unnecessary death, suffering, and economic losses is enough to drive anyone mad. My Canadian friends are in a righteous uproar as they have noticed governments being far more concerned about opening bars and restaurants than having good plans for the fall's K-12 educational system. Lauren Dobson-Hughes wrote about education as a human right, and my other friends have made it plainly clear that a 1-2 day a week in class kind of plan will mean that the only economy will not return, that women will drop out of the job market, and that kids will be left behind. Sure, it is hard to get this right with much conflicting information about the transmission rates of kids, but Lauren is right that the governments of Canada--local, provincial, federal--have not been treating this as the priority it should be. If only for the sake of the economy, this should be one of the top priorities. People can't work if their kids are not at school--it is that simple. I can see my friends who have kids at home age rapidly as this is causing an incredible amount of stress--the combo of parenting, home-schooling, and working simultaneously. This week it seemed all to come together perhaps because of the plans being rolled out. My American friends are having similar experiences.
Update: here's some more evidence of the desperation parents are feeling:
Ottawa’s English public school board sent a survey to parents yesterday about a return to school in the fall, and they made other respondents’ comments visible at the end for up-voting. I’ve never seen survey responses like this, there is so much visible desperation. pic.twitter.com/5DsonjfV5V— Shannon Proudfoot (@sproudfoot) July 4, 2020
In the US more so than in Canada, the higher ed plans are also getting much heat. The NYT had a piece about profs resisting the plans, and, of course, they fucked up the headline and picture and highlighted a very abnormal prof. However, the gist of the story was right--profs are concerned that the desperate effort to keep tuition coming in will lead to wishful (or magical) thinking and plans that will have to be revised mid-semester. I wrote that there really is only one way to go.
Of course, that pales in comparison to what is happening in the US more broadly. The rate of transmission, of infections, of ICU beds being filled are all going up and up. While a bit of this is the inevitable ups and downs of reactions to a pandemic (see California getting hit hard after opening up a bit), much of it is bad leadership and bad governance. It is no accident that the states led by governors who were more concerned with kissing Trump's ass than the health of their constituents--Georgia, Texas, Arizona--are having severe outbreaks. It is incredibly frustrating because these states had some time to get things right. Just as the US reacted too slowly to events in Italy and China, these states could watch what was happening to NYC and Seattle, and they could have acted to prevent much of this. Instead, they denied that they had to do much, and now they are panicking, making masks mandatory way too late and reversing some of the decisions to open things up.
Oh, and the Supreme Court continues to rule that states don't have to change voting procedures just because of a little pandemic. FFS.
Of course, much of the blame does deservedly go to Trump. At every stage, he has chosen to do the wrong thing. There are two bits of news this week that just break everything: the US buying the world's supply of a key medicine that has had some success at treating COVID 19 and then this:
Yeah, the message is one of surrender. There is still plenty the government can do, but Trump's people are basically telling the American people to lie back and think of England. You get my drift.NEW: 'We need to live with it': White House readies new message for the nation on coronavirus https://t.co/KsVb76v1cd— Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) July 3, 2020
Of course, this is a move of desperation as the pandemic escalates and the polls dive. Given that the US is alone among the advanced democracies in having an escalating first wave, it is clear where the responsibility lies.
We are not broken, not by a longshot, but it does feel as everything around us is breaking. On this, one of the worst Independence Days in American history, we can hold onto the fact that the US got through the other ones, including the first which took place amid more than a few major defeats, the one four score and seven years later with the country at war with itself, and so on. The only way out is through. Connect to friends and family as it helps a great deal, preventing or at least slowing my descent into madness. Well, that and stress-baking and stress-eating. So, continue to stay at home if you can, wash your hands, and, yes, wear a mask.