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Epitaph for America: “I’ll Do What I Want”

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Katie Williams is a candidate for the Clark County School District Board of Trustees, if you want to throw a dollar at her Democratic opponent.

The COVID-19 crisis is a classic collective action problem. Stopping it from overwhelming the nation’s health care system so that it causes hundreds of thousands or even millions of preventable deaths requires people to act as if society actually exists, and to recognize that the fact that they themselves may face a relatively low mortality risk is irrelevant to the much higher risk faced by the tens of millions of their fellow Americans.

And it requires people to act that way now, not when the system has already been overwhelmed. Expecting Americans in general, and Republicans in particular, to voluntarily engage in the kind of of behavior that’s necessary is extremely unrealistic.

We need a East Asian/Italian/Spanish/French style national lockdown and we need it now. I hope that Biden and Sanders can use their “debate” tonight to highlight the catastrophic failure of the Trump administration on this issue in particular, rather than arguing about the details of massive health care reform plans that have zero chance of being enacted any time soon in this third world country with nukes. (If Bernie refuses to drop out after he’s 400 delegates behind on Wednesday there’s going to be no defenses left for his own personal selfishness, but that’s a topic for another post).

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