Kot sem pisal prejšnji teden – če kaj, bo ta korona kriza počistila z neoliberalizmom in rehabilitirala državo in javne sisteme. Korona kriza bo v vsej razsežnosi pokazala, da neoliberalizem bankrotira, ko se sooči z malce bolj turbulentnimi časi. Zasebniki, ki na vsakem koraku pljuvajo čez državo kot glavni problem in zahtevajo nižje davke, pa ko prvič zakihajo, prijokajo k državi naj jim pomaga. Zasebne ustanove, kot so bolnišnice, se nočejo ukvajati s primeri, ki ne prinašajo dobička, in preprosto zaprejo vrata, ko pride do izbruha pandemije.
In šele takrat se zavemo, kako pomembni so javni sistemi – javno zdravstvo, civilna zaščita, policija, vojska, državne blagovne rezerve itd. In kako pomembno je javno financiranje raziskovanja, sploh pa temeljnega raziskovanja, na vseh področjih. Včeraj je nekdo objavil odličen tvit v smislu: nogometašem tipa Ronaldo plačujejo stotine milijonov evrov in milijone evrov na tekmo, mlade znanstvenike pa po 1,300 evrov, zdaj pa pričakujete od teh mizerno plačanih znanstvenikov, da vam najdejo cepivo proti virusu. In povsem enako velja za druge javne sisteme – od zdravstva in šolstva do civilne zaščite, policije, vojske itd. Vsi mizerno plačani, vendar edini, ki opravljajo svoje storitve tudi v slabih in najhujših časih, ko se vsi ostali poskrijejo pod mizo ali zbežijo v luksuzna bivališča na svojih otočkih.
Joseph Stiglitz je odlično popisal, kako je Donald Trump v nekaj letih uničil ameriški vladni center za nalezljive bolezni, zdaj pa so ZDA popolnoma nepripravljene na izbruh koronavirusa.
At the center of the US response to the COVID-19 crisis is one of the country’s most venerable scientific institutions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has traditionally been staffed with committed, knowledgeable, highly trained professionals. To Trump, the ultimate know-nothing politician, such experts pose a serious problem, because they will contradict him whenever he tries to make up facts to serve his own interests.
Scientific research requires resources. But most of the biggest scientific advances in recent years have cost peanuts compared to the largesse bestowed on our richest corporations by Trump and congressional Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts. Indeed, our investments in science also pale in comparison to the latest epidemic’s likely costs to the economy, not to mention lost stock-market value.
Nonetheless, as Linda Bilmes of the Harvard Kennedy School points out, the Trump administration has proposed cuts to the CDC’s funding year after year (10% in 2018, 19% in 2019). At the start of this year, Trump, demonstrating the worst timing imaginable, called for a 20% cut in spending on programs to fight emerging infectious and zoonotic diseases (that is, pathogens like coronaviruses, which originate in animals and jump to humans). And in 2018, he eliminated the National Security Council’s global health security and biodefense directorate.
Not surprisingly, the administration has proved ill-equipped to deal with the outbreak. Though COVID-19 reached epidemic proportions weeks ago, the US has suffered from insufficient testing capacity (even compared to a much poorer country like South Korea) and inadequate procedures and protocols for handling potentially exposed travelers returning from abroad.
Worse, the epidemic’s full costs to the US may be yet to come, particularly if the virus isn’t contained. In the absence of paid sick leave, many infected workers already struggling to make ends meet will show up to work anyway. And in the absence of adequate health insurance, they will be reluctant to seek tests and treatment, lest they be hit with massive medical bills. The number of vulnerable Americans should not be underestimated. Under Trump, morbidity and mortality rates are rising, and some 37 million people regularly confront hunger.
All these risks will grow if panic ensues. Preventing that requires trust, particularly in those tasked with informing the public and responding to the crisis. But Trump and the Republican Party have been sowing distrust toward government, science, and the media for years, while giving free rein to profit-hungry social-media giants like Facebook, which knowingly allows its platform to be used to spread disinformation. The perverse irony is that the Trump administration’s ham-handed response will undermine trust in government even further.
The US should have started preparing for the risks of pandemics and climate change years ago. Only governance based on sound science can protect us from such crises. Now that both threats are bearing down on us, one hopes that there are still enough dedicated bureaucrats and scientists left in the government to protect us from Trump and his incompetent cronies.
Vir: Joseph Stiglitz, Project Syndicate