Economy & Business

The Economic Crisis Has Officially Arrived

A pedestrian walks on Wall Street in front of the New York Stock Exchange as concerns about the coronavirus keep more people at home in New York City, March 18, 2020. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

The first piece of real, hard data indicating deep economic trouble from COVID-19 arrived this morning.

Initial filings for unemployment insurance benefits shattered its previous record. We found out this morning that 3.3 million new UI claims were filed last week. The previous record, in 1982, was 695,000.

The chart in the tweet above shows this series over time, and does not include today’s numbers to give you a sense of what this series normally looks like.

In response to mandates by state and local governments for people to stay home and businesses to shut, employers have been laying off their workers at astonishing levels. As of yesterday morning, at least 163 million people in 17 states and eight cities were being told to shelter in place. That’s half of the U.S. population — and growing. Today’s numbers show the damage that is doing to the labor market.

Expect the unemployment rate to spike and the rate of economic growth to fall well below zero this spring.

The economic crisis has officially arrived.

Politics & Policy

Mike DeWine and Andrew Cuomo Give the Establishments Their Moment

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks in front of stacks of medical protective supplies during a news conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, which will be partially converted into a temporary hospital during the coronavirus outbreak, March 24, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Different moments thrust different types of politicians to the fore. Over the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, a number of state governors have attracted particular attention for their proactive responses to the crisis. The most prominent of these on the Republican and Democratic sides of the aisle, respectively, have been Ohio’s Mike DeWine and New York’s Andrew Cuomo. They are the unlikeliest of folk heroes, but there are reasons why this particular moment plays to their strengths.

The 73-year-old DeWine has long been seen as a bland, nerdy embodiment of the Ohio Republican establishment. He’s been in one office or another almost continuously since 1977: county prosecutor, state senator, congressman, lieutenant governor, senator, state attorney general, and now governor, the office to which he was elected in 2018. He was ousted from the Senate amidst the “Coingate”-related 2006 rout of the Ohio Republicans (in which he was not personally implicated), and restarted his career four years later at a lower rung of government by defeating Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray. He would defeat Cordray a second time in 2018. To populist and movement-conservative activists, DeWine has long been seen as unexciting at best, a dreaded “squish” or “RINO” at worst: John Kasich without the quirky, messianic egoism. That hasn’t prevented him from winning six statewide elections in Ohio in eight tries.

Andrew Cuomo, in his third term as New York’s governor and son of another three-term New York governor, is an even less obviously appealing figure. Like DeWine, he has been in office forever: He was Bill Clinton’s HUD secretary (a role in which he promoted reckless mortgage-finance policies and groomed his deputy Kirsten Gillibrand for political office) and state attorney general before winning election as governor in 2010. Normally invisible in the state’s high-profile media environment, Cuomo is so abrasive and humorless that Jake Tapper wrote a scathing political obituary for Salon in 2002 after Cuomo got trounced in the Democratic gubernatorial primary by state comptroller H. Carl McCall:

[T]hose who have come in contact with Cuomo and seen how his grating personality has sullied what could have been a promising campaign… in the end all Cuomo seemed to communicate was that he is a very unpleasant person… Cuomo’s ability to alienate was almost unparalleled… the regrettable fact for Cuomo was that to a sizable number of voters he seemed like an a***ole. And sometimes a politician’s problems are truly that simple.

I omitted the really nasty parts. Cuomo is not just an establishment politician; he’s the ultimate Albany swamp creature, a guy who knows how to run the state government because he was raised in its corrupt environs and knows everyone’s pressure points. He is vividly loathed by his state party’s progressive wing and the Online Left for cutting deals to leave Republicans with a foothold of power in the state senate so long as they would do business with him. In 2018, he staved off a colorful left-wing primary challenge from Sex in the City actress Cynthia Nixon. His blood feud with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio is legendary. My favorite Cuomo story is when a “source close to Governor Cuomo” was giving a stream of scathing quotes about de Blasio to the papers, and it turned out that the “source” was Cuomo himself.

And yet, in part because DeWine and Cuomo are so long accustomed to the levers of government power and so little concerned with the opinions of populists, progressives, or libertarians, both moved early and hard with great energy and decisiveness to address the coronavirus threat. They have bristled at any restraints. DeWine went to court to stop the March 17 Ohio primary, then shut it down himself when the courts wouldn’t do so. Cuomo has blasted his fellow New Yorkers Trump and Chuck Schumer over what he sees as inadequate federal assistance. Both have been tirelessly visible on television, to the point that Cuomo has some Democrats rethinking their tepid, elderly presidential nominee.

Normal times do not engender demand for unabashed career politicians with a quick trigger finger on state power. But moments like this one are good times to be a veteran establishment figure at ease with power. There will probably never be a better time to be Mike DeWine or Andrew Cuomo.

Education

Repealing Prop. 209 Would Harm Asian-American Students

Sather Tower rises above the University of California at Berkeley. (Noah Berger/Reuters)

As noted, in a time of a deadly pandemic, Democrats and mainstream media (but I repeat myself) have been preoccupied with the alleged racist implications of calling COVID-19 Chinese coronavirus — an appellation the Left maintains may stoke xenophobia and animosity toward Asian Americans.

Without any apparent sense of irony, however, the Left is pursuing repeal of Prop. 209, an action that unquestionably would harm thousands of Asian-American students. A bill recently was introduced in the California Assembly to put the repeal on the November ballot.

Passed in 1996, Prop. 209 prohibits, among other things, racial discrimination in college admissions. Make no mistake, even with Prop. 209 as law, California colleges still engage in the type of admissions alchemy on display in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard — the suit brought by Asian-American students alleging Harvard discriminates on the basis of race in its admissions process. Evidence adduced in that case shows that the combined SAT scores of Asian-American students admitted to Harvard between 2010–2015 were 218 points higher than those of black admittees. At other selective schools the admissions preferences awarded black and Hispanic students are the equivalent of adding a full 400 points to such applicants’ SAT scores, and the weight added to their GPAs is just as steep.

These racial preferences in admissions don’t just harm Asian-American students, they harm the intended beneficiaries of the preferences as well. Obviously, students admitted with an average SAT score of 1100 and a GPA of 3.0 have a hard time competing academically with students who have average SATs of 1500 and GPAs of 3.86. The former cohort are more likely to cluster in the bottom quartile of their respective classes and are far more likely not to graduate.

A referendum in the state of Washington involving a similar initiative was narrowly defeated last November. The California effort will be even tougher to beat. Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and other elites likely will devote substantial resources to overturn Prop. 209. Thousands of Asian-American students will be harmed. But virtue signaling will achieve new heights.

Culture

Twenty Things That Caught My Eye Today: Protecting Life in Coronavirus Times & More (March 25, 2020)

1. Italian doctors: Staff overwhelmed during pandemic; model must change

2. Hospitals trying to figure out how they would ration ventilators as Coronavirus cases rise in New York

3. Letter from the trenches (Amedeo Capetti, MD, infectious diseases expert and consultant to the WHO)

4. “The coronavirus in Venezuela—‘a difficult moment and a trial’”

5. ‘Gospel of life’ needed now more than ever, pope says

6. Helen Alvare: John Paul II’s ‘Evangelium Vitae’ Gave a Voice to Those Promoting Respect for Life

7. Pew: In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

I wonder if closed churches contribute to this or this time of challenge starts to reverse it?

8. States differ on exempting worship from coronavirus closures

9. This seems a bit much: Virginia governor makes attending church a criminal offense

10. A two-day digital summit on March 26 & 27 for churches and church leaders responding to COVID-19

11. California teen gives out more than 150 coronavirus sanitation kits to the homeless. Now she wants you to help her distribute more. 

12. Bishop Robert Barron: The coronavirus and sitting quietly in a room alone

13. ‘Disaster waiting to happen’: Thousands of inmates released as jails and prisons face coronavirus threat

14. 15 Things You Can Do To Help Others During the Covid-19 Outbreak

15. When Coronavirus and Moral Relativism Collide

16. Massive Coronavirus Testing Is the Way to Help Save the Economy

17. Strangest news of the day? (Though I’m certain there is competition)

18. Like this:

 

19. NOCHI (New Orleans Hospitality and Culinary Institute) Is Hosting Online Cooking Classes Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak | Southern Living

20. If you don’t already follow Robby George on Twitter, you really want to:

PLUS: I mentioned these Quarantine Lectures that are starting up Thursday night from the Dominican friars at the Thomistic Institute. I’ve signed up and have no doubt they will be worthwhile.

And that Cardinal O’Malley retreat continues tonight

Today is the feast of the Annunciation on the Catholic calendar — nine months to December 25. What on earth will life look like then? Well, the Incarnation will still be real. Today seems well-timed, in a Providential-care kind of way. Here’s Sting’s “Gabriel’s Message”:

Economy & Business

Congress’ Coronavirus Rescue Plan Looks Like a Mess

Congress should be passing a coronavirus rescue package, not a Nancy Pelosi wish-list plan, not a faux stimulus plan, and not a plan that incentivizes more Americans to rely on the government. They should have passed it last week. And yet here we are.

The first phase of any rescue plan would have been best served focusing primarily on saving companies forced to close by the government. Obviously there would be populist blowback, but corporations are best positioned to withstand this kind of temporary shock, and not only keep people employed but also allow them to continue their health care plans and retirement plans, etc. From what we can tell, though, large parts of the bill are now excessively complicated and counterproductive.

Why is Congress using 2018 tax returns to decide who gets a government check today? Why means test aid by income rather than loss from the virus? What evidence is there that employed Americans are going to spend that $1,200 check—or whatever it ends up being—to stimulate economic growth? Most Americans probably aren’t inclined to do more than pay their bills and shop for necessities. You can try and shame people into ordering a thousand dollars in takeout, but instinctively, they’re far more likely to bank government checks in anticipation of future difficulties. That’s completely rational and predictable behavior for people who are seeing massive instability in the economy. I’d rather we gave bigger checks to those who need it.

That doesn’t mean we should be incentivizing low-wage unemployed and furloughed workers to avoid looking for jobs. Yet, that’s what the Senate is doing by creating unemployment benefits that can exceed — sometimes significantly — worker salaries. Those who want to hire those workers will have to offer more than prevailing wages, hurting themselves. Some companies might not hire at all.  The bill might let others quit their jobs and claim benefits, decoupling employers and employees when we need the stick together. The unemployment system, already overrun with workers who have no place to turn, will be further taxed by those who could be looking for jobs sooner. It makes no sense.

Obviously Americans need aid now, but this all should have been a lot simpler, and a lot quicker.

Economy & Business

Offshoring and the Coronavirus

Simon Lester:

[Y]ou want to make sure that you are not getting all products that are, in some sense of the term, essential from a single country, which could be the subject of a geopolitical conflict, or could be susceptible to a natural disaster. . . .

But that’s a very narrow proposition, and it doesn’t translate into “offshoring left the U.S. unprepared for coronavirus.” It also doesn’t necessitate a rethinking of support for free trade. Rather, it requires a country to take a look at what products are essential for security or public health or some other policy, and to make sure it has a diverse and reliable supply of those products. To be clear, that does not mean “reshoring” all production of those products to the United States.

Economy & Business

Bernie Sanders Threatens to Hold Up Coronavirus Relief

In response to Ben Sasse: Coronavirus Bill Would Promote Unemployment Over Full Paychecks

Bernie Sanders is threatening to hold up the coronavirus relief bill unless Senate Republicans drop their amendment to cap unemployment benefits at an employee’s full salary:

U.S.

Faces of Coronavirus: Dan and Stephanie Burke

Medical worker wearing a protective mask and suit and a patient suffering from COVID-19 coronavirus in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po Hospital in Cremona, Italy, March 19, 2020. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

Increasingly, we know people who have contracted COVID-19. I know that’s certainly the case for me.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you probably will have seen by now that I’ve asked for prayers for Dan and Stephanie Burke and all of those who work with them at the Avila Institute who have contracted the coronavirus. Dan has weak lungs and is on a ventilator, and he is fighting for his life, as Stephanie put it in an email last night. She is begging for prayers. She and many other people believe they have much more work to do yet. Dan has worked at Focus on the Family — including with my friend Kelly Rosati on orphan-care work — at EWTN, and the National Catholic Register, as well as in the secular world — which gave him experience that I think was invaluable at the other places. He recently left EWTN to devote himself more fully to the Avila work, which is a ministry focused on prayer and spirituality and spiritual direction. He most recently wrote a book on spiritual warfare that I was hoping to interview him about, but didn’t act quickly enough. I pray we still get the opportunity.

If you pray, thanks for adding him to your prayer. And his wife, for whom having to be in isolation from him has got to be excruciating. And to all those in similar situations whose names we don’t know.

Over the years, I have interviewed Dan now and again. Here and here are some examples, in case you are looking for some spiritual enrichment at these times, or just so you know a little bit more about these people for whom you’re praying. Thanks.

Religion

What Does It Mean to Live The Gospel of Life Today?

Today is the 25th anniversary of John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae, “The Gospel of Life.” I remember when he died how many tributes flooded my inbox from so many members of Congress at the time who had been inspired by his words in it. I daresay most of them were not Catholic. Back then Evangelicals and Catholics together was a real thing, and in no small part because of this document. Even today, as you read it, caricatures are destroyed and invitations are delivered. If words can be healing, and I do believe that they can be, “The Gospel of Life” is a great model for this.

It’s hard to believe what we’re going through as we reflect back on the document. It’s almost as if God provided some time for us to do so. And at a time when there are some grave challenges to vulnerable human life, not of our making, and some real decisions to make, the document takes on a whole new meaning.

I saw it remarked on Twitter by someone that a few commentators do not a pro-life movement make. Very true. But in the recent days of remarks that suggest that the elderly perhaps should step aside when it comes to the line of people needing protective and healing health care in the face of the coronavirus, we need to say and do more. Staying home these days seems to be an act of charity in itself. Making a phone call is as well. Checking in on people in the ways safest for all. But we also need to be insisting on standards that uphold the kind of commitment to protecting vulnerable human life that we are going to be judged on.

I understand. We’re all scared and feeling overwhelmed. And we may feel like we have no right really to talk, because most of us are not on the front lines. But it’s part of our civic responsibility to say “thank you” to those who are rising to the occasion of these tremendously grave challenges and also encourage and insist on the good and the true and the beautiful, as they say. We watch headlines about people being abandoned and dying alone in Italy. This is no doubt happening here already to some extent. There are people home alone and not sure who to turn to. The last thing we can entertain is casting aside people even before things get absolutely desperate. We shouldn’t have to see things get to that point. And we sure shouldn’t be planning to cast people aside even before they do.

One of the leaders who I think has been a comfort in these days has been Pope Francis. He’s been leading prayer. His were some of the first live-streamed Masses as the coronavirus first started hitting Italy in such an awful way. He got many of us praying the Rosary together last week and the Lord’s Prayer this morning. And one of the consistent and powerful themes he has been insisting on is that we reject and work against with all the love and energy in our hearts and minds the throwaway society that is part of the poison all around the world, and undeniably here in the West and the United States. (And you should keep an eye on my friend Charlie Camosy, who wrote the book on this.) Talk of sacrificing the elderly among us is very much indicative of it. And is it any surprise we would be here? Almost a half of century of legal abortion and the march of assisted suicide throughout our country and continent would do it to us. The fact of the matter is that all lives don’t matter to us. They haven’t. That is what legal abortion and assisted suicide say.

That’s all to say: I welcome New York governor Andrew Cuomo talking about the value of every human life. And I’ve been praying for at least a better part of a decade that he would come to believe such things. (I’ve prayed more stubbornly as he encouraged pro-lifers to leave the state, as he expanded abortion, and as he moved to support legal surrogacy and assisted suicide.) Instead of making sarcastic comments in his Twitter feed, how about agreeing and showing a little gratitude and praying like crazy that this will stick? That he and others will see the value of even the less-visible human lives. Because isn’t that a lot of what this is we are living through now? We are in quarantine for people we don’t know. Many of us are avoiding loved ones precisely because we want to protect them.

In a Catholic context, I would add: John Paul II, pray for us. His words are powerful today and take on added meaning. And the thing we Catholics believe about the saints is that they can intercede for us, petition God for us, add their prayers for us. I surely hope and believe that is happening now. Because a lot of people need prayers. And let’s pray that this commitment to human life that so many of us are engaged in in an unprecedented way is healing for our culture and that it sticks.

You can read or reread Evangelium Vitae here.

Politics & Policy

Ben Sasse: Coronavirus Bill Would Promote Unemployment Over Full Paychecks

Sen. Ben Sasse on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, September 27, 2018 (Andrew Harnik/Reuters)

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has hailed the unemployment-benefits provision in the coronavirus economic relief bill as paying furloughed and unemployed workers their full salaries for four months, but several GOP senators are sounding the alarm that in some cases unemployment benefits would exceed full salaries of workers and therefore encourage unemployment.

“It appears that when you look at the interaction of different programs in this bill, there are multiple cases where folks would get more money, and in some cases significantly more money by being unemployed than if the employer-employee relationship were maintained,” Nebraska GOP senator Ben Sasse tells National Review. “It’s perverse. It’s against the purposes of the legislation, and it could exacerbate life-threatening shortages in a number of critical sectors.”

The bill is designed to encourage employers to keep their workers on payroll by providing small-business loans that will be forgiven if employers don’t lay off their employees. “The amount of the loan eligible for forgiveness will be reduced proportionally by the number of employees laid off during this period relative to the borrower’s prior employment levels,” according to a background document.

But Sasse says the bill provides for $600 weekly unemployment benefits in addition to the standard amount a person would receive in unemployment in addition to standard amount of unemployment. The total amount of unemployment benefits could thus exceed a worker’s full salary.

“You can’t have the perverse disincentive to uncouple employers and employees,” says Sasse.  He cites the example of home health aides potentially receiving more money from unemployment than full employment as an example of the bill creating a “life-threatening shortage” of workers in a critical sector.

Sasse, along with Senators Tim Scott, Lindsey Graham, and Rick Scott, are introducing an amendment to cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s full salary.

Politics & Policy

The Buyback Distraction

President Trump, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and others all think we need to restrict buybacks as a condition of aid to businesses. At Bloomberg Opinion, I argue that restrictions are not an effective way to get better corporate governance or protect taxpayers.

Health Care

Nevada Malaria Drug Ban Exception for Inpatient Use

I wrote earlier about an emergency executive order from Nevada Governor that prohibited doctors from prescribing hydroxychloroquine, which has shown anecdotal promise for patients very ill with coronavirus.

The AP story from which I learned about the regulation erroneously blamed Trump for lying about that potential, which I discussed at some length.

Another story I linked in reported that the purpose of the emergency regulation was to stop hoarding of the drug. I worried that the regulation was a sledgehammer instead of a scalpel to deal with that question.

The Governor’s office has now contacted me to advise that the regulation does contain an exception for inpatient prescribing. I am pleased because that should permit compassionate use.

Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update: Testing Drops Off Nationally, But New Jersey and Louisiana Make Progress

Health workers put on personal protective equipment inside a new drive-thru coronavirus testing center in Staten Island N.Y., March 19, 2020. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Testing in the U.S. decreased from Monday to Tuesday for the first time since last week. In recent days, the U.S. has been making substantial progress in ramping up testing capacity, which would be integral to eventually rolling back social-distancing measures and implementing alternative measures, such as the “test and trace” strategy that has been successful in South Korea. We shouldn’t read into single-day measures too much, as the trend is most important, and the trend indicates that the U.S. is on pace to test more than 100,000 people a day by the end of the month.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com

New York continues to see consistent growth in infections, with 30,000 confirmed cases as of this morning. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has suggested that anyone leaving New York should self-quarantine for two weeks, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis extended an order requiring anyone entering the state from New York to self-isolate for three weeks. New Jersey and Louisiana have also become hotspots, both surpassing Washington in per-capita cases.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro Data: covidtracking.com

Testing disparities between states persist, with New York and Washington growing testing capacity while California lags behind. Massachusetts, Louisiana, and New Jersey saw encouraging increases in testing on Tuesday.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com, U.S. Census Bureau

The below map gives an overview of the severity of outbreaks across states.

Graph: Daniel Tenreiro
Data: covidtracking.com
Health Care

Age Discrimination and Rationing during the Coronavirus Crisis

A patient suffering from COVID-19 coronavirus in an intensive care unit at the Oglio Po Hospital in Cremona, Italy, March 19, 2020. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

Last week, Wesley Smith had a Corner post laying out some thoughts and expertise from bioethicist Charlie Camosy, reflecting on the best way to handle the ethical challenges of triaging coronavirus patients who need hospital care — especially as the number of people who need it begins to exceed the capacity of the health-care system, at least in some parts of the country.

This morning, Camosy has his own article on the subject in Religion News Service, and it is worth consulting at length:

If the stress the pandemic has put on the rest of the world is any measure, the U.S. health care system will find itself under pressure to similarly abandon our core values. There are already reports that hospitals in Spain are refusing to treat people over the age of 65. In Italy they are reportedly not treating them when over 60.

These kinds of practices — born out of the simplistic utilitarianism that dominates so much of medicine and medical ethics in the developed West — would be a direct violation of the civil rights of older U.S. Americans. Under the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, hospitals that receive federal funding (which includes Obamacare) “may not exclude, deny, or limit services to, or otherwise discriminate against, persons on the basis of age.”

Happily, New York’s state protocol for rationing ventilators rejects advanced age as a triage criterion “because it discriminates against the elderly.” Indeed, the document notes that age “already factors indirectly into any criteria that assess the overall health of an individual” and “there are many instances where an older person could have a better clinical outlook than a younger person.” Hospitals, medical teams or rationing officers “should utilize clinical factors only to evaluate a patient’s likelihood of survival” when allocating scarce resources.

But Washington state, also a center of the outbreak in the U.S., has taken a much different approach. According to reporting from NBC News, last week 280 clinicians in that state got on a conference call to discuss their own protocols. They agreed that if they reached “crisis standards” things would have to change dramatically.

“If you are above a certain age and we have a shortage of ventilators, you don’t get one,” said Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association.

This practice in Washington State hospitals stems from guidance issued by the state’s health department for managing scarce resources during a crisis. The guidance instructs health-care providers to allocate resources to patients based on, among other criteria, their “loss of . . . physical ability, cognition and general health.”

I agree with Camosy that this likely constitutes an example of illegal and unethical age discrimination. In a March 23 memo, attorney Charles LiMandri, who serves as special counsel for the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund and the Thomas More Society legal group, offers the following assessment, based in particular on the federal Age Discrimination Act of 1975:

Federal law requires that decisions regarding the critical care of patients during the current crisis not discriminate on the basis of disability or age. In this respect, anticipated longevity or quality of life are inappropriate issues for consideration. Decisions must be made solely on clinical factors as to which patients have the greatest need and the best prospect of a good medical outcome. Therefore, disability and age should not be used as categorical exclusions in making these critical decisions.

Unfortunately, in a health-care crisis like the one we’re currently facing, some degree of health-care rationing is simply unavoidable. But as Smith, Camosy, and LiMandri each insist (whether from an ethical or legal perspective) those rationing decisions should be based on medical judgments discerned in the unique circumstances of each hospital and from patient to patient — not ordered clumsily by top-down instructions from government officials insisting that those with lower “quality of life” or cognitive functioning automatically lose access to care when resources are scarce.

History

The Great Society: A New History with Amity Shlaes

This week on Uncommon Knowledge: a conversation with author and historian Amity Shlaes on her new book, Great Society: A New History. Begun by John F. Kennedy and completed by Lyndon B. Johnson, the Great Society was one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation ever enacted in American history. On its surface, the Great Society was a plan to reduce rural and urban poverty, but at its roots were the socialist and Communist movements of the 1930s. Shlaes shares the history of those movements and lays out how they influenced the post-World War II generation of American politicians, including lesser-remembered figures such as Sargent Shriver, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Walter Reuther. In addition, the Great Society was a harbinger of many of the policies and ideas that are in vogue today, including Universal Basic Income and Medicare for All. Shlaes also argues that what the Great Society’s marquee policy initiative, the War on Poverty, and the new flood of benefits actually achieved “was the opposite of preventing poverty —  they established a new kind of poverty, a permanent sense of downtroddenness.” Shlaes proves that, once again, policies and laws with the best of intentions often have the opposite effect.

Recorded on January 17, 2020

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