What you have before you is a compilation of short essays that encompass what I have written in the last 6 weeks, almost exclusively in the comments section of the Boston Globe website using the non de plume of ProsperityforRI.com, the name of my blog. I wrote on a variety of topics, but most of my comments relate to 3 topics, the economy, climate and energy, and healthcare. Writings on economics focus primarily on the causes of inflation (it’s the climate catastrophe and the war in Ukraine mostly), the stupidity of publicly financing stadiums, the financing of mass transit systems, and the big lie that low taxes on the rich harms the economy. Writings on climate and energy focus on the climate catastrophe we are currently experiencing and what to do about it. My healthcare comments focus on preparing for pandemics and how the medical industrial complex makes American healthcare the most expensive in the world, and among the least effective at keeping people alive.
All of these comments were written in response to particular articles in the Globe or other comments on the articles in the Globe. In many cases a little bit of context about the particular article might be helpful, but I have tried to mostly include only those comments that can stand alone. I offer up the commentaries in three sections economics, climate and healthcare, and within each section I offer them in the order they were written. There is a bit more repetition in the commentaries than I would prefer, but the news keeps rehashing, so repetition is a bit inevitable. Enjoy. Greg Gerritt
Americans seem to have never learned that to have good public transit the government needs to be committed to it. If none of the rich folks ride the T, then it never gets funded properly. If the buses are funded by the gas tax (which is the case in RI), when people drive less the buses get less funding. To fix the T would take a real commitment to fully fund it. Nowhere in the world can public transit run on the fare box. But probably nowhere else in the world are the elites less willing to fund any real infrastructure (except the war machine)
Cities that hand themselves over the real estate speculators and forget that they are magnets for everyone lose their mojo. It is the people on the street, many of them other than wealthy that give cities life. The poor are always locked out of the suburbs because there is no public space. So the poor end up in cities because they have public space. Ultimately cities need to figure out that when the poor are getting by, not just surviving, that the entire world benefits.
The folks responsible for economic development in Rhode Island never seem to learn much. Giving rich folks money for real estate speculation rarely works and stadium deals never work out. But the leadership of RI keeps on doing it anyways. The other favorite among CommerceRI and its companions is money for high tech medicine, which gives us unaffordable health care and the worst health care among industrial nations as well as an underinvestment in public health infrastructure.
They keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Not a way to run a state.
The US has the most expensive health care in the world, and most states are working like crazy to invest in companies that will raise the prices more.
The oil companies are taking advantage of the war in Ukraine to price gouge. it costs no more to produce West Texas crude now than it did at the beginning of February. But with Russian oil being boycotted, the global markets are in chaos.
The loss of huge amounts of grain on the world markets has driven up the price.
We hardly produce any silicon chips any longer, though congress just passed a bill to try to get them built here in the future. Covid 19 has wreaked havoc on the Chinese manufacturing sector, and the lack of chips is driving up prices of computers, cars, and many other products.
In other words raising interest rates will not bring down inflation but will cost many people their jobs. it is a dumb idea because most of what is causing inflation is beyond the control of the government, other than they could have been smarter for the last 20 years in not poking the Russian Bear, ending the use of fossil fuels, and rationalizing the health care industry, none of which are possible for an American government in chaos as one of the parties has decided that chaos will help the push for right wing authoritarianism.
Some day, probably not soon, Americans will figure out that one of the parties in the US really does not want to govern, it just wants to steal and hand the wealth to the rich, and is willing to use neo nazis to end democracy so it is easier to steal. Until we wake up, we get neoliberal economists telling us what to do based on their fantasy of the perfect economic man, who lives on a planet that has no climate catastrophes and unlimited resources.
Oh yes, one more thing. As long as natural resources are crashing, such as forests and fish disappearing, prices for basic commodities will go up. What we really need is a steady state economy based on enough, not satisfying the greed of the rich. But since that is a long ways off, lets look at the real issues, rather than the phony ones when it comes to inflation.
Every real honest peer reviewed study ever done shows that higher taxes on the rich benefits the economy. The reason for this is that economies that support the least well off generate more spending that stays in the community. Every real honest peer reviewed study also shows that the rich do not move out of New England for tax purposes. You may find individuals moving, but statistically we do not lose rich people to low tax low service states.
Recessions always benefit the rich and harm the poor. They are a feature of 21st century capitalism, not a bug.
A lot of what is going on is price gouging by the oil companies. Their expenses did not go up, It does not really cost more to produce oil in the US now than it did before the prices started going up. They are making way excessive profits. We all suffer. They are also making it harder to stop the climate catastrophe.
Price of food. Wall St and the big banks started playing with food prices and futures contracts driving the price of wheat up much more than the war in Ukraine and the embargo would have actually driven up the price.
There is nothing the US can do, other than bring manufacturing home (something the capitalists are loathe to do) that would increase the supply of silicon chips that have fallen out of the market due to COVID closures in manufacturing plants in China. The lack of chips means that cars, computers, phones and many other products are in short supply.
The US just passed a bill to increase the US manufacturing of silicon chips. Some Republicans finally voted for it after holding it up for YEARS. So all of you blaming Biden need to look in the mirror and figure out what your party was doing to harm the American manufacturing sector.
Climate catastrophes are driving up prices. Droughts, floods, heat waves, pandemics like avian flu are all climate driven and do harm the food supply. Hurting the poor the most. Who is unwilling to move forward on climate? And then wants to blame Biden? go look in the mirror.
Governments have some tools to deal with inflation and recessions. Raising interest rates is among the weaker tools, but the only one that the US government seems to be allowed to use. The best tool to deal with recessions is to build infrastructure. And if the government did not have to borrow from the banks (a long and sordid story given that the Congress holds the right to mint money) it could be done with little cost to the taxpayers. There are many examples of governments creating prosperity by building infrastructure without borrowing money. Money is simply credits backed by the full faith and credit of the government.
If we went full bore for clean energy, rebuilt our public health infrastructure, repaired or replaced all the old school buildings, created a modern transportation system we would have no unemployment. And if we did not borrow the money from Wall St, we would not have more debt. And considering how Wall St has contributed to worsening the economic picture, why should we reward them?
I was one of many Rhode Islanders who opposed giving big subsidies to billionaires to build a new stadium in Pawtucket. Reading this article I am ever more convinced we did the right thing. The billionaires who run baseball are all rich thugs with no concerns for communities. Worcester, with all of its cost overruns they have had to pay for, can have them. The data is quite clear. Spending public money on ball parks to make rich folks happy is a bad deal for towns.
You can be pretty sure that anything the chamber of commerce wants is bad for your community. Seems like the bill included money to get housing built, which is needed, but when the anti communists start holding their hands out for giveaways from the government, their hypocrisy is showing. That the rich want handouts and can con the legislature into giving them is insane. But maybe it is just capitalism does not work but the rich can not bring themselves to say it so they try work arounds.
Subsidies for sports stadiums are a boondoggle. They pay off for the millionaires but not for the people or the state. Every study confirms this. It is ironic that people wanting health care or other real state services are called socialists, but the only people who actually practice socialism are politicians giving handouts to millionaires.
Recessions are a feature of capitalism, not a bug. The reaction of the federal reserve demonstrates this quite clearly. People are getting jobs, so lets slow the economy. Good job numbers, Wall St goes down. So we run the economy for Wall St. How about a government that runs the economy for the people. Higher taxes on the rich would be a start. Health care for all. No more pollution ( yeah I know the complaints, but the savings in health care alone make up for any losses to business, and the record is that strong environmental laws have spurred innovation that creates value and exportable products)
No one loves high inflation, but the obsession of the Federal Reserve to use interest rates to slow the economy when people are getting jobs gets rather tiresome, and reinforces the knowledge that recessions are good for the rich and shift wealth from the poor to the rich.
What really made America great was nearly unlimited immigration. Unfortunately it required genocide to create the space for all the immigrants. Most of the push back against immigration is racist, and restricting immigration harms the economy. Immigrants take most of the jobs that native born Americans refuse to do because they are really hard work. Who is going to work in the tourism industry or collect the garbage if we stop immigration. (I guess if wages went up enough for people to actually make a middle class living people native born people might take the jobs, but that ain’t happening anytime soon) In my community immigrants start most of the new businesses. And in a world in which money flows around the world, people have to follow the money. And maybe since people are more important than money they should be allowed to travel more than money. So which is more harmful? People crossing the border or hiding money in overseas bank accounts. To me the answer is obviously the hiding money overseas harms America much more than immigrants.
Fascism is when big business aligns with militarists and seeks to end democracy while pretending to have a socially conservative agenda. Examples Hitler, Mussolini, Bolsanaro, Pinochet, Trump. Socialism, when the economy is run so that no one is hungry, there are no excessively rich people. Can be autocratic or democratic.
Right now inflation is global. The war in Ukraine triggered food shortages, oil shortages. The pandemic triggered supply train issues. In an effort to prevent starvation and massive poverty during the pandemic many governments gave out large grants to people experiencing unemployment and other grants so that folks would spend money at restaurants and other local businesses that were suffering during lock downs. The supply train issues have not been rectified, somewhat because there are still covid outbreaks. One of the key supply issues is silicon chips for advanced manufactured items. American corporations outsourced nearly all of this manufacturing years ago in search of cheap labor. The Chips bill will bring some of that manufacturing home in a few years.
Yes it will take a while to reduce inflation to what it was pre pandemic. But to do it requires investment. The Democrats try, though not always successfully. The Republicans do not try, they just offer pain to the poor and working classes. To reduce inflation without triggering a DEEP recession is hard, it is almost like my daily attempts to manage diabetes. You swing around the target, and miss in both directions variously. But right now the recession, a drop in GDP for two quarters, is rather mild. Much of the recession /drop in GDP is higher imports ( which are deducted from GDP despite those only being the result of more spending) and reduction in the government workforce. In other words private businesses are not in recession even if some percentage of the business world is struggling.
I see much blame going around, but very little discussion of what is really going on in the economy, even in the media. For real info on inflation I suggest reading materials from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. they can be found on the web and will send you free updates if you sign up. Bureau of Labor Statistics also provides useful information on employment. It would be good if the discussion on these commentary pages was based on real information rather than fantasy, but that is unlikely in 21st Century America.
One last point, none of the discussion is taking into account the role of climate change on the economy. Food shortages are likely to worsen as the weather gets hotter and weirder. So maybe the inflation bill will reduce inflation ultimately by reducing the damage to agriculture by stopping the climate catastrophe.
The article is just a bunch of rich people whining about taxes, Yes the cost of housing is high and transit has problems. Which means we need to tax the rich to get the money to fix the problems. The data is also very clear. people do not leave high tax states like MA to move to low tax states. You get anecdotes, but the numbers show that it is not a trend and never has been. Who the hell wants to live in Mississippi or South Dakota. People want to live places with high quality of life, services, transit, culture. And that means using tax money to produce and protect. Have you noticed that almost all the low tax states are fascist and anti choice? They are totally owned by the rich who refuse to pay taxes. Would you rather live in CA or NY or in AL or OK? CEOs have always whined about workers who want a living wage, wanted a union, wanted good health care. And they lie about the result of public policies that help workers get those things. Listening to CEOs, accepting their policies as gospel is like walking around with your eyes closed and believing you can navigate busy streets.
Stadium deals NEVER workout for the public. They do not generate new revenue, just shift it around, and the tax payers end up holding the bag. Study after study has shown this. And the numbers just reported are worse than most. McKee has lost his mind. If he did not want to abandon Pawtucket he would save them from this disaster by stopping subsidies to the millionaires. Stefan Pryor has also demonstrated his lack of common sense in supporting this fiasco. For guys focused on economic development they are sure missing the boat.
The loss in GDP is due to lower government spending and more imports. That is not really a recession. More imports shows that people are spending more money. Not less. And smaller governmental spending has been triggered by reductions in benefits because more people are working.
Economists like to think of themselves as part of a hard science, but mostly they are scamming folks for political purposes. Too many of their equations have nothing to do with reality.
I have found the right wing, people who supposedly believe in capitalism and the innovative spirit, to be the least innovative and forward thinking people on the planet. These are the same people who said that no one would buy cars with seat belts. With all of the green energy coming on line, saying what to do on a cloudy day (like one when the wind is blowing, or one when it is raining, or or or… ) says these folks are clueless. The auto makers are all saying they can meet California’s deadline of no gas cars in the showroom by 2035, but when we had hearings in RI at the legislature I had to berate the lobbyist for the gas stations who complained that she would not be able to drive to South Carolina in an electric car as it would be too hard to charge up (not now but 10 years from now) Does anyone actually believe there will not be a full scale charging network available for electric cars in 2032? Only someone on the take from the oil companies.
It is absolutely pathetic that the advocates of capitalism do not embrace innovation and creativity. But then again they are conservatives because they have no creativity, only the ability to lie.
The reason we do not build housing any longer is that the US government has always had a big responsibility for housing the poor, and it has now abdicated. therefore rents go up as landlords get power.
Inflation is primarily driven by war, pandemic and climate with shortages due to covid supply chains, manufacturing crises due to lack of hydropower, and Russia holding Ukrainian grain hostage and shutting off gas taps. Employment is still high. The official recession is due to increased imports and cuts in government spending. Corporate profits are still high except in industries with specific shortages. Price gouging by large corporations is the rule. The people who oppose immigration forget how immigration drives economies.
Not that any of the candidates really get the nature of economic development in the 21st century, but Foulkes presents a special problem as economic development centered around the medical industrial complex is especially troubling as all it does it make health care more expensive and drive gentrification/ displacement in our communities.
I have been studying the relationship between taxes on the wealthy and health of the economy for many years. The record is quite clear. The Chamber of commerce is run by liars and higher taxes on the wealthy increase the growth rate. The Congressional Budget Office has studied this, as have numerous academics. Unless the study is paid for by the Chamber or other neoliberals the results are always the same. High taxes on the rich is good for the economy and the community. What I want to know is at what point does the media start to look at the facts instead of the propaganda by the Chamber.
Interest rate manipulation is missing the point of what is causing inflation. Interest rate manipulations will cause a recession without affecting the causes one bit. the real causes, Covid, war and climate catastrophes. The world food supply is in crisis. Crop failures, floods, and grain embargoes. How do changes in interest rates do any good? Covid has wreaked havoc on global supply chains and in addition to lockdowns climate catastrophes are playing havoc with China’s manufacturing sector by stressing the electricity supply. How do interest rate manipulations make a damn bit of difference? Price gouging as well as shortages are driving energy prices up. Will interest rate hikes stop the price gouging by the oil companies?
It is time for the Fed, and the media, to get real about what is causing inflation and note how little interest rates will make to the underlying problems.
So we have high inflation due to gas price increases. War almost always causes price increases, so no real surprises there. But we therefore have inflation that has almost nothing to do with anything that is remediated by the standard inflation busting strategy of raising interest rates. So why in H*** does the Federal Reserve keep raising interest rates when interest rates have nothing to do to with what is causing inflation?
The simple answer is that the Federal Reserve is led by people tied to an outmoded and wrong headed economic philosophy that is mostly designed to make bankers happy and harm everyone else. If we ever get sanity in Washington DC again (not necessarily a likely prospect in America these days) it is time for a serious overhaul of the Federal Reserve system, and maybe even its elimination in favor of a system based on actual economic reality rather than mathematical modelling gibberish for bankers.
Nuclear power has always been a cover up for the war machine. It has never properly been regulated. Friends (who all died from nuclear related cancers ) told me years ago of the corners cut in the building and running of nuclear power plants. We see time and time again that the rich and powerful who own dangerous technologies do not play straight. They bend the rules and hide the information.
The real solution to the climate crisis is to stop overtaxing the planet. We are using way too much stuff. Our energy system should be designed for enough, not designed to eat the planet. Under the circumstances of enough, nuclear is completely a waste of money.
I know folks will think we have to have more and more each year. But when we cut the last tree, catch the last fish, and pollute the last river life ends even if we have more electricity.
The auto manufacturers are all quite capable of switching all production to electric cars by 2035. In fact many of them have already pledged to do so. We as a community are quite capable of upgrading the electric grid and massively increasing the amount of clean renewable energy we are producing by 2035. There are people opposed to doing this, and they will do all they can to stop and delay it, but we are quite capable of doing it technically and the public actually approves of it.
And consider the alternative. We do very little to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and the droughts, floods, fires, hurricanes and heat waves get worse and our old and failing infrastructure has bigger and bigger catastrophic failures.
I think given the real alternatives, not the phony alternatives, the public will choose to upgrade the grid, switch to clean energy, and drive electric cars.
Totally agree the T needs to improve. The main problem is that politicians think transit can be self supporting, whereas there are no transit systems on the planet that run at a profit. That is why hardly any of them are private. The farebox does not pay for the work needed to keep them fully operational. Which means it comes from the tax payers. And since the political power is not within the ridership area, it encompasses the whole state, they do not wish to fund the T. Unfortunately for the out of towners Boston is the economic engine of the state and if Boston slows down, all of MA does too. So Beacon Hill folks need to figure out how to fully fund the T. But their own constituents are not clamoring for it. So the riders are going to have to march on the statehouse. I do not recommend a strike. I recommend an occupation.
Floods are no joke, and the poor always suffer the most. Which is why the blame has to go to politicians who refuse to address climate change and the need to end the use of fossil fuels. There have always been floods, but floods of unprecedented dimensions are the result of the rolling climate catastrophe. And blame must be laid at the feet of the deniers and delayers and the fossil fuel barons. The West Virginia legislature just voted to punish banks that are insufficiently positive about coal power. I would charge them with manslaughter for each person who dies in West Virginia in the flood.
People always complain about bike infrastructure, but once it is built, they learn to appreciate it. It is just a NIMBY thing, that eventually dissipates. There are always complaints how it will disrupt parking, but business districts come out on the other side just fine. There are complaints about how bike riders ignore the rules. Recent study of drivers found RI and MA drivers are the worst in the country about knowing the traffic laws and following them. Maybe we need to develop a culture of everyone following the traffic laws.
It is quite obvious that the Republicans are quite happy to see fires and floods because they believe it is the biblical end of days. Those of us who are not Christians look at the fires and floods and killer heatwaves and say eliminate fossil fuel use. The science is VERY clear and was figured out in 1895. And it was also figured out in 1895 it was from burning fossil fuels. I guess that is not originalist enough. And we should note climate deniers died from Covid more frequently than the rest of the population.
As for the economy, the disasters are eating up the livelihoods and savings of more and more people every day. There will be no economy, or at least a much smaller economy, if we do not rapidly get fossil fuels on to a steeply declining path.
One key problem with this article is that it misses one of the most critical issues of our time. Climate. The science is very clear, the results are very apparent, and it is not an issue in which delay is simply a delay. Delay means death to millions due to heat waves, fires, floods, hurricanes, and famines. The conservatives have decided to simply lie about it without any facts to back them up, and to spend a ton of money to prevent the truth from winning out. Like state governments cancelling contracts with banks that are not lending to fossil fuel companies, despite the fact that they are holding back their own state economies.
Having worked on climate issues for more than 25 years the one thing I no longer tolerate are lies and an unwillingness to look at the data. Until there is a commitment by the fascists (and when the Republicans stand with neo-nazis what else can you call them) to truth and democracy we are unlikely to solve this problem. The history of neoliberal economics is intertwined with both racism and a deliberate disregard for democracy, so the big money driving conservatism has to lie to make any headway. The article truly neglected what is currently going on, and where it is coming from.
I have long opposed nuclear power and helped stop a nuclear waste dump from being put in my rural community 30 years ago. I remain skeptical of nukes but could be persuaded if we at the same time ended the use of nuclear weapons and the powers that be actually figure out how to safely store nuclear waste.
I do support carbon taxes, but we need to speed up the transition even faster and also get used to using less because carbon is not the only thing we are going off the cliff on on planet Earth. We have to change agriculture, stop deforestation, and end the use of plastics. A carbon tax and truly safe nukes will just postpone disaster by a few years.
For the folks who do not believe in global warming try this exercise. Take a year, any recent year. How many record high temperatures were recorded? How many record low temperatures were recorded? If the planet was not warming there would be something close to the same number of record hot days and record cold days. Right now we have many more record hot days than record cold days. We may get a polar express every once in a while as global warming can throw off the jet stream, but us older folks know that there are fewer days the pond is frozen and more days over 90 degrees.
The science of global warming, the greenhouse effect, was settled in 1895. And even then scientists said that this could mean real trouble down the road. The fossil fuel companies hired the same people who lied about cigarettes and cancer to lie about fossil fuels and global warming.
The same people who lie about global warming are also lying about immigration, and never noting how much of immigration is caused by global warming destroying crops in the tropics causing people to leave the farms.
A number of the states in question are led by climate deniers. I expect little of realistic action by those states. They will want to blame the feds for any real conservation measures. What the northern states are going to have to do is grow their own winter vegetables in greenhouses because the agriculture in Arizona and California is no longer sustainable. Getting rid of lawns and golf courses is a no brainer. Maybe golf needs to be invented as a game on natural landscapes. Wait until the droughts hit England. Maybe keep the grass, but quit watering it and let it turn brown like grasses are supposed to turn in dry weather. In any case real change must come to the west, but the politics of climate denial and overgrowth will make that hard. Planning for ever more population growth when you have run out of water is just plain stupid, but American politicians really are that numb.
It is time to design roads to be slower. it is time to limit the speed at which cars can travel. Every car should have tests for soberness before they can be started. There are many things we can do to make it safer to be a pedestrian, but we do not do any of them. Rhode Island drivers do not even know what a crosswalk is. Maybe we should just stop building roads and start putting all the money into mass transit and non motorized travel. The climate would be better and the planet would appreciate it. And a lot fewer people would die.
Winter and summers in New England are warmer. My 68 years of watching tells me that, as does the weather data. The high tides are getting higher. My eyes see it, as do the tide gauges. The physics of this was figured out in 1895.
We have a hard time really teaching science in this country. Too many people let religion cloud their eyes, and we have others with dollar signs in their eyes.
Has any of the there are no hurricanes right now crowd ever contemplated the relationship between droughts and fewer hurricanes while the drought is going on? Massive systems of dry air can interfere with hurricane formation in the short term. That can happen even as warmer ocean temperatures ensure that there will be bigger hurricanes when they come. So as soon as the droughts in North America turn into fall rains, watch out. And if we dodge the bullet this year, we will not dodge it for many more years. Yes hurricane seasons are variable. That is just weather, but climate says warmer oceans equals more powerful hurricanes, and yes I would bet the house on it. It is also why I live on top of a hill rather than down in the flood plan.
The US appears to have a grow or die health care economy. I learned this when a hospital expansion ran over my neighborhood. But what that means is that revenues grow, while Americans die at younger and younger ages. We stopped investing in public health and now are all in on high tech cures for cancer, when the real danger is pandemics coming out of the forest and people dying from heat, floods, and fires. (that is a story for another day)
When hospitals talk about the need for profits I note that the US has the most expensive health care in the world, by a wide margin, while our delivery is the worst among industrial nations. Clearly we need a serious rethink, though the way or politics is we seem incapable of actually thinking about almost anything except buying more weapons.
Unless we rebuild the public health infrastructure in this country we are going to go from outbreak to outbreak. The fact that we have so many folks willing to eliminate public health funding and leave our country vulnerable to epidemic after epidemic is a good statement on how far off the rails this country has gone.
While the epidemic deniers will dislike this comment, the spate of epidemics is related to climate in that the destruction of forests is how many of these diseases are getting into human communities and the loss of forests is a key factor in the climate disaster. We need to take care of both the public health and the planet to keep people healthy.
Rebuilding public health infrastructure and taking steps to stop the climate emergency are inextricably linked. We have to do both. Some of the public health work can take place on the quiet, though if no legislature will appropriate money, that part will be difficult too. Part of the climate work is protecting forests, always difficult, but critical as almost all of the next pandemics will come from places being deforested.
As an elder living with an immune compromised family member, I hope we get it right, but I sort of doubt we shall.
What worries me most is that we are nowhere near prepared for the next pandemic, nor taking steps to prevent zoonotic diseases from coming out of the forest. What we have to do is stop deforestation, rebuild public health infrastructure, and figure out how to better support people who are isolating due to illness. I appreciate the scientists still working on new vaccines, we need them, but we better not neglect the public health infrastructure or they will sit in warehouses instead of getting into people.
But when you have leadership who does nothing but lie, it becomes impossible to govern effectively, which leads to more lies, and eventually to idiots like the Orange Monster stealing documents that could incriminate him. Thankfully the FBI got the documents back yesterday. Except for the ones he flushed down the toilet, thereby breaking laws about government documents.
Yesterday I was reading about another virus coming out of the forest into human populations. Langya. This one is a norovirus not a corona virus. Viruses that have never before been seen in humans will keep showing up as long as we keep deforesting the planet. Unfortunately in the US we keep neglecting the public health infrastructure, and every effort to improve the situation gets met by anti science know nothings. Monkey pox is not a joke, and in most of the world the transmission is mostly domestic, not sexual. it appears that some people, with their disregard for science, would prefer that monkeypox (which actually is endemic in rodents in Africa and therefore misnamed) spread through the whole population rather than taking the appropriate steps to end the epidemic, including good public health information dissemination, making sure vaccines and cures are readily available, and rebuilding public health infrastructure including contact tracing.
I have been researching an article with the proposed title of “Are we ready for the next pandemic” and the answer is absolutely not. We have underfunded public health for decades, basically forever, but even more so since President Ray Gun decided to shrink the government. And right now because of that same impulse anything to do with public health is a political football. The result, as expected, is that the USA has the most expensive health care system in the world and gets worse results than almost any other industrial democracy. We need serious investment in public health
One might think that the result of the pandemic would be an urgency in getting ready for the next one but the divided politics of the USA means that agreeing on basic public health precautions is nearly impossible and it would also require us to rebuild infrastructure, again nearly impossible. So be prepared to have grave consequences when the next zoonotic disease emerges from the forest.
We live in a country in which health outcomes/life expectancies are very different for people of different ethnicities After much study it is clear that racism plays a major role in health disparities. The Doctor henryhbk who wrote a letter above makes this absolutely clear. I am an environmental activist who 12 years ago started team teaching a course with a pediatrician in Providence RI for doctors about heath disparities in the city. I still teach it for several different departments at the hospital, and was pleasantly surprised this year that one of the departments said they no longer needed my services as there was now a national curriculum they were going to use. As much as I like teaching the course I actually hope the rest of the departments adopt the curriculum soon and send me into retirement. I doubt the folks that will be teaching the new curriculum know as much of the history of the environmental toxins in the city as I do, and I sort of doubt they will be as up to speed on climate issues, but it is a major step that American medical institutions are starting to seriously face the health discrepancies in our communities and proactively starting to remake medicine to account for it and remediate the problem.