Fareed's MHI Global Briefing ; – MEDIA HUKUM INDONESIA

Fareed: The Pandemic Should Be a Great Equalizer. It Isn’t.

Opinion | A pandemic should be the great equalizer. This one had the  opposite effect. - The Washington Post

“Pandemics should be the great equalizer,” Fareed writes in his latest Washington Post column. “They affect everyone, rich and poor, Black and White, urban and rural.” But instead, Covid-19 “is ushering in the greatest rise in economic inequality in decades, both globally and in the United States.”

The World Bank estimates 100 million people will fall back into extreme poverty worldwide. In the US, between 6 and 8 million have been pushed into poverty, by one estimate—and while the top 25% of earners has largely recovered, the bottom 25% “has cratered.” Still, Congress can’t agree on another economic relief package.

“I cannot help but wonder whether the relative normalcy of life for elites has prevented us from understanding the true severity of the problem,” Fareed writes. “For those of us using Zoom, things have been a bit disruptive and strange. But for tens of millions of people in the United States—and hundreds of millions around the world—this is the Great Depression. Can we please help them?”

‘The $16 Trillion Virus’

Widely agreed-upon anti-Covid-19 measures, like testing and contact-tracing, might be a good start, according to a JAMA Network paper by Harvard’s David M. Cutler and former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. They calculate the costs of Covid-19—including those of deaths, aftereffects of the illness, and mental-health impacts on those who don’t get sick—and suggest measures to fight the virus itself are well worth it.

Noting the controversy of placing a dollar value on human life, Cutler and Summers cite economists’ calculations of “how much it is worth to people to reduce their risk of mortality or morbidity”; they place a “conservative” $7 million value on each “statistical” human life, in those terms. For Covid-19 aftereffects and wider mental-health disorders, Cutler and Summers adjust that figure for quality-of-life downgrades by certain percentages over one year. If Covid-19 is mostly curtailed by next fall, the cost of the pandemic in the US alone will have been $16.12 trillion, they estimate—including nearly $7.6 trillion in lost GDP, nearly $4.4 trillion in the authors’ calculated cost of deaths, nearly $2.6 trillion in longer-term health impairment, and nearly $1.6 trillion in mental-health impacts.

As a result, they write, anti-Covid-19 measures like testing and tracing carry “enormous social value.” Incorporating a Rockefeller Foundation estimate, the authors suggest 30 million weekly tests, combined with contact tracing, would cost $100 billion—far less than $16.12 trillion. As Congress considers more economic relief, they write, a “minimum of 5% of any COVID economic relief intervention should be devoted to such health measures.”

Note to readers: Summers will join Fareed MHI on Sunday’s GPS to discuss recovery measures and Covid-19’s impact on the US and global economies. Tune into CNN at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET to watch.

China Sees a US in Fatal Decline

In Foreign Affairs, Julian Gewirtz writes that President Trump’s tariffs, tech war, and anti-China bluster have confirmed a view in China first espoused by Mao Zedong, revisited before Trump’s presidency by Chinese policy elites, and woven into their public comments about America: that the US is a superpower in inevitable, fatal decline, destined to collapse under the weight of its faulty capitalist system and to fall victim to a historical trend beyond its control. Part of the expectation is that, in the course of its fade, the US will lash out at China. America will continue an irrevocable, aggressive mission to “suppress China’s rise,” regardless of who wins the November election, the thinking goes.

As such, Gewirtz writes, if Joe Biden were to become president, he’d have a difficult time reversing the course of political and economic confrontation with Beijing. But Gewirtz also argues it’s up to the US to address its own problems—by getting Covid-19 under control and by pursuing racial justice to prove the viability of its democratic system, for instance—and to “demonstrate how mistaken the CCP is about the notion of inexorable U.S. decline. … The Chinese leadership’s dark view of the prospects for the United States is wrong. … Much of what the United States must do to compete effectively with China is within its control—and there is still time to act.”

Fighting Over the Wheel of Europe’s ‘Engine’

France and Germany have been referred to as Europe’s “engine”—a twin dynamo of political and economic leadership—but at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s The Strategist blog, Josef Joffe writes that French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel want to drive it in different directions and at different speeds. They’ve taken different stances on Turkey, its claims on Mediterranean gas exploration, and the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh; Macron has sought diplomatic openings with Trump’s America, Putin’s Russia, and Xi’s China, while Merkel has shied away from all three.

“The hyperactive Macron certainly wants to run Europe (as, truth be told, all of his predecessors in the Élysée Palace have sought to do). Meanwhile, the plodding Merkel keeps stressing German priorities,” Joffe writes. “The current divergence is also a matter of personalities. Temperamentally, Macron is the opposite of Merkel. Whereas Macron craves the limelight, Merkel, known at home as Mutti (mum), reads from a well-thumbed script about continuity and caution.” But even if Paris and Berlin worked in concert, the rest of Europe would likely resist “because they fear the duo’s domination,” Joffe suggests—an equally notable reason why collective action, and the “strategic autonomy” bandied by analysts and called for by Macron, remains elusive for the EU.

Is Free Speech Still Working?

The Problem of Free Speech in an Age of Disinformation - The New York Times

America’s tradition of free speech is seen by many as foundational, but in a New York Times Magazine essay, Emily Bazelon writes that disinformation may be exposing its flaws. First Amendment interpretation evolved with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s view, grounded in the theory of philosopher John Stuart Mill, that freedom of speech guaranteed an open marketplace of ideas, which allowed the best public-policy proposals to thrive, beating out the lesser ones in an imagined public square.

But today, Bazelon writes, that may no longer be true. We seem to have too much speech, as bad-faith actors seek not to suppress the speech of others, but to flood the zones of partisan media, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp with falsehoods, confusing everyone and rendering that public square out-of-order due to informational sewage problems. Tech giants sit at the nexus of thorny questions over whether to restrict some speech on their platforms, but America has been reluctant to regulate its own economic champions. Europe, meanwhile, has proven more aggressive in making demands of them, while the platforms themselves struggle with fact-checking and when to remove posts.

Views on free speech—or, at least, on allowing anything at all in public discourse—are slightly different in Europe, due to different historical lessons, Bazelon writes, suggesting those lessons can be informative. In the 20th century, Europe saw Hitler elected to power democratically. “The ideal subject of fascist ideology was the person ‘for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience),’ [political theorist Hannah] Arendt wrote, ‘and the distinction between true and false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist.’ An information war may seem to simply be about speech. But Arendt understood that what was at stake was far more.”

Fareeds MHI

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