Category Archives: Western Europe

Europe offers hope during the pandemic; the U.S. offers shrugs

Liverpool Central Library, 11March2015, Photo: Anthony Moretti

The Boston Globe offers a blunt reality about one aspect of the fight against coronavirus: European governments are providing significant stimulus dollars to aid their citizens under lockdown, while the U.S. government doesn’t care what happens to its people.

“There’s a very straightforward connection here,” said Marc Draisen, executive director of the regional planning organization Metropolitan Area Planning Council. “If people see they’re getting some help to make it through, they’re going to be more receptive to restrictions.”

And spare me the argument that Europe is promoting socialism. It’ s promoting common sense.

Of course, no one stimulus effort will completely make up for shuttered businesses, lost wages and the like. However, Europeans are being sent home with an imperfect assurance that some of their economic needs will be met.

In the United States, people don’t have the confidence that their government can — or wants to — do anything for them. Combine that with the moronic idea that “this is just the flu” and America is destined for hundreds of thousands more coronavirus cases and thousands more deaths from them.

Why is Europe (and soon America?) dealing with an explosion of coronavirus again?

The Guardian reports multiple decisions made by European leaders and citizens contributed to the new set of lockdowns issued there. (Oh, and the same circumstances are evident in the U.S.).

The view of health experts now is that, for various reasons, Europe’s strategy for exiting its spring lockdowns failed. Either politicians ignored their advice, or the systems weren’t in place to implement it correctly. People’s goodwill and trust leached away as the pandemic dragged on, and when those experts started calling for stronger measures again this autumn – and the same exit strategy as before – politicians were even less willing to listen.

The fault is not only the politicians’. Some governments may have done better than others in managing their epidemics, but all of them are trying to satisfy as many of their voters as possible – and of course, to stay in power. The misunderstandings that have landed us in this new chapter of misery belong to all of us. There are really only two of them, but they have done a lot of damage: an inability to grasp the notion of exponentiality, and the dangerous idea that you can simultaneously save lives and spare the economy.