Westphalian Sovereignty And Your Vote Tuesday March 1, 2020March 1, 2020 Really? The stock market’s fallen 12% in a week (versus 22.6% in a day, October 19, 1987) and you’re going to write about ham??? Well, no. It turns out that Westphalian sovereignty has nothing to do with ham. And I’m not writing about it, merely learning from what one of you wrote. But yes: it’s a scary time for the world and for its stock markets. John Mauldin provides thoughtful perspective (“COVID-19: A Crisis the Fed Can’t Fix”). And yes, competent government matters.* As Nick Kristof writes in the indispensable New York Times: . . . President Trump exaggerates threats from caravans of migrants and has diverted billions of dollars from the military to build a border wall that smugglers hack apart with $100 saws. But he has not been attuned to pandemic threats: In 2018 the White House removed the position on the National Security Council to fight pandemics, while seeking to scale back anti-pandemic work to about 10 countries from 49. Experts warned at the time that this was dangerously shortsighted. At a time when we need wise, scientifically informed leadership, we find ourselves with a president with little credibility and an antagonistic relationship with scientists. It doesn’t help that during the Ebola crisis of 2014, Trump was one of the most fiery critics of evidence-driven policies that actually succeeded in ending the outbreak. The United States is also vulnerable because of longstanding deficiencies in our health care system. We are the only major rich country without universal health insurance and paid sick leave, and we have fewer doctors per capita than peer countries. [I’m tellin’ ya: make med school tuition free — and only 90% joking when I suggest we pay for that by doubling law school tuition. –A.T.] Consider a Florida man, Osmel Martinez Azcue, who returned from China and found himself becoming sick. As The Miami Herald reported, he might normally have gone to a drugstore and bought over-the-counter flu medicine. But because of the risk of coronavirus he did the responsible thing and sought medical attention: He went to a hospital for testing. In the end, it turned out not to be coronavirus — but he was billed $3,270. We must ensure that no one is deterred from seeking help by the costs. The White House and Congress should immediately establish a system to ensure that patients need not pay for coronavirus testing and treatment. We should also ensure paid sick leave. Do we really want to go to a restaurant where a coughing, sneezing food preparer still goes to work out of financial need? . . . Eric R: “Are you kidding me? You want to tell me about Money and you’re a supporter of a Communist like Bernie Sanders? You are in the wrong business and need to get head examined!” → Thanks, Eric. If you read a little closer, you may conclude that post was not an endorsement of Bernie. That said, I’d note that Bernie is not a communist. Bloomberg argues the rich need to pay more taxes, and he’s not a communist either. Canada, like all our traditional allies, has universal health care. They’re not communist. And while we’re doing labels? Putin was for most of his life a communist. Now, a journalist-murdering kleptocrat, he’s a dictator. Dictators are not good just because Trump likes them and, whenever possible, acts like one. We desperately need calm, competent, honest, decent, dignified, empathetic leadership. Toward that end . . . Joe and Mike should figure this out. > Mike is unmatched at putting together teams — he should run Joe’s transition? (Properly done, transition planning begins long before the election.) > Be the nation’s chief operating officer with Joe, in effect, chairman of the board? (And a strong young vice president, ideally a woman and/or a personal of color?) What an act of astounding patriotism it would be for Mike to fulfill his pledge to fund a Democratic sweep, no matter who the nominee, while working to assure the strongest possible Administration. We don’t need a revolution. We do need to make dramatic progress toward the goals Bernie and the rest of us share: universal health care, a revitalized infrastructure, less inequality, campaign finance reform, and so much more. For that to happen, we need to win — and be able to work across the aisle. I think Republicans would be less resistant to working with Joe and Mike than with Bernie. You know what? That’s enough for now. You’ll just have to wait on Westphalian sovereignty.