Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): March 26, 2020 James Meadway on the economic dimensions of the coronacrisis (article here) • David Quammen on zoonotic diseases like covid-19, which leap from animal to human and wreak havoc

Unemployment claims surge

Last week, 3.3 million people* applied for unemployment insurance. That’s five times the previous record weekly number, a series that goes back to 1967. Compared to monthly averages and expressed as a percent of employment, which is how it’s shown in the graph below, that’s over two-and-a-half times the previous record. As of the previous week, 1.8 million people were drawing unemployment insurance, so the number of new claimants is almost twice the number already on benefits, or 182% as many, to be precise. That ratio has never exceeded 26% before. This… Read More

Explaining the rot

In my article about fighting the coronavirus and economic crises yesterday, I said: We also need to invest in the physical and social infrastructure of this country. For decades, civilian public investment net of depreciation has hovered just above 0, meaning that we’re doing little better than replacing things as they decay. Here’s some more detail on that, which updates a September 2017 post. Graphed below are histories of net public investment in the US, from the national income accounts. (The source is table 5.2.5, here.) “Net” means after accounting for depreciation, aka… Read More

A few ambitious points on fighting the crisis

We are facing two crises at once, health and economic, that are related in very important ways. The covid-19 epidemic has done major damage around the world, but it’s highlighting some serious structural problems with the US social model that better-run countries are not so afflicted by. We are plagued by a deep economic polarization complicated by minimal social protections; severely diminished state capacity, with eroded institutional structures and extremely debased quality of personnel at the highest levels; years of underinvestment in basic infrastructure, both broadly and in health care particularly; and… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): March 19, 2020 David Himmelstein of Physicians for a National Health Program and CUNY on how US health policy got us to this desperate pass • Helen Yaffe on Cuban interferon and COVID-19, and the country’s biotech industry and health system (YUP article here)

Why UI isn’t enough

I’m going to be posting a series of commentaries on the current crisis. Here’s a quick first It’s odd to see Democrats like Pelosi and Schumer objecting to Republican schemes to send everyone a check for $1,000, maybe two. Of course, one- or two-off checks for $1,000 won’t pay many of the the bills for very long. But talk of means-testing right now looks mean, cheap, and politically suicidal. Schumer says that rather than write checks, we should expand unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. It would have to be some expansion. Benefits are low,… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): March 12, 2020 Kali Akuno on why black voters like Joe Biden • Dibyesh Anand on the belief system of India’s Hindu Fascists (book here)

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): March 5, 2020 Andrew Bacevich, historian and president of the Quincy Institute, on the history and structure of the US permanent war mobilization (Harper’s article, The Age of Illusions) • Chris Brooks on the UAW bribery/embezzlement scandal (articles: ITT, Intercept)