Technical policy questions often involve ethical political questions that the public must have a say in
As vaccination for the coronavirus in the United States ramps up, I want to take a look back to a policy dispute over the initial plans for vaccine distribution at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 – in part because that fight (like “follow the science,” which I blogged about recently) also …CONTINUE READING
A wild-eyed misinterpretation of the commerce clause
A federal district judge ruled today that the federal government’s moratorium on evictions is unconstitutional. The judge’s theory is that evicting tenants for nonpayment of rent isn’t an “economic” activity. Therefore, it’s beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause. I know that sounds nuts, but that actually it is what the judge said. The judge’s theory …CONTINUE READING
Experts will no longer be pariahs under Biden. But will their voices be heard?
One of the abiding issues in governance is the balance between democratic leadership and experts. We don’t want government solely by technocrats. Nor do we want government steered solely by ideology and politics, as under Trump. Biden will be a vast improvement, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll get the balance right. I …CONTINUE READING
Science is necessary, but not sufficient, for good policymaking
In the wake of the poor performance of the Trump Administration’s efforts to address the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, there has been advice that the Biden Administration should “follow the science” in developing its coronavirus policies and strategies. While an emphasis on a clean break from the prior Administration’s rejection of the nature …CONTINUE READING
What have we learned about dealing with mega-risks?
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic has driven home some lessons about governance. Those lessons have broader application — for instance, to climate governance. We can’t afford for the federal government to flunk Crisis Management 101 again. Here are five key lessons: 1. Effective leadership from the top is indispensable. Major problems require action by …CONTINUE READING
The Administration’s management harkens back to a spectacular business collapse at the turn of the century.
Think of this as a parable. I’ll draw out some parallels at the end with the Trump Administration’s handling of the coronavirus, as detailed in a story in Sunday’s Washington Post. But first I’ll let you make some of the connections yourself. The Trump team’s triumph in 2016 was one of the great upsets in …CONTINUE READING
Why is he investing so much in something so draconian and so unnecessary?
As part of their proposed stimulus package, Senators John Cornyn and Mitch McConnell introduced a bill that gives almost complete immunity protection to businesses that fail to take precautions against the coronavirus. It’s called the “Safe to Work Act,” but really should be called the “Work at Your Own Risk Act.” McConnell says he won’t …CONTINUE READING
There were basic errors in organizing the White House pandemic response. It’s a teachable moment in crisis management.
The rap has been that the White House just ignored medical experts and left everything to the politicos. A NY Times story over the weekend reveals that the story was more complicated. It discloses basic failures in management and crisis response since early in the coronavirus outbreak. Those failures should be heeded by future leaders. …CONTINUE READING
When does public health override individual rights?
Lockdowns and social distancing impinge on activities that are protected by the Constitution. That’s been true in many states of church services and in some states of abortion. When the cases have come before they courts, they have often turned to a 1905 Supreme Court case decision, Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which upheld a state law …CONTINUE READING
Yes, he was at fault, but it’s complicated.
In a column about a week ago, Paul Krugman pointed to the dire consequences of the reopenings in the Sunbelt and laid the blame entirely on Trump. He viewed it as “case of Republican governors following Trump’s lead.” The “main driving force,” he said, was Trump’s reelection strategy. There’s some truth to that, but it’s …CONTINUE READING