covid revisited

Reports have come out recently showing that the population of China is starting to decline, for the first time in over fifty years, as commentators are putting it. This is, of course, a tap dance around the large purge of businesspeople and intellectuals engineered by Mao in the late1950s, and which caused the population to shrink back then.

This is partly a result of Beijing policy, partly the mess Xi Jinping has made of the country during his tenure.

More about this, and the possible shift in world economic emphasis to India, tomorrow.

I was reading the latest issue of Foreign Affairs last night. The book review section contains comments on two recent books that deal with the covid pandemic: Pandemic Politics: the Deadly Toll of Partisanship in the Age of Covid, by Gadarian et al: and The Trump Tapes: Bob Woodward’s 20 Interviews with President Donald Trump (an 11-hour+ audiobook).

The reviewer, Jessica T. Mathews, makes the following points:

–officially, 1.1 million people in the US died from covid, which is only a tad shy of the 1.2 million American soldiers killed in all the wars the US has been involved in from the Revolution onward

–the actual total is more likely 2+ million, which would be a worse result than any other developed country and, ex India, worse than most large developing nations

–Pandemic Politics argues that the “core explanation” for this “calamitous” performance was Donald Trump, who thought it would damage his reelection prospects if he acknowledged the looming public health crisis and took (GDP-slowing) measures to combat it. More Machiavellian than I’d given Trump credit for

–The Trump Tapes argues that Trump knew in January 2020, from a briefing epidemic experts in the government who had lived through SARS and had deep contacts in the medical community in China, that covid was the deadly equivalent of the flu epidemic of 1918. 50 million Chinese were already in quarantine and thousands were dead. Trump ignored the information, and now denies that anyone told him

–the reviewer’s take is that several hundred thousand Americans died unnecessarily (more than all the American servicemen killed in WWII) and that “incredibly, neither Trump nor and Trump administration officials have been held to account,”

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