August 11, 2020

Reuters published an article about the blast in Lebanon this morning, with a photo of graffiti . . . this was the message of the graffiti, “MY GOVERNMENT DID THIS”. The government stepped down yesterday amid the corruption.

Many highlight the corruption in Lebanon, but it is worth comparing the devastation in Lebanon with what is going on in America.

Last week a blast, probably accidental, of 2,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate killed at least 163 people (.002% of the population) and injured 6,000. It is estimated that there was $15 billion of damage and 300,000 people will be left homeless. For such a small country this is an almost inconceivable blow.

While the COVID-19 fallout isn’t quite as bad in America, it is worth noting that the human toll has been far greater and that all indications are . . . the US GOVERNMENT DID THIS. I am sure they won’t resign, but they should.

In the United States, COVID has now killed 163,000 people (that’s 0.05% of the population) and 5 million have been infected. There are likely still over 50,000 people hospitalized with COVID related issues (the US numbers have been unreliable since the President ordered the data to be sent to Health and Human Services (HHS) rather than to the CDC.). That number of 50,000 is a daily number. It hasn’t been below 30,000 since late June.

To be reasonable, it is important to recognize that there is a battle going on with a virus, a microbe that can’t really be controlled. It is a new entity (do you need any better argument for the theory of evolution?) and so can you say apply any blame to government?

Yes. There is no other country in the world so badly affected by COVID-19 as the United States. If you look at countries across lines of wealth, population size, density, or almost every metric, the US is doing very badly, with a bad situation.

Note: This is a limited selection of countries by Wealth, Geography and Population

The chart below shows the infection rates per thousand population and per capita GDP. While things may look bad for some countries (Note Qatar, Bahrain, San Marino, etc.) these countries have now largely brought the COVID pandemic under control. The US (red dot, just above Luxembourg) isn’t even close.

The US has done this to itself. The Federal government has actively worked against the best advice from the best virus experts in the world. Those action have allowed (perhaps caused is too strong a word) the spread of the virus, understating the risks and threatening policy makers who were taking precautions.

As noted above, when the Federal government (VP Mike Pence) took control of the data about infections and hospitalizations on July 11th, the rates went down dramatically (which is unlikely with a virus, particularly without stopping all movement of people). Now the data is suspect despite a probable turn for the better.

In the case of Lebanon, the government didn’t manufacture the chemicals that exploded, they didn’t hold the torch that likely ignited the chemicals, and they very likely didn’t want the disaster to happen. It is clear however, that their inaction followed multiple warnings by experts and the ensuing tragedy is a result of those actions. The same is true for the tragedy now befalling the American people. Stopping the virus could have been accomplished within a few months, just like it was in China, Italy, Canada and many other countries. Failure to act was certainly a contributing factor.

While nobody expects the president to resign, there is another election coming up. Perhaps the American people will recognize the incompetence, corruption and greed within their midst and vote the government out? We should have a clear indication in 90 days.

(Featured Photo – Credit: REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

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