We are now into the third month since the Coronavirus broke out to Wuhan, China. While China has now lifted its lockdown with no new cases of Corona, the number of cases in the United States continues to climb. The Federal Government has taken a number of different positions on the origins and severity of the virus which the World Health Organization is now calling a pandemic.
In our study of the American system you have learned a lot about its structures and how it functions. Primary among this information are the following items:
1. Federalism: the division of authority between a federal government apparatus in Washington, D.C. and 50 state governments with parallel structures, duplicate agencies and the same separation of powers between legislative, executive and judicial branches
2. Administrative Law: the vast bureaucracy of regulatory agencies which, in themselves contain legislative, executive and judicial, fundtions and which issues rules and regulations that administer more of our lives than any other branch of government..
3. Hierarchy of power and access: Founded on the basis of a small elite whose members wrote the founding documents of the country in their own reflection and resisted letting the vast majority into the political process until that mass of people demanded to be let in through demonstrations, strikes, collective action, judicial challenge and voting options.
4. Wealth inequality. Through court decisions, tax relief and business concessions, the amount of wealth accumulated at the top of the social ladder has increased dramatically in the last two decades. The difference between the average CEO and the average worker in the United States is in excess of 400 to 1, whereas in other developed, industrial countries it is at most 20 to one.
5. Political rights but not social and economic rights: Because the Bill of Rights and the other 15 active amendments to the U.S. Constitution are political rather than social and economic, funding of public schools, hospitals, health facilities and medical research institutions have been drastically cut in favor of the private sector and much of the authority over social services has been sent back to the state level rather than the federal government in Washington. States are then free to fund or not fund social services, environmental problems, water and road mantenance.
This is an important year when we will elect the President of the United States. Enormous amounts of money are being spent on national campaings that have been running for two years. Michael Bloomberg spent $500 million in his bid for president only to withdraw when the reception was less than positive. Not only the President but every member of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senators of Congress are up for election on November 8.
With all this background, please think about the following while keeping in mind the needs of business, education and health care:
1. What is the Coronavirus and how threatening is it to the economic and social health of our country?
2. In what ways has the federal government taken the lead in fighting the ever-increasing number of Coronavirus cases and deaths since January?
3. How was the federal government prepared and not-prepared to deal with a crisis of this magnitude?
4. What was the federal government’s first response to the crisis? Has that initial reaction been altered and if so, how?
5. Why have we not been able to contain the spread of the Coronavirus?
6. What would you have done differently if you were in charge on the federal level?