It sounds like Trump is using some DPA measure to try to keep food processing plants going. That makes sense. Cuomo claims he’s trying to contract with farmers to distribute surplus milk or perhaps have some processed into cheese and distributed to food banks. That also sounds reasonable, though I personally have no handle on the specifics of dairy production.
I suspect we’re a nation with a lot of excess food capacity and one that can handle the logistics of keeping people fed, even if it requires some state intervention.
I read that. Both of those seem reasonable given what’s going on, although I think if I were in charge I might literally send army troops of younger, healthy individuals to provide manual labor to plug any gaps and assuage the whole “ZOMG YOU’RE KILLING THE WORKERS” stuff. It would probably shut the unions up pretty quickly.
So, what’s left to trigger armed conflict? Maybe disagreement between states that want to try to contain the virus and those that don’t? Or people in those camps? Or contested election results?
If the food supply is stabilized, that will be a huge bonus, but I don’t view this as an all or nothing thing. Since you’re a regular reader, you know I think stochastically, and in ordinary times we have a 10% chance of armed conflict over an 18 year period. That chance, when evaluated by experts, was 7 times higher on an average annual basis before Covid-19.
Game Theory on the “Second Civil War”
A Strategic Path to Avoidance Flows from Analyzing Outcomes (also we trash on Vox a bit)
What we’re dealing with now with Covid-19 increases that chance. A food shortage would increase it further. If we can get the food shortage buttoned up, that will be great, but we’re still higher than 2018, which is still higher than baseline.
The state thing is going to be very interesting. If Georgia’s numbers stay pretty flat, or even go up slowly enough that ICUs stay under capacity, and the Pacific State Coalition refuses to come off of lockdown to spite Trump, you could see a lot of people on the ground there angry at their state. And if the unemployment thing turns into a regional thing, and states refusing to come off lockdown run out of unemployment funds first and beg for federal bailouts, and states who came off of lockdown early don’t need those bailouts and are pissed off that other states are getting money they’re not getting, that could be the story in the summer.
I know you’ve tried to stay above the culture wars over the last couple years. But do you really think the man in charge is sending a helpful, coherent message right now?
I’m not sure “helpful, coherent” is anything Trump is even capable of doing. I don’t think he even knows how. I don’t think he could do it if he wanted to, and I’m surprised anyone listens to anything he says at all.
I think this is a reflection of where we’re at as a people. “Helpful, coherent,” is not what gets you votes in this media landscape.
I have trouble imagining half a million Americans starving to death this year. I have trouble imagining half a million Americans shooting each other. I can imagine half a million Americans getting sick and dying. I see that as the base case that we’re trying to avoid. I can also imagine having a bad recession. And, I can imagine having both, simultaneously, if we botch the response.
If you consider a bad recession while half a million people die of disease to be a botched response, then the response is already botched. That’s absolutely going to happen, within some “total number of deaths” error bars. The half a million dead (plus/minus) result was inked back in February when the FDA and CDC pissed away any chance of contact tracing. The bad recession was inked when we went from voluntary social distancing to lockdown. My serious advice to you and anyone I know is to go ahead and prepare for those things to happen, both procedurally and emotionally.
The only question left is whether we throw a third ‘botch’ into the mix, that of pushing the recession into an irrecoverable depression because we forgot that “flatten the curve” and “herd immunity” were always the same thing. Or a fourth ‘botch’ where we run out of food. That botch will absolutely trigger violent civil unrest. It always does, historically speaking.