weekly blog--one for the ages
It is rather shameful the way the president and his cadre of Republican supporters are putting our hard-earned democracy in peril by continuing to push baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud, and how they have reacted to the worsening pandemic. So, what is it that makes Americans American? Here is a take from a prominent political scientist.
According to the scientist, a lot of the things people think of as being uniquely American are appropriately called aspirational: the idea of individualism, equality of opportunity, self-governance and engaged citizenship.
Most Americans want certain values to be prevalent in their lives and they want the government to support them. Some of these key values are freedom, equality, and order. However, those do not always go together. And when they conflict, and politics can be thought of as a conflict between these values, the government must pick one.
In any society, there is always going to be some degree of autonomy that people must give up for society to function. What type of autonomy are you willing to give up? When are you willing to give it up? And any time it is something new that we are not already used to, there will be resistance to it. There is also a deep distrust among Americans towards government, and they often do not believe that government will execute programs efficiently or use its resources responsibly.
Compared with other countries, Americans also have the complexity of federalism where we value devolving power to the states in some areas, but not others. And people like to celebrate their state identities. Part of our national character is the immense variation across the states, and all that feeds into our response to the pandemic and the recent presidential election.
CoVid Update…Two recent studies on health care workers at nursing homes tell us something profound about the pandemic in the US, according to an article in the Boston Sunday Globe.
One suggests that one of the most important factors in keeping patients alive was whether staff were unionized. The mortality rate was 30 percent lower in unionized nursing homes than those without worker unions because unions generally demand high staff-to-patient ratios, paid sick leave, and higher wage and benefits levels that reduce staff turnover. The second shows that patients at nursing homes where staff had to work at multiple locations were more likely to die, because staff carried the infection from one facility to the next.
American individualism and our collective crisis (knowablemagazine.org)
Germany has lessons about containing the damage of COVID-19. It’s not too late for us to start listening - The Boston Globe