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The Trump Easter Celebration – Resurrecting The Economy?

Posted on | March 25, 2020 | 2 Comments

Mike Magee

New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, was sufficiently disturbed by President Trump’s suggestion that our nation needlessly sacrifice American lives to protect the American economy with a quick return to work by Easter, that he turned to his old friend, Michael Sandel, legendary political philosopher at Harvard for reassurance.

As many of us do, Sandel saw the problem as systemic. As he put it, “In a highly individualistic society like ours, we don’t do solidarity very well.”

Channeling my own messaging from CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex, he continued, “Our lack of preparedness for the pandemic reveals the lack of solidarity in our social and political life, especially in our inadequate system of public health and lack of universal access to health care.”

Friedman is not the first columnist to be unnerved by American culture. Back in November of 2017, David Brooks wrote a column titled “Our Elites Still Don’t Get It.” In it, he states, “Trump is constantly making friend/enemy distinctions …creating toxic communities based on in-group/out-group rivalry.” Of course, back then, Brooks could not have imagined how far down that road we would travel.

Sandel sees a pathway back to sanity he calls the “common good.” What does that mean, asked Friedman. “The common good is about how we live together in community. It’s about the ethical ideals we strive for together, the benefits and burdens we share, the sacrifices we make for one another. It’s about the lessons we learn from one another about how to live a good and decent life.”

In Sandel’s eyes, the course Trump is suggesting amounts to an Easter celebration that allows the Economy rather than Christ to rise from the dead. He says, “The strategy of contending with the pandemic by allowing the virus to run its course as quickly as possible in hopes of hastening ‘herd immunity’ is a callous approach reminiscent of social Darwinism — the idea of the survival of the fittest. It allows the contagion to spike, intensive care units to be overrun, the most vulnerable to die, but with the goal of jump-starting the economy sooner rather than later.”

In 2017, David Brooks wrote, “The first step in launching our own revival is understanding that the problem is down in the roots.” Sandel believed that rot at the roots reflects markets out of control. “Markets are useful instruments for organizing productive activity. But unless we want to let the market rewrite the norms that govern social institutions, we need a public debate about the moral limits of markets.”

President Trump would do well to read Michael Sandel’s “Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do?” In it, he says, “the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud to be Americans.”

Comments

2 Responses to “The Trump Easter Celebration – Resurrecting The Economy?”

  1. Dr Salah H Mandil
    March 26th, 2020 @ 8:45 am

    To the above comments of Thomas Friedman and Michael Sandel, with which I agree, I would add that Trump has dragged the image of, fast becoming the meaning of, “President of the USA” to a level of profound disrespect by the average human inhabitant of our mother earth. We started by assessing him as ill-informed, then just-a-big-mouth, then a politician seeking votes, …, and now an unstable man in an office we used to respect because of its global impact.

  2. Mike Magee
    March 26th, 2020 @ 9:05 am

    Thank you, Dr. Mandil. Your leadership and guidance with the WHO adds weight and credibility to your comments.

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