Home | About | Donate

Rethinking Freedom, Government, and Expertise in the Time of COVID-19

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/04/18/rethinking-freedom-government-and-expertise-time-covid-19

1 Like


this might be of interest to fellow Canadians and helps demonstrate how quickly those cheques can get into your bank account.

It pretty easy. I am not sure why it needs to be made complicated.

Government works. It only fails when Politicians have a vested interest in ensuring it fails.


Kinda sounds like the “Insurance” industry that our politicians can’t seem to help enough.

There are many special conditions of USA which make it especially vulnerable to any deadly contagion: an especially obese population (obesity is the #2 risk after age for severe COVID-19, recent studies indicate); more people imprisoned, detained or institutionalized as if disposable; a hospital system collapsing “just in time” from experiments with lethal efficiency; severe inequality and homelessness… it might be a long list. But right up at the top of that list – the most consequential vulnerability – is the national mental illness over which we plaster proud banners of freedom, patriotism, and individual rights. Freedom to unseat knowledge of truth, to put ignorance in in the driver’s seat. To distort, to lie, to hate.

There’s a striking symmetry here, a mirror image of our main problem in dealing with the Climate Catastrophe. Physically, it would actually be a piece of cake to put a stop to planetary destruction. Only our implacably proud USAmerican ignorance – our societal mental illness – stands in the way of preserving a living planet for future generations. So it goes.


Insurance is like money laundering. Take Medicare and especially Medicaid, funding is fairly well regulated to the point where it is turned over to private or even non-profit insurance companies that have systematically been deregulated with little oversight. And, of course Medical provider fraud but that is another topic. At issue, is that there are still a few alternatives, so there are pros and cons to putting all your eggs in one basket.

Libertarians need to consider when we are all free to do as we please it might take more than a think tank to get their way.


Things are always, “In the eye of the beholder.”
We went online to our grocery to inquire about the availability and cost of grocery pick-up and delivery service. Ten bucks to pick our list, load, deliver, and unload.
When we logged in the site listed all of the foods and other things we normally buy. BIG BROTHER grocery data mining.
My wife thinks this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I don’t like someone, some business knowing ALL about me, my purchasing habits, how much I spend, my facial image, and whether I buy brandy or whiskey.
I still prefer to sit in restaurants with my back to the wall. War time PTSD still a thing. The grocery store all up in my business doesn’t help.


Excellent article. This distrust of government and scientific expertise can be found on both the left and the right.

Oh, and regarding that 6-foot/2 meter rule. That already has a “what the public will tolerate” reduction factor applied to it. The actual safe separation distance in still air is more like 6 meters/20 feet.

1 Like

“Governments are not inherently good or bad. They are places where tremendous power is concentrated. Governments can be made to serve common human interests”

A liberal’s case that the State is neutral and not as Marx said that they are “the executive committees” of the capitalist class.

America’s only Marxist party

1 Like

In the US “the state” rather than being “the executive committee of the capitalist class” is more accurately characterized as the harlot or handmaiden of the capitalist class.

1 Like

Governments are not inherently good or bad. . .

Similarly with expertise, yes, there are experts who have been bought by industries. But we shouldn’t take that to mean that we should mistrust experts in general.

To win those programs we need to be able to envision a government that works for the common good, and we need the information that comes from legitimate forms of expertise.

Sure governments can do good and bad. But, Cynthia and Carlos, I think it is important to distinguish the abstract notion of governance from the particular government that exists in the US. There is no doubt that the US government can take action for the public good. We should demand and support such actions. However, the US government is structurally anti-democratic. From the US constitution to federal and state law, the interests of property owners and the wealthy are enshrined as canonical. So, while we push for the present government to take actions that are ‘good’, we must work for revolutionary structural change to bring about government structures that are democratic and focused on the well-being of all humans and the environment, not just wealthy white folk.

Similarly, it is true that experts have expertise in certain areas. But, while it is important to value expertise, we must never lose sight of the fact that experts conduct their practices in human structures that, to a large extent, amplify social pathologies of racism, sexism, classism, etc. Science and medicine are prime examples. These are profoundly biased endeavors. The computer scientists who argue that AI cannot be racist, are full of shit - Algorithms are developed, strung together, and directed at particular tasks, by people with inherent biases and operate in a racist society -> Racism in, Racism out. Similarly the social distancing guidelines and ventilator rationing policies, developed by experts, are extremely biased towards the more affluent and horrendous for marginalized ethnicities. Folk in crowded slums, refugee/migrant detention centers, and/or who need to work in order to survive, can’t social distance, so this ‘expertise’ is meaningless to them. The Blacks and Latinxs, under siege from environmental racism, now don’t get life saving ventilators because of the elite ‘experts’.

Sure, we should not dismiss expertise out of hand, but until the ‘experts’ are forced to practice their expertise in collaboration with communities, particularly marginalized communities, we must be skeptical.