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Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

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American Exceptionalism on the Virus

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  • Here is another angle on this story...

    The last time Americans were asked to sacrifice daily life

    A good president can make you feel the urgent necessity of washing your hands after sneezing into a tissue so that your grandmother will be safe and avoid needlessly adding to the workload of doctors and health care workers tasked with healing the sick.

    In 1942, Franklin Roosevelt asked each citizen for an "equality of sacrifice" -- each doing their part to assist the nation.

    Citizens, including children, pitch in by collecting scrap metal

    image

    https://cnn.com/2020/03/17/opinions/coronavirus-hand-washing-world-war-ii-jacobs/index.html

  • Thank you. The first plot indicates how poorly US fight against COVID-19 versus other countries. The lies continue saying flatting the curve. In fact it is rising fast, and July 4th is this coming Saturday.

    Here is another link to John Hopkins showing the total cases in US (on lower right hand corner). https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html
  • Totally agree with @davfor. It comes down to leadership whether the country pulls together or not. Even Bush#2 was able to unite the country after 9-11. I think a leader has to start with compassion for their fellow citizens. Hence, why it isn't working now.
  • edited June 29
    +1

    Thought about posting something similar. The U.S. is the “greatest” in the world - in terms of the Covid 19 infection rate and total numbers. Brazil’s a close second though. At the same time, the EU is preparing to ban most U.S. citizens from entering their countries.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we could distance ourselves from the likes of Brazil and be more “in-sync“ with the EU? Not that they’re perfect. But a hell of a lot better model to follow in many ways than Bolosanaro’s Brazil.

    OT - But indirectly related
    - - -
    Demonstrating the often-times disconnect between “macro outlook” and investment results, Brazil’s stock market led the world in rebounding from the March meltdown, rising 60% in value over a couple months. Has pulled back some - but still hot. A nice bump up in PRLAX since I scooped a small bit out of the slime back in late March / early April. The fund’s largest holding by far is Brazil. That kind of “disconnect” often occurs and ought to humble anyone who thinks they know where a market’s going to go next based on their “macro analysis“.

  • At the same time, the EU is preparing to ban most U.S. citizens from entering their countries.
    It started...The situation was reverse in February - March when CIVID-19 cases in Europe was much higher than that of US.
    https://msn.com/en-us/news/world/eu-formalizes-reopening-barring-travelers-from-us/ar-BB169MiL?li=BBnb7Kz

    Infection is rampant in Brazil and it's getting worse as Bolosanaro ordered to stop counting COVID cases. The number makes him look bad.
  • edited June 30
    Sven said:

    Infection is rampant in Brazil and it's getting worse as Bolosanaro ordered to stop counting COVID cases. The number makes him look bad.
    I’m not going to waste a nice summer day digging up links here, but the pronouncements / psychology / appeal of the two heads of state in many ways appear a mirror image. How much of it does each believe and how much is intended to appeal to some kind of voter base? I don’t know. Does anyone?

    Some pretty revealing tweets / retweets from our guy (available to anyone who can read a newspaper, perform a Google search, view PBS (or any of the mainstream news broadcasts) - or possibly do all three. The latest well publicized ones this week don’t sit well with me. Others can form their own opinion based on who they are and what they believe in.

    And yet, markets (on the surface anyway) largely ignore the chaos and appear currently more concerned with things like monetary policy, stimulus packages, relative valuations, earnings, corporate management, bond ratings, consumer trends, regulatory rulings, job numbers, future growth prospects, momentum, etc. than they are about governance. That could / probably will change some day.
  • I completely agree with the comments about the lack of leadership.

    "Weak leaders praise themselves and criticize others. Strong leaders criticize themselves and praise others" - Adam Grant, Organizational Psychologist, The Wharton School
  • edited June 30
    stealing from countless before him

    yeah, we are now an undisciplined country whinier by the day, eating those early marshmallows

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/we-could-have-been-canada

    with our lingering horrific conflict heritage:

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/07/23/trump-unpresident-unredeemed-promise/

  • American 'exceptionalism' apparently means snapping up the next 3 months' global supply of remedesvir .... which can only be read as a gigantic f-you by the rest of the world.
  • edited July 1

    stealing from countless before him

    yeah, we are now an undisciplined country whinier by the day, eating those early marshmallows

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/05/15/we-could-have-been-canada

    with our lingering horrific conflict heritage:

    https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2020/07/23/trump-unpresident-unredeemed-promise/

    The last sentence of the New York Books article reads "The unconsumed past will either be faced and dealt with, or it will consume the American republic." This got me to thinking about Obama. His election dramatically crystalized a shift that had occurred in the American identity. Trump's election was in large part a dramatic statement that this shift was unsettling to many.

    I remember Obama talking about the American experiment taking the form of an upward sloping spiral. Progress and setback take turns at the helm but progress prevails through the march of time. Our current situation is bringing into clear focus some of the "unconsumed past" that is part of our American experiment. I am doubtful a final resolution is near at hand. But, the level of our national discomfort with the current state of affairs is deep enough that it is possible for significant progress to be made after the yin and yang of the Obama/Trump era has come to an end. So, I am hopeful......

  • Seeing it as a sort of thesis-antithesis-synthesis might be helpful, and if I could, I might take that tack, unhopefully though

    otoh, I lived through '68-'74, and this is worse in only some ways (somewhat occult treason), and with no public murders !
  • In 1974 cars lined up in gas lines.

    image


    In 2020, they're lining up in bread lines (but there's plenty of gas).
    image

  • it felt that much worse was going on in 1974 than gas lines
  • I agree with @davidmoran that it felt worse in the early 70’s than just a gas shortage. The country was wracked by the Vietnam war, Nixon had been impeached and then resigned, the stock market was the absolute pits for investors, and I think many Americans got a preview of what it was like to be taken down a few notches on the international reputation scale. For my part, I hope we never have a nostalgic return to the 70’s because everyone it was a gruesome time.
  • msf
    edited July 2
    My response was to the comment "this is worse in only some ways (somewhat occult treason)". There are a number of other ways in which it is worse now including, but not limited to, the ubiquitous breadlines. Compared to that the comparable 1974 image, that of gas lines, is a joke.

    How did '68-74 compare with the present regarding US relations with China? The US opened relations for the first time in a quarter century back then.

    Then there are those things that never change regarding American Exceptionalism on the Virus (Hong Kong flu then, COVID now):
    In Des Moines, a roadside billboard declared: “Hong Kong Flu is Unamerican! Catch something made in the U.S.A.”
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/05/19/prove-solution-pandemics-that-president-trump-continues-reject/
  • >> There are a number of other ways in which it is worse now including, but not limited to, the ubiquitous breadlines.

    I sure disagree. Maybe it's from being 73. We have not had public murders. We do not have thousands of conscripted soldiers killed monthly in an unendable war knowingly based on lies (now is close in some ways, sure, but not like that).
    There could not be a Kent State whitewash now, nor a convention like Chicago (again close, but not like that).
    Pollution was much worse (bad now, not like then), and penalty-free.
    Smoking was widespread.

    Not sure China trade or relations is an area to point to, really, though that opening was one of Nixon's achievements.

    Breadlines may well get more "ubiquitous" over the next months, so you can repeat that part then maybe.

    There were honest and good-faith Republicans in office then, that is true.
  • edited July 2
    yeah, we are now an undisciplined country whinier by the day, eating those early marshmallows

    Not to impede the serious discussion here, but if those are @davidrmoran’s words, I’d like to commend him on some lovely phraseology. I always admire good writing - even when I disagree with the message.
  • It wasn't that long ago that we sent astronauts to walk on the moon, but we cannot deal with this pandemic while trailing the rest of the world in the recovery. Truly sad!
  • msf
    edited July 3
    Perception clearly is affected by one's experiences. Certainly in many ways the era you speak of, 1968-1974 was worse than today.

    It was a dark era after the Second Reconstruction that had extended from Truman to Johnson. Just stringing two words together can evoke this period: "Boston" and "busing".
    It was the educational version of arguing that the Civil War was about states’ rights rather than slavery — one could uphold racist practices and systems while arguing that race had nothing to do with it.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/12/opinion/sunday/it-was-never-about-busing.html

    Langston Hughes/Nina Simone - The Backlash Blues


    Fifty years and little has changed. Hopefully, this time is different. In that sense, this is a brighter time. But consider also what brought us here:Experience does affect perception. Ensconced safely at home, sheltering in place, I could still hear nightly cheers for health care workers whose jobs were not made easier by American Exceptionalism on the Virus.
  • Sven said:

    It wasn't that long ago that we sent astronauts to walk on the moon, but we cannot deal with this pandemic while trailing the rest of the world in the recovery. Truly sad!

    I was actually thinking about that, but in another way.

    It really was that long ago. The last time the US sent a man to the moon was in 1972. Five times as long ago as it took to develop the whole Mercury/Gemini/Apollo program. Until a month ago, the last time the US launched an astronaut into space was in 2011.

    A decade later, the US is still paying Russia to put its people into space. $90M a seat.
    https://www.space.com/nasa-pays-russia-90-million-for-soyuz-seat.html

  • edited July 3
    Here are excerpts from two articles in NYT today that lend support to my hopeful attitude regarding the current situation.
    Four recent polls — including one released this week by Civis Analytics, a Democratic data firm — suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks. These figures would make the recent protests the largest movement in the country’s history, according to interviews with scholars and crowd-counting experts....nearly 95 percent of counties that had a protest recently are majority white, and nearly three-quarters of the counties are more than 75 percent white.
    _______________________________________

    Just under 20 miles from Custer is Mount Rushmore, which President Trump plans to visit this Fourth of July weekend...(It) is the American paradox in a grid of stark geology....No country can last long without a shared narrative....to make that happen, it will take an imaginative projection of the best instincts of those four imperfect men whose visages are chiseled into stone, as well as the Sioux warrior honored just down the road....You can honor the work they started, and desperately needs to be finished, by ignoring Trump’s ahistoric histrionics this weekend and watching “Hamilton,” which is streaming to many parts of the world starting Friday. This founder was an “orphan, son of a whore,” Washington’s better half, and in the person of Lin-Manuel Miranda, he’s a face of the American tomorrow.....At the core of the musical is the founding — reimagined, re-mythologized, rough-edged. A mess of contradictions, like this nation on its 244th birthday.
    https://nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html

    https://nytimes.com/2020/07/03/opinion/fourth-of-july.html



  • edited July 3
    I recently viewed “Forgotten Figures” based on recommendations here. Mixed feelings. Short on science and high on soap-opera appeal. Well acted. Worth a watch IMHO for the insights into segregation in the 1960s when we began launching men into space.

    What stood out to me as remarkable was a short 30-60 second clip of JFK speaking. What a contrast in eloquence and aspirations to what we’ve grown accustomed to. I know. I know ... that Kennedy, his family, many of his associates and fellow pols on both sides of the aisle weren’t faultless. A lot of image-building there. But my God, how much better in terms of what our nation aspires (once aspired?) to be than where we are now. By its very nature Idealism sets unattainable goals. But people need to dream, to aspire, to seek to better the common good.

    One of my favorite lines of all times delivers (a totally unintended) message about a life (or a nation) lacking purpose, direction, ideals. It was VP candidate Admiral James Stockdale’s opening remark during a 1992 debate:

    “Who am I? Why am I here?”
  • edited July 5
    @msf,

    That is a typical NYT piece of racial analysis, probing, broad-brush, perhaps excessively conclusive, and 98% true, and therefore it is hardly worth qualifying with the observation that for some few families it actually was chiefly about the busing, only about busing, since the Boston School Committee and others had made (forced Judge Garrity et alia to make) the schedules and routes immensely disruptive to everyone.

    (Maybe that's a bit unfair, since the integration and transporting plans were ambitious and large-area busing can hardly be done any other way.)

    You could in addition find not a few black families who opposed it for the same reasons.

    Anthony Lukas sat in my office for a half-year researching his famous book, at my long desk in fact, poring over the extensive Boston Phoenix (I was ME) busing coverage; and so we discussed all of these issues at some length, although we were not supposed to bother him (busy w book deadline) nor he us (editing and producing a huge weekly). The paper's jazz editor moreover had clerked for Arthur Garrity, who was excessively patient and merciful in not throwing the BSC in jail.

    As for plus c'est la meme chose, this is striking even in a time when almost everything seems striking:

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/07/03/opinion/there-seems-be-no-dismantling-bias-boston-area-housing-market/
  • Newsday did a similar test over a span of three years, published last year (not paywalled).
    https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/real-estate-agents-investigation/

    Here's WBUR's program on the Newsday study (45 minutes)
    https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/11/25/newsday-long-island-real-estate-investigation

    Some differences: no Section 8 testing, other racial groups in addition to Blacks, shopping to purchase not to rent. Still largely similar results.
  • yup

    The two Globe reports, as you saw, are 40 years apart.

    My first political protest as a grownup was for 1963 (talk about a bad year, christ) fair housing initiatives in my hometown in SW Ohio. (Parents were involved in the Urban League.) A pretty progressive city, actually, two black mayors in the later 1960s, iirc. Some hot cracker came up to me (I'm white) to grab my flyers and go on about n-word n-word and ask me if I wanted my Quaker girlfriend to marry one, etc. I would report that this was eye-opening except the summer's murders had already done that part.
  • edited July 3
    Matter of perspective... in the late 70's I was busting my hump making money, raising a young family, buying a house. I knew interest rates were high (my mortgage was 14+%) but other than that I was too busy to really pay attention to what was going on in the world... now that I think about it maybe the reason why --->> NO INTERNET, NO 24HR NEWS CHANNELS!! Sometimes we ignore the negative side of technology. I do know the late 70's/ early 80's tech job market exploded and it was a great time as far as making money.
  • yeah, it sure sometimes seems a close call about tech abetting of helpful information and insight and news / policy discussion vs abetting of destructive stupidity and lies and such

    as for inflation, I do remember in 1980-81 closing out a large 12% CD as part of my divorce settlement
  • "Retail" online news/info may be older than you think.

    CompuServe, founded in 1969, started offering a consumer online service in 1979. By 1980 you could read newspaper articles online.
    https://www.wired.com/2009/09/0924compuserve-launches/

    Usenet newsgroups also started in 1979, though they were only on a few machines until B news software was more widely distributed in 1981. By 1983 there were 100 Usenet newsgroups.
    https://today.duke.edu/2010/05/usenet.html

    With a smaller, more technical user community, IMHO content quality was higher than now (MFO excepted:-)). Spam originated on Usenet in 1994, when Cantor and Siegel started bulk posting.
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