the failure of state institutions during the pandemic

Yascha Mounk:

What has the pandemic told us about the state of our political institutions and the state of our economic institutions? Have you changed your mind about what’s working, or what’s not working, in light of the experience we’ve had over the last months?

Tyler Cowen: Let’s focus on the United States. Our early response, especially in that first two months, was essentially non-existent. It was from the Trump administration, but to be entirely fair, Democratic governors did the same thing. There were Democratic Party rallies up until some date in March. The voters did not rebel against this, so it is ultimately a failing of American society. The failures of our public sector are, in some ways, mirroring the failures of our private sector. For instance, if you take the libertarian critique of the FDA, which I very much agree with, I think one has to notice also [that] voters have not rebelled against various FDA decisions. The public health experts who are not working for the FDA often will endorse what the FDA is saying, and they are private sector individuals. The failings of our government are reflecting broader failings with the country, and I think you’ll find that in many other countries as well.

Mounk: Let’s start with the failings of the state institutions. I increasingly worry that this should really change our model of how well we’re going to be able to deal with a crisis. The institutions don’t seem capable of understanding when a situation has changed. And that failure seems to be reflected, as you’re saying, at the level of what people can actually imagine, what people can actually demand. Is that something we should just get used to?

Cowen: Part of the picture, especially for the U.S., is that on the vaccines front, we put in one of the best performances in all of human history, in terms of the science and eventually, after a bad start, the mobilization. We do need this bigger picture, where our government was incredibly good at one thing, and it needed to be something that the U.S. is culturally good at, which is a kind of mass mobilization of getting stuff out to people. It’s one of the greatest events in human history. It’s maybe a common pattern in American history that we close well and start off very poorly. Also, [with] the vaccines, it was something where you can hand out goodies to voters. And government, often for the worse, is good at that. In this case, obviously, it was for the better.

Related: Catholic schools will sue Dane County Madison Public Health to open as scheduled

Notes and links on Dane County Madison Public Health. (> 140 employees).

Molly Beck and Madeline Heim:

which pushed Dane County this week not to calculate its percentage of positive tests — a data point the public uses to determine how intense infection is in an area.   

While positive test results are being processed and their number reported quickly, negative test results are taking days in some cases to be analyzed before they are reported to the state. 


The department said it was between eight and 10 days behind in updating that metric on the dashboard, and as a result it appeared to show a higher positive percentage of tests and a lower number of total tests per day.

The department said this delay is due to the fact data analysts must input each of the hundreds of tests per day manually, and in order to continue accurate and timely contact tracing efforts, they prioritized inputting positive tests.

“Positive tests are always immediately verified and processed, and delays in processing negative tests in our data system does not affect notification of test results,” the department said in a news release. “The only effect this backlog has had is on our percent positivity rate and daily test counts.”

Staff have not verified the approximately 17,000 tests, which includes steps such as matching test results to patients to avoid duplicating numbers and verifying the person who was tested resides in Dane County.

All 77 false-positive COVID-19 tests come back negative upon reruns.

Madison private school raises $70,000 for lawsuit against public health order. – WKOW-TV. Commentary.

WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators

Assembly against private school forced closure.

Wisconsin Catholic schools will challenge local COVID-19 closing order. More.

2017: West High Reading Interventionist Teacher’s Remarks to the School Board on Madison’s Disastrous Reading Results

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

My Question to Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Teacher Mulligans and our Disastrous Reading Results

“An emphasis on adult employment”

Wisconsin Public Policy Forum Madison School District Report[PDF]

Booked, but can’t read (Madison): functional literacy, National citizenship and the new face of Dred Scott in the age of mass incarceration.