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covid is back. with covid-19 case numbers suddenly surging to coincide with the reopening of the nation and hesitant returns to normalcy, it’s clear that america hasn’t flattened the curve. as a second wave of infections looms in the very near horizon, rp and tom discuss the spike in cases, how we can prevent further spikes, and where to go now.
tom scott is chairman & co-founder of the nantucket project. rp eddy was the architect of the Clinton administration’s pandemic response framework and the United Nations response to the global AIDS epidemic & is CEO of global intelligence firm Ergo.
rp is co-author of the best-selling award-winning book Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes with Richard A. Clarke, Former National Security Council counterterrorism adviser.
[00:00:16] Tuesday, my name’s Tom Scott, I’m here with our P.E.T. Arpey. Typically, what we do is we make these shows and then after we finish the shows, we title these shows and build a little artwork around it. I’m going to take a guess that we’re gonna call this show. Koven is back because it seems to be the case that Koven is back. There’s a variety of statistics I have here, news that I have here. We were talking, you know, I’m going to start here, actually, Sweden.
[00:00:49] If you look at Sweden.
[00:00:51] Look at the Scandinavian countries, Denmark, Finland, Norway. They all had strict lockdown. Sweden did not. Sweden now has roughly twice as many infections and five times as many deaths as the other three nations combined.
[00:01:09] So Sweden, as a as an experiment, based on the metrics I used, did not go very well.
[00:01:19] We can talk about many others here, IPN, I would like to, but let’s just start there. Your reaction to what I said about the title in your reaction to what’s happening in Sweden?
[00:01:29] I think you and I are paying really close attention. I think we’ve been paying close attention for a few months. So I think to us, it’s pretty obvious that we’re we’re entering a dangerous zone again. We may have had a couple of weeks of reprieve after the lockdowns. I’m not sure the body politic gets that yet. So if we say the krona is back, you know, we’ll be right. We’re going to definitely feel that in a week, two weeks, three weeks in a month. So, yeah, Corona’s back Sweden, as we talked about Sweden before, we spend some real time talking about that country, a country Holden, actually very high esteem before this happened. Public health service, public health infrastructure, pretty extraordinary country. Thank you. But they completely blew it on Korona in district context. They thought, hey, you know, it really seems like Till older people will lock down the older people. Well, that the younger people just get to life. We don’t want our economy to suffer and let the economy suffer when you lock down. And it didn’t work partly because they didn’t lock down the older people enough. Huge flashing Asterix here. Neither is America. Very few countries have figured this out. If you can protect your vulnerable populations, you will save lives. You will save 90 percent of lives. No one has done it well except Serbia. Crazy, right? The one country you never think of somehow figured out how to protect the elderly populations. So what is it? If you had to guess Sweden versus Serbia. Who’s going to do it right? Well, turns out it was Serbia, not Sweden, who he had to get Serbia versus the U.S.. Who would do it right? Serbia, not the United States. A lot of countries have done better than both Sweden and United States. So, yeah, it’s back. So here domestically, just as we’ve talked about, Thomas isn’t news. If you’re if you know, based on conversations you and I’ve been having, it’s it’s ripping back. And of course it is. So we have to just get to this framework.
[00:03:19] We have to either accept, you know, this is a cagy virus that gives no quarter.
[00:03:27] That has no emotions. Doesn’t care how prepared you were. Doesn’t care how well you worked previously. Doesn’t care that you wore a mask yesterday. It just cares about that singular moment when an individual exposes themselves for infection. Right. You know, we have to accept that we’re not going to outthink this thing, you know, being crafty. We’re just going to have to put real effort into it. And the second thing we’re going to have to either accept as a nation or not, in fact, enforcing our is going to have to accept it is we’re going to have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans dead from this disease. Germany isn’t suffering that fate. Australia is not suffering that fate. Canada probably won’t suffer that fate on a per capita basis. They’re not doing great but to do better than us. Many, many nations, a lot like us, have done a whole lot better than us.
[00:04:14] So the second point is we have to accept that we’re going to have hundreds of thousands Americans dead sooner rather than later. And that’s just where we are now.
[00:04:23] We can accelerate that number by continuing the socialization in the non safe behaviors that are rampant all across the country. Or we can say, look, we’re willing to make sacrifices and lock back down to save the lives of older people, which is effectively the question. And right now we’re making a decision. No, we’re not willing to make that. We’re not not not going to make that sacrifice.
[00:04:46] Yeah, I mean, it’s.
[00:04:50] It’s sort of staggering. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, we’re one hundred twenty thousand deaths as of today.
[00:04:57] Two point three million cases in America. I’m gonna assume that the.
[00:05:04] That number of two point three million is derived by increased testing, which which is to say that numbers probably still, though much larger. You know, and here I’ll just go here, I think about it, and I look, I don’t know. I think generally my behavior is safe. Generally, my behavior is safe. And I think the behavior of my family and the people I work with is quite safe. You know, I was in our office today by myself. I hadn’t been there in weeks. You know, it’s it’s sitting there as an empty building because we’re doing our work from a distance. And then I think about.
[00:05:49] And you know that the story this week was, oh, Trump’s numbers and his Tulsa gathering were smaller than he suspected or it had anticipated, and less talk of how well he gathering all these people inside in the first place. You know, we’ve shut down all the sports teams and, you know, our events shut down. And I stand by that. I think it’s the right decision. And in the meantime, the president of our country was going to gather as many people as he possibly could endorse.
[00:06:22] It seems crazy to me.
[00:06:24] I think I think you and I and I think probably everybody, almost everybody listening to this grew up not just with memory after memory of presidents who were competent and others centered in nation nation focused. But it was something that we became a leitmotif and an archetype of who we are and how we think about this nation. Right. And what we have now is a president who is so dramatically different than everything we grew up with, everything we ever considered, anything we ever taught, even if you hated the politics of the president. We never, ever had a president who was this profoundly incompetent, this profoundly narcissistic, this profoundly bad at his job.
[00:07:09] And I think it’s very hard for us just to accept that. Right. It’s like waking up one day and all of a sudden thinking you’re realizing your parent is a horrible parent. Right. After decades of having a different belief. So the leadership by the president is so horrendous that there’s no word that really gets to it. Why am I so particularly animated about it today versus other days? Probably because the comment he made at that rally. So you’re right. Like the whole concept of building a rally, bringing people together during a pandemic is is selfish and dangerous and stupid. And that’s wrong example. OK, we get it. But then to standing there in the rally and say every time we test, we find more cases. So I told them to stop testing.
[00:08:00] In the president’s states, little said that.
[00:08:02] So we can go on and on with the opprobrium and the anger about who he is or we can get back to accepting as hard as it is to accept that that’s who our leader is and get back to. We have to lead ourselves. And that gets to your question of being safe. And we should talk more about that, because, you know, I’m I don’t know, I probably been in 10 states in the last two weeks moving progressively west. Now we’re in Idaho, I hope, tomorrow to give you a better view of these gorgeous lakes, these gorgeous mountains. But as we move further west, there’s less and less disease burden per state till we get to Idaho, Idaho starting to pick back up. But across North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, etc., the disease burden was quite low. Wyoming, Montana. It’s starting to pick up here and it’s picking up everywhere now. And it’s fascinating to look at the behaviors. And it’s fascinating to think about shared consequence. People still do not get it. Every conversation I have, I’ve only had one conversation on the trip where people denied the disease. Now, I was in my home state of Wisconsin. It was surprising. We talked about that already. But now it’s more like, hey, it really doesn’t matter to us. And it will.
[00:09:14] Yeah, well, it’s some I mean, Nogami just rattle through true statistics. I mean, what I’m showing in Arizona. Is that one hundred percent of their ICU spaces being used now? Now, there’s other space. I mean, you know, that that happened here in New York. We’re not talking about total hospital space, but we’re talking about ICU space. And that, you know, in Alabama, 28 percent in Georgia, 28 percent in South Carolina, 31 percent. You know, and these numbers are rising. I think it’s. I want to talk a little bit about this question of indoor outdoor. You said this last week when your your your feeling is that Arizona’s. Weather is offset by the fact that people are inside in Arizona, inside with the air conditioning. Right.
[00:10:08] And how big is the indoor outdoor aspen?
[00:10:11] Usually big. Usually big. You look just it’s a brand new disease, like unbelievably new in the context of how long we’ve lived with the disease diseases. Right. But we do believe that it is much more transmissible inside. I mean, the critical factors are is the spittle directed at you? Do you? Is it getting into your nose, your mouth or your eyes? And are you getting a sustained insult from the spittle of an infected person? So if you end inside that, what’s the healthy? What’s the context of that spittle surviving? So if they’re low humidity, is their high temperature, how you ve if so, the spittle, the disease will die faster or the inverse. The disease will live longer. So effectively, just think about it. And this is this is all you have to know. Where does it spread the most rapidly in America? Meat, meat processing plants. I suspect almost no one on here has been in a meat processing plant. I don’t think I have, but I’ve seen pictures. Right. So it’s freezing. The workers are right near each other. There’s no light. It’s inside. It’s perfect for the disease. So if that’s perfect, then just figure out, you know, the spectrum of of when you start approximating safer. So if you are outside on an Arizona desert, playing golf, walking alongside someone or going for a walk, that’s probably fantastically safe. Well, not wrong. That is probably as safe as you can be for a. Environment. Right. Alternatively, if you’re in Arizona, an air conditioned room and you’re seeing together, we’re talking together. That’s dangerous. So it’s it. That’s what we think we know now. Every single thing you hear about this disease. You are going to change our minds on you should take with a grain of salt. There’s a lot more we have to learn. You know, the big news in the last couple of weeks on the biology, the disease, was that it appears children are half as likely to be infected. That’s positive news. It’s big and it’s new. And then we’re going to continue to find positive molecules to help us deal with the disease. Right. So dextromethorphan or dexamethasone was just discovered to be a positive therapeutic for the disease. So we’re going to keep learning things about this as we go on. But right now, that’s the concept of whether E.V., wind, heat, moisture, etc..
[00:12:36] On Friday, I participated in a in a demonstration in the city. I went to New York and. It was a Black Lives Matter gathering, and it was pre powerful, I have to say, was one of the more powerful experiences in my life. I got very emotional, you know, and I got emotional in an unexpected moments from unexpected things. It was people’s passion, like I was really. Inspired by their passion and their. Was very clear to me that there was a big groups of people who were sort of at their wit’s end. But they also just had such I felt hope. That’s what I felt. I felt a degree of hope and like a strident desire to be heard. That I would observe.
[00:13:39] I don’t know. They’ve been carrying with him for a very long time. OK, now I’m speculating there. I don’t know. And what am I reacting to? I’m reacting to the nuance of being with people live and seeing the way they they’re behaving and the way that they’re expressing their energy. That’s it. And I thought it was beautiful. I thought it was beautiful. I thought it was. I’m so glad I went. I’m so glad I spent the time. And what happens in New York is these marches start in these different parts of the city and then they combine and it’s like it’s like rivers feeding together. And there’s moments when you see streams come into getting a little nervous because you feel like, you know, it’s where we get packed in on the street. I bring it up. You know what? I just want to make the observation I thought it was beautiful. I think it’s.
[00:14:24] I think, you know, the behavior of the president in the last few weeks has been abhorrent.
[00:14:30] And it’s part of the reason I think there’s such strength in this group of people who are marching under the banner of Black Lives Matter. I thought it was really great.
[00:14:41] But then I have to say, I talked about covered a lot. You know, I wore my mask the whole time. It’s hot. It’s not fun wearing a mask in the heat, in the heat like that.
[00:14:52] But, man, were we close to each other. You really figure out if he had to brush your teeth after it on you? We have a mask on for sure. God, it’s true.
[00:15:00] By the way, I could do a better job, but I was nervous.
[00:15:06] You know, I was nervous for the disease. And do we know yet?
[00:15:11] Like what? What? How do you react to any of that? I mean, I was really I just want to make a commentary unsorted, like we were talking about the president before. We try to be anti political. But the behavior, the guy just seems to be outrageous to me. And there’s two massive stories among others going on. One is about race. And one is about a disease. And they sort of combine in essence in where I was on Friday. And just how do you react to any of that?
[00:15:36] So protests the president and then the disease quickly on Korona and protesting against initial studies show there is not an increased transmission from people in protest, which is great news because there’s a lot of people protesting.
[00:15:57] So initial non peer reviewed, non empirically, probably, obviously proven studies. Why would that be? Because you’re outside winds blowing. You’re not talking to one person over and over another. What would be a dangerous aspect to be not in the protest, not wearing a mask and being in a smaller, not a more confined space, but being in a higher density area with the number of people who are are, you know, talking at you. So another thing you remember, so we talked about meatpacking plants. Everything you remember is one of the best studies right now about transmission was about a choir think there in Georgia. And these numbers are directionally accurate. Not exactly right. So I think 45 people went to choir practice. One person was infected, 43 people left infected, indoor choir practice three hours long. They’re able to map where everybody sat. So, again, it’s choir you’re singing. You’re you’re, you know, exhaling disease out of your lungs over and over and over at the same group of people in a confined space. So anywhere in protest where there’s a group of people exhaling on each other over and over, potential chance for transmission, if not a good mask be worn. But otherwise, the studies say right now, not increased transmission from protests. Thank God. The president on an A what’s there to say? Probably worth noting, just for the historical record. He tried to fire the. He did fire the Southern District in New York. Prosecutor. He and Attorney General Barr went through kind of an extraordinary bad news cycle. Ham handed handling of fire, trying to fire a U.S. attorney. Why do they want to fire that? Trump appointed Trump donating attorney because he was investigating Trump because that office is going to investigate Trump, because that office has a history of being very independent from from everywhere. Is FDNY Southern District of New York. They nicknamed themselves the Sovereign District of New York, and they hold their independence extraordinarily high. So he tried to fire. He did fire that attorney general choose me, that southern district attorney. There is a whole cycle with the attorney general bargaining in the middle of it. And eventually he’s now been replaced by his deputy, who will probably be good for investigation, independent. So bad for Trump. So that’s another piece of news. It’s just insane. Right.
[00:18:24] But then finally, on back to the protests, Tom, what was the group like? Like who was there? What did it look like? What was the demographics? What was the age? Was the race?
[00:18:34] I would say it was. Sixty five percent black. 20 to 50 years old die. 17 to 50 years old. 90 percent mask’s. High percentage of mass, for sure.
[00:18:54] Friendly, you know, and, you know, the it’s it’s so interesting to be there among all these police and there’s police everywhere and the police are the ones that are taking the hit, you know, in a lot of the language.
[00:19:04] And I don’t know, there’s something about it that’s like. A beautiful statement on democracy, I’m sure. There’s a lot of restraint going on in a way that is hopeful, you know, very peaceful. But very brave, you know, very.
[00:19:29] It felt very real to me. And what do I mean by that? I’ve been to a number of protests over my lifetime. Not so many, but in college in particular. It felt a little bit like a scene, you know.
[00:19:41] And in this case, this was not a scene that this is like I remember this one woman.
[00:19:46] I looked at her and I just judging. But I looked at her passion and she was bombing a guest who was a 30 year old black woman.
[00:19:52] And I just looked at her and I said, like, she believes every word she’s saying, she’s angry. But you could feel her hope. You know, you could feel like this is a moment that she’s not going to let go and that they’re going to accomplish something and we are going to accomplish something that’s really important. Anyway, that’s that’s me reading the crowd and her. But that that would be my reaction.
[00:20:15] How about the.
[00:20:17] We’re going to have Chief Bratton on, I think, next week, who’s been considered the greatest police leader of the 20th century, the previous century’s great leader of this century. I’m really excited. Talk to my policing. What was the really. How what was going on with the police?
[00:20:38] You know, it’s interesting. So there was some.
[00:20:42] It does traffic. Right. So, like cars are trying to do what cars want to do. It’s a Friday in New York. I got there at about two thirty on Friday.
[00:20:51] And so the cops are trying to let people go home.
[00:20:54] I’m going to guess by 4:00. They want to let the cars move when they can. Moves every now and again. They cut lines in the protest to do so.
[00:21:01] And the protesters didn’t like it. And, you know, in each case.
[00:21:06] You’d see a guy in charge who in New York, it seems to be like they wear different colored shirts than everybody else, but whatever. And they were like really studying the crowd.
[00:21:16] My observation is that they were very well trained and the cops were at the, you know, the butt end of a lot of protest and they seemed to handle it really well.
[00:21:29] I mean, you know, this isn’t super scientific, but I was impressed with the way the NYPD handled the situation because they were there to keep peace.
[00:21:39] They were there on the. Again, the butt end of of what was being said.
[00:21:43] And they did it sort of seemingly humbly would be my reaction.
[00:21:50] I have know one thing that we’ve talked about is it’s not necessary to be technically correct right now as perhaps as much as is to be apathetic and to maybe embrace to some instances the very subtle or nuanced realities of the racial situation in America. Some so obviously are not subtle and nuanced. And what I mean is you and I have talked about some critics of the protests who want to come out and talk specifically about the property damage or the riots or why was this statue taken down or that vs. allowing a little room for an awareness that as you were feeling out there, there’s millions and millions of people who have deeply seeded, you know, centuries long grievances that they need to air and they need to be fixed. And instead of listening to that and trying to wake up to understand what’s going on, you can focus on why was this store looted by this group nonetheless? So I think we’ve made a lot of room for Lisa, my my let’s say my head. I’ve tried to make a lot of room for not wondering why was this particular crime committed and focusing on that. You know, the law and order side of my head versus the broader. It’s time for a social change part of my head. But I have seen these videos of people getting right in the face of police officers, young people, men and women of mixed races and just being unbelievably cruel to them. And it’s it hurts me to see that, too, because I’ve worked a lot with police for a long time. And I’ve also seen we all have on TV the horrors of police gone wrong. And I hope we can find a balance. But I I’m not going to start talking about the law and order. Why did this happen? Why was this wrong committed, this crime committed amidst this big, broad social change? But I, I, I think a lot of people in America that are more caught, you know. Right. Or Law and order voters, et cetera, are going to get more and more animated and are going to be they’re going to be teased and taunted by videos of police being criticized or, you know, yelled at or had things thrown at them right in their face.
[00:24:08] And so I get it and be back to our Clint.
[00:24:11] Lots conversations about disinformation, Russia’s and Russia’s impact on this election, Russia’s impact on how we deal with ourselves, neo-Nazi Americans’ impact on trying to message to us that kind of video. And I think we’ve all probably seen it is precisely what they love because it makes people feel the way, you know, the thing that I’m mentioning right now. Like what? You know, maybe they’re pushing this too far. What’s going on? And it’s divisive and I don’t know. There’s nothing to be nothing we can do about that. But I do want to make sure and noting that a lot of a lot of police officers. I mean, you know, some massive percentage are out there getting paid very poorly, putting themselves in harm’s way to help us. Now, there are some that are brutal murders and there’s many that aren’t. So I hope at some point we get back to that balance. And by the way. Final comment. I’m not saying that this movement to radically restructure police departments is wrong. If you had asked me that a year ago, just flash question, should you define the police or should you do these things with police departments? My gut instinct would’ve been no. But the more I read about it, the more I think about it, the more I think that there’s a huge amount of demilitarization that needs to happen, police departments and and a de-escalation of the aggression that needs to happen police departments. So I hope those things happen, too.
[00:25:36] And if I have a hope, I mean, I feel like it’s some. My own thought experiment and some in my own head. But some of what I’ve read and conversation I’ve had is recontact, you know, reconsidering crime and punishment in America entirely. Like, why not? Let’s have a really healthy conversation about it. Like, I don’t I don’t think crime is going to go away. The question is how we react to crime, how we prevent crimes in the first place. How we maintain peace and human rights and all those other things, I think is a valuable conversation no matter how you title it. And then I think the other part of is, is. And for me, the more important part of.
[00:26:22] Is how do we love our brothers and sisters like I know. I don’t know how else to put it, like let’s get let’s get good at that, because everything that grows out of that has a chance. Everything that starts with policy. I’m not against policy. I’m all for policy.
[00:26:37] But I feel like if you start in that other place, man, it could be amazing what we might accomplish. And, you know, again, I think it’s a beautiful, you know.
[00:26:49] Human rights, the right to vote, the right to a fair trial. The right to peaceful protest. I mean, it’s it’s an amazing thing that that we’ve built and to do it in a multiracial, multiracial, multicultural society is, I think, a great idea. And I think the idea that we could really try to understand each other is so powerful. I want to mention to you know, Dan was trying to watch the Tulsa the Trump gathering because he was just curious. I want to be clear. D.A. never had anything approximating a fan of Donald Trump’s. But when he was watching, he was watching people criticize people wearing masks. Now, no matter what you think about whether the economy should have stayed closed or open or whatever it is you think, how the hell did we get to a place where wearing a mask is somehow a negative? Right. And I can say that, you know, I feel very strongly. There’s one person who could really help in that regard, and it’s our president. Regardless what your politics are, guys wearing a mask is probably a beneficial thing. So let’s do that.
[00:27:55] Yeah, that’s a good point. So if we haven’t, like, explicitly the safest thing you can do, which the economy can’t stand, is just to stay home and separate. We can’t do that anymore. No way. The next most effective thing you can do is wear a good mask properly. And it’s unbelievably effective to prevent you to infect others and to prevent you from getting infected infected. So remember, proper mask, good mask, properly worn. And so I do encourage every to try to get the best mask they can.
[00:28:29] And, yes, become the symbol of, you know, I have to say, I’m in Idaho, I’m in a town that actually has a history of far right behavior quarterly in Idaho, a state that has a history of neo-Nazi activity, really strong like percentage activity. And my son and I went out to the stores yesterday to buy stuff and we wore masks and a number of people did not a lot, but I didn’t see any side gaze. Like, why are you wearing a mask? Which was cool. But it’s certainly become a symbol of, oh, you’re one. You know, you’re on their side if you’re wearing the mask, at least in the Trump rally, I guess.
[00:29:07] Yeah. It’s an unbelievably attractive, interactive and important tool. And it’s a generous thing to do, too. Wearing a mask. You’re helping other people and you have to sit there and smell your breath for hours while you do it. It’s not pleasant, but you’re doing it. Help other people, too. And you’re right, if the president just wore a mask and said this is a good thing to do, there’d be none of it. But he’s not going out.
[00:29:26] Yeah. And to me, it’s like an extension of the divisiveness. It’s like, man, we’re going to fight over everything, you know, in the fact that we it ends up in that, you know, me being about a mask, it’s just there’s something about it that’s just incredibly disappointing.
[00:29:45] But we’ll see. We’ll see. I mean, I do think my this is my general feeling. My feeling of the state of the world right now is that there are a number of people who are acting on hope to make a better world because we think the one that we’re coming from wasn’t good enough. And, you know, we’ll see. We have an election coming. It’s probably going to be really divisive, but maybe it’ll be hopeful. Maybe it’ll be something that is is really good for us, too. And it wouldn’t be insane to think that in the midst of some some of these crises, we might find a new kind of hope like that’s actually fairly typical that those kinds of things can happen. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Doesn’t mean it’s gonna be easy. But it’s sort of, you know, what I hope for. And, you know, look, I think when it comes to Cauvin and I know we keep bouncing back and forth on these things, but I think they’re so closely related. You know, one of the things that.
[00:30:43] Comes to mind for me is that.
[00:30:46] I think fundamentally covered his comp complex and that I’ve seen behaviors around my own neighborhood.
[00:30:53] That are, you know, in a my neighborhood is relatively progressive. However you want to put it.
[00:31:01] And psychologically, when the world changed and the winds change, their behavior changed. When the behavior change, you kind of wonder where this is going to go next. But let me mention another place, India.
[00:31:11] Dan sort of outlined some stuff to me. What’s happening in India? It’s happening in India like it’s becoming a real problem in India.
[00:31:20] And so to me, the thing that the place I keep going and it was what you were saying before, I think it’s very important that we all accept that the math of the disease, which is to say it’s still around, it gets in people’s lungs. When it gets kicked out of people’s lungs, it can come into your lungs. And if it comes into your lungs and you’re in trouble and it seems to be the case that, yes, you’re better off outside than inside.
[00:31:41] But it’s growing like crazy in Brazil. And Brazil is essentially, you know, tropical or subtropical, which is to say it’s warm year round and that India, too, which is, I think.
[00:31:55] More tropical. I should. I’m not going to get that exactly right, I’ve been to India, but and I’ve been any and the winner and a lot of well, where are you where the disease is spreading right now in India’s.
[00:32:02] It was hot, so.
[00:32:04] Yeah. So it’s happening like it’s like this is a real thing and it didn’t go away and it’s not about to go away.
[00:32:12] And we’re gonna have to have good behaviors for a long period time. But how much you know about India? Cause here it comes. It’s coming on in India now.
[00:32:20] Well, so let me do one thing first. So, United States, October, September, August, September, October, November. That quarter, those for those four months are going to be the most divisive, dangerous and demagogued months in the memory of anyone listening to this show.
[00:32:38] All the machinations that are going to go on around this election, the brutal realities of this disease and the continued social protests around Black Lives Matter.
[00:32:49] And George Floyd are going to be extraordinary. Why worse than now? Because the disease will be stronger. Why would disease be stronger? Because children be back at school and they will help spread the disease. And because we’ll be entering flu season and states.
[00:33:03] So just be aware, like these four months are August. And so I’m saying June. July will be. We’ll keep watching the disease pop up. Back up. Like I was saying, the beginning. I think you and I and the headlines are showing the disease is coming back. I’m not sure it’s in the vault and stronger people yet, but it will clearly be in people’s awareness starting in August. I’ll get September, October, November. You get to the presidential election. It’s going to be an insane time in America.
[00:33:31] And in some show, we should start talking about some of the games that are going to be played by both sides around the elections. Or let’s say three sides, Democrats, Republicans and foreign interference. And they’re going to be dramatic. So that’s this one common one to make India. When I went to the State Department years ago, I was very young and I went to work at a bureau in the State Department. And I met a guy who was 10 years older than me. So he was in his mid 30s and he had just joined the Foreign Service, which is a little late. Normally you join in your mid 20s, young, early 20s. Normally, he joined in his early 30s, maybe mid 30s. And I was talking about, wow, you know, what did you do before? And he had been I guess he worked at a hedge fund or had been some sort of stock trader.
[00:34:23] And to me, that seemed romantic in a way to make a lot of money. You know, the grass is always greener, says, oh, wow, what why? Why, why would you possibly leave that career? And he said, Because I woke up every morning reading the headlines and seeing a catastrophe and wondering how he would make money off of it.
[00:34:41] And I one day realized, my God, this is horrible. I want to go help the world, not try to profit off of its misery. So I joined the Foreign Service and I’m the conversation actually stuck with me. He was a great diplomat, by the way. I wish I remember his name. And when this disease broke for our clients and for myself, I went around the world, you know, literally, not literally. You know, I studied the whole world and we created some not models about really early on which states were going to be able to resist the virus in which states were going to be hit the hardest. We looked at whether we looked at health infrastructure, we looked at density of population. We looked at, you know, all sorts of things, multiple factors. This was in early March and maybe late February. And at that point, I said India is going to be in so much trouble. And I shorted an ETF on India. I did what this hedge fund guy left to go be of service. I made a bet on the misery of India. And I. I still feel very badly about it. And I lost all the money, by the way, so my option wasn’t dated properly. If I had a longer option, I would have probably made money on it because India now is obviously in big trouble. But they resisted it for a long time. So when I think of India, that comes to me first. This idea of like, wow, you actually made a bet you would have made money on more people dying in that country, which is a kind of a perverse thing that’s related to this sees India itself. All those reasons that we thought it would have trouble. They’re having trouble, right? High density, poor healthcare, low awareness of a low percentage of doctors. One thing that might be working in their favor is it’s in their culture to wash their hands a lot. It’s in their companies, in their culture. But there are there are a number of societal norms there that do that might make them a little better prepared to prevent microbes from flooding floating around. There also appears to be a vaccination that some Southeast Asian countries have given to a lot of their population that may have provided some buffer. But whatever it was that slowed down, the virus in India is gone. The virus is ripping through the country. And it’s very, very sad because they have a very poor every infrastructure in India, poor, including the public health infrastructure. So there was a you know, sorry, I sort of bring a couple of stories into one, but India is in trouble. Brazil’s in unbelievable trouble. And Brazil’s in trouble because of poor leadership. India is in trouble because structurally, it’s just a hard country to get this right. Modi’s not a bad leader on the disease. He hasn’t been great. But Bulsara, the leader in Brazil, has been criminally bad, very somewhat of our president. And that country’s in a massive, massive, massive disaster right now. They are going to overtake the United States in fatalities and in new infections probably sooner rather than later.
[00:37:42] Do you when you think about where this could go. I mean, we all think in terms of it seems to be the case that we all think of in terms of, you know, about a year from now, we’ll all start being immunized from the disease.
[00:38:06] But I don’t know. That may not happen for sure. I mean, there’s a lot there’s a minute there’s a lot of sort of outcomes that can happen. And, you know, the way the global economy is set up today. The implications for health challenges in other countries like Brazil or India, they come home.
[00:38:25] More than emotionally, they come home in the form of dollars. They come home in the form of politics.
[00:38:33] How do you look at that? Like, are there are there bad case scenarios that we don’t talk about enough?
[00:38:38] You know, HIV is killed.
[00:38:44] Deca, millions of people in the world, I think hundreds of millions of people. It’s a disease. I spent a lot of time working on and we still don’t have an HIV vaccine. HIV AIDS, we don’t have a vaccine for that. And there was a lot of effort, not like the effort that’s been put into this, but there’s a lot of effort.
[00:39:02] First question is why? Why is there so much ever being put into this disease that’s killed? Hundred twenty thousand Americans. It’s going to kill 3000 Americans by the end of September, probably. We’ve lost more people in this country from HIV and in the decades than than that.
[00:39:18] So why is there so much more effort into this disease than to HIV? Well, that gets a lot to inclusion. It gets a lot to the fact that HIV was considered for a long time a gay disease, that it was an African disease and there wasn’t a lot of money in the vaccine. There’s probably eventually a lot of money in a in a Saar’s Kobe to vaccine. So the bad news is there’s still a 25 percent chance I use HIV AIDS as an example of understanding that with a lot of scientific effort, you still can end up with zero. There’s still a 25 percent chance we do not get a vaccine in three years, and we should remember that. Now, obviously, we all hope that’s wrong. Then there’s and then there’s a chance that the vaccines developed by an entity that doesn’t want to distribute it is called, quote unquote, fairly. Then there’s the reality that any country who develops the vaccine minus some regulatory issues they have from donor dollars, which we’ve talked about before with the SEPI initiative and other initiatives, whoever does develop it, whatever nation does develop it is going to have to give it to its populace first. Meaning, if China gets it is the vaccine first and it’s an effective vaccine. And the company there in China that made it didn’t have a series of contractual obligations to share it around the world. China will get vaccinated first. How can you be the leader of a country and not take care of your people first? So there is massive vaccine nationalism going on. There’s a serious national race to develop the vaccine. America is doing fine. But so that’s that’s another option. And then a final option is that we come up with a less than perfect vaccine and we rush it out. So if we have a vaccine that works on half the people, that’s better than nothing, that’s for sure. Particularly if it’s safe. But if it works on, again, half the people your President Trump, even if you’re President Tom Scott, you’re going to be highly motivated to get that vaccine out. Now, in so doing, what you’re doing is you’re taking up manufacturing capacity, distribution capacity and, you know, people’s immunization capacity with a less than perfect vaccine.
[00:41:24] This president obviously has shown zero. What’s the right word? Maturity. There’s a better word than that around hyping cures and therapeutics. His behavior with hydroxyl chloroquine being a perfect example.
[00:41:41] So would we expect him to have any restraints if there’s good news about a vaccine made in America? No, he’d have none. And we could rush forward with the left’s than vaccine. And meaning if we’d waited a month or two, perhaps, who could have had an 80 percent, 90 percent, 99 percent effective vaccine? So there’s a lot of challenges going on here about when will we get it? Will it be the right one? And then to whom does it get distributed in you layer in this nationalism concept on top? So, again, I’ve said it before. But if China gets the vaccine first, this will be a source of national pride for them, similar to America landing a man on the moon before anybody else. And rightly so. This is a global catastrophe. And they would be someone who provided a solution. And would they extort or extract a cost for that from nations? Of course they would. Amidst all that kind of negativity, there’s some kind of beautiful news from the European Union. They have committed to put up I can’t read the number. I think they’ve committed about 50 million doses of the vaccine early for Africa. I think that’s a special thing. And when I see things like that, it breaks my heart that America is not trying to figure out how it can help lead other nations and thereby return American to its international preeminence as a leader. Bernard Shaw credentials as a global leader in a time of crisis. Which is what we used to be. But we’re not.
[00:43:04] So if we’re gonna project 300000. I’m just going to try this on. Did you say by the end of September, by the way?
[00:43:13] I think so. You know what? We’re 600 dead a day and they’re never going to go up. So you can without any dramatic changes, you, unfortunately, are getting to that number.
[00:43:26] So if we’re two hundred thousand, some odd deaths in the latter part of August.
[00:43:34] Might you not open the schools? No, I don’t think so. I mean, I think we have to accept that since member people learn through stories, not statistics.
[00:43:43] One, death is a tragedy. A million is a statistic. Right? I think that was Stalin who said that. And I think in America, I can just tell you, at least on this car ride scene, thousands and thousands Americans across the country. People want to be out. People want to socialize. People want to get to work. And people even know what we’re not asking them. It’s doing it. So we’ve got 120000 dead, 300000 dead.
[00:44:10] So what it’s I think I think we have to accept that this nation has a callousness.
[00:44:18] I don’t throw a word as we call a callousness or a rationality, depending on how you want to look at it, that says we have to get to work. And by the way, American Individualism says a lot of us want to wear masks or just immaturities or not wear masks in public. And what we’re doing, the other thing is, remember, it really largely largely kills people over 65 years old. Not entirely, but but dramatically more lethal to people over 65 than 75 than 85 because of about 10 times in each of those age brackets and lethality to get to a four or five percent lethal to someone already five years old, which is a huge number. Right. So and those people die in private. They die hidden behind hipper regulations. They die in old folks homes where the family can’t visit anymore. They die without press coverage. And they they’re they’re old anyway, quote unquote. So folks are probably we are callouses in America where we’re kind of willing to accept that three or a thousand probably won’t feel a whole lot different than to America than honor. Twenty thousand. That’s my guess. It’s it’s pessimistic. It’s sad. But that’s my guess about what’s gonna happen now.
[00:45:24] How does that change if we get stories, not statistics. So why did the UK change its point of view dramatically? They were headed for a Sweden solution. They were going to do a hands off, protect the old people, keep the economy alive, let people go to work. Don’t lock down answer. That’s where they were headed. What happened? Their prime minister, Boris Johnson, got the disease. Got very sick. Went to the ICU. Almost went on a respirator. They woke up. They got Cheesus. They said, okay, I get it.
[00:45:57] Could something like that happen in America? A celebrity get very sick, a child get very sick. I hope not. I’m certainly not praying for that. That kind of thing.
[00:46:05] That story could change us, change our decision making process here.
[00:46:12] Djokovic, the number one tennis player in the world, just tested positive for the disease.
[00:46:18] He’s young and healthy. I pray he’ll be fine. Statistically, he will. But that also tells us about sport. Right?
[00:46:27] So, you know, if we don’t have poignant stories, I think America is going to display a callousness where we’ll be at 300 and we’re not going to bat an eye.
[00:46:37] Yeah, we’re in an interesting time.
[00:46:40] There’s a lot more in a crazy time, and we don’t I don’t think we know how crazy it is and it’s going to get crazier and crazier.
[00:46:46] And we’re missing a center. I mean, whether I think I think I think I’ve made clear and I I’m not on this side of our current president, I don’t think any either of us are on that side.
[00:47:01] And yet I wish we had. And it’s for me, it’s it’s it’s less political than it is human. I think would be really helpful to have someone in office who you might disagree with politically. But you felt like they were trying to hold a center together that was of value or was, you know, a value visa, the Black Lives Matter.
[00:47:23] It was a value vs v the disease.
[00:47:26] And I just don’t think we have that. And so we’re going that this time we’re headed into. I talked earlier about the optimism. I still have it. I still have it because I think, you know, these battles are won over time.
[00:47:39] And that, to me, might my impression is that people are on the good side of the fight, but the fights is going to be messy.
[00:47:48] That’s my impression.
[00:47:48] I can’t prove it. I feel strongly about it because I get around a lot. I say I meet and see lots of different people in lots of different places. By the way, we’re going back down the Mississippi again.
[00:47:57] Yeah. So I’m so excited to watch that.
[00:48:00] Yeah. And so that’ll be very interesting.
[00:48:02] And it’s all about having safe, physically safe and courageous conversations about race. I mean, our conversation is going to be about race. And we’re bringing Aleesha Wises, I think, to go with us. Neal Phillips is going to go with us. You know, people whose who are good at this, who understand these things and can do it in a powerful way. But I mention it because, you know, in our little tiny way, it’s hopefully a pocket of hope. And I think there are many, many, many others. And that’s why I ultimately sign on the place of hope than the other place. But I’m also anxious for sure.
[00:48:39] Where did you know this? The next few months are going to be horrible. I’m sorry. The disease is going to rip. The partisanships gonna be intense. Other tools, other entities trying to rip us apart are going to be in full gear. There’s other things. You know, this is also a moment when those things happen, other bad things happen to becomes an attractant for extremist behavior or terrorist, et cetera. Just having a lot of gasoline laying around. So effectively, what this means just is a bad thing. Could that lead to a great outcome? Could. What does that stupid expression? You can’t make an ammo without breaking eggs, which is horrendous and inhuman way of looking at it. I guess it’s true. You know, we have a persistent, massive racial disparity in this country that is centuries old and simply hasn’t gotten fixed. In some ways it’s gotten worse. Are we going to wake up to then try and change it? I hope so. And if it if it hadn’t, it wouldn’t have happened, unfortunately, if George Floyd hadn’t been slow motion murdered in front of us. It’s still not happening yet. We’ll see. Ripping down statues isn’t a long term solution, but this kind of pain is what has to happen. You had a shirt on the today that’s had suffered, right? We have to go through or the country’s gonna have to go through a lot of pain and reckoning, perhaps to get to where we ought to be. So let’s hope that for all the cost we’re going to incur and I don’t mean the disease so much. I mean the division and the divisiveness, the demagogery. Let’s hope that we get a positive outcome from that. But let’s not be complacent. I presume we will. So your tautly your trip down to Mississippi, like anything you can do, you want to protest anything we can do. That’s what we have to do. All of us. This is a moment when we are we are we are just paying a massive cost and we should try to get something out of it. Neitz was try to get a government by the people, for the people, for all the people to try to get a government where America gets out and leads internationally and shows the world with the city on the hill means let’s get a government. Let’s get to people where we lead individually. And we are selfless. We wear masks. We don’t affect other people. Let’s get a world. Let’s get a country where we aren’t callous about old people dying and that we don’t go to parties in the Ozarks or parties in the pool over here or wherever and feel like, well, it’s OK if I get the disease or my kids get the disease.
[00:50:57] And it’s probably statistically relatively safe. But you’re forgetting that you’re going to get. You’re going to be then exposed to be bald and are going to die because of your carelessness.
[00:51:05] Let’s see if we can get there. But but let’s also gird ourselves. The next four months are going to be extraordinarily difficult unless leaving us in positive out of it.
[00:51:17] Yeah, well, I think engagement in our society, you know, is.
[00:51:26] Feels more real to me than it’s felt since college. I mean, college, just because that’s what college kids do. But, you know, as an adult, it’s not even close. And I think that that emotion and that feeling is where the answer will lie, because without it, I don’t think we get anywhere. But I think to the extent that people make that sort of civic engagement thing in whatever way you can, it’s going to make a difference. It’s going to be meaningful. And we’re gonna be able to answer questions in a more satisfying way on the other end of this than by sitting back or we’re just hoping anyway, that you said something before that struck me.
[00:52:01] And it was simple and was strong. Twitter is a lie. Right. All this divisive social media in its concept is a lie. Does it mean each individual tweets a lie? But like this, this battlespace has been designed to click bait, make money based on us. Fighting each other is a lie. I think that was really wise of you to comment. Maybe we also know that social media activism is a lie. Right. You know, posting Black Lives Matter on Instagram page or any of these things we do really doesn’t forward the ball. I’m a mascot. Maybe. Let me ask. Does it forward the ball? I don’t know that it does. I think you have to vote. I think you have to mobilize voters. I think you have to get on the street and protest. I think you have to go call up your police departments and see what rules are you following and hold your mayors accountable, much like Graham Allen, its own vow did. For example, I do want to talk a whole lot more about that. We keep saying we should and we haven’t. But that individual leadership is what’s going to change us in this instance. Social media activism is a lie, too. It’s not going to move us as far as we need to get. And it’s probably an opiate, right? It’s the lotus eaters. It makes us think like we’re doing the right thing. Oh, I posted something on social media. Like I’m good. You’re not you’re not doing it. This you know, the way you look at what we’re doing and say this isn’t doing. You a thousand people might watch this. But is this enough? No.
[00:53:28] No, I yeah, I mean, I think it’s some.
[00:53:31] I did my first political post in my life about two weeks ago.
[00:53:40] Felt like the right thing. I, I but I generally agree with you. I mean, I think it’s. Twitter is a really good battleground. You know, it’s a good place to do battle, but you might be in a battle that you’re not actually in. And I think that happens a lot. And my own observation, when you see people together live and they have a meaningful conversation, the miracles that happen are beautiful.
[00:54:03] I mean, I just here’s the thing about that. Like, it sounds so simple and I say it all the time and I’m sure people get sick of me saying it. But when I observe it over and over and over again, I do more and more. I believe it’s the only way you have to engage with other people, because once you see what the truth is, the truth is hopeful. Right.
[00:54:23] We walked into a bar in Montana, Wyoming, Montana, SILVERGLATE and there was a couple of family sitting at a table and he had the old the grandfather had on the most audacious and bold Trump 20-20 hat I’ve ever seen and think might as well sparklers on it.
[00:54:43] And my little boys, my wife and I all kind of, you know, it just the whole table had Trump, Kiran. And I thought, oh, man. Like, I wish I had a visceral response. And there weren’t a lot other people in there. And, you know, 20 minutes later, all talking, they’re lovely humans there. I didn’t get into Trump, but they care. They cared about Black Lives Matter. They cared about the protests.
[00:55:11] They actually, of course, were. We’re good. They appear to be very good people. They just had a very different political point of view than we did.
[00:55:21] And if we can find that shared heart and empathy and love as a nation, as you’ve said many times, PBS, a path out and broader conversation to be had another time.
[00:55:32] But you know one, if you know, if you made a prediction last year about what will be a very hopeful outcome for America, it would be that people learn how to get more in touch with their books, to expand their circles of empathy, right. To love a broader group of people, not just people who look like you and sound like you and talk like you, but a broader and broader group of people. And as those circles under the expand, you know, so will the happiness and the wealth and the health of the economy and a country. Right. It’s a fact, but it’s very hard to do because when because it’s not our designed. But if you were to had a hope a year ago, that would’ve been your hope. And there’s a reason should be your hope now. It’s just a moment when there’s forces pulling us apart in restricting our circles of empathy as hard as it possibly can be done because lot of people profit from it. The disease profits from it, too. This is a tough time anyway. I feel like I’m over philosophizing.
[00:56:27] Well, it was good. It was good. I mean, I covered his back.
[00:56:31] Oh, it is bad. It’s where an ask coming on all of us to do the right thing as much as possible.
[00:56:38] And recognizing that the road ahead is complex. And can we lead ourselves in a way that is hopeful and my. My hope is love. First people first will solve the problems once we sort of commit to each other.
[00:56:53] That that’s my view.
[00:56:54] But anyway, we’ll great to see you, Tom. Thanks, Arpey.
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