[This fragment is available in an audio version.]
As we’ve slogged through Trump and carbon-loading and Covid, I’ve managed to remain more or less un-depressed and find enough gratifications in day-to-day life to keep the black dog of despair at a distance. But this morning I woke up early and, while the household slept, read most of the May 15th issue of The Economist. And folks, with a very few exceptions, it was pretty well all bad news. I feel an obligation to pass this summary along with a plea: As we relax slowly into post-Covid, maybe try to find a bit of extra energy and put it into politics or philanthropy or some other way to mitigate the awfulness. Our children deserve it.
I’ve highlighted the good news.
Lead articles · Vaccinating the World: The grim death estimates are undercounts. First doses into poorer arms should take priority but aren’t.
IsraPal: Bibi’s strategy of ignoring the Palestine issue can’t work.
Inflation: Might just be supply-chain constipation.
Corporate Tax Dodging: At unforgivable levels; there’s talk but no action.
USA · Next New York Mayor: The city’s started to shrink.
Cyberattacks; The bad guys are many and the defences laughable.
Homelessness: Awful and growing.
Opioids: Awful — in places worse than Covid — and not getting better.
Evictions: A million per year, no consensus on how to address.
Republicans: Lying liars present a deadly threat to democracy.
The Americas · Post-Covid: Latin-American economy in really rough shape.
Brazil: Starvation setting in, government evil and incompetent.
Costa Rica: Good-ish! No working street-address system but they’re trying to fix it.
Asia · Covid in South-East Asia: Looks like the next India.
Indonesia: Privatizing the vaccination process isn’t working.
Taiwan: Its indigenous people are having a tough time.
India: Covid’s hitting the poorest hardest. Grisly stuff.
The Koreas: North-south dialog LOL ha ha.
Maldives: Nasty-Islamist alert.
China · Sports: Corruption and oppression are bad for sports, especially soccer.
Hockey: That too.
Jobs: Xenophobia and autocracy are bad for international business, so young Chinese head for the civil service.
Middle East & Africa · IsraPal: Israel started this round, nobody knows how to stop it.
Saudi: MBS tries playing nice but isn’t good at it.
Lake Victoria: Fishery in big trouble, brutal remedies probably won’t help.
Somali Camels: Good news! More market transparency and women are getting in.
Nigeria: Post-oil corruption, war, crime, and poverty.
Europe · France: FN fascists looking good in the next elections.
Bulgaria: Prime minister’s a crook and an asshole but apparently on the way out.
Sweden: Good news! They’re building a successful green steel business in the north, something that could really move the carbon needle.
Turkey: Tourism’s in the toilet.
The Welfare State: Not terrible: The Euros are good at this and trying to use EU machinery to make things better.
Economic recovery: Good news! Seems EU public finance is less austerity-crazed.
Britain · Boris: Overentitled asswipe trying to do some stuff, probably bad.
Elections: Tories introducing voter ID but it doesn’t look (unlike the USA) like it’ll help them steal elections.
Labour: In big trouble in its blue-collar heartland but making up some middle-class ground.
Belfast: Yes, the British army did casually gun down Catholics fifty years ago. No, amnesties are not in order.
Scotland: Nicola and Boris gonna play referendum chicken for the foreseeable future.
Wales: Anger over English buying second homes in pretty places.
Pubs: Having trouble hiring but claim they can’t pay more.
The Labour Party: It’s all fucked up.
International · Algeria: Truth and Reconciliation thing over the Algerian War (of independence against France) looking dubious.
Business · SpaceX: Doing OK.
Mothers’ work experience: Bad. Used to be worse.
Harley-Davidson: In bad shape.
Eurolobbyists: 25K of them in Brussels. What’s that smell?
Pharma patents: It’s about rent-seeking.
CEO Pay: They used Covid to shovel more money to themselves.
Finance & Economics · US inflation: Nobody knows what’s going on.
Britain: In decline.
China’s population: Has probably peaked; bad for the business model.
David Swenson died: Made rich universities richer.
Corporate tax: Biden wants to do something about global sleaze, probably won’t work.
Corporate tax again: Traditional Economist sophistry against it.
The rest · I’m skipping Science & Technology & Books & Arts, but there’s a nice piece about Stacey Abrams, who turns out to be an accomplished novelist.
Don’t give up! · On every one of these issues, there is a sane path forward if people are willing to bring ethical passion to the table.