Monday, December 7, 2020

The Story of the Decade

David Goldman says that it’s the story of the year, perhaps of the decade. He posted this on his Facebook page.

He is emphasizing that Asian nations handled the coronavirus pandemic far better than we did. One might add that Western Europe has not done a bang-up job either. So, Western nations vs. Asian nations in the clash of civilizations. We are not doing well:

In my view, the story of the year, and perhaps the decade, is that North Asia (China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan) suppressed the pandemic and is now booming, while we're still chasing our tails. I emphasize that this is an Asian phenomenon; democracies like Taiwan and South Korea performed even better than China. The Asians used lockdowns when necessary, but well-organized ones, with electronic contact tracing and targeted forensic testing. We haven't yet lost to China, but we lost a major civilizational battle. Why? We are hollowed out. We don't have the industrial or medical infrastructure or the organization to handle a crisis like this. Trump said the right things about rebuilding US industry but at the end of his administration or dependence on China is greater than ever, and our trade deficit with China is at or near the all-time record. I hoped he would do better in a second term, but there won't be one. No level of government handled this competently. People are still waiting in line for hours for "fast" COVIDd tests. Germany has drive-up testing with zero wait time. We were sitting ducks for a natural disaster. Instead of trying to work out what we need to do to fix things, we indulge in paranoid conspiracy theories and political finger-pointing.


David Foster said...

Some data and hypotheses about regional differences in Covid and its effects:

whitney said...

So his point is that homogeneous societies function better than diverse societies? That's bad think

trigger warning said...

While I certainly don't dispute we are "hollowed out", Goldman appears to be the 21st Century version of Paracelsus, pushing his alkahest (the Universal Solvent). In Goldman's case, though, the Universal Solvent is government.

Two studies may shed light on the relative success of East Asian responses to the coronavirus...

First, there appear to be at least two (Los Alamos, published in Cell,, possibly three (Cambridge, PNAS, variants of the virus.

Second, recent archeeogenetic research at U Adelaide/Arizona suggest a genetic resistance of East Asian populations to the virus persisting from a much earlier "adaptive event" or outbreak (

The problem with a Universal Solvent is that no container can contain it, because it will dissolve the container. And that's not a bad analogy for government intervention to solve all our problems.

jfmoris said...

@ trigger warning
He is not any sort of liberal - he also writes under the name "Spengler" , after Oswald Spengler. I like Goldman for his knowledge of Asian matters.

From wiki:
"Oswald Spengler(1880-1936) predicted that about the year 2000, Western civilization would enter the period of pre‑death emergency whose countering would lead to roughly 200 years of Caesarism (extraconstitutional omnipotence of the executive branch of the central government) before Western Civilization's final collapse.

Spengler is regarded as a nationalist and an anti-democrat, and he was a prominent member of the Conservative Revolution. However, he criticised Nazism due to its excessive racism. "

Goldman used to do a hilarious spoof advice column in the Asia Times, "Ask Spengler"
wherein world leaders wrote to "Spengler " for advice on current afairs.