In early 2020, the once-in-a-century coronavirus epidemic pushed the global economy into crisis. In response to the impact of the epidemic, the Federal Reserve has adopted a radical monetary policy of “zero interest rate + unlimited quantitative easing”.
The U.S. Congress passed a fiscal relief policy totaling more than $3 trillion to try its best to avoid disorder and chaos in the economy and financial markets. Large-scale stimulus has injected a lot of liquidity into the market, and the U.S. stock market, bond market and property market have all reached record highs.
But at the same time, data released by the Federal Reserve in September showed that the net wealth value of American households increased by nearly 7% month-on-month in the second quarter of this year to $119 trillion, driven by factors such as the rise in the stock market.
These gains mainly went to the richest families, while many others saw their incomes fell or even lost their jobs. By the end of March, the richest 10% of Americans owned more than two-thirds of the country’s wealth, and the top 1% owned 31% of the wealth of the country.
Popularism, racism and trade protectionism continue to rise in the United States. The death of George Freud triggered a large-scale “Black Lives as a Life” (BLM) protest and ethnic conflict. At one time, it spread to more than 200 cities in 50 states.
Social tearing and confrontation were on the verge of danger, causing President-elect Biden to include the promotion of racial equality in the United States as a core economic issue to Bridging the wealth gap between different races.
In 2020, the coronavirus epidemic not only exacerbated wealth inequality in different sectors of the United States, but the Freud incident also exposed deep racial inequality in American society.
The total GDP ranks first in the world, and every move of the United States affects the nerves of the world. The United States has come to a crossroads again.
The New Year is approaching, but the news is mostly bad.
According to Worldometers real-time statistics, as of 13:00 U.S. time on December 29, the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States has exceeded 345,000, ranking first in the world.
In addition to the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico have accumulated more than 100,000 deaths. According to the prediction of the Institute of Health Metrics and Assessments of the University of Washington, there may be 193,000 more deaths in the United States in the next two months.
This year, COVID-19 has become the third-largest cause of death in Americans after heart disease and cancer, and even the “first killer” in some cases. It will also be the largest increase in deaths since 1918, which was hit by both World War I and the Spanish flu.
The United States is the country with the largest investment in health care, the richest medical health resources, and the most advanced and developed biomedical and clinical treatment research.
Why has it performed so poorly in responding to the COVID-19 epidemic? Is this related to the medical system in the United States? Anne Case, a member of the American Academy of Sciences, recently gave an interview to The Paper (www.thepaper.cn) in writing.
Keys was the Alexander Stewart Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University in 1886, and Professor Emeritus at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2020. She is also a researcher of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a member of the Econometric Society, a member of the National Medical Association of the United States, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
She has won many awards such as the Kenneth Arrow Award for Health Economics of the International Association for Health Economics, the Cozarelli Award of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The main problem is not the health care system, but the United States’ response is too bad.
The U.S. government announced that it would cooperate with large pharmaceutical chains to distribute and vaccinate the novel coronavirus vaccine, and launched a vaccination program in December, which is expected to vaccinate 20 million Americans in December.
Case told The Paper that the epidemic in the United States is not so serious in many dimensions. The health care system in the United States has become more popular due to the epidemic, especially after being able to test and vaccinate against the novel coronavirus.
While many Americans don’t have health insurance because they’re unemployed, it’s not a very important issue, as Congress has passed a bill to provide for coronavirus testing.
Two coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer and Modena have been distributed to states. Fauci, an infectious disease expert in the United States, said that the earliest universal vaccination in the United States may be April 2021, and front-line medical staff are expected to be vaccinated in December or early January.
Case stressed that the main problem of the severity of the epidemic in the United States is not the health care system, or the poor response of the United States.
On the other hand, it also needs to be noted that the mortality rate in the United States is lower than that of the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, and only slightly higher than that of France and Sweden. And the health care systems of these countries are better than those of the United States.
If you turn the clock back to the COVID-19 outbreak, Case and the 2015 Nobel laureate Angus Deaton found that the unique health care system in the United States is the biggest disease that undermines the quality of life of ordinary Americans.
They believe that the medical industry in the United States does not exist to improve the health of the people, but enhances the wealth of medical providers and suppliers.
The three main bodies of the U.S. health care market – pharmaceutical companies, medical institutions and insurance institutions, rely on their strong market leadership and lobbying the federal government to provide them with disguised monopoly and rent-seeking space to jointly make rapid-growing medical windfall profits.
Case told The Paper that perhaps when the epidemic is over, the American people will find it difficult to pay huge bills, and the high cost of American medical care will become the focus of heated discussion again.
Marijuana legalization dispute
Since the 20th century, the average life expectancy of each country has been increasing, and the richer the country, the more obvious it is. Case and Deaton found that the average life expectancy in the United States has declined continuously in recent years.
What’s wrong with America? ( In Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, the two found that the decline in the average life expectancy of Americans was mainly due to the high mortality rate of the white labor class with lower education than undergraduates.
There are three main reasons for the increase in the mortality rate of this group, which accounts for two-thirds of the total population: suicide, addictive opioid abuse, and liver disease caused by alcohol abuse. Case and Deaton called it “death of despair”.
What’s wrong with America? ( Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism, Case and Deaton found that there are three main reasons for the high mortality rate of the white American labor class with less education than undergraduates: suicide.
addictive opioid abuse and liver disease caused by alcohol abuse.
However, there is a growing call among the American people for the legalization of marijuana.
Gallup’s November poll showed that more than two-thirds of adults in the United States support federal marijuana legalization, with the highest support rate in history.
The Biden-Harris team has written federal-level marijuana legalization into its campaign platform and encourages states to use taxes from the legal marijuana industry to subsidize communities of color, whose Americans of color, such as African ethnicity, are at multiple times higher risk of arrests for marijuana than white Americans.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted for the first time on December 4 to pass the Cannabis Opportunity Reinvestment and Purge Act, a step towards the legalization of marijuana, but the bill is also controversial in the United States. U.S. Senate Majority Leader McConnell criticized that the House of Representatives pushed the bill to fuel the “national crisis”.
Will the legalization of marijuana further exacerbate addiction problems in the United States and lead to other consequences?
Case said that she was more worried about the addiction caused by marijuana. Legalization is not a good way. Addiction is one of the factors that led to the rise in suicide in the United States.
In addition to cannabis, which can lead to addiction, research shows that it has no health benefits for young people – affecting young people’s brain development.
Gao Hong, a market research company, predicts that legal marijuana sales in the United States will reach $75 billion by 2030, and the government will earn $10 billion in cannabis tax revenue alone.
The legalization of cannabis not only promotes GDP growth in North America, but also helps economists open up a new field of research – “cannabis economics”. Moreover, the legalization of marijuana has also triggered a deep reflection on the spirit of American liberalism.
Changes in the “American Spirit”
More than a century ago, the sociologist Max Weber explained the rise and success of modern American capitalism with Protestant culture: cherishing time, paying attention to efficiency, paying attention to honesty, diligence and thrift, truth-seeking and pragmatism are all important contents of Protestant ethics.
These qualities once became the ethical connotation of the American spirit, and also created the positive temperament of the early version of the “American Dream”.
What cultural factors or characteristics are related to the new problems and trends emerging in contemporary American society?
Case pointed out that Americans are used to being responsible for themselves rather than accepting the support of the state, so there is no social security network in the United States like in Europe.
In addition, the issue of race runs through the history of the United States, so as discrimination against African-Americans decreases, many white Americans are resentful of the loss of long-standing privileges.
Case drew on the perspective of the French sociologist Dukeheim, the ancestor of sociology. Dukeheim discussed the relationship between suicide rate and social development to the present in On Suicide. He pointed out that suicide rates often rise during periods of social upheaval, indicating that social integration is problematic.