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Saturday, March 28, 2020

Cases of Coronavirus: Comparing China, the U.S.A. and Italy

On March 26, 2020, “the US overtook Italy and China as the country with the highest number of confirmed Covid-19 cases.”[1] At first glance, this statement can gain sufficient traction to become definitive. The implication that the U.S. is mismanaging the pandemic can even be regarded as valid even though the comparison itself is invalid.

1. Jeffrey Sachs, “Why America Has the World’s Most Confirmed Covid-19 Cases,” CNN.com, March 27, 2020 (accessed March 28, 2020).

Monday, March 23, 2020

Authentic Corporate Social Responsibility during a Pandemic

"We’re doing a lot of social distancing,” U.S. President Trump claimed during his press conference on Coronavirus on March 23, 2020. The day before, he had said he is proud of the American people for voluntarily taking precautions. March 21st, I had been in a Target store to buy some necessary items. No one was "social distancing," including employees. A more accurate, and better understood term would be physical distancing, as it is more broadly applicable than socializing and the latter can be done at a distance, especially via telephone and the internet.[1] A day before, I had been in two grocery stores—two because one—a Safeway [Albertsons]—was missing so many hoarded items. I found no physical distancing at Safeway and Sprouts. The former was not that safe after all, and the latter's healthy-food was not being sold in a healthy way. It was as if the employees, customers, and managements were oblivious to the obvious risks, but the explanation may be more complex. I contend that it applies to corporate social responsibility too. For I also found that none of the store managers was making announcements or had signage to remind people to keep a distance from other people in the respective stores. On March 26, 2020, I again saw no physical distancing being done by employees and customers at a Safeway store; the store manager told me he would have a store meeting on the issue. In the meantime, not even periodic announcements would be made. This is known as erroneously applying status-quo management procedures in a state of emergency. Also, Safeway's store management had not acted proactively to ration products such as toilet paper and cleaning products that had been voraciously grabbed off the shelves by herd-exuberant customers in a panic mode. In short, I submit that the unique business conditions of the Coronavirus pandemic can be used to assess whether corporate social responsibility is real or merely a marketing tool.
How actually safe was Safeway during the pandemic?

1. "It is important for us all to realize that when they recommend 'social distancing' . . . what health experts are really promoting are practices that temporarily increase our physical distance from one another in order to slow the spread of the virus." Cecilia Menjivar, Jacob Foster, and Jennie Brand, "Don't call it 'social distancing'," CNN.com, March 21, 2020 (accessed April 4, 2020). 

Sunday, March 22, 2020

American Federalism: The Case of Coronavirus

On March 22, 2020, during a press conference on the coronavirus, U.S. Vice President Pence claimed that the United States is unique in that it has a federal system of public governance. He overlooked the equivalent case of the European Union even as he stressed an idea that is the European federal principle of subsidiarity, which means that decisions and actions that can be taken locally are to be done locally. The state level is next, followed by the federal level. The theory behind this principle is that cultural, political, economic, and social diversity that exists from state to state, especially in an empire-scale federal system such as the E.U. and U.S., means that one-size-fits-all federal-level decisions may not be effective everywhere. Pence’s point was that the federal government would be playing a supportive role so the States get what they need, rather than playing a pivotal role with the States and localities as instruments of implementation. I contend that relative to the European Union, the United States was at the time much less equipped to apply the principle of subsidiarity to the coronavirus pandemic.

The full essay is at "Federalism and the Coronavirus."