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Seeking the Post-COVID Sunshine: Rekindling the Quest for Happy Days

By Denis Bright

Like the tornado from The Wizard of Oz, COVID’s Delta variant has taken charge globally.

The Delta variant accounts for 82 per cent of US COVID cases according to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 17 July 2021. Just back in May 2021, the caseload from the Delta variant was still insignificant. Our world is mutating at lightning speed on so many fronts. It was a different matter until a century ago before the arrival of the Spanish flu pandemic at the end of the Great War (1914-18).

In the children’s fantasy created by US novelist Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919), Heroine Dorothy Gale’s support troupe takes their distresses to the Wizard of Oz after some leisurely adventures along the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. Dorothy compliantly followed the Wizard’s advice. She put on those transformative Silver Shoes that would take her back to the familiar securities of family life in rural Kansas.

Today’s superpower wizards in the Biden-Harris administration have a seven-point plan to confront the challenges of the Delta strain to ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable, and free testing.

  • Double the number of drive-through testing sites.
  • Invest in next-generation testing, including at home tests and instant tests, so we can scale up our testing capacity by orders of magnitude.
  • Stand up a Pandemic Testing Board like Roosevelt’s War Production Board. It’s how we produced tanks, planes, uniforms, and supplies in record time, and it’s how we will produce and distribute tens of millions of tests.
  • Establish a U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps to mobilize at least 100,000 Americans across the country with support from trusted local organizations in communities most at risk to perform culturally competent approaches to contact tracing and protecting at-risk populations.

Such proactive policies contrast with the condescending antics of authority figures in the children’s adventure story.

Novelist Baum supported the leisurely pace of old-world politics. His political support for the Democratic Party’s Populist Movement was embedded in a children’s fantasy. According to Economics professor Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University, the Wizard was a metaphor for President McKinley.

In the America First Traditions of his time, William McKinley served the US military and financial establishments with the consent of an increasingly jingoistic electorate.

After an initial but unsuccessful tilt at the presidency in 1896, the populist challenger William Jennings Bryan made two more unsuccessful challenges to Republican hegemony. The McKinley model of US global involvement now has largely bipartisan appeal in most countries within the US Global Alliance.

However, Dorothy Gale’s impulsive interactions with authority figures is still legendary. Popular culture seems to be caught between the two extremes of leadership. Today’s authority figures skilfully incorporate her homespun political values into their re-election campaigns.

 

 

A small stream of visitors calls at the reconstruction of Dorothy’s house at a park in the township of Liberal in Kansas.

Decades later the plight of alienated and suffering humanity has been revived in a re-take of Dorothy’s Song.

 

 

The lament for contemporary hazards has achieved some traction in the COVID-era and after four years of volatile America First Strategies of Donald Trump. Whether the Biden administration can make a difference is still unresolved at a time of mounting domestic political tensions.

There has been an upswing in the challenges posed by COVID-19 Delta-variant. Globally, the new COVID-19 case-load hovers around the 600,000 mark on the latest seven-day average. New COVID-19 cases are approaching 80,000 in the USA itself. More responsible risk-taking is clearly needed on both domestic and international strategic fronts to respond to the challenges posed by COVID’s Delta variant.

The strategic advice from Dani Rodrik at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University is to explore opportunities to cool the trade and investment disputes between the US and China. Responsible middle powers like France and Australia should support such initiatives (Paper from Dani Rodrik and Stefanie Stratcheva to the Oxford Review of Economic Policy-June 2021). The Biden administration has kept some slender lines of communication open according to an extract from China Brief from consulting firm Dezan Shira and Associates:

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will travel to the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin from July 25 to July 26 and meet with Chinese officials, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

During the two-day trip, Sherman will “discuss areas where we have serious concerns about PRC actions, as well as areas where our interests align,” according to a statement of the US State Department.

Sherman will be the second senior American official visiting China since President Joe Biden took office, following a visit to Shanghai in April by John Kerry, Biden’s special envoy on climate.

There is an urgency for some better news on domestic and international fronts for the Biden administration before the mid-term elections on 8 November 2022.

The Democratic Party has a slender majority in both houses of congress. First mid-term elections are often a challenge to an incoming administration. Even Joe Biden’s historic presidential victory on 3 November 2020 was accompanied by a net gain of fourteen house seats by the Republicans who are within five congressional districts of controlling the House of Representatives. Neutralizing the Biden-Harris administration with loss of control in both Houses of Congress would be a disaster for the Democratic Party.

Contemporary pragmatic values justify more than rhetorical good-news slogans over the quest for really positive outcomes. Unlike novelist Baum and his heroine Dorothy, today’s electorates are not going to wait for long-term changes in macro-policy settings. New opportunities for proactive risk-taking behaviour are seized upon in so many situations. Let’s take the Robinhood app for small-time investors.

Faced with low interest rates on savings and unaffordable rents and housing prices in major US cities, the Robinhood app provides access to Wall Street financial markets without the need for expensive transfer fees or large deposits in investment accounts for instant trades.

Image from Yahoo Dow Jones Trendlines to 31 July 2021

Robinhood investment accounts with appropriately green Emerald City credentials permit share market access in seconds to permit profit taking on currently high levels of short-term volatility. Robinhood Markets Inc. use investments in cryptocurrency and other speculative ventures to maintain their administrative network in California’s Silicon Valley.

Just in a week of volatile trading to 31 July 2021, there are opportunities for Robinhood investors to profit from short-term speculation which is what financial elites have always done in a more professional manner.

These are still anything could happen times. For Australians in one of the most loyal outposts of the US Global Alliance, it is time for aspiring leaders to consider the value of responsible risk-taking which unites old world heroines like Dorothy Gale with New Age players.

 

Logan Martin Winning Gold for Freestyle BMX Racing (Image from ABC News 1 August 2021)

 

Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.

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12 comments

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  1. Nora

    An interesting take on the lightning speed of change for humanity .

  2. Santiago

    Delta has added to the burdens of our latter day plague. A social rebut will follow the outbreaks of mental anguish from the extended lockdowns.

    Thank you so much Denis!!!

  3. Leila

    A case of more mutant malware on the horizon. Have we all become too complacent again?

  4. skip

    92 Receiving a vaccination or treatment
    An individual may be required by a human biosecurity control order to receive, at a specified medical facility:
    (a) a specified vaccination; or
    (b) a specified form of treatment;
    in order to manage the listed human disease specified in the order, and any other listed human disease.
    Note: For the manner in which this biosecurity measure must be carried out, see section 94.
    93 Receiving medication
    (1) An individual may be required by a human biosecurity control order to receive specified medication in order to manage the listed human disease specified in the order, and any other listed human disease.
    Note: For the manner in which this biosecurity measure must be carried out, see section 94.
    (2) The order must specify:
    (a) how much medication is to be taken; and
    (b) how long the medication is to be taken for.

    94 Appropriate medical or other standards to be applied
    A biosecurity measure set out in section 90 (examination), 91 (body samples), 92 (vaccination or treatment) or 93 (medication) must be carried out in a manner consistent with either or both of the following (as the case requires):
    (a) appropriate medical standards;
    (b) appropriate other relevant professional standards.

    95 No use of force to require compliance with certain biosecurity measures
    Force must not be used against an individual to require the individual to comply with a biosecurity measure imposed under any of sections 85 to 93.

    Note: Force may be used in preventing an individual leaving Australian territory in contravention of a traveller movement measure (see section 101) or in detaining a person who fails to comply with an isolation measure (see section 104).

    https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2017C00303

    Australia: The Total BioTech Fascist Nightmare

    Have a nice day. Move on . . . .

  5. GL

    Skip,

    You cherry picked 4 sections of an act that has 645 parts that sound horrible and scary and which are completely without meaning or context to the whole act just to try and bolster your now tiresome and idiotic conspiracy garbage. You, sir, are a complete wanker.

    Take your “Australia: The Total BioTech Fascist Nightmare” crap and stick it where the crap comes from and I don’t mean your mouth.

  6. Tessa_M

    COVID has brought home the urgency of positive connections to save humanity.

  7. James Robo

    More cautious steps ahead. Thanks for your comments Denis.

  8. Lara G.

    The Delta variant is a big problem in the Philippines where 90,000 new cases were experienced in the second half of July to add to our country’s usual problems as a developing country

  9. Kathy

    Denis, thanks for an interesting analysis of the US response to managing the delta variant.

  10. Chris

    Convincing thoughts in times of change.

  11. Pat

    The transition is on from instant gratification to more cautious lifestyles and social policies.

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