But this frequency makes it hard to take all the lessons we are learning and apply them the next time. What, for instance, do you remember from the 1918 flu?
Still, a few lessons are apparent at this stage. I’m talking lessons for politics, education and the private market, not medicine. Those lessons will have to wait.
You can’t reasonably gather petition signatures right now. No one wants to open the door to someone with a clipboard and a smudgy, metal pen.
But petitions are one of two ways to get on a primary ballot in Utah. Those who already turned in theirs say pandemics are a fact of life and it’s not fair to change the rules now. Those still hoping to qualify argue that they didn’t cause the pandemic and shouldn’t be penalized by it.
The governor is refusing to call off the signature gathering or use emergency powers to change the rules. But no matter what happens, challenges abound.
Even those hoping to get on the ballot via a state convention say it’s not fair they can’t campaign face-to-face with delegates. Caucus meetings and state conventions either have been cancelled or changed to a virtual, online event.
The state’s two-tiered approach to getting on the ballot is the result of a delicate compromise between those who want to abolish the caucus/convention system and those who want it to be the only system. Who wants to tinker with that?
Well, someone should. Meanwhile, let’s hope the pandemic doesn’t last long enough to force people into deciding whether to postpone the general election..
Second: Schools were not ready for this, anywhere. Do a Google search. Online learning is a challenge nationwide.
To be fair, no one expected this day to come. But a close friend has told me that he and his wife, both public school teachers, spend 12-14 hours a day trying to set up effective distance learning plans for their students. They’re inventing as they go.
Parents tell me the results are uneven. Some teachers are better at this than others.
The Associated Press said more than 118,000 public and private schools are now closed for classroom learning, spanning 45 states. Perhaps schools should have uniform methods and plans ready for the next time.
Third: Grocery stores weren’t ready for hoarders. I have friends in Sweden who can’t find toilet paper. I’m sure scientists at the North Pole have the same problem. It’s gone everywhere.
The real solution is something no one wants to hear. James Czerniawski of the Libertas Institute wrote an op-ed in the Deseret News that nailed it. We should abolish laws against price gouging.
Anyone who understands supply and demand should agree. When demand causes prices to rise, people don’t hoard. Markets control the allocation of resources better than governments.
But people don’t understand economics, so this won’t happen.
The practical solution? My local grocer finally started allocating toilet paper from the customer service desk, limiting each customer to one package per day. Next time, start this on day one.
Finally: Americans aren’t ready to trust their institutions. This one can’t be legislated or solved by a new policy. President Trump helped somewhat by adopting a more serious attitude about the threats, although his goal of reopening the economy quickly might still divide the nation. The evidence is that Republicans and Democrats are reacting to the pandemic differently.
Meanwhile, a widespread perception is that the rich and famous seem to get tested for COVID-19, while the rest of us have to be on death’s door to qualify. The truth of this matters little. Perception can quickly become reality.
These lessons may change, and new ones may emerge. The goal right now should be to stop infections and deaths. But someone should be taking notes about everything else, just in case.