If you have not read Michael Lewis my advice is to go back to the beginning. Go the beginning of his book list and start there. Michael is a great storyteller. Two of my favorites are Flash Boys and The Big Short but you could also add The Premonition to the list. This, you see, is a pandemic story with a not-so-happy ending. Shortly before the COVID19 pandemic began, the United States was listed as the number one country in the world when it came to handling a global pandemic. Well, to put it mildly, that ranking was total bullshit. It turns out we were entirely unprepared and the only real reason we did a well as we did was a combination of the private sector and private individuals. The CDC made everything worse. In fact, after reading about the response of our “nation’s leader” when it came to infectious disease, my only thought was “Fire them all and start over.”
And if you are the type to blame Donny for the COVID mess you would be looking for the simple way out. Sure, Trump and his team did everything in their power to make things worse, but this tragic tale starts much further back. Bush 43, on his summer break in 2005, read a book about the 1918 flu pandemic. (Since when does the president get a summer break?) The book lit a fire under junior and he assembled a team. They had no idea what they were doing but in the process several individuals emerged. Private citizens with a strange obsession with infectious disease. These folks, eventually landing under the title “The Wolverines,” a nod to the greatest movie ever produced, Red Dawn, would come in all too handy when modern humans figured out a way to start yet another pandemic.
Even though Bush created the pandemic team it was only a stop gap measure. Obama and his team mostly ignored the findings. Trump appointed John Bolton, another useless hawk, who cut the funding and dismantled the pandemic team because he felt the only real threat to the United States was another nation state. Oops. (Bolton proved useless in a myriad of ways.) And then along came a spider in the form of a novel coronavirus.
Lewis, in typical fashion, kills it with the story itself. I could not put this book down and burned through it like COVID through a prison ward. (Too soon?) Several takeaways. Our leadership lies. There is no other way to put it. They were totally unprepared and lied continually throughout the entire pandemic. The CDC is a black hole that only made the pandemic worse. They had inept people in positions of power and continually changed their opinions based on what would make them look the least pathetic. Civilians went above and beyond the call of duty to help. As a state, California led the way with finding solutions. Yes, California for all you lefty haters out there. They shut down first and created a testing system that bucked the trend of slow and inept and also created the tests for free.
Just know this. We were way behind and we still are. You better keep masks on hand, you better have food and water and be prepared to handle yourself because our leadership isn’t coming to help. Our leadership is too busy trying to remain in power. They do not care about you and I. There is no other way to see it. So, the good news. When the next one hits, odds are, it’s gonna be worse. If it gets too far out of hand no more paying taxes, no more trips to the DMV, no more jury duty. It will be survival in the rubble. See you out here.