Loss of Leadership

While Ray Dalio is explaining on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/chapter-1-big-picture-tiny-nutshell-ray-dalio) his insights about the rise and the fall of empires from studying many hundreds of years of historical data I see it firsthand in the COVID-19 crisis. Leadership means to lead by example and to achieve good outcomes. The response to COVID-19 reveals all the weaknesses of the United States and it shows that its leadership modus operandi is no longer an example for the rest of the world.

Unpreparedness, denial, ignorance all happen in a country which was once considered the most sophisticated nation on the planet.

Unprepared: insufficient medical supplies, not enough hospital capacity in one of the richest nations. But also lack of education and lack of respect of expert advice. The consequence of a decadelong obsession with outsourcing, cost optimization, no measures to close the wealth gap, weakening of the role of central government, hyper-focus on private initiative, overoptimization of supply-chains, abolishment of a robust social safety net.

Denial: election of a President who does not like facts but acts like a salesperson. Unwillingness of the central government to start a Manhattan project for a vaccine — instead focusses on the immediate restart of the economy. No central response to the crisis, every state is competing with any other state about medical supplies. A president who does not take personal responsibility of the mess but blames his advisers, experts and ministers.

Ignorance: early warning signs of the pandemic were dismissed out of economic reasons. Ignoring the lack of good education for the average population (and hence no understanding for the threat of multiplicative processes), ignoring the buildup of the wealth gap, ignoring inconvenient dependencies in critical supply chains, ignoring lack of proper medical research on new vaccines, antibiotics et cetera. Ignoring the deterioration of the infrastructure and decreasing health care capacities.

This all demonstrates that the United States is no longer a good role model for other states. Its system of governance has failed to protect its population from the COVID-19 pandemic. Albeit being one of its primary purpose. How could it come so far? A lack of nation spirit.

Yes, the country gives maximum individual freedom — but this is worthless if it cannot effectively defend itself against a virus. If it cannot mobilize to consistently defeat a tiny virus. The financial crisis 2008 revealed that the financial system was not robust, that it failed a lot of stress tests. The year 2020 shows that the government itself fails a lot of stress tests, too.

I hope that the 2020 COVID-19 crisis results in building a more robust society and government and that we start eliminating all the above mentioned weaknesses.


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