Shortly after the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic, several reporters asked evangelical Christian leaders whether this was a sign of the apocalypse. Good news for most of us – it’s not.
Presuming God’s hand is in here somewhere, let’s try to guess what God is trying to tell us.
In an ends-justifies-the-means analysis, we should consider the end result of a COVID-19 pandemic.
- Significantly reduced carbon emissions throughout the world for a substantial period of time,
- Perhaps a 2-7% drop in world population vs. normal population growth,
- Wealth is being redistributed from richer to poorer people,
- A realization that certain governmental systems were better prepared to handle the pandemic than others.
- This will surprise many, but the cost to generate electricity from solar and on-shore wind sources is now less than that from natural gas, coal or nuclear power plants (https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/aeo/pdf/electricity_generation.pdf). Even with this impressive change in power generation economics, the Trump Administration has favored the dirtier, older technologies over the cleaner, newer ones.
Perhaps God is using COVID-19 to show us that we’re not doing a good job with respect to environmental stewardship.
- It’s difficult to determine how many people will die from COVID-19, but it is already significant. In countries that are more crowded and impoverished, especially if they have few advanced health centers, the death toll may be very high. Even in more developed countries, mismanagement of the crisis will lead to significantly more deaths than would otherwise have been the case.
Is God telling us that we need to take a step back? Are we being shown that we are ill prepared to take care of the people we already have in this world?
- Because of the unprecedented shutdown of business throughout the world, the standard system that developed in each country to meet the needs of its citizens is breaking down, and fast. At least in the United States, the solution is to borrow from future generations to support the newly disenfranchised.
The Trump tax cuts went largely to the wealthy and there’s good evidence to show that the wealthy do not use their tax cuts to create jobs (https://www.nber.org/papers/w21035). One dollar distributed as food assistance for the poor through SNAP generates $1.71 of economic activity – a 71% return on investment. According to the paper noted above, $1 given in tax cuts to top 10% earners does nothing – it is just saved instead. The same is true for tax increases on the wealthy – it doesn’t hurt the economy.
The details are still fuzzy, but it appears that COVID-19 will be treated in a way similar to a single-payer healthcare system. Federal lawmakers and officials are pressuring insurance companies to waive the costs of treatment for this disease. That is another distribution of wealth, is it not? Especially if taxes will be raised on the wealthy to pay for these changes.
Might God prefer a more egalitarian system than what has become the norm in the U.S., perhaps even a single-payer healthcare system?
- “Maybe our biggest strength in” this country “is the rational decision-making at the highest level of government combined with the trust the government enjoys in the population.”
As you likely have guessed – regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum – that was not a modern-day quote about the U.S. and the Trump Administration. It is a quote from Professor Hans-Georg Kräusslich, the head of virology at University Hospital in Heidelberg, and the country referenced is Germany.
The countries that are handling the pandemic the best are those with a populace that does what their government says is best, sometimes due to fear, sometimes trust. That does not describe the U.S. in this day and age. Politics are the primary factor. Those on the right feel that personal and business freedom is the primary factor and those on the left don’t trust anything that guy in the oval office says.
Of course, President Trump downplayed the risks from the pandemic dozens of times – primarily, it seems, because he was concerned about a loss of wealth for the half of us who own stock – and his administration’s bungling of the testing and tracing opportunity has made this crisis so much worse than it should have been. Again, look at Germany and the several other countries that did things right.
Because of Trump, the U.S. will suffer longer and more severely from COVID-19 than had the country been led by someone trusted as much as Chancellor Angela Merkel is by the German people.
With COVID-19, is God telling us that it’s time to change federal leadership in the U.S.? To look for leaders who can bring us together?
If enough of you think that’s what God’s telling you, who knows, you may even und up with healthcare that you’re not afraid to use.