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The coronavirus pandemic is now so sprawling that it has revealed the souls of tens of thousands of individuals, from remarkably kind nurses to online sellers seeking to corner the market for hand sanitizers (until finally deciding to donate them). One saga that we should not soon forget involves Rand Paul, the Republican senator from Kentucky. On March 16th, out of an abundance of caution, he said, he got an early test. For a week, while waiting for the results, he kept circulating in public, continuing his work on Capitol Hill (where he lambasted and then voted against a bill that would have offered free tests to all Americans), and even working out in the Senate gym and swimming in the Senate pool. The test results came back positive, and Paul then went into self-quarantine.
The reason to focus on this story is not to suggest that Paul is a selfish jerk; he is a medical doctor, for heavens sake. Its because he is the foremost representative of libertarian philosophy in our nations Capitol, and that philosophy has helped produce the world we live in: one in which we struggle to solve both the coronavirus pandemic and the larger climate crisis. Last week, I tried to show how those crises were linked through the variable of time; this week, its social trust thats the issue.
Ayn Rand and her novelsone of which, Atlas Shrugged, was once, according to a survey for the Library of Congress, the second-most influential book in the country helped get this ball rolling. Rands novels are worth thinking about, because theyve shaped the thinking of American leaders since the Reagan era, when Rands acolyte Alan Greenspan became the most powerful economic figure on the planet. This view of the worldthat government is the problem, that we should free individuals and corporations from its clutcheshas made it all but impossible to address global warming. The Koch brothers, for instance, came directly from this milieu; it was after the late David Koch failed in his Vice-Presidential bid on the Libertarian Party ticket, in 1980, that he and his older brother Charles became two of the G.O.P.s biggest funders. Since they were among Americas biggest oil and gas barons, it was no wonder that they opposed restrictions on the fossil-fuel industry, but it wasnt just self-interest: the government action necessary to tackle climate change is incompatible with their belief system. The right-wing syllogism became, I think, the following:
Markets solve all problems.Markets arent solving global warming.Q.E.D.: Global warming is not a problem.
Thats not logical, but it is comforting if youve committed to the basic idea that, as Ronald Reagan once put it, The nine most terrifying words in the English language are Im from the government and Im here to help. But, of course, thats nowhere near the scariest sentence. Try: The hillside behind town is on fire. The subway system is flooded. Your test came back positive. There are no ventilators.
Old impulses die hard. Donald Trumpwho once described himself as a fan of Rands and her book The Fountainhead because it relates to business (and) beauty (and) life and inner emotions. That book relates to... everythinghas been using the pandemic to, among other things, drastically relax what environmental laws remain. Meanwhile, his economic adviser Larry Kudlow told CNBC, I just think the private sector is going to solve this disease. As Charlie Baker, the governor of Massachusetts, said, when informed of Trumps desire to pack churches on Easter, Yeah. No. In fact, the countries dealing best with the coronavirus are precisely those with high levels of social trust: South Korea, for instance, where a comprehensive national health system made sure that no one had to worry about getting a test or paying for treatment. Or the Scandinavian nations, which a United Nations report released on March 20th said are in the best position to deal with such crises. Nations with higher levels of social trust and connections are more resilient in the face of natural disasters and economic crises, it concluded, because fixing rather than fighting becomes the order of the day. Its probably no accident that, in many ways, the Nordic nations also lead the climate fight, or that South Koreas ruling party proposed a sweeping Green New Deal to confront the economic slump that the virus left behind. Working together is what humans are actually built to do.
Passing the Mic
The fossil-fuel-divestment movement has been one of the most productive fronts in the fight against climate change for nearly a decade, growing into the largest campaign of its kind, with endowments and portfolios worth twelve trillion dollars pledging to sell their fossil-fuel stock. But some of this countrys richest universities, including Yale and Harvard, have declined to join, despite votes showing students and faculty overwhelmingly in favor of divestment. So some Harvard students and alumni started a group called Harvard Forward, which, with a petition drive, managed to get five climate-focussed candidates on the ballot in the universitys Board of Overseers elections, which alumni would have been able to vote in beginning this week. (Harvard announced on Tuesday that, because of the coronavirus, it would postpone the balloting until midsummer.) One of them is Thea Sebastian, who graduated from the college in 2008 and the law school in 2016, and is the policy counsel for an N.G.O. called the Civil Rights Corps, where she coordinates nationwide strategies to address race-based and wealth-based injustices in our criminal-legal system.
Harvard is filled with scholars studying the climate crisis. Why do you think the administration has been so unwilling to follow institutions around the world and divest from fossil fuels?
Harvard has been an incredible leader on many issues, taking difficult stances that challenged accepted norms. Take, for example, our leadership on affirmative action. Take our stance on Dont Ask, Dont Tell.
Where our endowment is concerned, we havent shown this same courage. We only divested from apartheid after the moment had passed. And on climate change, were poised to do the same.
In my view, our reticence stems from a belief that investments and values are separable. If were doing good research and going carbon-neutral, we can make money however we want. Its the same bifurcationa line between profit and purposethat describes much of our economy.
The thing is, this bifurcation doesnt hold. Our investments are a crucial instrument of our values. Thats true both at Harvard and far, far beyond. We wont fix climate changeor solve structural inequitieswithout building an economy where companies act and invest responsibly. I want Harvard to lead this charge. And, in my view, that starts with divestment.
Much of your work is on civil rights and structural inequality. Harvard is as close to the center of the establishment as its possible to get. Can it really play a role in dismantling systems it helped build?
The rest is here:
- Libertarian 2020 candidate appears on podcast tied to boogaloo movement - The Guardian - July 12th, 2020
- What would it take for Kanye West to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania? - WHYY - July 12th, 2020
- How Black Lives Matter Has Been Coopted by Russia's Government and Its Opposition - Foreign Policy - July 12th, 2020
- Justin Amashs potential third-party presidential bid, explained - Vox.com - May 5th, 2020
- Armed mobs: the grim apotheosis of libertarianism - National Catholic Reporter - May 5th, 2020
- Political scientist finds disconnect in Libertarian Party platform, voters - University of Dayton - News Home - May 1st, 2020
- Be Free: A Libertarian Look At The Music Of Kemo The Blaxician - The Libertarian Republic - May 1st, 2020
- What You Need to Know About the CARES Act - The Libertarian Republic - May 1st, 2020
- Who should be included in the libertarian canon - UConn Daily Campus - April 19th, 2020
- The insipid libertarian memes of COVID-19 - Ryan Bohl - Elemental - April 19th, 2020
- COVID-19 is killing minor parties' ability to get candidates on the ballot in Minnesota - MinnPost - April 19th, 2020
- We need to be the Rosa Parks: Trump ally plans Wisconsin protest of coronavirus restrictions - POLITICO - April 19th, 2020
- Berkeley institution Top Dog is on the ropes. But they still wont take federal aid. - SFGate - April 19th, 2020
- Why You Should Be a Socialist and a Marxist - Jacobin magazine - April 19th, 2020
- The Hill's Campaign Report: 200 days to Election Day 2020 | TheHill - The Hill - April 19th, 2020
- Mark Cuban To Run For President? Billionaire Dallas Mavericks Owner Does Not Rule Out 2020 White House Bid - International Business Times - April 19th, 2020
- The Coronavirus Outbreak Is Exposing Government Follies on Many Levels - Reason - April 6th, 2020
- Stuck at Home? Read about the History of Liberty - Cato Institute - April 6th, 2020
- This Libertarian Country Defeated The Coronavirus With The Free Market - Patheos - April 6th, 2020
- A Little-Known Democratic Governor Is Breaking Out in Kentucky - The Intercept - April 6th, 2020
- Three political philosophies, and how they apply to the coronavirus pandemic - BioEdge - April 6th, 2020
- Beyond Originalism - The Atlantic - April 6th, 2020
- The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Set Off A Massive Expansion Of Government Surveillance. Civil Libertarians Aren't Sure What To Do. - BuzzFeed News - April 2nd, 2020
- Will County GOP, Libertarians worry how COVID-19 will affect third party ballot access - The Herald-News - April 2nd, 2020
- Democratic lawmaker on stimulus vote delay: 'There will be blood on Thomas Massie's hands' | TheHill - The Hill - April 2nd, 2020
- What Are The Best ASUS Routers in 2020? - The Libertarian Republic - April 2nd, 2020
- Shapiro: Stop pretending pandemic politics are the new norm - Daily Herald - April 2nd, 2020
- In a pandemic, Nobody thinks we should smoke more weed - The Boston Globe - April 2nd, 2020
- Here are the candidates - Walterboro Live - April 2nd, 2020
- Visions of Liberty - Cato Institute - April 2nd, 2020
- Don't Think of Massie as a Hero - American Greatness - April 2nd, 2020
- COVID-19 and . . . 2024? - National Review - March 26th, 2020
- Margaret Thatcher, Libertarianism, and the Etherization of the Single Tax - Merion West - March 26th, 2020
- Illinois third-party candidates seek changes to ballot access amid COVID-19 pandemic - WGEM - March 26th, 2020
- The benefits of sex after 60 - The Libertarian Republic - March 26th, 2020
- Jordan Keeps Coronavirus In Check With One Of The World's Strictest Lockdowns | NPR - KCRW - March 26th, 2020
- Tiger King is the weird docu-series distraction we can use right now - Q13 News Seattle - March 26th, 2020
- In Remembrance of Jon Basil Utley (1934-2020) | Cato @ Liberty - Cato Institute - March 26th, 2020
- The duties we owe to the state - The Conservative Woman - March 26th, 2020
- The small-government case for giving everyone a big check - The Week - March 26th, 2020
- Libertarian Party reminds people they have 15 candidates running for president - week.com - March 16th, 2020
- Yes, There Are Libertarians in Pandemics - Reason - March 16th, 2020
- Tired: There Are No Libertarians in a Pandemic. Wired: There Are Only Libertarians in a Pandemic. - Reason - March 16th, 2020
- There Are No Libertarians in an Epidemic - The Atlantic - March 16th, 2020
- Seeking change and acceptance: Sex worker and political candidate riles things up in Orleans and beyond - The Daily News Online - March 16th, 2020
- Tech think tank chief to step down after Trump death tweet - POLITICO - March 16th, 2020
- Petition to ban sanctuary cities approved on Winnacunnet school ballot - Seacoastonline.com - March 16th, 2020
- When Should Lay Voters Defer to the Views of Scientists? - Reason - March 16th, 2020
- Ben Shapiro: What coronavirus should teach us - Grand Forks Herald - March 16th, 2020
- Candidates who filed for office in Nevada - Las Vegas Review-Journal - March 16th, 2020
- The conservative movement is a public health hazard - The Week - March 16th, 2020
- The Sanders Campaign: Another Failure of Socialism? - The National Interest - March 16th, 2020
- This week: Senate balances surveillance fight with growing coronavirus concerns | TheHill - The Hill - March 16th, 2020
- Whitmer nominated to appear on Libertarian line for 27th district special election - WIVB.com - News 4 - February 24th, 2020
- This Obscure Foundation Helped Fund The Alt-Right - New York Magazine - February 24th, 2020
- The anti-Greta: A conservative think tank takes on the global phenomenon - msnNOW - February 24th, 2020
- How George Washington Can Revive Fusionism On The Right - The Federalist - February 24th, 2020
- Breaking the Two-Party Paradigm - Fort Worth Weekly - February 24th, 2020
- Conservatives are concerned, but is liberal indoctrination really an issue at UNL and UNO? - Omaha World-Herald - February 24th, 2020
- 'Rape of Britain': Russia Rolls Out the Red Carpet for 'Tommy Robinson' - Byline Times - February 24th, 2020
- Voter Registration Is Up as Island Prepares for Presidential Primary - The Vineyard Gazette - Martha's Vineyard News - February 24th, 2020
- Bbb-but, Gorsuch? - Above the Law - February 24th, 2020
- Libertarian party gives us a choice (letter to the editor) - SILive.com - February 17th, 2020
- Andrew Yang, Who Wanted Libertarians in His Coalition and Opposed Cancel Culture, Exits the Democratic Race - Reason - February 17th, 2020
- Yang Is Out. Yangism Is Here to Stay. - New York Magazine - February 17th, 2020
- Tulsi Gabbard Hopes Libertarian-Minded New Hampshire Will Save Her Presidential Run - BuzzFeed News - February 17th, 2020
- Sanders and Bloomberg want to redistribute wealth. Most millionaires and billionaires don't. - Thehour.com - February 17th, 2020
- Koch showers millions on think tanks to push a restrained foreign policy - POLITICO - February 17th, 2020
- Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote in March primary - The-review - February 17th, 2020
- Where to Get Writing Inspiration? - The Libertarian Republic - February 17th, 2020
- Letters: What type of person do we want in charge?; Tolls arent the only answer to congestion; more letters (2/16/20) - The Denver Post - February 17th, 2020
- Why Trump won't be the only Republican presidential candidate in the N.C. primaries - The Daily Tar Heel - February 17th, 2020
- The 8 Republicans who voted to curb Trump's Iran war powers | TheHill - The Hill - February 17th, 2020
- New Hampshire 2020: This is just the beginning - NationofChange - February 17th, 2020
- Low voter turnout at the Iowa Libertarian Party Caucus - Oskaloosa Herald - February 12th, 2020
- Early voting starts Thursday - Winston-Salem Journal - February 12th, 2020
- Gary Johnson offers help to Gabbard campaign amid 3rd party talk - Business Insider - Business Insider - February 12th, 2020
- Why Bill Weld Is Really Running Against Trump - The Atlantic - February 12th, 2020
- How to Make the Most of New Gambling Legislation - The Libertarian Republic - February 12th, 2020
- Why I decided to leave the Republican Party - Alaska Landmine - February 12th, 2020