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Return of the Repressed: Will the Coronavirus Bring a Great Transformation to America?

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Return of the Repressed: Will the Coronavirus Bring a Great Transformation to America?

101
RETURN OF THE REPRESSED:
WILL THE CORONAVIRUS BRING A GREAT
TRANSFORMATION TO AMERICA?
Sanford M. Jacoby†
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States hard. By the end of May
2020, the U.S. accounted for nearly a third of all cases worldwide and the
largest number of deaths.
1
The disease has put on full display the nation’s
schisms: party preferences, race, religion, and residence. As yet it’s uncertain
whether the pandemic will narrow these rifts and strengthen the safety net or
lead to opposite results.
Snapshots of the pandemic’s fault lines: Recent polls show that
Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to place economic
concerns over health issues.
2
The crowds protesting stay-at-home orders and
business closures are almost entirely white.
3
Republicans have come down
hard on noncitizens; Democrats have defended them.
4
Racial resentment
drives opposition to larger safety-net expenditures. Because whites are less
Distinguished Research Professor of History, Management, and Public Policy, UCLA.
sanford@ad.ucla.edu. Thanks to Wilma B. Liebman, Thomas A. Kochan, John Logan, and Mark A.
Peterson.
1
. Among the G7 nations, Canada, Germany, and Japan had considerably lower per-capita death
rates than the U.S., whereas France, Italy, and the U.K. were at the high end. Mortality Analyses, Johns
Hopkins U. & Med.: Coronavirus Resource Ctr., https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality (last visited
May 26, 2020) (data as of May 24, 2020).
2
. Steven Shepard, Republican Voters Give Trump and GOP Governors Cover to Reopen, Politico
(May 13, 2020, 4:30 AM), https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/13/poll-coronavirus-reopen-trump-
republicans-252726; U.S. Public Sees Multiple Threats From the Coronavirus and Concerns Are
Growing, Pew Res. Ctr (Mar. 18, 2020), https://www.people-press.org/2020/03/18/u-s-public-sees-
multiple-threats-from-the-coronavirus-and-concerns-are-growing/.
3
. Hailey Branson-Potts, Anita Chabria, Andrew J. Campa, & Priscella Vega, At Protests, Mostly
White Crowds Show How Pandemic Has Widened Racial and Political Divisions, L.A. TIMES (Apr. 25,
2020), https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-05-08/california-coronavirus-protests-race; Ben
Poston, Tony Barboza, & Alejandra Reyes-Velarde, Younger Blacks and Latinos Are Dying of COVID-
19 at Higher Rates in California, L.A. Times (Apr. 25, 2020),
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-25/coronavirus-takes-a-larger-toll-on-younger-
african-americans-and-latinos-in-california.
4
. Anna Maria Mayda, Giovanni Peri, & Walter Steingress, Imm igration to the U.S.: A Problem
for the Republicans or the Democrats? 4 (Nat’l Bureau of Econ. Research, Working Paper No. 21941,
Jan. 2016), https://www.nber.org/papers/w21941.pdf.
102 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
vulnerable to COVID-19 than nonwhites, it is nonwhites who would
disproportionately benefit from spending that affects health outcomes.
5
White evangelicals prefer that people in need not turn to government but
instead rely on their families, religious communities, and prayer. Sixty
percent of white evangelicals say that COVID-19 is a minor public health
threat and two-thirds of them say that God will protect them from COVID-
19 infection. The foregoing opinions prevail in red states, where voters are
predominantly Republican. They constitute President Trump’s most loyal
supporters.
6
Trump may seem a buffoon. But he’s been effective in exploiting the
pandemic to prove his fealty to the inclinations of his base. Nevertheless, it’s
proven difficult for the White House to combat the pandemic without
energizing big science and big government as during previous crises . It’s one
reason that the president has tried to shift responsibility for public health from
Washington to the states, whose efforts are less visible. The trick hasn’t
worked.
The level of public confidence in state governors—but not national
leaders—has increased from 51 percent in April 2014 to 68 percent in April
2020. When people were asked to rate the trustworthiness of public figures
offering advice about the coronavirus, those with the highest ratings were a
scientist and a politician: Dr. Anthony Fauci member of the White House
Coronavirus Taskforce, and New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has
been a vocal critic of the Trump administration. Meanwhile there’s been
unprecedented Federal and state spending— several trillion dollars— to
combat the pandemic and the burdens it’s placed on business and workers.
7
5
. Adam M. Enders, A Matter of Principle? On the Relationship Between Racial Resentment and
Ideology,” Pol. Behav. 1 (2019); Rachel Wetts & Robb Willer, Privilege on the Precipice: Perceived
Racial Status Threats Lead White Americans to Oppose Welfare Programs, 97 Soc. Forces 793, 794
(2018). As compared to whites, the death rate from the coronavirus is twice as high for Blacks and one-
and-a-half times higher for Hispanics. Dylan Scott, Covid-19’s Devastating Toll on Black and Latino
Americans, in One Chart, Vox (Apr. 17, 2020), https://www.vox.com/2020/4/17/21225610/us-
coronavirus-death-rates-blacks-latinos-whites.
6
. White evangelicals represent around one-fourth of U.S. voters and up to half of those voting in
Republican primaries. Eighty percent lean toward or identify with the GOP. Melissa Deckman, Dan Cox,
Robert Jones, & Betsy Cooper, Faith and the Free Market: Evangelicals, the Tea Pa rty, and Econ omic
Attitudes, 10 Pol. & Religion 82 (2017); Philip Schwadel, The Republicanization of Evangelical
Protestants in the United States: An Examination of the Sources of Politic al Realignment, 62 Soc. Sci.
Res. 238 (2017); UChicago Divinity School/AP-NORC Poll: Few Feel Restrictions on In-Person Worship
Violate Freedom of Religion, U. Chi. Divinity Sch. (May 15, 2020),
http://www.apnorc.org/PDFs/Divinity-AP-NORC%20May%202020/AP-
NORC%20Divinity%20School%20Press%20Release%20May%202020%20%20FINAL.pdf; Gregory
A. Smith, Most White Evangelicals Satisfied with Trump’s Initial Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak,
Pew Res. Ctr, (Mar. 19, 2020), https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/19/most-white-
evangelicals-satisfied-with-trumps-initial-response-to-the-covid-19-outbreak.
7
. Jeff Jones & Lydia Saad, “Gallup Poll Social S eries: Economy & Personal Fin ance, Gallup
News Serv. (Apr. 114, 2020)
https://news.gallup.com/file/poll/309191/200422ConfidenceEconomicLeaders.pdf; Grace Panetta, Dr.
Anthony Fa uci and Andrew Cuomo Remain the Most Trusted Leaders on Coronavirus, While Donald
Trump and Jared Kushner Are the Least Trusted, Bus. Insider (Apr. 30, 2020),
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 103
Now is a different moment than when The Commanding Heights was
published in 1998.
8
The popular book celebrated how globalization and
internet technology had reinvigorated the private sector. The authors argued
that postmodern economies no longer needed government to moderate
markets and ensure prosperity, citing the recent collapse of the Soviet Union
as an example in extremis. With the unemployment rate in 1998 at its lowest
level since 1970, the argument was plausible.
The book’s title harked back to the early 1920s, when Soviet agriculture
and small business were left in private hands, while the state took ownership
of banks and heavy industry, what Lenin called “the commanding heights.”
9
During the 1930s and 1940s, Europe and the United States adopted a social
democratic version of Lenin’s New Economic Policy that combined markets
and government into what was called the mixed economy: market
regulations, macroeconomic controls social insurance, and in some countries,
nationalized industry and indicative planning. Referring to the mixed
economy, the authors of The Commanding Heights said there was underway
a “battle between government and the marketplace that is remaking the
world.” In their view, markets were trouncing government. The idea was in
the air. Six years before the book appeared, President Bill Clinton announced
in his first State of the Union address that the era of big government was over.
The first part of this article is a brief history of America’s vexed
relationship with social insurance. The focus is on public spending to relieve
income loss due to unemployment, illness, and old age. The second part
considers the likelihood that COVID-19 will lead to more social spending
and a larger role for government in other realms as well. Although the article
was written before George Floyd’s death, the protest movements that ensued
are discussed in an epilogue.
***
In Ancient Law (1861) the jurist Sir Henry Sumner Maine offered his
oft-repeated dictum: “The movement of the progressive societies has hitherto
been a movement from Status to Contract.”
10
In the status societies of Europe
and the American colonies, persons had fixed roles as slave, serf, wife, child,
citizen, and queen. The relationships were embedded in custom and law, and
suffused with mutual obligations and responsibilities. Merchants were
required to charge fair prices. Wages were to be restrained when demand for
https://www.businessinsider.com/fauci-cuomo-most-trusted-trump-kushner-least-trusted-on-
coronavirus-2020-4.
8
. DANIEL YERGIN AND JOSEPH STANISLAW, THE COMMANDING HEIGHTS: THE BATTLE FOR THE
WORLD ECONOMY (1998).
9
. ALAN M. BALL, RUSSIAS LAST CAPITALISTS: THE NEPMEN, 19211929 (1990).
10
. HENRY SUMNER MAINE, ANCIENT LAW 141 (Cambridge Univ. Press 2012) (1861).
104 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
workers was high but kept above subsistence levels when demand slackened.
The law of master and servant, which originated in the sixteenth-century
Statute of Artificers, conceived the employment relationship as one in which
masters had a duty to provide their wards with food, shelter, medical care,
Christian education, and employment lasting at least a year. This was what
historian E.P. Thompson called “the moral economy.”
11
But status should
not be romanticized. Masters had the right to administer corporal
punishment—and the practice could be savage—and to seek imprisonment
of wayward dependents.
The spread of free labor and pressures from a new industrial class
brought the demise of master-servant doctrines. By the late eighteenth
century, American courts were refusing to impose normative obligations on
employers. All that mattered were the terms reached by freely contracting
agents. The employer had the right to exercise control in return for which the
worker received a wage, nothing more. At any moment, workers could quit
or employers dismiss them. Laissez-faire enthusiasts hailed contract’s ascent.
Its flexibility, they said, permitted self-regulating markets. Self-help boosted
the work ethic, which made it superior to paternalism and state intervention.
But despite contract’s symmetrical imagery, power was on the employer’s
side. It inspired Karl Marx’s gibe:
He, who before was the money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist;
the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. The one with an
air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and
holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has
nothing to expect but—a hiding.
12
Even as laissez-faire took hold among jurists and economic elites, a
reaction to the market’s pernicious effects was setting in. Workers’ parties,
trade unions, social reformers—these propelled what Karl Polanyi called “the
great transformation” from personal responsibility to social provision.
Polanyi wrote his major work, The Great Transformation (1944), after
leaving London for Bennington College in Vermont.
13
Behind him was the
economic collapse of the Thirties. Ahead would be Britain’s nationalization
of the coal, rail, and steel industries, and the establishment of national health
insurance. In between was the influential Beveridge Report (1942) that laid
out a postwar agenda for government to protect citizens from what Beveridge
called the five giant evils: “want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness.”
14
11
. E. P. THOMPSON, CUSTOMS IN COMMON: STUDIES IN TRADITIONAL POPULAR CULTURE 12
(1992). See also ROBERT J. STEINFELD, COERCION, CONTRACT, AND FREE LABOR IN THE NINE TEENTH
CENTURY (2001).
12
. KARL MARX, CAPITAL: VOLUME ONE: A CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY 196 (Friedrich
Engels ed., Samuel Moore & Edward Aveling trans., Dover Thrift Editions 2019) (1867); KAREN ORREN,
BELATED FEUDALISM: LABOR, THE LAW, AND LIBERAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE UNITED STATES (1991).
13
. KARL POLANYI, THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION: THE POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ORIGINS OF
OUR TIME (1944).
14
. SIR WILLIAM H. BEVERIDGE, REPORT ON SOCIAL SERVICES AND ALLIED SERVICES 6 (1942).
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 105
ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN WELFARE STATE
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, people banded together
with others like themselves to share the risk of having insufficient funds to
meet life’s catastrophes. The first line of defense was the family, followed by
voluntary organizations for mutual aid. Fraternal associations, benevolent
societies, and labor unions offered death and sickness benefits. The Cigar
Makers union even devised an elaborate out-of-work benefit scheme for its
members.
15
After the First World War, large companies began to offer more secure
jobs with modest pension and health benefits. A few launched their own
unemployment insurance plans. This was welfare capitalism, which
American employers intended as an alternative to the high taxes and strong
labor unions associated with European welfare states. Companies used
welfare capitalism to create the impression that the corporation was a
Schicksalsgemeinschaft, a community of shared fate. The community was
run in top-down fashion by the CEO, the corporation’s paterfamilias.
Welfare capitalism was an ersatz version of social insurance, thinly funded
and full of defects.
Herbert Hoover had the bad luck of being president when the stock
market crashed in 1929. Hoover, an engineer, was a complicated figure. He
was committed to small government but attentive to social problems that
could be solved by private means. During the 1920s Hoover led a movement
to reduce unemployment using scientific management to stabilize
production. His was an enlightened laissez-faire.
Hoover responded to the depression by launching a national Share-the-
Work movement that nudged employers to reduce hours and keep everyone
working. He met with captains of industry, seeking pledges to foreswear
wage cuts. Instead of federal spending, he sought to balance budgets. But the
strategies failed miserably. Welfare capitalism collapsed, wages were cut,
and the unemployment rate ratcheted up from 3 percent in 1929 to 24 percent
in 1932. With few safety nets in place, the suffering was great.
16
Germany pioneered a different approach. Nineteenth-century German
economists—the historical school— rejected the free-market doctrines
emanating from Great Britain. They derisively dubbed laissez-faire as
“Smithianismus,” arguing that a developmental state and social reform were
required to speed industrialization. The historical school developed after the
15
. Sanford M. Jacoby Risk and the Labor Market: Societal Past as Economic Prologue, in
SOURCEBOOK OF LABOR MARKETS: EVOLVING STRUCTURES AND PROCESSES (Ivar Berg & Arne
Kalleberg, ed., 2001).
16
. SANFORD M. JACOBY, EMPLOYING BUREAUCRACY: MANAGERS, UNIONS, AND THE
TRANSFORMATION OF WORK IN THE TWENTIETH CEN TURY (2004).
106 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
pan-European downturn of the 1840s, which brought unemployment and
impoverishment in its wake, and ended with the 1848 revolution.
17
Twenty years later, the German government faced a new problem: large
numbers of workers began voting for left-wing parties, to the alarm of
Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck responded during the 1880s with
sticks and carrots. The sticks were repressive laws aimed at labor unions and
the left. The carrots were social insurance programs for sickness, industrial
accidents, and old-age. They comprised the world’s first welfare state.
Germany was the place where hundreds of young American went in the
late 19th century to obtain graduate degrees in economics and other fields.
Among them were the founding members of the American Economic
Association, established in 1885. One was Richard T. Ely of the University
of Wisconsin, who professed the German approach to government and social
spending.
18
In 1906, Ely co-founded the American Association for Labor
Legislation (AALL) with his colleague John R. Commons, also at Wisconsin.
For the next several decades, the AALL developed model legislation for
protecting workers from labor-market risks. The panoply included
unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, old-age insurance,
minimum wage laws, industrial safety regulations, and national health
insurance. Commons and John B. Andrews, director of the AALL, said that
the common thread in these policies was “solidarism”—”that all will
equitably bear the burdens that fall upon each individual.”
19
The going was
slow because legislation was blocked repeatedly in the courts. Because of
this, the AALL also advocated judicial reform.
Periodic epidemics were another route to the welfare state. A concerted
effort to eliminate cholera was propelled by the nineteenth-century fusion of
science and the administrative state. Cities built public housing and hospitals
along with infrastructure for water and sanitation. They opened bureaus of
health and departments of city planning. The response to cholera was global;
the first of several International Sanitary Conferences was held in 1851. The
cholera battle had a less edifying side. Well into the 20th century, immigrants
and itinerants were blamed for outbreaks of the disease, fueling immigration
restriction and border controls, sometimes with eugenic justifications.
Progressive reformers associated with the AALL, among them economist
John R. Commons, justified immigration restriction with eugenic ideas, a
17
. GEOFFREY M. HODGSON, HOW ECONOMICS FORGOT HISTORY: THE PROBLEM OF HISTORICAL
SPECIFICITY IN SOCIAL SCIENCE (2001); Leonidas Montes, Das Adam Smith Problem: Its Origins, the
Stages of the Current Debate, and One Implication for Our Understanding of Sympathy, 25 J. HIST. ECON.
THOUGHT 63 (2003).
18
. MALCOLM RUTHERFORD, THE INSTITUTIONALIST MOVE MENT IN AMERICAN ECONOMICS,
19181947: SCIENCE AND SOCIAL CONTROL (2011); AXEL R. SCHÄFER, AMERICAN PROGRESSIV ES AND
GERMAN SOCIAL REFORM, 18751920 (2000).
19
. JOHN R. COMMONS & JOHN B. ANDREW S, PRINCIPLES OF LABOR LEGISLATION 499500
(1916).
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 107
way to prevent what Commons called “race suicide.” Solidarism had its
limits.
20
THE NEW DEAL
After Franklin D. Roosevelt’s landslide election in 1932, the new
president faced pressure from below to act quickly. Bitter strikes had become
more frequent and an unemployed workers’ movement—and unemployment
rates—crested in 1933. To revive the economy, Roosevelt embraced
alternatives to laissez-faire that combined ideas from German economists,
American Progressives, and the British economist John Maynard Keynes.
Reluctant to hand out money, which Keynes said would have sufficed to
kickstart the economy, the administration instead hired the jobless to build
infrastructure such as dams, bridges, and highways. The largest of these
efforts was the Works Project Administration, which at one point employed
one-third of the nation’s jobless.
When it came to social insurance, the New Deal’s crown jewel was
Social Security (retirement insurance and unemployment insurance). There
were new labor laws, including for minimum wages, overtime pay, and
protection of unions. Roosevelt drew on policies the AALL had championed
for thirty years. In recognition of regional variation in wages and political
preferences, the unemployment insurance program was a joint effort of states
and the federal government. States were permitted to supplement
unemployment benefits and raise their benefits above the national minimum,
or not.
What brought social insurance to America was the Great Depression’s
severity. Tens of millions were stuck in the same leaky boat, which fostered
solidarity with anonymous others. Not everyone was included in what
historian David Hollinger calls the “circle of we.”
21
The Social Security Act
originally omitted agricultural and domestic labor from minimum wage
coverage, this at the request of Southern politicians anxious to restrain wages.
Three-fifths of all Black workers were employed in those industries.
22
Welfare capitalism did not disappear. Parts of it became a second tier of
protection, a complement to social insurance. Social Security, for example,
was designed to integrate its benefits with private pension plans. Corporate
programs also competed with public provision, as when employer-provided
20. CHARLES E. ROSENBERG, THE CHOLERA YEARS: THE UNITED STATES IN 1832, 1849, AND 1866
(2009); Thomas C. Leonard, More Merciful and Not Less Effective”‘: Eugenics and American
Economics in the Progressive Era,” 35 HIST. POL. ECON. 687 (2003). Said Commons, “The question of
race suicide of the American or colonial stock should be regarded as the most fundamental of our social
problems.” JOHN R. COMMONS, RACES AND IMMIGRANTS IN AMERICA 200 (1907).
21
. David Hollinger, “How Wide the Circle of the “‘We”‘? American Intellectuals and the Problem
of the Ethnos Since World War II, 98 AM. HIST. REV. 317 (1993).
22
. Jill S. Quadagno, Welfare Capitalism and the Social Security Act of 1935, 49 AM. SOC. REV. 632
(1984).
108 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
health insurance undermined attempts to secure a national system. Although
employers faced labor shortages during the war, the government restricted
them from raising wages. Instead they offered “fringe” benefits, including
pensions, paid vacations, and health coverage—all an extension of welfare
capitalism.
Pressing companies to be generous was an empowered labor movement.
On top of employer programs, they built a private welfare state for their
members. Several unions obtained guarantees that workers would be recalled
after layoffs and that companies would pay supplements to what were still-
meager unemployment benefits. Nonunion companies matched and
sometimes bettered what unions had negotiated. Frank Tannenbaum,
historian at Columbia University, in 1951 lauded unions for demanding these
benefits, saying they would end the “complete helplessness against the
vicissitudes that each individual faces at some time in his life.” The labor
movement, he wrote, “is re-creating a society based upon status, and
destroying the one we have known in our time—a society based on
contract.”
23
Tannenbaum recognized that risk protection via employer provision was
less inclusive than public spending. But he preferred voluntarist class
struggle to top-down government activism. Not so British sociologist T.H.
Marshall. A year before Tannenbaum, Marshall had proposed an expanded
welfare state grounded in national, not industrial, citizenship. He said that
every British citizen had a social right to be protected from the five evils,
including the right to a guaranteed real income, a forerunner to today’s
universal basic income. Unlike civil rights and political rights, however,
social rights required funding through redistributive taxation. Marshall
lauded the fact that this would reduce income inequality, and it did.
24
Grounding the welfare state in citizenship was not without problems.
Noncitizens were excluded, an issue that’s become more pressing during the
current era of widespread immigration and asylum seekers. Related to this
was the Völkisch notion that the welfare state would strengthen a nation’s
bloodline. Eugenic traces tainted proposals and practices associated with the
welfare state, whether Progressive reform, the New Deal, the Beveridge
Report, or the Scandinavian welfare states. Polanyi’s depiction of the great
transformation was heroic; it left out its dismal parts.
25
23
. FRANK TANNENBAUM, A PHILOSOPHY OF LABOR 147 (1951). Id. at 14950; Michael Merrill,
Even Conservative Unions Have Revolutionary Effects: Frank Tannenbaum on the Labor Movement, 77
INTL LAB. AND WORKING-CLASS HIST. 115 (2010).
24
. T.H. MARSHALL, CITIZENSHIP AND SOCIAL CLASS AND OTHER ESSAYS (1950); Jytte Klausen,
Social Rights Advocacy and State Building: T.H. Marshall in the Hands of Social Reformers, 47 WORLD
POL. 244 (1995).
25
. GUNNAR BROBERG & NILS ROLL-HANSEN, EUGENICS AND THE WELFARE STATE: NORWAY,
SWEDEN, DENMARK, AND FINLAND (2005); WENDY KLINE , BUILDING A BETTER RACE: GENDER,
SEXUALITY, AND EUGENICS FROM THE TURN OF THE CENTU RY TO THE BABY BOOM (2005); William
Beveridge, Eugenic Aspects of Children’s Allowances, 34 EUGENICS REV. 117 (1943).
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 109
After the war, there was bipartisan commitment to the New Deal’s
welfare state. Medicare—health insurance for older Americans—was
enacted in 1965 as one of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society
programs. But the initial proposal originated in the Republican administration
of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The political consensus mirrored a postwar
society in which social ties were strong, at least among social similars and
sometimes broader than that. The G.I. generation practiced civic and social
engagement. To paraphrase political scientist Robert D. Putnam, they did not
bowl alone.
26
THE COUNTERMOVEMENT
The late historian Judith Stein called the 1970s a pivotal decade.
27
Memories of the Great Depression were fading. The economy was vexed
by an unprecedented economic problem— stagflation—in which inflation
was accompanied by unemployment and a deceleration of growth rates.
Keynesian economics could not offer a solution beyond wage and price
controls. The economists who favored Keynes and the New Deal were
supplanted by a younger cohort skeptical of regulation and fiscal activism.
It was President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, who first put into practice
the new thinking about government and markets. As is well known, Carter
rolled back transportation and energy regulations that dated to the 1930s.
Less well known is his Regulatory Flexibility Act, which sought to balance
regulation’s social concerns by attending to its impact on business.
Anticipating Bill Clinton, Carter said in his 1978 State of the Union address,
“We really need to realize that there is a limit to the role and the function of
government.”
28
Also during the 1970s, a group of libertarians and their think-tanks
swept the Republican party with plans to “starve the beast” of activist
government. After Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 came a full-bore attack
on New Deal institutions. Deregulation continued apace, now accompanied
by privatization—the substitution of markets for public provision.
29
Reagan wanted to privatize Social Security and Medicare but doing so
was politically precarious. Instead, he sought privatization in other realms,
one example being government vouchers for housing and schools, and
26
. ROBERT D. PUTNAM, BOWLING ALONE: THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN
COMMUNITY (2000).
27
. JUDITH STEIN, PIVOTAL DECADE: HOW THE UNITED STATES TRADED FACTORIES FOR FINANCE
IN THE SEVENT IES (2010).
28
. MARTHA DERTHICK & PAUL QUIRK, THE POLITICS OF DEREGULATION (1985); Matt Welch,
Opinion, Democrats These Days Hate Deregulation, But Once Upon a Time They Loved It, L.A. TIMES
(Feb. 8, 2018, 4:05 AM), https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-welch-deregulation-carter-
20180208-story.html.
29
. NANCY MACLEAN, DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS: THE DEEP HISTORY OF THE RADICAL RIGHTS
STEALTH PLAN FOR AMERICA (2017).
110 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
another the closure of public hospitals, especially in rural areas, or their sale
to private hospital chains. The number of hospitals and the number of beds
declined. Chopped into smaller pieces were programs serving the needy:
Medicaid (health insurance for the disabled and poor), food stamps, and
public-employment jobs. Reagan also eliminated automatic extension of
jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.
30
In an attempt to expand the Democrats’ base, Bill Clinton positioned his
policies between Reagan and Roosevelt. He sought but was unable to obtain
national health insurance, although he successfully secured health insurance
for children, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). On the other
hand, Clinton advocated the transfer of federal social responsibilities to civil
society and private initiative. He trimmed payments to the poor with policies
that evoked the workhouse. Democrats turned to employer mandates that
cost the government nothing. Clinton’s Family and Medical Leave Act
(FMLA) of 1993 compelled companies to provide leave for new parents and
for medical care, although they were not required to pay workers when they
took leave. The United States remains the only OECD nation without legally-
mandated paid family leave and one of only two globally without paid sick
leave.
31
Meanwhile, the welfare state’s second tier was deteriorating. Weaker
unions and the ideological zeitgeist disinhibited companies from cutting back
on workplace insurance and forcing workers to bear more risk. Gone was the
implicit contract that employers would provide stable jobs and wages in
return for loyalty and hard work. The 1980s and 1990s saw several rounds of
mass layoffs and concession bargaining by unions. Employers converted
pension plans promising a fixed benefit into tax-deferred savings accounts
promising nothing. The share of health insurance premiums paid by
employees rose steadily, as did their out-of-pocket expenses.
32
Another way employers moved out of the risk-insurance business was
to reclassify employees as self-employed independent contractors. As such,
they receive neither corporate benefits nor many types of social insurance,
including minimum wages, workers’ compensation, overtime pay, and
jobless benefits. Among the reclassified are today’s gig workers, epitomized
by Uber drivers.
33
30
. PERSPECTIVES ON THE REAGAN YEARS (John L. Palmer, ed. 1986); Mimi Abramovitz, The
Privatization of the Welfare State: A Review, 31 SOC. WORK 257 (1986).
31
. SHELDON DANZIGER & PETER GOTTSCHALK; AMERICA UNEQUAL (1995); Steven K. Wisensale,
Two Step s Forward, One S tep Back: The Family and Medical Leave Act as Retrenchment Policy 20 REV.
POLY RES. 135 (2003).
32
. Lori G. Kletzer, Job Displacement, 12 J. ECON. PERSP. 115 (1998); Benchmark Employer Survey
Finds Average Family Premiums Now Top $20 ,000, KAISER FAM. FOUND. (Sept. 5, 2019),
https://www.kff.org/health-costs/press-release/benchmark-employer-survey-finds-average-family-
premiums-now-top-20000/.
33
. DAVID WEIL, THE FISSURED WORKPLACE (2017).
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 111
Then there are the sins of omission. Because of failure to raise the
minimum wage in line with the cost of living, its inflation-adjusted value in
2019 was 29 percent less than a half century earlier, a devastation for the
working poor. The tax base and monetary reserves for paying unemployment
insurance benefits were left to shrink during the 2010s, leaving the system
unprepared for the mass layoffs associated with COVID-19.
34
The most important part of the safety net is health insurance. The United
States is the single affluent society without national health insurance. Instead
it has a patchwork system that leaves millions without adequate protection.
The first part is Medicare for the elderly (50 million participants), which
resembles national health insurance. Costs are covered by the federal
government. Second and largest is employer-provided insurance (157 million
participants), the legacy of welfare capitalism. The third is Medicaid,
originally intended for the poor. Like some other parts of the safety net, it’s
jointly administered by states and the federal government. Next is CHIP,
which covers nearly half the nation’s children. Finally, there’s the 2010
Affordable Care Act (ACA), enacted under President Barack Obama. It’s the
major exception to decades of diminishing social protection.
Until the ACA, around 50 million individuals had no health insurance.
Four large uninsured groups were the working poor, the jobless, the self-
employed, and noncitizens. The ACA, popularly known as Obamacare,
created state-run insurance exchanges offering commercial policies at below-
market prices. The price wasn’t low, however. The more affordable plans
have deductibles ranging between $6,000 to $8,000 for families, although
subsidies are available to some.
The ACA offered incentives for states to extend Medicaid from the poor
to the next income tier, the working poor, those who cannot afford the
exchange policies and do not receive insurance from their employers. The
federal government pays 90 percent of extension costs; states pay the
remainder. The ACA has brought health insurance to roughly 21 million
people who were previously uninsured. Yet, 28 million people remain
without.
The ACA—”Obamacare”—has been the bête noire of Republicans,
who’ve sought to eliminate it with a flurry of lawsuits. Twenty-five states,
led by Florida, filed a lawsuit contending that the ACA was unconstitutional.
In 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the law in a 5 to 4 ruling, but invalidated
as “coercive” the requirement that states expand Medicaid coverage to the
working poor. Fourteen states have since refused to participate in the ACA-
Medicaid arrangement, even though the federal government pays the lion’s
share. All are red states that elected Republican governors during the 2010s.
34
. Christopher O’Leary & Kenneth J. Kline, State Unemployment Insurance Reserves Are Not
Adequate, (Upjohn Inst. Working Paper 20-321, 2020); Ben Zipperer, Gradually Raising the Minimum
Wage to $15 Would be Good for Workers, Good For Businesses and Good for the Economy, ECON. POLY
INST. (Feb. 7, 2019), https://www.epi.org/publication/minimum-wage-testimony-feb-2019/.
112 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
Ninety percent of the uninsured come from these states. A recent study finds
that Medicaid has been racialized: whites are less likely than other groups to
support its expansion; state adoption decisions are related to white opinion.
35
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has been trying to further unravel
the safety net. Its 2020 budget paid little heed to the “third rail” and proposed
cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and support for poor families. After the
2020 presidential election, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a case
challenging the constitutionality of the entire ACA. The Trump
administration has repeatedly stated that it favors the plaintiffs, a group of
twenty red states led by Texas.
Karl Polanyi was at pains to emphasize that laissez-faire did not take
hold naturally. Instead, said Polanyi, free markets were the result of
deliberate state action on behalf of business interests, with intellectuals
supplying respectable justifications for niggardliness. This was the social
reality that lay beneath Maine’s law of progress. The last forty years have
witnessed a new generation of business interests and conservative policy
entrepreneurs seeking to roll back government’s role in markets and social
provision. Updating Maine, one might say that these efforts have given birth
to a “law of regression,” a movement from status back to contract.
CORONAVIRUS 2020
And then came the pandemic. It revealed how tattered the welfare state
had become, how utterly inadequate it was when most needed. One of the
first problems that came to light was the dearth of hospital beds, the result of
earlier privatization and funding cuts. Compounding the problem were the
millions of people who lacked health insurance. One of several reasons that
Hispanics and Blacks are dying from COVID-19 at higher rates than whites
is that they are overrepresented among the uninsured. A Harvard Medical
School physician commented, “If you’re poor and uninsured, you already
don’t get the kind of health care you need. But that happens under the
radar.”
36
In March and April 2020, a majority of Congressional Republicans
voted in favor of four economic stimulus packages, even though the
legislation is built on the foundations of the much-hated New Deal. The
stimulus is Keynesian pump-priming on a massive scale, costing more than
35
. Colleen M. Grogan & Sunggeun Ethan Park, “The Racial Divide in State Medicaid Expansions,”
42 J. HEALTH POL., POLY & L. 539 (2017). See also Adam M. Enders, A Matter of Principle? On the
Relationship Between Racial Resentment and Ideology, POL. BEHAV. 1 (2019).
36
. Fred Guterl, Who Should Doctors Save? Inside the Debate About How to Ration Co ronavirus
Care, NEWSWEEK (Apr. 4, 2020), https://www.newsweek.com/2020/04/24/who-should-doctors-save-
inside-debate-about-how-ration-coronavirus-care-1495892.html. On Black mortality, see Gregorio A.
Millett et al., Assessing Differential Impacts of COVID-19 on Black Communities, AMFAR, FOUND. FOR
AIDS RES. (May 2, 2020),
https://ehe.amfar.org/Assessing%20Differential%20Impacts%20of%20COVID-19%205-3-20_final.pdf.
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 113
twice what was spent during the 2009 financial crisis. The government is
distributing up to $1200 to every adult taxpayer and $500 per child. The
legislation raises unemployment benefits and their duration, and it extends
unemployment insurance to some of the self-employed, including gig
workers.
The stimulus packages also contain employer mandates. Small firms
(under 500 employees) receiving Federal loans must offer employees ten
fully-paid sick days if they’re under quarantine, and twelve weeks of paid
family leave to care for stricken family members. Loans to mid-to-large-sized
companies can be forgiven if the recipients retain 90% of their employees.
These pro-worker provisions were the price Republicans paid to get
Democrats to support the overwhelmingly pro-business stimulus bills. But
with Republicans controlling the Senate and White House (and, some would
say, the Supreme Court), they had bargaining power to keep the price low.
The legislation heaped largesse on banks and corporations, who received
eighty percent of the funds. Workers and their families walked away with
one-tenth of the money, the rest going to states, localities, schools, and the
health sector.
37
The packages are riddled with loopholes. Higher jobless pay expires in
July. As of this writing, Republicans say that it will not be extended again.
38
Employment stabilization expires in December. Large companies are exempt
from the leave mandates, even though only thirty percent of their workers
received paid family leave before the pandemic. (Paid sick leave is more
widespread among large firms.) Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is authorized to
eliminate the leave mandates for small companies judged unable to afford
them. Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, who like other Republicans believes
that the new jobless benefits are too generous, plans to limit eligibility for the
self-employed, including low-paid gig workers.
39
The stimulus bills are proving insufficient to stanch the misery. In late
May, the House approved yet another stimulus bill with a price tag of $3
trillion. It provides additional payments to taxpayers, another round of
extended jobless benefits, and aid to cash-strapped cities and states. Senate
Republicans, who are counting on a quick recovery after states re-open
businesses, warn that the bill will be dead on arrival.
What about healthcare? The federal government announced that it will
pick up the cost of virus testing and reimburse hospitals for treating victims.
Many of the commercial insurers who underwrite health insurance have
37
. Robert L. Borosage, We’re Going to Need a Bigger Bailout, THE NATION (Apr. 3, 2020),
https://www.thenation.com/article/economy/coronavirus-bailout-unemployment-editorial/.
38
. Seung Min Kim, Trump Expresses Oppositio n to Extending Unemployment Ben efits Enacted in
Response to Pandemic, WASH. POST (May 19, 2020), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-
expresses-opposition-to-extending-unemployment-benefits-enacted-in-response-to-
pandemic/2020/05/19/19ae0e50-9a12-11ea-a282-386f56d579e6_story.html..
39
. Heather Long et al., Labor Dept. Takes Heat Over Emerg ency Help for Workers, WASH. POST
(Apr. 12, 2020).
114 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
promised to temporarily waive costs for COVID-19 testing and treatment,
after pressure from state governments. But twenty-two states—the usual
suspects—are not seeking waivers from insurers doing business in their state.
Federal subsidies to hospitals are limited to the cost of caring for U.S.
citizens; noncitizens are excluded. Although the jobless who previously had
employer-provided insurance can continue their policies for eighteen months
after separation, the continuation payments are prohibitively expensive; the
administration has refused to provide subsidies. Some of the unemployed
without insurance can afford—at least for now—purchasing private policies
sold on the ACA’s exchanges. However, the enrollment period is not until
the fall. Despite urging, the administration has denied requests to
immediately open a special enrollment period.
Medicaid programs for the poor and the working poor are beset with
problems. Healthcare providers are reluctant to treat Medicaid patients
because the government reimburses them at lower rates than for those with
private policies. It’s not a new problem, but COVID-19 has intensified it. The
worst off are those without any kind of health insurance. In mid-March, a
clinic in California turned away an uninsured teenager with COVID-19, who
died not long thereafter. Meanwhile, states are running out of money and
tightening Medicaid payments to providers.
Dealing with the pandemic depends crucially on essential workers in
industries such as supermarkets and drug stores, janitorial services, and home
health care for the elderly and disabled. These low-wage workers—many of
them nonunion— are exposed to a variety of economic risks. Now, there’s
the added health risk of interacting with the public, despite the fact that
essential workers are less likely to have health insurance than others. The
workers are disproportionately Black and Hispanic, and in janitorial services
they are disproportionately foreign born.
40
Unions do not exist at many of the giant companies that are playing a
crucial role in the pandemic economy. Nevertheless, there’ve been safety-
related strikes by workers at Amazon, Instacart, Target, and Whole Foods,
and at fast-food restaurants. Unions are attempting to organize these workers
and are behind some of the strikes.
Unionized workers, such as postal workers and meat packers, are also
protesting. On the legislative front, organized labor has sought tougher safety
rules, while California unions won a state measure that provides
supplemental sick leave to persons exposed to the virus or who become ill
from it. But as of now the walkouts and protests are isolated occurrences. The
number of participants is small as compared to the upwelling of the 1930s.
There are no mass movements of the unemployed.
40
. Hye Jin Rho, Hayley Brown, & Shawn Fremstad, A Basic Demographic Profile of Workers in
Frontline Industries, “CTR. FOR ECON. & POLY RES. (Apr. 2020), https://cepr.net/wp-
content/uploads/2020/04/2020-04-Frontline-Workers.pdf.
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 115
The response to the dual crises—health and the economy—divides
along partisan lines. Blue states are moving more slowly and cautiously than
red states to re-open public spaces and business. Whether or not to wear a
face mask or to engage in social distancing have become partisan divides.
Often the issue is framed around the primacy of individual rights. The
governor of South Dakota pledged that she would not order residents to stay
at home because “personal responsibility” was preferable to government
compulsion. Some red states are using the crisis as an excuse to introduce
restrictions on abortion and immigration.
41
Physicians, researchers, and public health officials have issued dire
warnings against the rush to restore economic normalcy. Yet the Trump
administration has ignored them, while censoring and firing government
scientists. The disregard for expertise of any kind sometimes is surreal. The
head of the COVID-19 taskforce at the Department of Health and Human
Services is Brian Harrison, who previously owned a company that bred
labradoodles, a crossbreed dog. Meanwhile Trump has repeatedly endorsed
medicines for treating COVID-19 that physicians warn are ineffectual and
dangerous.
Treating science with contempt is an American tradition, one that
historian Richard Hofstadter labeled “anti-intellectualism.”
42
Anti-
intellectualism had several sources but Hofstadter placed particular emphasis
on evangelical and fundamentalist doctrines such as biblical literalism.
Nearly a century ago, the state of Tennessee charged a high school teacher
with violating the state’s ban on teaching evolution in the schools, which led
to the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial. The issue has resurfaced in recent
years. Texas and some other states have authorized high school teachers to
discuss religious theories of evolution such as creationism and intelligent
design.
43
We are on terra incognita. The U.S. has never experienced anything like
the one-two punch of a pandemic plus an economic collapse of breathtaking
rapidity. The situation may worsen, not improve, in the coming months.
Companies were carrying large debt loads before the pandemic hit.
Economists predict that 165 large corporations will be bankrupt by year’s
end. Some think the number will be higher if there’s a rout in the junk bond
41
. Ashley Kirzinger et al., KFF Health Tracking Poll - Late April 2020: Coronavirus, Social
Distancing, and Contact Tracing, KAISER FAM. FOUND. (April 24, 2020),
https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/kff-health-tracking-poll-late-april-2020/.
42
. RICHARD HOFSTADTER, ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN AMERICAN LIFE (1962); Gary Abernathy,
Opinion, What’s Really Behind Republicans Wanting a Swift Reopening? Evangelicals, WASH. POST
(May 20, 2020), https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/20/whats-really-behind-
republicans-wanting-swift-reopening-evangelicals/; Brad Plumer & Coral Davenport, Science Under
Attack: How Trump is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work, N.Y. TIMES (Dec. 28, 2019),
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/28/climate/trump-administration-war-on-science.html.
43
. Katherine Stewart, The Religious Right’s Hostility to Science is Crippling Our Coronavirus
Response, N.Y. TIMES (Mar. 27, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/opinion/coronavirus-
trump-evangelicals.html.
116 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
market.
44
At the end of May, the civilian unemployment rate based on initial
unemployment insurance claims was 24.9 percent.
45
Many of the
unemployed will have no jobs to return to after businesses reopen. One
estimate is that two out of five pandemic-related layoffs will result in
permanent job loss. After the 2009 financial crisis, it took ten years for
unemployment to sink back down to pre-crisis levels. The U.S. is facing
another prolonged period of job scarcity, one that likely will last longer than
before.
46
Over the coming months, tens of millions will be released from
quarantine and unable to find work. By then, they’ll have long since
exhausted their unemployment benefits. Already 10 percent of households
report they are not getting enough food.
47
As during the financial crisis, there
will be defaults on personal debt, including mortgages, but this time the levels
will be higher. Four years ago, voters scarred by the financial crisis put their
faith in Trump’s nationalism and his promises to “drain the swamp” of
government. What about now?
It’s possible that the dislocations caused by the pandemic will further
strengthen right-wing chauvinism, hostility to social others, and the
withdrawal of government from society and markets. These are the same
vectors along which the Trump administration is moving. An increasingly-
cited parallel to Trumpism is McCarthyism. As with Trump, Senator
McCarthy’s supporters admired him for being tough, anti-cosmopolitan, and
anti-intellectual. They understood that his attacks on Communists were a dog
whistle implicating the New Deal and efforts to improve opportunities for
Blacks.
48
For now, however, the news is filled with touching stories of human
kindness, of individuals helping strangers with food, money, and even plasma
44
. America Inc Faces a Wave of Bankruptcies, THE ECONOMIST (May 16, 2020),
https://www.economist.com/business/2020/05/16/america-inc-faces-a-wave-of-bankruptcies.
45
. The cited rate is the ratio of initial claims for unemployment from March through late May (38.6
million) divided by the civilian labor force in April. The statistic is not calculated in the same way as the
official unemployment rate and should not be compared with it. The advantage of relying on an initial-
claims measure is that it improves the long-term forecastability of unemployment during periods when it
is rapidly increasing, such as now. Alan L. Montgomery, Victor Zarnowitz, Ruey S. Tsay, & George C.
Tiao, Forecasting the US Unemployment Rate, 93 J. AM. STAT. ASSN 485 (1998): JM Rieger, The Trump
Administration Keeps Downgrading Its Economic Projections Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, WASH.
POST (May 19, 2020), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/18/trump-administration-
keeps-downgrading-its-economic-projections-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/.
46
. Jose Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom, & Steven J. Davis, COVID-19 is Also a Reallocation Shock
(U. Chicago Becker Friedman Inst., Working Paper No. 2020-59, May 5, 2020).
47
. Jane Callen, Weekly Census Bureau Survey Provides Timley Info on Households During COVID-
19 Pandemic, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU (May 20, 2020),
https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/05/new-household-pulse-survey-shows-concern-over-food-
security-loss-of-income.html.
48
. ELLEN SCHRECKER, MANY ARE THE CRIMES: MCCARTHYISM IN AMERICA (1999); Nelson W.
Polsby, Towards an Explanation of McCarthyism, 8 POL. STUD. ASSN 250 (1960); Michael Rogin,
Wallace and the Middle Class: The White Backlash in Wisconsin, 30 PUB. OPINION QUARTERLY 98
(1966).
2020] RETURN OF THE REPRESSED 117
donations. There’s sympathy not only for doctors, but also for those of
modest means who risk their lives to help the rest of us. Telecommuting could
not exist without them.
49
Gratitude has its limits. It doesn’t provide secure jobs, paid family and
sick leave, decent pensions and health insurance, employee voice, affordable
housing, and adequate support for the poor, the working poor, and the jobless.
To move in that direction will require new political coalitions, stronger
unions, and checks on the courts. Needed most of all is the replacement of
selfishness with solidarism. It may not happen quite yet; it may never happen.
But there are glimmerings that bedrock values are shifting slowly
beneath the surface. National surveys conducted on March 18th and April 2nd
2020 found that between those dates there was a small but significant increase
in the number of respondents who put at least as much weight on societal
interests as their own. Another study found that the share of people who have
high trust in others rose between 2018 and the end of March 2020, also a
small but significant change.
50
The economic and health risks associated with
COVID-19 have once again put dissimilar people in the same boat.
Ultimately, the future depends on the willingness of Americans to widen the
circle of “we.”
V. EPILOGUE
On May 25th, 2020 a white police officer in Minneapolis brutally mur-
dered George Floyd, a Black man. The killing caused a social eruption, as
hundreds of demonstrations took place over the following two weeks. The
issues raised by the protests spilled over from police brutality to the myriad
other tribulations faced by Black Americans. Framing the complaints was the
pandemic. Protesters pointed out that Blacks suffered from inadequate health
care, higher pandemic-related death rates and layoff rates, and overrepresen-
tation in frontline jobs. Not all of the protesters were unemployed but many
were, allowing them to march day after day, night after night.
There’s been a sea change in racial views. White voters who ex-
pressed a favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement nearly
doubled from where they stood three years earlier, rising from 31 percent in
49
. Telecommuting is a privilege of the affluent. Prior to the pandemic, sixty-two percent of those
in the top income quartile could work from home if necessary, whereas the option was feasible for only
nine percent in the bottom quartile. Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules Summary: Table One, U.S.
BUREAU LAB. STAT. (Sept. 24, 2019), https://www.bls.gov/news.release/flex2.nr0.htm. Thanks to Miriam
Hendel for the reference.
50
. Alexander W. Cappelen et al., Opinion, What Do You Owe Your Neighbor? The Pandemic Might
Change Your Answer, N.Y. TIMES (April 16, 2020),
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/04/16/opinion/coronavirus-inequality-solidarity-poll.html;
Lee Rainie & Andrew Perrin, The State of Americans’ Trust in Each Other Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic,
PEW RES. CTR. (April 6, 2020), https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/06/the-state-of-
americans-trust-in-each-other-amid-the-covid-19-pandemic/.
118 COMP. LABOR LAW & POL’Y JOURNAL [Vol. 41:101
August 2017 to 56 percent in June 2020. It’s not known the extent to which
the shared experience of a pandemic accelerated the attitudinal shift. But it
mattered.
51
Outside the church where George Floyd’s funeral was held, Sa-
vant Moore, a Black college graduate, repeated a view he’d posted on Face-
book: “It really took a global pandemic with no sports, no concerts, no va-
cations to get the world to sit down and have no choice but to watch what’s
really happening to Black people in America with zero distractions.”
52
The
circle has been widened.
54. Eli Yokley, Voters Increasingly Likely to Prioritize a Person of Color as Biden’s VP Pick,
MORNING CONSULT, JUNE 10, 2020 at https://morningconsult.com/2020/06/10/biden-running-mate-
black-lives-matter-polling/; Giovanni Russonello, Why Most Americans Support the Protests, NY TIMES,
June 5, 2020.
55. Vivien Ho, “’He'll Change the World': George Floyd's Family Pays Emotional Tribute as
Crowds Flock to Funeral,” THE GUARDIAN, June 9, 2020. After the murder of George Floyd, Wil-
liam Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO and Howard University professor, called on the eco-
nomics profession to eliminate its racial biases. Said Spriggs, “Modern economics has a deep and pain-
ful set of roots that too few economists acknowledge. The founding leadership of the American
Economic Association deeply and fervently provided “scientific” succor to the American eugenicists’
movement. Their concept of race and human interaction was based on the “racial” superiority of white,
Anglo-Saxon Protestants. And they launched modern economics with a definition of race that fully in-
corporated the assumed superiority of that group and bought into [it] a notion of race as an exogenous
variable.” William Spriggs, “Is Now a Teachabale Moment for Economists? An Open Letter to Econo-
mists,” n.d., at https://www.minneapolisfed.org/people/william-spriggs.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
This article presents a comparison of forecasting performance for a variety of linear and nonlinear time series models using the U.S. unemployment rate. Our main emphases are on measuring forecasting performance during economic expansions and contractions by exploiting the asymmetric cyclical behavior of unemployment numbers, on building vector models that incorporate initial jobless claims as a leading indicator, and on utilizing additional information provided by the monthly rate for forecasting the quarterly rate. Comparisons are also made with the consensus forecasts from the Survey of Professional Forecasters. In addition, the forecasts of nonlinear models are combined with the consensus forecasts. The results show that significant improvements in forecasting accuracy can be obtained over existing methods.
Article
Cholera was the classic epidemic disease of the nineteenth century, as the plague had been for the fourteenth. Its defeat was a reflection not only of progress in medical knowledge but of enduring changes in American social thought. Rosenberg has focused his study on New York City, the most highly developed center of this new society. Carefully documented, full of descriptive detail, yet written with an urgent sense of the drama of the epidemic years, this narrative is as absorbing for general audiences as it is for the medical historian. In a new Afterword, Rosenberg discusses changes in historical method and concerns since the original publication of The Cholera Years. "A major work of interpretation of medical and social thought . . . this volume is also to be commended for its skillful, absorbing presentation of the background and the effects of this dread disease."—I.B. Cohen, New York Times "The Cholera Years is a masterful analysis of the moral and social interest attached to epidemic disease, providing generally applicable insights into how the connections between social change, changes in knowledge and changes in technical practice may be conceived."—Steven Shapin, Times Literary Supplement "In a way that is all too rarely done, Rosenberg has skillfully interwoven medical, social, and intellectual history to show how medicine and society interacted and changed during the 19th century. The history of medicine here takes its rightful place in the tapestry of human history."—John B. Blake, Science
Article
From comparative studies in Wisconsin of suburbs and counties favorable and opposed to Governor Wallace of Alabama; of the Wallace and normal party votes; and of the Wallace and former Senator McCarthy votes, Professor Rogin finds that much of the political expression of white prejudice is concentrated among middle- and upper-class conservatives.
KFF Health Tracking Poll -Late
  • Ashley Kirzinger
Ashley Kirzinger et al., KFF Health Tracking Poll -Late April 2020: Coronavirus, Social Distancing, and Contact Tracing, Kaiser Family Foundation, April 24, 2020
What's Really Behind Republicans Wanting a Swift Reopening? Evangelicals
  • Brad Plumer
  • Coral Davenport
Brad Plumer and Coral Davenport, Science Under Attack: How Trump is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work, NY TIMES, December 28, 2019; Gary Abernathy, "What's Really Behind Republicans Wanting a Swift Reopening? Evangelicals," WASH. POST, May 20, 2020; Richard Hofstadter, ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN AMERICAN LIFE (1962).
The Religious Right's Hostility to Science is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response
  • Katherine Stewart
Katherine Stewart, The Religious Right's Hostility to Science is Crippling Our Coronavirus Response, N.Y. TIMES (Mar. 27, 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/opinion/coronavirustrump-evangelicals.html.
unemployment rate and should not be compared with it. The advantage of relying on an initial-claims measure is that it improves the long-term forecastability of unemployment during periods when it is rapidly increasing, such as now
  • Alan L Montgomery
  • Victor Zarnowitz
  • Ruey S Tsay
  • George C Tiao
Chapter 11's New Chapter, THE ECONOMIST, May 16, 2020. unemployment rate and should not be compared with it. The advantage of relying on an initial-claims measure is that it improves the long-term forecastability of unemployment during periods when it is rapidly increasing, such as now. Alan L. Montgomery, Victor Zarnowitz, Ruey S. Tsay, and George C. Tiao, Forecasting the US Unemployment Rate, 93 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN STATISTICAL ASSOCIATION 485 (1998): JM Rieger, The Trump Administration Keeps Downgrading Its Economic projections Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic, WASH. POST, May 19, 2020.
COVID-19 is Also a Reallocation Shock
  • Jose Maria Barrero
  • Nick Bloom
  • Steven J David
Jose Maria Barrero, Nick Bloom, and Steven J. David, COVID-19 is Also a Reallocation Shock, Becker Friedman Institute, University of Chicago, Working paper no. 2020-59, May 5, 2020.
Prior to the pandemic, sixty-two percent of those in the top income quartile could work from home if necessary, whereas the option was feasible for only 9 percent in the bottom quartile
Telecommuting is a privilege of the affluent. Prior to the pandemic, sixty-two percent of those in the top income quartile could work from home if necessary, whereas the option was feasible for only 9 percent in the bottom quartile. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job Flexibilities and Work Schedules Summary, September 24, 2019, Table 1. Thanks to Miriam Hendel for the reference.