I don’t remember doing it, but at some point in the last week I must have turned on my Apple News alerts. “The Dow fell more than 900 points on Friday,” one read. Then another: “Who will be saved, and who won’t?” And another: “How the coronavirus will permanently change our world. Also: The incredible power of walking.” And another: “The Dow posted a 2,000 jump as negotiations in Congress continued.”
As laid out by my colleague Matt Ford, the news from the past few days has been an incessant stream of this brand of financial panic mixed with existential dread. The world may not be ending (yet), but it has come to feel like a simmering pot finally coming to a boil: Politicians are floating the idea that the economy supersedes the needs of living, breathing human beings; cruise and airline companies are demanding bailouts and full control over the terms; senators are doing crimes in broad daylight; billionaire corporatists who did the same are asking regular people for money; and Wall Street executives are getting 20 percent raises as the companies and industries they’ve tethered themselves to lay off workers en masse.
And then there’s this:
In The New York Times on Sunday, Thomas Friedman shared Trump’s drive to send people back to work even as the Covid-19 death count rises and hospital workers beg the public to help curb community spread by staying home. This is the Times’ style, effectively arguing the same thing as an all-caps tweet from the president’s addled brain but smoothing out the rough edges to make it sound respectable: After acknowledging the severity of the public health crisis, Friedman wrote, “But we also need to be asking ourselves—just as urgently—can we more surgically minimize the threat of this virus to those most vulnerable while we maximize the chances for as many Americans as possible to safely go back to work as soon as possible?”