WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2020
The Joshuas, plus Parks and King: "Purity of heart is to will one thing." We believe Abraham Lincoln said that!
Concerning our nation's moral purity, we return to the unfortunate claim we cited in yesterday's report.
The claim was made by Shamus Khan, a Princeton sociology professor. Khan's statement appeared in a column in the Outlook section of Sunday's Washington Post.
Khan was discussing the unattractive ways of the hugely advantaged. Along the way, largely in passing, he offered this:
KHAN (12/20/20): Wealthy countries representing just 14 percent of the world’s population have used their resources and influence to capture 96 percent of Pfizer’s vaccine and 100 percent of Moderna’s, according to a report by Oxfam and other human rights organizations. These nations are even planning on stockpiling extra, just in case. And because of this, it’s estimated that billions of poorer people in less-advantaged nations will not receive the vaccine for years. This isn’t just a profound moral failure. It also means that as those poorer workers move around the world to do work like farming that keeps us all alive, the risk of localized outbreaks will increase.
Say what? Are wealthy nations hoarding the world's vaccine supply? Is our own country, the United States, one of those wealthy nations?
Will people in other countries die while we argue about which of our own demographic groups should get vaccinated first? Skillfully, we clicked Khan's links in search of more detail.
Khan cited Oxfam in his piece. At the first link Khan provided, we encountered this:
OXFAM INTERNATIONAL (12/9/20): Nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people against COVID-19 next year unless urgent action is taken by governments and the pharmaceutical industry to make sure enough doses are produced, a group of campaigning organisations warned today.
By contrast, wealthier nations have bought up enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use. Canada tops the chart with enough vaccines to vaccinate each Canadian five times. Updated data shows that rich nations representing just 14 per cent of the world’s population have bought up 53 per cent of all the most promising vaccines so far.
The organizations, including Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now and Oxfam...found that 67 low and lower middle-income countries risk being left behind as rich countries move towards their escape route from this pandemic.
That "53 percent" figure made it sound like the situation isn't as bad as Khan may have suggested. That said, Khan also linked to a report from ABC News. Dual headline included:
SCHUMAKER (12/9/20): Rich countries are hoarding the COVID vaccine: Report / The poorest countries are getting trampled in the vaccine race.
While rich countries have purchased enough coronavirus vaccine doses to inoculate their populations three times over next year, 90% of people in poor countries won't be able to get the vaccine in 2021, according to a new report.
Doses of two of the most promising vaccines have been almost completely bought up by wealthy nations, with 96% of Pfizer's vaccine and 100% of Moderna's vaccine acquired by the rich, the report found.
While Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine have more than 1.4 million COVID-19 cases between them, according to Johns Hopkins University, they'll only have access to vaccines through COVAX, the global vaccine sharing program.
Canada, on the other hand, which has only reported 432,870 infections, has cut direct deals with vaccine makers and purchased enough doses to vaccinate each Canadian citizen five times, the report found.
Canada was positioned as the villain in each of these reports. Our own country wasn't mentioned as one of the hoarder nations, but we're willing to take a wild guess.
Has Canada actually "purchased enough doses [from Pfizer and Moderna] to vaccinate each Canadian citizen five times?" Are we one of the other hoarder nations?
How accurate is Khan's presentation overall? We can't answer your perfectly sensible questions.
Concerning Canada's alleged over-purchase, one thinks of past reports about our nation's ability, thanks to nuclear overkill, to obliterate various nations many times over. That said, we can't vouch for the claims in these reports, in large part for the reason we mentioned yesterday:
Most likely, we aren't going to see this topic discussed by our favorite news orgs. Even in Sunday's column, Khan mentioned this matter in passing.
Khan was mainly concerned with the way wealthy parties in this country may try to crowd to the front of the vaccination line in this country. He's afraid this will happen as we all get vaccinated here, while the wretched around the globe are forced to sit and wait their turn.
Yesterday, we mentioned the fact that this state of affairs reminded us of a certain conversation we had a long time ago. In fact, the conversation took place in the spring of 1965, at the end of our senior year in high school.
The conversation involved the death of Dr. Tom Dooley, a medical missionary in Laos, at the age of 34. More broadly, the conversation concerned our moral obligation, or lack of same, to the wretched of the earth—to less advantaged, suffering people found all over the world.
The other party in this conversation was wiser and saner than we were. That said, we've decided to skip the details of that conversation. The conversation was too personal, and the recollection of that conversation is a prized possession here.
That said, the suggestion that our failing nation may be hoarding the world's vaccine supply stands in contrast to the silly, solipsistic discussions we encounter, day after day, here in the streets of Our Town.
We're very self-impressed in Our Town. Also, quite self-involved.
Without attempting to challenge the intentions of the writer, we'd say that one such discussion can be found right here, in the pages of New York magazine. It involves ridiculous conduct by someone's across-the-back-fence neighbor—the kind of conduct which occurs, in various demographic settings, every single day of the week and sometimes twice on Sundays.
Other types of unwise conduct occur on a regular basis. It all depends on which examples of unwise conduct we choose to discuss in Our Town.
According to the New York report, a dispute was triggered this spring by an unwise neighbor in Montclair, New Jersey. Long ago and far away, we had a college roommate from that very town, though that's neither here nor there.
("Not only was John a great athlete, but he was always thinking out of the box, with great ideas on how to better society and the world at large.”)
As our nation was hoarding the vaccine supply, New York magazine was all wrapped up in that dispute in Montclair. We thought about something Dr. King once said, even after his house had been firebombed.
We thought about the moral and intellectual greatness of the astonishing Rosa Parks.
We thought about Barack Obama's comments on the Joshua generation. We thought about an enduring anthropological fact—we humans are all the same.
We humans! When we gain too much advantage, we tend to wallow in ourselves. In this respect, we're so-called "black and white together"—rather, black and white alike.
Even here within Our Town, our favorite stars aren't likely to talk about the hoarding of the world's vaccine supply and the concomitant dispensing of global death. Instead, our youngsters sometimes seem eager to set out in search of localized outrage:
Pretty much any outrage will do, as long as it serves Storyline.
We're silly and stupid and nobody likes us? We've been telling you that all year!
However one might judge that claim, the solipsism has perhaps been general here in Our Town of late. It seems to us that this helps explain why we in our frequently self-involved town just aren't hugely well liked.
Tomorrow: "Even their ministers..."