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The Great Distancing

Scott Galloway@profgalloway

Published on August 7, 2020

9-min read

America’s involvement in WWII lasted 3 years and 9 months, and 405,399 Americans perished (297 per day). U.S. forces have been fighting in Afghanistan for 19 years, and we’ve lost 2,285 servicemembers (1 every 3 days). In WWII almost a third of fruits and vegetables were harvested from “Victory Gardens” planted in people’s backyards. You couldn’t find chocolate or nylons. Diapers and food staples were rationed, and you could be kicked off a plane to make room for servicemen. 

Despite the formidable financial stress of wartime, households were asked to dig deeper and buy war bonds. Within three weeks of Dec. 7, 1941 Ford, Fisher Auto Parts, and Goodyear Rubber were turning out B-24 and B-25 bombers, using fabricated auto parts. Kelvinator, which made refrigerators, was told by the government to stop and start making propellers and army helmets.

Fast forward to 2020: Americans don’t want to wear masks and expect the government to send them more money. We’ve been unable to produce cotton swabs and personal protective equipment. Most Covid tests still take 5-7 days to yield results, while other countries have had rapid tests since March. 

Since the first recorded U.S. case in January, we have lost 159,588 Americans, or 806 people a day. The economic cost of the stimulus will likely surpass the conflict that reshaped the world order. However, we’re not spending this unprecedented amount of money on fighting the enemy, but ensuring the NASDAQ (the net worth of the wealthy) doesn’t decline. Our leadership seems to think a return to school should be doable even though our Covid-19 testing is extremely slow and below need. University leadership is convinced the virus received the memo that the nobility and business model of education should be an immunity, cauterizing spread.

We have a forest fire and are borrowing trillions from future generations to Venmo people sitting at home as the inferno in their neighbor’s yard rages. Personal income was 7.3% higher in Q2 versus Q1 because of stimulus payments and extra unemployment benefits. The personal savings rate hit a historic 33% in April, the highest by far since the department started tracking in the 1960s. Do the 89% of people who still have their job need additional stimulus? It appears, as is the case the last several decades, that the only bipartisan action is reckless spending that flattens the curve for rich people while throwing some funds at the neediest for optics. 

And the enemy marches on.

Donald Trump was right, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were mistakes. Mistakes that cost us almost 7,000 American souls, 208,102 Iraqi and 111,000 Afghan civilian lives, and $1.9 trillion (inflation adjusted). But Covid-19 will register an even greater toll of American blood and treasure. The response to the novel coronavirus would have been swifter and more disciplined if the pathogen had brown skin and worshiped a different god. Americans can’t seem to wrap their head around an enemy 10,000 times smaller than the width of human hair. 

The Narrative

What does success in America look like? Brash, optimistic, a vision for how technology will solve our problems that results in billions of shareholder value. Recently I’ve been participating in Zoom calls with Masters of the Universe and “experts” from various fields to discuss all things pandemic. Some are small groups of CEO and hedge fund titans where I’m the entertainment, while others have had real experts. In June a CEO of a large investment bank assured us the first vaccine would be available by the fall. In July, the CEO of a big tech firm was certain frontline workers would have received the vaccine by September latest.

Yeah, hope so …

But even if these men are right, does a vaccine defeat the enemy? Let’s ignore the fact we may not get a vaccine (HIV, 40 years and counting). Let’s assume that, despite formidable production and distribution hurdles, we get a vaccine in reasonably short order. If we have the silver bullet, does it get fired? The journal Science reported that 50% of Americans say they will not take the vaccine. We need at least 70% of Americans to take the vaccine. To be clear, I will take it and advocate for others to do the same. 

But we should be fighting on multiple fronts. In the middle of the last century, 120,000 Americans spent 4 years and more than $23 billion to find a vaccine for tyranny. The Manhattan Project was a research and development undertaking during WWII that produced the first nuclear weapons. The successful splitting of the atom would end the war, and we had reasonable confidence we would get there. However, between 1942 and 1945, we still built 297,000 aircraft and 86,000 tanks. We still sent young men to die on the beaches of Normandy and the island of Luzon. Keep in mind, this enemy, at present, has a greater toll on American lives each day than WWII. We are lacking a unity of purpose. 

The Great Distancing

We seem to have developed immunities to learning from others. Specifically what’s worked elsewhere — non-pharmaceutical intervention (NPI). A fancy way of saying “distancing and masking.” Restricting a virus of proximity to another organism for 14 days is what Valyrian Steel is to the Dark Knight. Yet 3 in 10 Americans “sometimes, rarely, or never” wear a mask. We can wait for the splitting of the atom, or we can … distance and wear a mask. 

There are 129 million households. Corporations have enjoyed the greatest profits in history, and the 1% have seen their wealth increase during the pandemic. I believe corporations and citizens are capable and willing to be the key instruments of a battle to change the course of this war. People decry the lack of leadership, but is it time to lead from the bottom up? The president has decided “it is what it is,” and Speaker Pelosi and Representative Jim Jordan are purposefully undermining the credibility of Dr. Birx and Dr. Fauci.

About half of U.S. households have an occupant who works for a company with more than 2,500 people. Let’s call these firms “guardians.” I’m suggesting they adopt their employees’ households for two weeks. We can also enlist volunteers from the top 10% income-earning households, and those that have the resources (time, money, organizational skills) to adopt the other “citizen” households. Connections could be coordinated/assigned by state and local health agencies to establish a dialog and provide support. Under guidelines issued by the CDC, each household works with their “guardian” or “citizen” to prepare for a 14-day lockdown. This guardianship would include, but not be limited to:

  • 14 days of supplies/groceries
  • Living space that is adequate (if not, the guardian finds other living quarters)
  • Broadband
  • Remote medicine/therapy where needed
  • Streaming video platforms
  • Content/learning programming for kids, including daily play dates for kids under 10 where kids and chaperones observe safety measures
  • Smartphone with an app that schedules, manages walks outdoors and exercise that is distanced from all other quaranteams (or a shared Google calendar) 
  • Enforcement. People in Germany who violate mask orders are fined up to 10,000 euro. Better yet, why wouldn’t we make any form of assistance (PPP/Cares/unemployment) dependent on adherence to the great distancing guidelines? Shouldn’t these lovers of freedom be released from the tyranny of government assistance?

And then we lock down. You know, similar to every other country that has crushed the curve. But, Americans are too fond of their individualism and freedom, no? A fraction of leadership (from the government or citizenry) would meet pockets of resistance, but a groundswell of support would rise as the chaos that is fall in the U.S. comes into plain view.

We’d also need an army of tracers equipped with handheld technology, a U.S. Corona Corps armed with rapid tests, which have yet to be widely available. We know the monster’s weakness. Haven’t we conflated “freedom” with weakness and an unwillingness to make short-term sacrifices for the good of the commonwealth? Can you imagine people in 1944 refusing to wear a mask, or ignoring orders to tune their lights out during a bombing raid?


97% of the time I am fine — at home, with my boys, I can work, my stocks (big tech monopolies) are at record highs, no business travel, living my best life. The other 3%, always late at night when up alone, I’m overwhelmed by anxiety. The anxiety isn’t chemical, or depression … but clarity. My nine-year-old became a different boy without school and socialization this past spring. Anybody who has experienced the most important thing in their life come off the tracks knows everything stops, and there will never be real rest again, as it could happen … again. 

My dad, 89, is sequestered in his assisted living facility in San Diego. Nobody can see him. His meals are left at his door. He does take a masked walk every day, but it’s taking a real toll. In the five months he’s been in lockdown, his dementia has begun to march faster. Every time we speak he says he’d like to see me and the boys one last time and would like to come to Florida, forgetting the situation we’re in. I agree, we start talking dates, and he gets emotional. He then says he’s sorry for whatever he’s done to make me mad at him. Thing is, he hasn’t done anything and I’m not mad, but there’s no talking him off it. 

As his hearing aids never seem to be working, I end up venturing outside so I can yell … “DAD, YOU’VE DONE NOTHING WRONG, WE HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP, I LOVE YOU AND YOU LOVE US, WE’RE FINE.” He responds, “What?” We do this for about two minutes or until the neighbors’ lights go on wondering wtf is going on next door. He hears me and, again, seems relieved. He’ll then just deflate and say, “This dementia thing. I just feel … I just feel so lost.” 

I’m anxious. Anxious I will experience the feeling of falling into a black hole of paternal failure if I can’t prevent my youngest from again losing his sense of place, self, and joy. Anxious I could have to say goodbye to my dad over FaceTime. Anxious a foreign adversary will see opportunity in our weakness. Anxious the markets regain consciousness. Anxious. 

It’s overwhelming to try to fathom the pain, despair, and loneliness tens of millions of households are struggling with right now. And we didn’t need to be here. America is about generosity, grit, innovation, and a willingness to sacrifice for one another and future generations. There’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed with what’s right with America. However, at this moment, our nation has never been less American. 

Our optimism and technology will not replace sacrifice. In order to, again, embrace life and each other, we need a great distancing.

Life is so rich, 

P.S. Had Andrew Yang on the Prof G Show this week. A blue-flame thinker. Have a listen.



  1. W says:

    I empathize with you, Scott, and find some of what you wrote very agreeable. Without nit-picking, and as some of your astute readers alluded to, there are many pragmatic and data driven people who feel that the policy “treatment” is more dangerous than the disease at this juncture. You perhaps indirectly made this point – en-mass lockdowns and related measures are only helping to drive the the wealth disparity. All the best

  2. Steve88 says:

    Don’t lump all Americans as one group. I agree masks protect me and protect you, not perfectly, but better than nothing. Galloway said: “Americans don’t want to wear masks and expect the government to send them more money.”, and then, “Yet 3 in 10 Americans “sometimes, rarely, or never” wear a mask.” So that means that 70% are wearing masks sometimes or often??? Don’t jump to conclusions. Can we isolate the brainwashed Trump apologists who don’t understand or respect science.

  3. Phil says:

    The problem with your chart on deaths is you would have to make it for healthy 18-30 year old males, then divide it by the increase in population. COVID would even register on the chart compared to the wars. People can smell this a mile away and then don’t believe anything. That is the problem with this hype cycle. Then we wonder why there are people that think COVID is a hoax (certainly is not)

    • c1ue says:

      Indeed. If the deaths are charted, the outcome looks a lot different. Nor is the 1% Galloway apparently willing to show that a huge proportion of deaths still occurred in the states that did lock down, etc: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts among others. Or that California’s draconian measures have dropped new cases…not at all.

  4. Andrew Hoppe says:

    go see your dad.

  5. Bradford Doyle says:

    Thank you. Your words are profoundly meaningful. You are a voice of sanity in a culture gone awry, and of practical values in a nation misled by a demagogue.

  6. Steve Miller says:

    Scott- We can split hairs on your thoughts, but the last few paragraphs are all that matters. Hopefully we can soon get it right as Churchill once said about the US…because we have tried about every wrong way. i watched my mother-n-law suffer from Alzheimer’s/Dementia… is hard enough when you can be there to help… know that I am praying for you and your dad.

  7. gav says:

    Jesus Scott you made me cry

  8. Sven says:

    I am a silent reader of your postings and I often couldn’t agree more with your messages. But I strongly disagree with this posting. First, why did you compare right in the beginning something currently perceived as dangerous (a virus) with something that is perceived as – most likely – even more dangerous (a war)? With that you might already have set a very strong bias for the rest of this article (war – the word is causing fear). But let’s try to get to the core and agree on one thing first: Viruses have existed in the past and will exist in the future. Viruses infect hosts, also humans. In case the immune system of the hosts can’t make it, some hosts will die, especially those that already have other diseases. Thus viruses mutate and infect other hosts. That’s part of nature, that’s part of our life’s and we need to accept that. Against this background the only relevant question is, how dangerous is SARS-CoV2 compared to other viruses (!!!) – and not in comparison to a war, to car accidents, or to other kinds of reasons where people can die from, as this would set the wrong context (misleading part 1)! To answer that question “how dangerous is SARS-CoV2” we need to agree on the right metric. Is new confirmed daily new cases the right metric? No, it’s not, as the number of car trips is also not determining the road fatalities (since 1970s car trips are increasing, but road fatalities are decreasing on a trend line). So, in terms of SARS-CoV2 it comes down to number of deaths. Death per… what? Per day in an average? Averages have their weakness, especially when applied on a curve with a strong growth in the beginning and a flattening tail at the end when looking at it somewhere in the middle (we are not at the end of this outbreak now – so this is misleading part 2). But let’s ignore this for now and use this metric but then we have to do a comparison to other viruses. You compared the brand new SARS-CoV2 from 2020 with an AIDS figure from 2018, where AIDS already is ages away from its peak. That’s comparing no research, an overstrained health system (especially in the beginning) and experimental treatments with years of research, clinical trails, established treatments and a completely different way of disease transmission (misleading part 3). A fair comparison would be to compare SARS-CoV2 with other similar viruses, e.g. with the Spanish flu in 1918, the Asian flu in 1957, the Hongkong flu in 1968 or the swine flue in 2009 as well as with the yearly influenzas waves. This would at least provide some kind of compass to sort in Covid-19 into other virus outbreaks. But does this give a clear view how dangerous Covid-19 is? Not really, as the daily average death rate per day is influenced by the strong actions, like partial lockdown, strong distancing etc. Instead you have to look at 1) morbidity, how many of the population get infected (as not everybody gets infected, even in the same household) and 2) infection fatality rate (IFR), how many of the infected die. Unfortunately we don’t have those numbers available. But there are several studies out there, who provide at least a range for these figures. So, hugs and kisses and no distancing at all during the seasonal flu and other virus outbreaks, but now great (!) distancing and stop seeing our loved ones during Covid-19? No measures at all vs. nearly total isolation? We are human beings and personal contacts are cruicial for our well being. I wish you will look into the figures mentioned above and compare it with other similar virus threats and maybe you’ll find a way in between. All I can says is, that I very thoroughly looked into the figures and came to the conclusion to continue to see my parents (although they have chronic deseases). We avoid any kind of body contact and don’t get too close, but that’s it. Without that “life would be poor” and I’m not sure if “life is rich” would be a valid signature for me otherwise. Great distancing appears very cruel to me, reasonable distancing should work very well, especially as risks seems to be manageable. P.S. “People in Germany who violate mask orders are fined up to 10,000 euro” – sorry, that is simply wrong. 500 Euro is the maximum.

  9. Corey says:

    It would take 41,000 Benghazi’s to amass the same amount of loss as COVID-19. Just yesterday we had 334 Benghazi’s. But you’re right, the virus isn’t brown and doesn’t speak another language. How sad. How true.

  10. Imperfect America says:

    Small Businesses Are Dying by the Thousands — And No One Is Tracking the Carnage

  11. Imperfect America says:

    The costs in this chart are not close to being correct, but the text does a better job. The FED has spent that or more that propping up the markets. Besides that, the real cost of this “epidemic” has nothing to do with Congressional spending and everything to do with businesses bankrupted, or left on life support, jobs destroyed and general upheaval. Not to mention lives lost to illnesses not being addressed, depression, suicide or lives upended by divorce, domestic violence and financial instability. From student loans not being paid, mortgages or rents not being paid – by families and businesses – to kids not learning, the true costs of this have yet to be seen… Scott is right when he says “It’s overwhelming to try to fathom the pain, despair, and loneliness tens of millions of households are struggling with right now.” And as when he says “However, at this moment, our nation has never been less American.” But not in the way he means. The America I grew up with would not have allowed something akin to a bad flu eviscerate the economy and society. We would have protected those at risk and gone on with our daily lives… but that’s not what’s happened. Tens of millions people are cowering in their homes, hiding behind masks and hoping that somehow a magic elixir will come along and save the day. There is a magic, but it’s not an elixir in the form of a vaccine, it’s life and it goes on… and we adjust accordingly. Covid 19, which is certainly a serious virus for the vulnerable, but for the vast majority it’s not a threat, but in the hands of the “Orange Man Bad” media and their Democrat bedmates, it’s been turned into a neutron bomb to the United States economy and communities from coast to coast… 30 Million Dead Americans? The Coronavirus Is Not A Hoax, But The Hysteria Surrounding It Very Much Is…

  12. Mark says:

    I have some issues with your column this week (one major, a couple minor) but decided they don’t mean a hill of beans in the broader scheme of things. This is the best summation of our sorry-*ss totally avoidable situation that I have yet read. I wish you the best with your Dad.

  13. JKoz says:

    We came together in the 40s to fight Hitler, but the 1930s were another story. We’ve whitewashed the social history of the Great Depression…families torn apart, neighbor vs. neighbor, vigilantes attacking squatter campsites, rampant alcoholism, suicides. When we revived the draft in 1940, so many young men were in such poor health that standards had to be loosened. IIRC, 75% of the ones inducted required dental work

  14. newimom says:

    my friend’s ex-wife makes $73 every hour on the internet. She has been fired for 5 months but last month her check was $20281 just working on the internet for a few hours. read review…

  15. carmen chan says:

    you’re not alone in your anxiousness.. hugs from malaysia

  16. c1ue says:

    Wow, it is clear Prof. Galloway has no background in science or data. Comparing deaths in the US to individual European countries is exactly like comparing New York’s COVID-19 experience with Wyoming’s. Wyoming is going to look good no matter what. Yes, wear masks. It is not at all clear how much they benefit, but it is a low risk/low cost option. Lockdowns? Made some sense when nobody knew what was going to happen. However, right now it is abundantly clear that 1) Lockdowns don’t stop the disease. California was the first to lock down, is still locked down and its rate of COVID-19 deaths per day has been basically the same since April. 2) There is no coherent plan or even significant thought on how COVID-19 is to be handled, lifecycle wise. Lockdown until we get a vaccine tested, approved, manufactured, distributed and administered in 1 year (which is ridiculously optimistic)? And how well is this administration going to go with the American health care system? And the anti-vaxxers? And the pharma profiteers?

  17. David Reiley says:

    Great article. But I think you meant to say “Valyrian Steel to the Night King,” not “Valyrian Steel to the Dark Knight,” as I’ve never heard Batman to care what kind of steel he’s facing.

  18. Cindy Sible says:

    America was about generosity,grit, innovation and sacrifice, when we had a robust middle class. Since that has disappeared so has that spirit. So this pandemic is not about preserving the health of our community, its only about preserving the individual. I sit in Chicago where lawlessness is the norm. We can’t seem to band together for the sake of our communities. Thank you for your voice of reason, unfortunately its not heard on the AP wire or in People magazine.

  19. Judith Anderson says:

    Thank you and may we as Americans and Christians be praying and living our lives to please our Heavenly Father by loving

  20. Pat says:

    Scott, Great post you have been my lens into the US for many years. You write with such transparency and clarity. I live with great optimism, however as more outbound extrovert missing planes and the connection with other humans is impacting my ability to be my best. I am now in lockdown 2 and changing my own narrative. Doubling down to reach out to others, my mum, my family and friends in need who need my care and to help me deal with my own anxiety. It helps me and thanks for sharing your own personal experience. I am in lockdown in Melbourne, Australia. Working from my home office since March and going ok but it sucks. Appreciate your support and words at this time. The July Prof G Sprint was also timely and some great learnings despite the discomfort and stretch for me. Take care.. Pat

  21. Brian says:

    A horribly written piece of fiction IMO. After the comment about Americans not wanting to wear masks, I was going to stop. But I read on for humor value.

  22. Greg says:

    Also like to point out (it appears my previous post was censored/removed) that unemployment during WWII dropped from around 30% to 10% practically overnight. The exact opposite of what’s happening today… Comparing apples and oranges.

  23. Greg says:

    Could have been worth reading if it stuck to one common theme. The greatest generation did not ask what their country could do for them, but what they can do for their country. Contrasted to the millennial to Z attitude, “What can our country can do for us.” Peppered with meaningless statistical comparisons (Apples and oranges) and political bias.

  24. Aaron says:

    Scott: beautiful post, liked your especially touching note sharing the anxiety you feel with your dad’s health condition. I too feel a sense of anxiety about my father’s decline in health and try to remain stoic about whatever may come from his struggles. I can’t believe how well you’re holding up, considering how much stress you must be under. Be good to yourself, and hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy in this difficult time.

  25. Bill says:

    Hi Scott I am still amazed that nowhere do you recognize the fact that this virus represents a negligible risk to anyone who is reasonably healthy and under 60 years of age. Anecdotes about exceptions are plentiful but extremely unhelpful. This has been proven to be the case in every country for which even vaguely reliable data is available. Making responses that are proportionate is not dependent on a vaccine that may be a year away and may not be effective (or even safe if shortcuts are taken on testing) seems entirely sensible to me.

    • Jen says:

      I keep thinking the exact same thing. People love to point out that we don’t like to listen to science and data yet the science and data shows that healthy individuals under 60 will get CV and recover. Our overall hospitalizations and deaths have dropped dramatically as well. Not sure why this data isn’t being considered.

    • JD says:

      @Jen Because it doesn’t fit the narrative

  26. Jeff says:

    Why dont you drive across the country, pick up your dad, and have him stay with you until either Covid goes away or your father passes?… Seems like you have the resources to pull that one off.

  27. David Stahl says:

    Buy your son a telescope — the skies are fantastic right now — Jupiter and Saturn following the Milky Way … not to mention the Perseid meteor shower this coming week… though a telescope is not needed for the meteor shower.

  28. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, anxious and angry that we cannot mobilize what should be so easy to set in motion. Just a tiny bit of leadership, a drop or two even, but we scrabbling in the most extreme drought.

  29. Susan says:

    I’m a couple years younger than you but we crossed paths at UCLA in the 80s. Moved my son into an apartment on Strathmore this weekend for his soon to be college experience. I’m right there with you at the 97/3%. But the 3% feels vastly larger. Waking to nightmare scenarios of the next 3 months and my life is relatively good. I got to visit Normandie during the 50th anniversary and standing in the US cometary I was overtaken with emotion and I remember thinking “my generation has no concept of this bravery or grief” and this was in the 90s. We need to form an army of help because this election is going to be our war.

  30. Richard Ford says:

    If Biden doesn’t plagiarize this speech he’s nuts. Would you like a job being his speechwriter? Wish I could offer it to you.

  31. J says:

    Sorry but middle class America is done sacrificing. Not on the menu anymore. We have been bled dry. After decades of corruption and ruling class greed there is nothing left to give. Attempting to draw parallels between Americans now and during the great wars and wondering where our lack of common purpose went misses so much of the picture that brought us to this moment. We were left behind. Systematic greed and inequality by wealthy Americans has destroyed social mobility and any notion that “we are in this together”. We are not. There are two America’s. And now the other side wants us to cooperate on the one thing it cannot buy or bribe it’s way out of. A pandemic. They ask why we are not more resilient. Why we are not more helpful towards our fellow man. Well it’s very easy to be kind when your rich. With money you can sit at home for 5 months. No problem. You won’t be stressed. Your wife won’t divorce you and your kids will be takin care of. Americans of modest means are chided and harassed for wanting to get back to work to provide for our families. They tell us it’s too risky. “Think of your fellow man”.But when has that ever stopped our leaders? When did a low appetite for risk stop the Masters of the universe from printing money to solve every problem despite the obvious risks to future generations? Did it stop them in 2008? But now we should hurt our families lose our jobs and ruin our lives. Ask yourself, would they have done that for you? Have they ever done that for you? No. We have no more “sacrifice” left to provide. It’s time to roll the dice. There is a massive electorate in our country that wants to go back to work and make a living for the people they love. They are not cruel. They are not stupid. They are desperate and out of options. So now it’s time to roll the dice and accept the risk.

    • Mirgim Jusufi says:

      Even if the risk extends the pain you’re feeling for years instead of months? Think your comments reflect Scott’s definition of “freedom” today – an unwillingness to make short-term sacrifices for the good of the commonwealth.

    • Bill says:

      @Mirgim Jusufi His comments reflect a reality of which you clearly have zero understanding. Yours reflect a smug, self righteous and patronizing personality.

    • J says:

      The pain we are feeling falls disproportionaly on lower income Americans. Studies have not even begun to scratch at the devastation this lockdown is inflicting on our country. Families are ripping each other apart over money, women are being beaten, entire apartment floors are under constant threat of eviction, suicides, depression, divorce. These are not ” short term sacrifices”. This lockdown is permanently damaging millions of homes across our nation. Lives are being ruined, businesses are going bankrupt, nothing about this lockdowns effects will be short term I can assure you. The “Commonwealth” has failed middle class America. We have nothing left to sacrifice without permanently damaging our families and communities. I hope our people will remember what matters most and exercise their right to protect it. Not continue to sacrifice blindly to the “Commonwealth” or other abstract ideas politicians revive just long enough to convince you to relinquish your own right to protect your family and children. These lockdowns are a direct assault on the fabric of our society. And they are a consequence of riding high on decades of greed and offsetting the risk to the most vulnerable in our country. Now the pendulum has swing back. And yet again those in power are attempting to offload the risk to the most vulnerable. Asking you to stay home and forcing you to lose your job so that the consequences of decades of greed and negligence never touches them or their families. No. Protect your family. Provide for your children. It’s time to share the risk.

  32. Reinhard Bimashofer says:

    You are a hero of analysis and mindfulness, giving us a true perspective of consciousness for the difficulties our lives are confronted in this times. Is it worth a pulitzer prize for you? I think so! We are missing such profund analysis as much as some (like you) are missing an inner freedom and greater perspective through their finding of hold and future in God. Like me in the Bahá’í-faith. Praying for you and your family, loving your work! (writing from Austria)

  33. BG says:

    They are by no means alone but the US sure seems to be the global leader in the rich (re: congress/oligarchs etc) keeping the masses poor, stupid, sick and divided

  34. Michael Harings says:

    If you change the victory-garden illustration to: Generosity Innovation Grit Sacrifice = gigs, the kind of gigs we need to do now!

  35. Javier says:

    Who does it Help ? Who Does it Hurt ? Scott I’ve read the Algebra of Happiness – You have a lot of wisdom about the things that really matter in life, the people you care about, the relationships, the shortness and fragility of life. I appreciate what you shared in your book now go live it. What you are doing to your father is not right – You know better. Go be with him, better yet bring him home and enjoy the time he has left. Leaving him to die alone and confused is far far worse than risking exposing him to Covid-19. He’s 89 – what do you think isolating him in his last months is gaining anyone – him, you your kids ?

  36. Doug says:

    Thanks Scott. Always appreciate a different perspective. I don’t believe the government should have this much power because they are incompetent on every level and yes I am a lover of freedom who gets no government subsidies but I do subsidize a lot of lazy people. But your piece has good perspective with at least some data to back it.

  37. GFA says:

    Thank you Scott for presenting the challenge facing our national and global community in the personal way, only you can do. The generation that fought, died and won WWII was considered the Greatest Generation long before Tom Brokaw coined the phrase. As you describe, our society, rightfully, put the WWII service members on a pedestal in many ways. One that is remarkable by today’s standards, was the GI Bill; even with the racial flaws that also seem untenable thru the modern lens. The 2008 book by Morley Winograd & Michael D. Haas, Millennial Makeover (and the sequel Millennial Momentum) describes the similarities (between the Greatest Generation and their Grandchildren). The Greatest Generation was dealt a lousy hand with the Great Depression followed by existential crisis of the war. The young people today have similarly been cheated. Unending War. Great Recession (which was a Depression by many), Enormous amount of Education debt. Terrible Job Market. Being a professional Barista with a 5-year advanced degree, from a university whose name will be lost to the ages, is not what it used to be. I bet, you are more familiar with these young people (at least the NYU educated ones) than most. My limited experience informs me that collectively we are at a social, financial, medical, technological and political crossroads. Whether it’s a lack of leadership or people unwilling to compromise on beliefs held-dear that’s causing the gridlock & anxiety is no longer important. What is important that the people with the most at stake use their power, bestowed upon them by our constitution, to bring stability NOW and in the Future. Wikipedia says you’re 55. You and I are contemporaries. Which means in the best of scenarios we have 40 +/- years to be relevant; and probably much less. The Millennials aged 24 -39, have 75+/- ; and probably much more. I am hopeful, to be encouraged. I hope to see much from those “entitled, over-educated, music festival loving, cordless, glued to the phones” young people, in the coming weeks, months, years, and (with good fortune) 4 decades; give or take a few years. I wish you, your son and your father, peace and good health. Stay well and Keep up the good work!

  38. Jerry Kaplan says:

    This was a strong one. I liked it. I am not using the word love. I am with you: after all the talk and action during the day — getting and spending to make things happen at home — the nights alone with your self are the worst. Hold tight to that kid and feel good he is with you.

  39. Craig Stanley says:

    You have outdone yourself this week Scott, thank you.

  40. Visu says:

    How about “Great Immediate Reopening” right away instead of your “Great distancing”? This sort of mindless continuous spread of fear and anxiety with no factual data on fatality and creating shutdowns and havoc for majority is shear intellectual bankruptcy. Too bad, even you have started to peddle this non-stop. I had 2 family members over the age of 75 die recently and even though they both had severe underlying health conditions, the doctors were adamant to declare in death certificate that its because of COVID, as that’s what they have been instructed to do, by the powers that be. So I know this is cooked-up fear mongering. Sorry. Stop cheating yourself.

  41. Koko says:

    Thank you, Scott, for this poignant piece. You have eloquently captured the moments of anxiety so many individuals are feeling. In addition, the facts you share are very enlightening and provide the data points many of us and our leaders (should) find valuable in crafting policy suggestions and solutions. During these dark and complicated times, your voice has been a welcomed one!

  42. Nuno Hipólito says:

    So sorry about your dad. I’m sure you’re doing the best you can. Who cares about money of the economy when there’s human suffering – that’s the real problem with our society, no one cares for one another anymore, we are all deeply troubled by our pasts and so egocentric we only worry about our own futures.

  43. Jerry Brown says:

    A little perspective really brings it home. Thank you, Scott. My wife is from a country that, despite economic and social obstacles that are daunting, has been rallied by its leadership to work for a common good in order to defeat an unseen enemy. Right now, Guatemala better embodies what’s right about America than America does. They’re fighting WW2 while we fight another (un)Civil War.

  44. Christine Demmy-Moldenhauer says:

    Once again, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. Eloquent, articulate, logical and oh so fascinating. Thank you ever so much – it is greatly appreciated. PS The idea of an RV trip to San Diego is a pretty good one…

  45. Buddy says:

    Rails against big tech, but own$ all their stocks. Talks about war as if it was absolutely necessary, even after PH was discovered to be a farce used to rile up the public. Leaves father in home, but cries he can’t see him, even though he could pay in home nurses. I can’t tell if this guy is an analyst or aspiring script writer. Joke.

  46. Jimmy says:

    1. Don’t live in fear 2. Go visit your father in person. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

  47. John Azevedo says:

    Lots of misinformation in your piece. The total cost of the Afghanistan/Iraq war is closer to $5 trillion. Thousands of US soldiers will be having expensive medical attention for the next 50 years. The civilian deaths in Iraq have usually been estimated at 1 million. The most successful countries fought coronavirus without total lockdowns. Taiwan, South Korea, Canada have used massive testing, masks, social distancing, tracing and isolating the infected. You can save the economy by just giving a UBI of $1500 a month to everyone earning less than $70,000 a year until coronavirus is gone. All that money will be spent and will have a multiplier effect on the economy. The total cost is less than giving checks to airlines and other major corporations. Also, this is a great opportunity to try Medicare for All.

  48. MM Brett says:

    Inspired. Keep it coming Scott – keep hammering these points. Only the inward shift in our attitude will save us now.

  49. Kristin says:

    Loved your post. You are spot on. Thank you very much for sharing your anxiety as well. You are not alone in this. I too feel the same way, more like 60% of the time due to the whole Covid disaster. Im so angry that only 55% of Americans are wearing masks. Really….with over 150, 000 dead. WTF!! This is why I have anxiety. As a nurse practitioner and public health nurse, I wrote in the op/ed section of our local paper about the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask, only to receive a personalized letter in the mail telling me to take my information and shove it up my ass. I wrote another piece for our neighborhood watch app and received many nasty comments, one even questioning my education. It was so disheartening and sickening. But, I have to carry on as hard as it is and try to be a good citizen by helping others and role model for my kids, but it’s so hard and exhausting with so many assholes out there. I’m so sorry about your Dad. It’s a heartbreaking story and I appreciate you sharing. I hope that you can see him soon for the both of you.

  50. Ashwani Kumar says:

    Yes so very true, the much propagated Social distancing has in effect distanced us almost completely. Meeting people, neighbours physically and saying a hello is seeming like an old habit, best given up! Do not meet colleagues, is the easy way out for not wanting to bond. While these are reactionary and I feel transient, its going to take a while and effort to get back to being NOT Distanced. Hope in this changed world, the biggest loss that we humans face is the FACE itself ! Just praying.

  51. Noah says:

    Just a note about Sweden, from a Swede. Keeping the country open could very well have been a mistake. However, I would wait until the winter to before making that call. The thing about Sweden is that healthcare is basically free and testing works. There is a clear safety net in place even before the pandemic that allows people to make healthy decisions without the fear of not being able to provide for their family. It seems to me that we can talk about masks, locking down, socially distancing as much as we want but until we can have testing that gets back you within 24 hours and have some kind of safety net for people who actually need it (families or individuals below a certain income) this mayhem will continue.

  52. Mark says:

    Americans are not fond of their “individualism and freedom”. Americans are deeply selfish. Let’s call it what it is. Selfishness.

  53. Lee Mac says:

    FFS, my wife, kid and I have been on a 6-month “quarantine”. Everything delivered and sterilized at the door… 14 days is f*%#ing child’s play. Lock this shit down for a quick minute and let’s move on to the next step people!

  54. Ron says:

    Awesome article Scott

  55. michelle chinnery says:

    This is your best post yet- i was bought to tears in the paragraph about your father. I hope you get to see him soon.

  56. Paul Ellis says:

    Talking of failures to respond as a nation, what about the average 190 deaths per day to Opioids in the US. Life is so rich but Life is also a mess at the moment. Stay safe.

  57. Kevin says:

    Thanks Scott, one of your best write ups. Insightful as ever. One suggestion: please have the comments reviewed to reduce the spread of misinformation. Or have no comments at all. It’s sad to read some of this nonsense below. Keep up the great work.

  58. Darin Shreves says:

    A gentle possible correction to “what Valyrian Steel is to the Dark Knight.” Shouldn’t that be the Game of Thrones villain, the Night King? The Dark Knight is Batman, I believe. I love your work. Please keep writing and podcasting. Thank you for everything you do.

  59. Subir says:

    Proffesor, this article hurt. As someone who lost his dad and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, my heart goes out to you and yours. You end your Newsletters by saying life is so rich – it sure as hell hasn’t felt that way for some time. I’m not in America, but it blows my mind that even the comments section still has a mask/no mask debate. It’s moments like this that make me think that there really is no hope for society, for the world, for anything really. And then I re-read your work and think that maybe sanity still prevails somewhere, somehow. Thank you for your writing.

  60. Christopher John Savage says:

    Professor- I love your writing and appreciate very much your effort in sharing your views. Thank you. One point- rather anal and possibly wrong which I usually am (eg I was convinced for four decades that Santana was a Brazilian) did Americans land at Dunkirk? I have tried to look it up but can’t find reference to US forces being at Dunkirk….Normandy et al of course! Thanks again for your inspiring writings. Chris from Sydney

  61. Karina says:

    Road trip! Sounds like it’s time to get the fam a one way ticket to San Diego (get tested, wear hazmat suits), break Dad outta California, rent an RV and do a cross-country adventure with him and the boys. You’ll be able to figure out the rest along the way as you go. Time is the most precious commodity.

  62. JOHN S. says:

    What’s worse, dying of the virus at 89 years of age, or not being able to see your family at 89 years of age? And yes, this is a serious question.

    • Fred K says:

      John S has it right. Great article and go see your dad! No regrets! Heading to San Diego next week to see my son-talked to a flight attendant who said “wear a mask, and face shield, wash your hands and you are good to go.” If you don’t go see your dad, you will regret it the rest of your life. If he dies of Covid, it’s better than dying of loneliness.

  63. Brian says:

    I enjoy this newsletter a great deal and appreciate the intent of this version. I would also mention that I have worked in the biotech industry for 23 years. Unfortunately their are thee inaccurate premises at the basis of the arguments presented here: 1.) There is not a single peer-reviewed, scientific study that shows that the use of mask in the general population helps to stop the spread of a respiratory virus (don’t take my word, check pubmed). I will say that again, there is no scientific evidence that the use of a mask by the general population has any positive value. We could have a very lengthy discussion on all of the factors why (virus particle size, contamination, ect), but it’s just details behind a proven fact. Worse, many of the studies show significant negative consequences for mask use. These include reduced blood oxygen and actual increase of virus transmission. Sadly the use of masks is what happens when we ignore the scientific evidence. 2.) In the history of viral infection anti-body and PCR infection have never been combined an reported as one number. The PCR testing detects new cases while anti-body testing is predominately associated with past exposure. For reasons that no one has been able to explain the CDC began lumping these two numbers together in May and reporting the total as “New Cases.” This is a blatant misrepresentation of the data and no one can explain why it was done. 3.) The criteria for reporting a death as being caused by COVID is completely different than any other virus we have dealt with. Historically as virus must be the primary cause of death for the person’s passing to be attributed to it. With COVID, anyone who has symptoms (not even a positive test is required) is attributed to it…..None of the above has anything to do with politics or moral beliefs. It is pointing out the fundamental scientific flaws in the data that is being communicated.

    • Aleks says:

      Brian, do you realize that if someone reads this, stops wearing a mask, gets covid and dies, you’ve effectively murdered them? And I know you know that “peer-reviewed, scientific study” showing mask efficacy exist. It is only the top Google result if you search for this phase. So why do you do this?

    • Kevin says:

      Hmm do I trust all the reputable health authorities, Dr. Fauci, WHO, the Mayo Clinic, or should I trust internet stranger, Brian, who says he has 23 years of “biotech experience. ” Tough decision… /s.

    • Jimmy says:

      Brian – thank you for pointing out these important facts. Masks are “security theatre” as they may make you feel safer, but don’t change any risk outlook. In addition, when the fed gov’t guaranteed payment for COVID related expenses for uninsured, they essentially made the death numbers susceptible to error. With hospitals getting paid more to treat COVID patients , it’s probable that most statistics are skewed.

    • Buddy says:

      @Aleks so now you’re more qualified than the experienced biotech worker? You sound ridiculous and alarmist. Turn off your TV for a week and get some sunshine. Geez, you were the kid that told everyone bicycles were “scary”.

    • Ben says:

      I’m in Melbourne, Aust & we’re one week into a six week lockdown with an 8pm curfew, 1h outside exercise allowance per day, no household visitors, govt. permits for any travel more than 5km, from your home, 75% reduction in on-site employees for construction work, takeaway only food and total shutdown/work from home orders for other business… and compulsory masks. We’re really giving it a red hot go. The masks may or may not be clinically effective, I’ll leave figuring that out to you lot. However, when we leave the house for our 1h stroll and see another person, we see the masks and get that crucial reminder to give people extra space. The social effect of masking everybody is driving our 1-2m distancing just as much as the rest of our measures. Maybe even more so, as it’s effecting the precious space where we are exposed the most. I hope it works for us.

    • Chris Coles says:

      Then add two years ago Dr. Paul Makin was interviewed about his discovery of an 80% reduction in death from sepsis, by the administration of intravenous vitamin C, hydrocortisone and Thiamine, vitamin B1. Sepsis being what many of the covid patients eventually die from; that when covid arrived Dr. Makin and several very senior associates made slight changes to his original work to address the need to cover the severe inflammation side effect of the virus, which they described as MATH+ protocol and interviewed April 5th . . . by then showing a remarkable reduction in the severity of the virus in their patients . . . yet no further publicity, all coming under the blanket of “Fake News”. If one compares the present death rates with previous examples of proven genocide; it is surely time to accept that we are in the middle of what will, eventually, be described as a new form of genocide; Corporate Genocide. Eventually we can only rely on the rule of the law to protect us from so much disinformation; even perpetrated here by an otherwise widely respected professor

    • PB says:

      There is no peer reviewed article that parachutes prevent death from falling out of the sky. But I’ll take their, and Japan’s and South Koreas word that it works better than no parachutes/masks

  64. BRENT DONNELLY says:

    Need to adjust deaths/day by age and lifespan remaining. None of these comparison make much sense. Still love you though.

  65. Pete says:

    Your comments about your son are heartbreaking. How this will affect him and other kids his age for the rest of their lives is both sad and infuriating.

    • Usman says:

      Been watching a Documentary on BBC2. Once upon a time in Iraq. There were many people on it who cursed and prayed for USA to suffer. Most kids from time of the war are adults and had lost much more than developed countries kids are losing due to covid today. The real change needed is human behaviour towards others not towards the virus.

  66. Andrew says:

    So you are suggestion expropriation and government control? More government, after everything that’s happened? More enforcement? Really. I suggest reading Solzhenitsyn, you will find it enlightening.

  67. Monica says:

    That is so sad, I really feel for you. I’m from New Zealand where we have pretty much nailed it. We had a very strict 5 week lockdown and eradicated the virus in the community. So we are back to normal now, apart from our borders being closed. Our country needs the borders open though, as our economy relies on tourism and foreign workers in agriculture and infrastructure projects. I don’t see how we will get back to 100% normal if other countries don’t sort this out. And if the virus does get in another lockdown will be devastating. Its so hard to see how we get through this. My son (10) was also deeply affected by the lockdown, even though it was only short. He has had a total regression in separation anxiety. My neighbour (31) is dying of cancer. She’s Australian and has to apply for exemptions for her family to come see her. They might not go through in time. This has affected so many people in different ways.

  68. Michael M says:

    Please watch the first 25 mins of Dr. Drew’s interview with Dr. Zalenko. 2,200 Covid patients treated by this Dr’s office of which 800 of those patients were severely, severely ill with multiple co-morbid conditions. All patients are thriving and healthy now with only 2 deaths occurring (and one patient had existing Leukemia). Protocols to make people well from Covid already exist. Please watch for 25 minutes and you will see actual proof of this fact. If you put as much energy into understanding the first 25 mins of Dr. Drews interview with Dr. Zalenko video as you did in this detailed letter with all your thoughts and historical references you might probably want to re-draft a new letter to the world offering folks real hope and real solutions to today’s virus problem. The potential vaccine marketplace for Covid is approximately $3-$5 Trillion Dollars worldwide……..the largest payday in human history. In history!! If a drug company or any company gets any piece of this vaccine marketplace it is a gargantuan payday for them. Common sense and leadership are not a part of the equation when it comes to the biggest payday in history. Remember the CEO’s of the tobacco companies all saying “nicotine is not addictive?” in front of Congress?? That payday pales in comparison to this one…..please watch the video. Do the research.

    • Ashley says:

      Dr. Drew? As in the guy who used to host a sex talk radio show and currently sells miracle joint paint relief cream on tv commercials????

    • Phred says:

      @Ashley Yes. Do you want to be snarky and ignorant or do you want to open your brain to potential learning? Spend the 25 minutes and then come back here with something intelligent to say. Dispute it if you can after you have educated yourself, but thus far you’re looking pretty ignorant with an ad hominen attack.

    • PB says:

      @Phred Getting Dr Drew’s opinion on anything scientifically based would be akin to getting Larry Kudlows views on cocaine addiction. They’re both experts but for the wrong reason

  69. Will Johnston says:

    Thank you for this excellent essay. Really thoughtful and insightful.

  70. alex says:

    Scott – your chart is inaccurate. What about Cancer deaths/year? What about Heart Disease/year? what about deaths by car accidents?

  71. Andy says:

    I appreciate your thought provoking posts every week, much appreciated. This week is a bit lob sided. Most masks are 50-60% effective, even N95 masks are ~95% effective but difficult to find outside of the much deserving ‘front line’ workers. You are pounding mask use, but also mention the size of the micro droplet… contradictory. (I already fully understand the human nature to need to feel in control of something that we are not… ‘mask makes me feel like i’m doing something’ psychological aspect) You also talked much about the death rate, this number is a fallacy. Motorcycle accidents, heart attacks, cancer, etc. are many many of the causes of death. The reported >$3k a hospital gets for calling it a COVID death makes these numbers quite erroneous. To take these numbers as truth is either politically motivated or blind. I greatly respect you and what you have accomplished, but this article is one sided and very much politically one sided. Looking forward to next week!

  72. Lorraine P Kessler says:

    Few people write with your verve and intensity. Makes every read a pleasure. Even if/when I may not agree with you, I relish how you compel your audience to think. This line is memorable (and inspiring): “There’s nothing wrong with America that can’t be fixed with what’s right with America.” Hope! You made me remember I have forgotten the better part of myself. Maybe others feel that way too. My mother died of Covid at 99 1/2 years of age in April in a NJ nursing home. The experience is every bit what you describe. Keep on doing what you do.

  73. william h. casto says:


  74. Ken E says:

    Scott; thanks for the insights. btw, my elderly mother also has hard of hearing and i found that if she turns on the speakerphone button and holds the phone to her ear, this helps immensely.

  75. Andrew H says:

    Scott (though you’ll never see this is you follow the cardinal rule of writing on the web), I have no interest in defending America’s Keystone Cops-like response to this. I do find your choice of comparing the pandemic to wars a bit odd. The true cost in terms of mortality of this disease is very difficult to assess because it is so deadly to the elderly and infirm. The wars you invoked killed thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of young, healthy American men, mostly in their late teens and twenties. Most of them died at the beginning of their adult lives. The “Quality-Adjusted Life-Year” impact of WWII is much, MUCH higher than COVID.

    • Jason says:

      Consider the Quality of Life adjustments for losing your parents or grandparents prematurely and without saying goodbye. We’re creating a couple of generations of depressed family members as well. But I think the profs point is much simpler. He doesn’t have to lose his father prematurely. It’s a solvable problem.

  76. kent comfort says:

    Thanks, Scott, for pouring out your soul in such an engaging and compelling way. The country needs more of this when it is presented in a style that informs and stirs feelings, as compared to just ranting on a feeble political platform. I always learn when I read your posts.

  77. Susan Baker says:

    I work for a company that can be a “guardian” for its employees and I’ll enthusiastically sign up to be a volunteer with no complaints about a 14-day lockdown. In Maine, our governor and her leadership drove social distancing and a lockdown when we had less than ~100 cases (last March). Our curve remains relatively flat and we have hundreds, not thousands of active cases at any given time, however it’s a lose-lose situation for her administration because it’s become politicized. I see “fuck Janet Mills” bumper sticks more often than I’d like to and I’d really like to get out of my car and say “I stay home and you’re welcome,” but I’m 5’3″ and I like my face just fine.

  78. Chris Hynes says:

    Lockdown doesn’t work because not everyone can lock down-crops and farm livestock need attending to, other fixtures need maintenance, health care has to function, law enforcement, etc. Also, unless entire world does it there will be carriers who will get through your defenses when you re-open. so virus wll progress to societal immunity and a reasonable R0. Sorry, you can’t wish this away.

  79. Brian says:

    What about Sweden? No lockdown there. They let the virus run its course. And they look like they’ve gotten to the other side.

    • Kent Comfort says:

      I hear the Sweden comparison all the time. America is not Sweden by any rational metric. The Swedish PM even expressed regrets a few weeks back from recognition that the outcome was more brutal than it needed to be. But you might get your wish because the wheels are coming off here at this time.

  80. Ron Hay says:

    Have an 11 year old son and an 89 year old father in assisted living, and this post hit home with me as well. I’d be totally fine if it was just my wife and me, but our son detached from nearly all peer social outlets is really tough. As for the country, I’m dismayed by the lack of creative solutions on the education front primarily. We are, indeed, America without America right now.

  81. Steve says:

    Please run for president.

  82. Randy says:

    Good blog. Couple of thought. We have a tax system that rewards hedge funds, poorly managed coastal states/Illinois, and real estate speculation. All of whom fund political campaigns, primarily of Democrats. And, Trump was a Democrat while in the real estate business. We also have states and local politicians who have allowed public pension funds to go underfunded. All require cheap money. And, cheap money rewards those who spend vs those who save. The death of the GOP Tea Party and the loss of moderate Midwestern Democrats is the fault of the voters. We WWII was financed by those who save, as the US Government was nearly broke. Read up on ‘War Bonds’. Yes, we are in two wars. Walk down the any street. Is there any sense that this is 1942? Barrage Blimps? Blackout curtains? You would never know, except for the fact there are not any long lines for gasoline. And, that was the real reason we even care about the middle east. So, we can end the two wars any time we wish.

  83. Pat kinlan says:

    Wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for suggesting this approach I’m ready to sacrifice for our country

  84. JRuss says:

    If American exceptionalism is gone…or never existed…or was a myth…might explain why there’s no mutual sacrificing. If there’s nothing great to believe in, no compelling reason or narrative or larger sense of community compelling a sacrifice, why would anyone do it?

  85. karen says:

    Stop everything, right now, and make us unemployed people go out and clean the streets. If people aren’t working they should be getting paid to pick up trash.

  86. David Goldberg says:

    Love your stuff. Quick correction, you may have meant beaches of Normandy, not Dunkirk (a real battle-on-the-beach, but doesn’t fit your narrative). Keep up the awesome work. I wait each Friday for this email!!

  87. Mark kerner says:

    You described the brand of America and then the reality. What is the recent evidence that mistake is that we don’t live up to the brand? William Safire, who I hated, years ago asked- “when will the American people get a government they deserve?” The answer he provided is” the problem is they have the government they deserve “. My sense living in a red now purple state is that the brand/ myth of America is increasingly divergent from the reality. 40% of Americans agree with Mr Potter in “it’s a wonderful life”. Our president would think Jimmy Stewart was weak. The ethos of the greatest generation is myth propagation. We have actively tried to undermine what that generation brought. The past 60 years have shown a diminution in our state educational system, our parks are stagnant, And arts promotion on a steady decline. The voting rights act was required to prevent open revolt, and has been steadily neutered since. What happens to a country when it no longer confronts its reality, it’s facts, but keeps pushing the myth, the memory? England?? Nothing has changed and nothing is new. Global warming, racism, income inequality- we have failed. We make rich people, but our leaders offshore their assets and their kids don’t serve(see Romney or trump). They are men without true national allegiance. Covid is just a more rapidly evolving crisis. This country chose Reagan over Carter. Look at our choices since. Is Trump the outlier or was Obama? The brand is a myth. We have to address the inadequacy of our product. We are getting what we deserve.

  88. Luke says:

    Just an FYI Americans did not die on the beaches of Dunkirk, that battle was fought in 1940 with French, Belgian and British forces more than a year before the US entered the conflict.

  89. Jeremy Berman says:

    Scott. Always love the writing. But I think this time you got the lockdown wrong. I live in South Africa, we are number 5 on the list of most cases. We had full lockdown, none of the USA partial stuff. Literally the entire country closed, let’s just say the economic fallout is massive, but that’s another topic. When the country finally opened up, as as with all viruses our numbers climbed, oh yes and we are all forced to wear a mask. We are now almost at our peak and our death rate is very low. What has been learnt is that you can’t run from the virus, go to school as the chance of your kids getting really sick is very very small. Social distancing works but you are fighting the flu, it’s almost impossible. You need to go through the pain, just like the world should have done In 2008 crisis but didn’t. Why has South Africa got such a low death rate, because our population is young, low levels of diabetes and not too many smokers or obesity. All of these people have low NAD levels which helps the virus multiply. You need to up your NAD levels, which most healthy people have anyway. Very easy and cheap to do this. Good luck America

    • Kevin Cornell says:

      Good point, Jeremy. Covid-19 is, undoubtably, exacerbating our ongoing health crisis. People are unhealthy because we prioritize wealth and materialism over eating right and managing stress (e.g. sleep, exercise, and PTO). The burden has disproportionately fallen on healthy Americans who pay for it in obscene healthcare/medicare costs. Every unhealthy individual is a crack in the system–an incubator for the virus to spread unchecked. While locking down probably helps, the U.S. duty that Scott preaches needs to be taking care of ourselves and the people around us and supporting domestic agricultural systems and food accessibility for every community in the country.

  90. Jim Grey says:

    During WW II there was leadership that delivered a strong and consistent message that led Americans to largely band together. We are certainly less homogeneous today than then, but I believe if we had the same caliber of leadership today we’d see a greater banding together of this citizenry regardless of our ideological and cultural divisions. Left to our own devices, we remain selfish.

  91. PC says:

    As always, creative, insightful and educational, however, the COVID death rate really bothers me, how many of those deaths were truly attributable to the COVID virus that would not have happened any other way. As I have heard, if a death is anyway connected to a COVID like symptom, its bundled into the COVID death rate. I can’t see that as being a true measurement of the pure death rate of COVID. I would really like to understand that rate vs. the ones that hospitals tag as COVID for other reasons. Then review your revised analysis.

  92. California Buck says:

    I read these comments and it’s crystal clear why America is swirling the bowl and will continue its rapid decline. Too many Americans are uneducated and simply willfully ignorant, thinking it’s normal to politicize everything and bicker like 7 year olds. They tear down the very institutions that made America a world leader and are proud of it. Main street embraces nationalism and xenophobia, shouting “GO HOME” to professionals like doctors while our rural health system closes hospitals because of a lack of doctors. They stir up hate with propaganda and alternative facts and laugh all the way to the bank. Meanwhile those haters get poorer and poorer watching their jobs and futures evaporate. But hey, let’s continue to tear it all down with mask conspiracy theories and politicizing a virus because most of middle America simply can’t grasp science concepts.

  93. Aleks says:

    Love your writings because you speak the truth. After reading about your dad, I can see you renting an RV, and driving everyone to San Diego to see your dad. The kids would get a kick out of it. You could even hire a co-pilot for an extra fast trip accross.

  94. Jeff bronchick says:

    As always, impassioned, articulate and well written. But deadly and silly wrong on innumerable levels. This is a virus that mutates..there Will not be a “cure” vaccine any more than an annual flu shot has stopped people from getting the latest flu. Distancing intelligent. Outdoor mask wearing? Remains stupid and emotional. Zero global stats on correlation with “lockdown” and mortality. Galloway is right that he and his Dad are at risk. No so the millions of youngins deprived of school, for whom getting Covid is the equivalent of athletes foot. Fixing a healthcare system that crushes inane regulation on a state by state basis? Hell yes. Give cvs, Walgreens, Kaiser and united healthcare the funds to make organize testing and screening and it would have been done. The state of California and NY in charge? We get what deserve.

  95. Broken hearing aids says:

    Hearing aid problems, oh boy, I can relate to that. My elderly father’s hearing aids were never working either, after he went into 24-hour care. This was very expensive care as my father could afford the best. But, it didn’t matter that he paid exorbitant amounts as all day-to-day, hands-on care was of the same mediocrity, just the amenities might have been better. Later, we found out his aids were ruined by some staff person, most likely by getting them wet, but the staff tried to say his hearing had worsened and deflected on to my father for months. No doubt either your father’s aids don’t have proper batteries or someone ruined the aids. It’s a real problem and I feel terrible that your father can’t hear. Furthermore, the aids should be replaced, rather than just the staff leaving him deaf and not caring if he can communicate. Good luck, hope you can get this addressed.

    • Patrice Rifkind says:

      I enjoy reading your articles. My daughter used to work for your company and I am a friend of Lee Sr. I am an audiologist, my dad had a severe hearing loss too. Couple of suggestions for the phone call you could make to the home he is in. Ask them to make sure his hearing aids are clean – often people think they are not working, but there is ear wax in the place the sound comes out. Or many of them have wax filters now, they could change the filter, and check to see if he needs a new battery. In California, he can get a free phone from the phone company with a signature from his medical doctor or audiologist (which you can likely get signed without taking him in (which I know you can’t). Or you can buy one from Best Buy and mail it to him. Also, someone else said to put the phone on speaker and hold it up to his ear. That’s a good idea too. Good luck to you!

  96. Kirk says:

    While entertaining, and well-written, your piece, like most of them, devolves into “This pandemic is negatively affecting my life more than others because….” You worry about how the long term social isolationism may cause harm to your son, you worry about you stepping into a classroom. You have choices..take a sabbatical, move, hire a private tutor, teach from afar, consult on Zoom with your cadre of tech CEO’s..many of us don’t, but must decide whether to stay home or send our kids back to school or if there will be a job to go back to. Some of us lost parents without having to decide if or how to say goodbye, directly because of the malfeasance of Governors Cuomo, Murphy, or Baker. And the great masking hoax is a canard. There have been divergent directives about masking from day one, and at this juncture, besides the looters and rioters, most day-to-day folks wear masks when required. It is a power grab now, nothing more.

  97. TMac says:

    Thanks for the post, Scott. Super on point. Wonder if the lack of sacrifice within our society can be tied back to the ending of the draft. And all the best for your father. I went through something similar.

    • TMac says:

      And if you want to see what sacrifice looks like, watch The War series on PBS. I think it is available for streaming now.

  98. Tom says:

    I’m a grown man in his 60s I shed a year after reading this.

  99. Gale says:

    Take your boys on a roadtrip to see your father.

  100. Joe says:

    While this is all true the spin is a bit tough to swallow. WW2 96% of the people who died were under 21 years old. Covid 96% are over 76 years old. Since this is no mercy we can take our feelings out an say that the loss of life (measured in time) is way more significant in war than COVID. With COVID, we are really just pulling the overall death rate forward, not creating new deaths (to an extreme), which will likely right side in 2-4 years as those people that would have died in 2022 (for example) died in 2020. VS your WW2 argument that someone who would have died in 2002 died in 1945. To keep the math simple each life (minus the 4% outliers) that is lost in WW2 you need to multiple by 60 to equal a COVID death…..I agree with your sentiment, I’m disappointed in out ability to have some grit, but that has been long in the making and only us as individuals can solve that….”No one is coming to save you”

  101. Keith says:

    Agree on this being one of your best posts and putting it in contexts of skin color and religion! Unreal someone below would take the time to whine that they can’t read on their phone or tablet. Frank is the new “karen” As far as the comment below about mortality rate, not sure what data he is using but it would help his lost cause to give stats. Keep up the great work and I know you have the sense to ignore the haters but they need to be called out or need to give data if they are to malign you.

  102. Mark says:

    The Battle of Dunkirk was fought by the British and the French, not Americans, against the Germans.

  103. Carlos says:

    What a fantastic letter Prof. Galloway!!

  104. Michael Parekh says:

    And then there’s this TikTok thing…

  105. twa99 says:

    Equating Pelosi and Jim Jordan?

  106. Tony says:

    Thanks for giving voice to this. Sure – many have said it in different ways, but not quite with this severity or potency. As they say, the poison is in the dosage. Thanks Prof G. —– “I’m anxious. Anxious I will experience the feeling of falling into a black hole of paternal failure if I can’t prevent my youngest from again losing his sense of place, self, and joy. Anxious I could have to say goodbye to my dad over FaceTime. Anxious a foreign adversary will see opportunity in our weakness. Anxious the markets regain consciousness. Anxious.

  107. Dave says:

    Scott, this is your best post ever

  108. Davey Boy says:

    Love your insights – but last I checked, we sent no American boys to the beaches of Dunkirk…

  109. marytwagner says:

    Truth: “The response to the novel coronavirus would have been swifter and more disciplined if the pathogen had brown skin and worshiped a different god. ” I always appreciate your candor, your observations. I’m one of your newest fan girls.

    • Carole F Smith says:

      Not so! For quite a while the pathogen had yellow skin and was of Communist stock, yet banning superspreaders from flying into this country was met with derision and cries of xenophobia from the Dems and NT’s!

  110. Smithk says:

    After years of growing a garden (backyard, residential area) I’ve wondered why gov does not offer tax credit to those that do to help protect food supply. Also, I’d happily donate extra produce from my garden to local food banks if they would accept fresh produce from my garden, but alas, seems too risky and they only want canned goods. Neighbors though happy with our extras. Sorry about your dad. That’s tough.

  111. howard Miller says:

    If a bit maudlin it is good to read gritty realism. Thank you.

  112. Frank says:

    Impossible to read on my cell phone. Just as impossible to read on my iPad Mini tablet. I’m not gonna run to my computer. I refuse to read print this small. Absolutely ridiculous. You get to do it your way and you get to not be read.

  113. BH says:

    Utter nonsense. Covid has the same mortality rate as the flu. No lockdown is, or was, warranted. If you want to be err on the side of caution, quarantine the elderly, the immuno-compromised and those with serious medical conditions. That’s it. Early treatment with HCQ – as multiple studies indicate, notwithstanding the retracted Lancet article or the FDA – is extremely efficacious. Finally, don’t provide hospitals with an incentive to report “deaths with Covid” as “deaths from Covid”.

    • Matt Wiens says:

      Amen 🙏 The human cost of lockdowns will surpass damage from the virus itself. We made this far worse than it had to be with politics, panic and fear. Now are kids are not going to school which disproportionately damages the less fortunate.

    • Nick says:

      One look at the excessive death statistics–which is deaths from ALL CAUSES, not just Covid–shows this is not just some bad flu. (Google Excess Deaths Associated with COVID-19 and go to the CDC provided dashboard–unfortunately this site blocks my reply if I post the link) All of this foolishness could have been avoided with a simple temporary nationalization of wages, strict mask adherence, and a brief stay home order. Instead the hyper partisans like you have decided conspiracy theories, in limbo science, and disregard for human decency is preferable.

    • BH says:

      @Nick There are *multiple* studies showing HCQ works. HCQ previously was used against SARS. How does pointing that out make me a “hyper partisan”? Rather, it illustrates your lack of critical thinking.

    • ROY REEVES says:


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