I’m going to depart just a bit from the emphasis on COVID-19 and bring to your attention something that my favorite newsletter writer (bet you can’t guess who) included in her most recent (4/2/20) report.
Part of Ms. Richardson’s focus in this issue was the distribution of healthcare supplies during the coronavirus crisis. In previous emergencies, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has been the recipient of needed supplies and they would then distribute to the states as needed. In order words, a coordinated federal system was in place.
In the current situation, however, supplies are going straight to the private sector, which results in states being forced into a bidding war to obtain the equipment they need. We’re now talking about a commercial supply chain, which means prices will invariably increase according to demand.
This resulted in Ms. Richardson’s observation:
[T]he White House is turning to private interests to manage the national response. It is a philosophical position embraced by those who would overturn the active government that has presided over the United States since the New Deal.
As she points out, this action (and others) demonstrates the Trump administration’s “desire to dismantle the federal government and give power to businesspeople.” In other words, the federal government should no longer assume responsibility for American citizens. Instead, Governors are to assume the responsibility of running their own states.
This Trump-preferred perspective has been especially clear during the current pandemic in that the Governors have been delegated to making their own calls related to stay-at-home orders for their state, as well as other decisions related to the safety of their constituents.
From my limited knowledge of “politics,” this seems to be the core of the Republican philosophy: a limited federal government with more power given to the states to be self determining. The general belief is that states are in a better position to be responsive to the needs of their people rather than the federal government.
Of course, the big problem in the current state of affairs is the above philosophy is NOT the one in practice — so the Trump administration actions have put the entire nation at risk.
However, going beyond the crisis, I’m interested in feedback on the philosophy supported by the Republican Party. In its perfect form (not as currently being practiced), what are the advantages and disadvantages? Further, what role would the government actually play in this scenario?