Editorials: Skip means tests to feed people now; and An American nightmare

Among some of  the corporate mainstream media commentariat in particular, blow-ups of the president’s screen have circulated with name tags or comments about who was at this economic strategy meeting. As in, “same old, same old.” Who was NOT there is a more telling subject. Let us hope that while Nito shows off his conference with the captains of commerce and industry, he is actively consulting with those sectors excluded from the meeting. His big failure so far in this crisis is meeting the needs of people whom those on the screen would neither know nor care to know. Photo by the Presidencia.

Set aside means testing in this crisis

The big moral issue is that people are hungry. Make it so that they are not so, and some may cheat. Keep them hungry and a lot more of them will do illegal things, some of which will pose grave health risks to entirely innocent people.

Is it that the government should save its money by only help the so-called deserving poor? That means spending public funds on hiring people to decide who is deserving.

Are these moral judges to be employed on the basis of an amoral political patronage system? Or should we use our discredited and slow moving public contracting process to hire some corporation, and then wait out the sorting out of claims by rival corporations that the process was unfair to them?

In good times nearly half of Panama’s working people live their economic lives informally. Do we only consult with the captains of industry? Even when were almost all of them were born rich and run their businesses formally with the advice of lawyers, accountants and professional managers? Most members of that crowd have little idea of how those in other circumstances live and make their economic calculations.

The better way would be for the government to just electronically deposit a sum of money into every cedula, which can be used as a debit card to buy groceries. Will people who don’t need it get money this way? Of course. But some of them may not need it now but might next month. And those who will never need it? Instead of lauding them for refusing the money, would it not be better for society and the economy to encourage them to use the money to buy basic necessities and then directly or indirectly give those to people who do need it?

Because Panama’s emergency measures were formulated by people with hardly a clue about how much of society lives, huge needs have been left unmet. Even with the best planning by a more representative and well informed sample of Panama’s population, there will be families and individuals who fall through the cracks. But if everyone with a cedula gets covered, those without, or those unable to use their national ID cards for whatever reason, would be more easily be helped by the myriad charities and social networks out and about among Panamanians and foreign residents here.

Forget the means testing. Feed everybody now. It’s actually more economical to do it that way.


An American nightmare

A fall campaign between an old man who is visibly and audibly deranged to any dispassionate observer, and an even older man whose health appears to be precarious and who shows alarming public memory lapses even in situations that he controls?

Donald Trump is a lifelong con man who needs to be taken away in handcuffs. The United States may have to rely on a figurehead president as the alternative. The republic has done that latter drill on more than one prior occasion.

It’s an unusual situation. For Joe Biden and the Democrats the choice of a running mate should not be about cosmetic political balance. It’s about that special basket of talents that go into the ability to run the sprawling US government. It might even entail, before the November election, a running mate who takes over at the top of the ticket to wage a fall campaign that the one who selected her can’t.


The evil baron's creator

My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed — my dearest pleasure when free.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley     


Bear in mind…

I never believed in Santa Claus because I knew no white dude would come into my neighborhood after dark.

Dick Gregory     

Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government.

Barbara Tuchman     

Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts. Your freedom and mine cannot be separated.

Nelson Mandela     


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