US elections: when in doubt, do nothing

America’s Democrats sighed with relief after Tuesday’s mid-term elections, even though they look likely to narrowly lose control of the House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate.

Because notwithstanding high levels of voter dissatisfaction, the widely-anticipated Republican wave petered out.

We should be impressed with the ability of diverse voters and voting regimes over a sprawling continent to deliver such finely nuanced results (including decisive victories for Trump Republican rivals such as Brian Kemp in Georgia and Ron DeSantis in Florida).

Continue reading “US elections: when in doubt, do nothing”

It’s open and shut – lessons from the US on the effects of differing strategies for tackling Covid-19

The debate over opening New Zealand during Covid-19 is picking up.  A year on, tempers and patience are fraying and the government so far displays no indications of longer-term planning.

Two states in the US have recorded contrasting experiences and results.

New York’s Democrat governor, Andrew Cuomo, shut down the state straight away and many of his rigid policies remain in place.  Down south in Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis took the opposite position.

Agreed, New Zealand and the US are vastly different, but the comparisons between the states of New York and Florida demonstrate how returning to an open economy has brought economic advantage.

Andrew Cuomo is something of a raconteur at home centre-stage.  He became a national hero with his daily media conferences urging New Yorkers to double down, bear the costs and consequences.  He was also the most voluble and consistent critic of President Donald Trump who, in the early days, maintained the virus would be gone by spring, or something.

DeSantis was the very opposite.  Reticent, not a convincing public speaker, he was among the first to lift his state lockdown, adopting a strategy of protecting the vulnerable while keeping businesses and schools open.  Significantly, he was close to Trump who by that time had moved his residence to the Sunshine state away from New York. Continue reading “It’s open and shut – lessons from the US on the effects of differing strategies for tackling Covid-19”