Economist: The US Is Responding To Coronavirus Like A Third World Country Would

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian / Public Domain


"It is like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working.”

According to one of the world’s leading economists, President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has left the United States looking like a “third world” country and could spur a second Great Depression, The Guardian reported in April.

  • “In a withering attack on the president, Joseph Stiglitz said millions of people were turning to food banks, turning up for work due to a lack of sick pay and dying because of health inequalities,” the publication wrote.
  • Stiglitz, who has long been critical of Trump, said: “The numbers turning to food banks are just enormous and beyond the capacity of them to supply. It is like a third world country. The public social safety net is not working.”
  • He added that with 14 percent of the U.S. population dependent on food stamps, it is unlikely America’s social infrastructure could handle an unemployment rate as high as 30 percent.
  • “We have a safety net that is inadequate. The inequality in the US is so large,” Stiglitz said. “This disease has targeted those with the poorest health. In the advanced world, the US is one of the countries with the poorest health overall and the greatest health inequality.”
  • Asked by The Guardian if the U.S. might face another economic downturn on par with the Great Depression, Stiglitz said he believes it is possible.
  • “Yes is the answer in short,” he said. “If you leave it to Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell [the Republican Senate majority leader] we will have a Great Depression. If we had the right policy structure in place we could avoid it easily.”
  • The economist pointed to Trump’s closing of the White House office responsible for pandemics, cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the crisis over testing gear and medical supplies as proof that the president has bungled his response to the pandemic.

“In those circumstances it won’t be the government enforcing the lockdown, it will be fear. The concern is that people are not going to be spending on anything other than food and that’s the definition of a Great Depression,” Stiglitz said. “We were unprepared but, even given the degree of unpreparedness, Trump’s decision to make this about politics rather than about science has meant we have responded far more poorly.”

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