by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
This crisis has reminded us that the nation-state and its capacity to act matters more than international conventions and the market transactions they enable. The German and French governments have forbidden medical masks to leave their borders for other hard-hit countries, and in some cases seized these supplies for themselves. Italians are outraged at the lack of help they have received from Europe.
That said, declarations that the era of globalization is over are premature. Insofar as “globalization” was a code word for Sinicization, the mainstreaming of the Chinese labor force into world markets — and of Chinese state power into international institutions — is going to be subject to major inquiry, review, and rethinking. The whole world has been reminded that for all its muscle, China is not transparent or trustworthy. But the mostly free polities that surround China — Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore — are models of effective governance and global citizenship. For all the desperate scramble among nation states for ventilators and masks, the fact is that doctors and scientists are sharing information gleaned from dealing with this pandemic in a speedy and efficient manor. Suddenly something like the Trans-Pacific Partnership makes a great deal more geopolitical sense.
The regulatory state, meanwhile, needs a giant overhaul. Regulations that prevent health workers from splitting ventilators and hospitals from building new wings are evaporating under the heat of this virus. These regulations, which serve us decently well during normal times, are perverse in a pandemic. Nimbleness and speed are the name of the game. It was notable that the United Kingdom’s NHS was able to erect an extra hospital facility even faster than the vaunted Chinese.
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