Theo Pavlidis © 2020


This is an essay about the deep reasons behind the poor response of the United States to the COVID-19 epidemic. The following quote (from the August 6, 2020 issue of the New York Times) summarizes the issue: "Nearly every country has struggled and made mistakes, but the U.S. is the only affluent nation to have suffered a severe, sustained outbreak for so long." This quote leads to an article about the specific missteps of the response. I follow a different approach.

What is different between the U.S. and other affluent nations? In my view a major difference is that between the parliamentary system (of most affluent nations) and the American system of diffuse governance where individual legislators have far more power than individual members of a parliament. While the parliamentary system does not eliminate the influence of hidden special interests it makes it far more difficult for them. It costs a lot more money to "buy" a party than to "buy" a few politicians. As a result, much of the American public life, including education, is hampered by such influences.

I discuss the evidence for hidden interference in education and point out that there is no need for a conspiracy as long as agents have similar objectives.

I do not claim to have proved anything. I only provide suggestions that can be the start of a discussion.

The Full Article

Editorial History

August 25, 2020: First posting

September 1, 2020: Major revisions:

  1. Emphasizing that interference is mostly in the form of opposing reforms to fix a broken system rather than in the form of direct damage to the system.
  2. Discussion of the opposition to the 2010 Common Core Initiative as a case study of No. 1.
  3. In Orwell's model of "Class Struggle":
    • Using the term Skilled instead of Middle to avoid confusion with Middle Class.
    • Using the term Ordinary instead of Low because Low has a pejorative connotation.

September 9, 2020: Creation of separate abstract page and minor content revisions.