Daily Reformer: In the absence of federal guidance, governor and private sector step up

Good morning. 

Another Reformer EXCLUSIVE. Today Ricardo Lopez reports on the financial and membership problems at AFSCME Council 5, a heavyweight in DFL politics in both fundraising and organizing. Ricardo obtained internal documents. The Minnesota politics must read of the day. 

As promised Thursday I brought you a piece exploring Gov. Tim Walz’s emergency powers and how they might conflict with basic constitutional rights like free assembly. Fascinating stuff if you’re a government nerd. 

And if you like democratic socialism you’ll really like Pope Leo XII’s encyclical on work and labor! Our commentary contributor is Patrick Moynihan, who is the emeritus president of a Catholic boarding school in Haiti; he shares the Catholic roots of social and economic justice. 

And a funny story: He was also my high school English teacher. 

The Minnesota House has cancelled all meetings until they go into session Monday, which seems set up to call a lengthy recess to begin then. MinnPost’s Peter Callaghan tweeted

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Minnesota Legislature is preparing to shut down very soon, perhaps by next week. 

The world changed this week, driven by scientists’ hypotheses about the likely exponential growth of the outbreak, which we can’t really see yet because we aren’t testing enough people. 

Anyone who can afford to stay home must stay home. Reducing exposure will help relieve pressure on what is likely to be an overburdened health care system.

The situation will get much worse. Hundreds of thousands — perhaps as many as 1 million — of our fellow Americans, and many more around the world will perish.  

In addition to suffering and sickness and death, entire industries will face weeks and even months without any income. Which means the same for their employees, who will become former employees. They will in turn lose health coverage and miss mortgage payments and lose their homes. Retirement accounts have already been decimated. State and local budgets will crack under the strain.  

By this point it’s pretty obvious a series of miscues and fubars at the federal level have taken what may have been a manageable problem and transformed it into a catastrophe. In time we’ll know who is ultimately responsible, but the man at the top is the one who will be held accountable by voters and by the unforgiving, narrowed eyes of history. 

Despite all that — and without wanting to seem pollyannaish in the face of suffering — the past few days have actually shown the country’s remarkable ability to rouse itself from slumber without any central command. 

State and local governments began acting on their own. Nonprofits sounded the alarm. Corporations took aggressive steps to impede the spread of infection by canceling events and telling workers to stay home. 

It was as if we all looked at each and said, well, I guess we better do this ourselves. In an act of solidarity with neighbors we know and many more we don’t, we collectively decided to suffer the social and economic cost of stopping life for weeks if not months to protect the most vulnerable — the infirm and the aging and the people who care for them. 

 “The world is a fine place and worth fighting for,” Hemingway wrote. 

Come on Minnesotans: Social distancing — you got this! 

Have a nice weekend. JPC