In the News: Week of April 26th

What happened in the world from April 26th to May 2nd

Happy Sunday morning everyone! I hope you all had a great week.

In the news this week

U.S. weekly jobless claims were nearly four million, and surpassed 30 million over the last six weeks. This amounts to 18.4% of the entire U.S. labor force that has filed for unemployment compensation over the past six weeks, and if we include those who haven’t filed yet but are otherwise eligible for unemployment it may be as high as 42 million, or 25.7% of the workforce. Several states, many of them in the south, are starting to reopen their economies, but it is unclear how quickly unemployed Americans will be able to return to work.

The FDA granted emergency use authorization for Gilead’s remdesivir, after new data suggested that the drug helps shorten the recovery times of some hospitalized coronavirus patients. The maker of the drug, Gilead Sciences, spent more money lobbying Congress and the Trump administration last quarter than they ever have before, likely in an attempt to push back against attempts by Congress to control prices of COVID-19 drugs. The evidence on the drug remains mixed, as a study published in The Lancet found remdesivir didn’t do much better than a placebo when treating seriously ill coronavirus patients.

President Trump declared meat processing plants critical infrastructure, as many facilities have been forced to shut down due to coronavirus outbreaks. The head of Tyson recently warned that “the food supply chain is breaking,” but reopening facilities when they aren’t ready could endanger meat workers across the country. According to the food workers’ union, the country is already facing a 25% reduction in pork slaughter capacity and a 10% reduction in beef slaughter capacity. For those worried about the meat supply, there are plenty of meat-free options for getting protein available, and now may be a better time than any to explore plant-based protein foods.

Kim Jong Un made a public appearance Friday, according to North Korea. Kim last publically appeared on April 11th, and rumors that he was in a vegetative state or dead after undergoing heart surgery have run rampant over the last few weeks. Photos were released from the event Kim may have attended Friday, but the report was not yet able to be independently confirmed. It remains unclear what, if anything, happened to Kim Jong Un over the past few weeks.

Headline of the Week: A lawyer dressed as the Grim Reaper is haunting Florida beaches to protest their reopening

Like most Americans, one Florida lawyer is concerned that his state is reopening too soon. Ironically, the Grim Reaper may end up saving lives by encouraging beach goers to stay home. I know I wouldn’t want to share the shores with the Reaper.

Recommended Reading: The Man Who Thought Too Fast

Frank Ramsey lived a short life and died nearly a century ago, but made such an impact that his contributions to the world are still being talked about and written about to this day. John Maynard Keyes, one of the most influential economists of the 20th century, was one of the Cambridge economists who came to appreciate the brilliance of Ramsey. Keyes called one of Ramsey’s papers about rates of saving “one of the most remarkable contributions to mathematics economics ever made.”

Like many of the most influential women and men of history, Ramsey was ahead of his time. In his paper about rates of saving, Frank Ramsey controversially argued that the well-being of future generations should be given the same weight as that of the present one. Ramsey wrote that discounting interests of future generations is “ethically indefensible and arises merely from the weakness of the imagination.” 

His words are still true today, and as a world we continue to place our own interests ahead of those yet to inherit this earth. Our imagination is weak; it is difficult for us to visualize the impacts our actions today will have in the future, and the majority of us go on living our lives, while quite possibly making the planet inhospitable to future humans and other beings.

Ramsey was modest about his intellect, and thought he was lazy. Despite his modesty, he made a great impact in his 26 short years. His influence is not limited to economics, and can also be found in mathematics and philosophy. If he had not passed away at such a young age, his influence would have only spread wider, and it’s impossible to know what differences would exist in our world today if Frank Ramsey had lived 40 or 50 more years.

When Frank Ramsey was little, he went up to his mother and told her that unfortunately his younger brother, Michael, was a conservative. Below is an excerpt of the story from Frank Ramsey: A Sheer Excess of Powers by Cheryl Misak, as told by a young Frank to his mother:

You see, I asked him, “Michael are you a liberal or a conservative?” And he said “What does that mean?” And I said “Do you want to make things better by changing them or do you want to keep things as they are?” And he said “I want to keep things.” So he must be a conservative.

Ramsey was a man with many talents, from philosophy to mathematics to economics. It is incredible the influence he made on the world in such a short life, and it’s difficult not to wonder what influence he would have made on the world if he lived a longer life.

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