United States, California, Palo Alto - 07/23/2020 — MY UNIVERSITY STANFORD is still closed. While in Austria slowly but surely everything is "starting up" again, in Silicon Valley the strict order of "shelter in place" still applies. Despite all inconveniences, the restrictions here are taken very seriously by the population inside and outside the campus.
Donald Trump's idea that the corona viruses could be combated by injecting disinfectant therefore caused all the more astonished to horrified shaking of heads. Even though this life-threatening suggestion was dismissed in retrospect as sarcasm, it was part of a flood of anti-scientific and not fact-based statements by the US President. At the beginning of the worldwide agitation, Trump had even denied the existence of the virus until February, and later proposed treatment with antibiotics and light therapy. And he has repeatedly classified this virus as "Wuhan virus" or "Chinese flu", which should and would suggest that the Chinese are solely responsible.
This is understandable in view of the presidential elections due in early November: Trump's chances seem to be seriously threatened by the economic fallout from the pandemic. American economists estimate that US gross domestic product could collapse by ten percent in the second quarter of 2020, which would be only just behind the minus of 1932 (13 percent). With corresponding effects on the labour market: the number of unemployed people rose massively in April 2020 to around 23.1 million, the highest level ever measured in the states, an increase of around 300 percent compared with the pre-crisis level in February. According to forecasts, however, this is not the highest level yet- some economists even expect the horror figure of 40 million unemployed in the course of the year.
THIS IS DRASTICALLY detrimental to Trump and his promise to guarantee citizens a permanently better future with "America first", especially economically. For him it is necessary to fall back on a "tried and tested" means in times of crisis: to rely on a confrontation with an external enemy and to present himself to the electorate as a strong man behind whom it is necessary to rally. One of my mentors at Stanford, the world-renowned historian and political advisor Francis Fukuyama (major work "The End of History"), identified an immense danger of an escalation of the trade war - and even more far-reaching tensions between the US and China. On top of this comes his disastrous corona balance: in the US, with more than 80,000 dead, there are now by far the most corona victims. In 2018, 27.5 million Americans, 8.5 percent of the population had no health insurance.
Many of the millions who lost their jobs in the Corona crisis are now joining them. Those who are uninsured shy away from going to the doctor, getting tested and treated because of the costs. Even though the regular study program at Stanford has come to a standstill - to be more precise: it is now only conducted online - the university is still considered an international leader in corona research. According to the facts, evidence-based research is carried out on vaccines, above all, countless antibody studies are realised, apart from Trump's abstruse nebulization and appeasement attempts.
Some students and graduates describe the president's resistance to facts somewhat pointedly as "book-burning" - fortunately there is the Internet and the countless data science centers and libraries on the Stanford campus, where any attempt at censorship bounces hopelessly off them. People here are used to being an antipole to Washington. Nobel Prize winner Alvin Roth, with whom I was able to establish a very friendly relationship during my studies, focuses on the economic upheavals of the post-Corona world. New business ideas are only viable for the future if they are based on a strong digital foundation and function excellently even in times of "social distancing".
However, Stanford has now also acknowledged that although the U.S. healthcare system is the world leader in many medical fields, it is not always able to cope with the personnel- and resource-intensive demands of an epidemic. Roth is therefore concerned about a possible re-election of Trump in this respect as well: this would make a reform of the health system impossible and continue a policy of denying facts. As a Nobel Prize winner and scientist, he therefore clearly hopes that a democrat will win the race, which, he does not want to commit himself to. That, by the way, seems to be the widespread opinion among scientists here: Anyone is better than Trump.
It is therefore not surprising that California, as almost always, is taking a special path. The state is known for its particularly consistent approach to containing the epidemic. An Austrian signature is also visible: Arnold Schwarzenegger was hired by Governor Gavin Newsom as Corona advisor and is to look for ways out of the crisis together with Apple boss Tim Cook.
(from: trend.PREMIUM, 31-32/2020, 82/83)
About Robin Lumsden: Robin Lumsden is an Austrian attorney and entrepreneur based in Austria and California. After a career as professional tennis player (having played in Wimbledon), he became a Special Forces Officer in the Austrian army. Thereafter, he studied law at the University of Vienna (2003) and the prestigious University of California Berkeley (2005) and passed the bar exam both in Austria and New York. In 2010, former Austrian president Heinz Fischer appointed Lumsden as honorary consul of Jamaica in Austria. In 2013, he founded the law firm Lumsden & Partners with offices in Vienna, New York and Silicon Valley, where he studied from 2017 to 2019 at Stanford University to obtain an MBA degree. In 2014, he was appointed by then foreign minister Sebastian Kurz to act as integration ambassador, acting as a role model for young immigrants. Between 2015 and 2019, Lumsden successfully defended the airport of Vienna in the course of a USD 168 million litigation in New York. (Web: www.lumsden.at)
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