A friend of mine sent me this link to a Ted Talk from 2015. Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s Bill Gates talking about the 2020 virus. Well, no he didn’t predict the date when the virus attack would begin, but he predicted it would come. You can see it at Bill Gates Predicts Virus Attack
It’s really quite amazing to watch Gates five years ago tell us that a virus attack is what is most likely to have major global impact, not an attack by humans. It is, he says, what we should be preparing for. Not only that – he lays out the plans, and listening to his plans today, it seems pretty obvious. We, the entire world, would be a lot better off today if we’d heeded Gates’s warnings and followed his advice.
Gates’s performance begs a whole variety of questions, not the least of which is why we don’t let people like Gates, with extraordinary intelligence, creativity, problem solving ability and the ability to manage complex systems, why don’t we let people like that run our government? I mean, really, the United States is facing one of its greatest challenges ever, and the world is looking to us for leadership, and the guy making the decisions couldn’t even figure out how to keep Rex Tillerson in his cabinet, let alone let Rex work on the solutions.
That’s just one question. There are others, but I’m not here to raise them. I’m trying to be disciplined and to stay on point.
The point is that there is a price to be paid when we fail to respond to a known and foreseeable problem There’s always a price. There was a price to be paid for ignoring the maintenance and improvement of the dikes and flood control systems in New Orleans. There’s a price we’re paying today for not having prepared for the virus.
And my friends, there’s a price to be paid for failing to correct our archaic and failing governance structure, the problem that has been apparent for decades. It’s a problem that can be solved, and we ignore it at our peril.
I need to change gears.
I know that local governance pales in comparison to the pandemic. I get that. If the world could get smarter in only one way, I’d choose for it to get smarter about viruses rather than about the municipal structure of a metropolitan area that may, at best, never be more than a New York City backwater. I get it, but there’s nothing that says that we can fix only one thing, post-pandemic.
And to that end, I commend you to Norm Pattis’s outstanding opinion piece from the Hartford Courant: Norm Pattis Op-Ed I think it is brilliant, paragraph by paragraph. He reminds us that we have been presented an opportunity to grow and adapt. He says, “The disruption wrought by a new organism, a virus blind to our purposes and heedless of our well-being, invites us to pause and reconsider the nature of our communities.”
So when we emerge from the covid-19 pandemic, I hope the country will agree to do what’s necessary to reduce the likelihood that a virus attack will again have such devastating impact. And I hope, too, that the people in greater Hartford will get serious about doing what’s necessary to make our future brighter.