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Wealth & Poverty Review A Rorschach Epidemic

Covid-19 reveals the immense variety of our own preoccupations. Published at City Journal

The coronavirus has swallowed up everything. Its microscopic image — a grey mothball with small red crowns emanating from its core — is found in every newspaper, website, and television program around the world. Though the virus remains mysterious, it has revealed much about us. In a matter of weeks, it has become a global Rorschach test, exposing an infinite range of human preoccupations. The virus itself is a simple machine, neither dead nor alive, but it has inspired an endless stream of broadcasts, editorials, tweets, and multitrillion-dollar policy responses.

In the realm of politics, Covid-19 has become a proof point for ideological factions. Some on the left cite the shortage of ventilators and empty store shelves as failures of capitalism, arguing that Medicare For All and nationalization of industry would solve the problem. Some on the right argue that the FDA has stifled innovation, and that the private sector is best equipped to handle the crisis. Even fringe ideological groups, such as doomsday preppers and bitcoin miners, have claimed that the recent shutdown orders vindicate their longstanding predictions of societal collapse.

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Christopher Rufo

Former Director, Center on Wealth & Poverty
Christopher Rufo is former director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty. He has directed four documentaries for PBS, Netflix, and international television, including his latest film, America Lost, that tells the story of three "forgotten American cities.” Christopher is currently a contributing editor of City Journal, where he covers poverty, homelessness, addiction, crime, and other afflictions. Christopher is a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, Claremont Institute Lincoln Fellow, and has appeared on NPR, CNN, ABC, CBS, HLN, and FOX News.