Unvaccinated people are at greater risk of getting sick, and of getting others sick as well. Why isn’t that risk reflected in their insurance premiums?

John Cameron for Unsplash

This was the month when Americans who have been vaccinated against the coronavirus lost their patience with the almost 100 million eligible Americans who have not been. Covid cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are rising again — this time mostly in red states with large unvaccinated populations. And after a couple months that felt something like normal, restrictions, including mask requirements for indoor spaces and all schools, are being re-imposed. …


Covid vaccines are incredibly effective. The media’s overhyping of new research from the CDC is making people think otherwise.

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When the CDC changed its guidance on masking earlier this week — recommending, among other things, that even vaccinated people start wearing masks in indoor public spaces in areas of substantial to high Covid transmission — it cited “unpublished data” as a reason for its decision. The next day, the internal CDC document that seems to have prompted the shift was published — by the Washington Post. And when major news media got a look at, the message they sent vaccinated people was pretty simple: “Panic!”

This reaction was not justified by the actual data in the CDC document. It…


The twisties, the yips, and why sometimes willpower isn’t enough

Photo: Alex Smith / Unsplash

Simone Biles’ unexpected withdrawal Tuesday from the Olympics gymnastics team final (which was followed by the announcement that she won’t be participating in the individual all-around competition either) prompted a predictable barrage of criticism from conservative pundits calling Biles “soft” and “weak,” and labeling her decision a sign of selfishness and the decline of toughness in American culture.

This was, on the face of it, patently absurd, given that Biles is the greatest gymnast in history, and has pushed the sport’s limits by doing ever more dazzling — and dangerous — skills. But it was especially ridiculous in this case…


Public persuasion campaigns can’t move the needle as much as the private sector requiring employees to be vaccinated

JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, the number of Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths has risen sharply in the United States, particularly in states with low vaccination rates. While the vaccines do not offer perfect protection against being infected with Covid , they significantly reduce your chances of getting infected and, more important, they shrink your chances of being hospitalized, let alone dying, from Covid to almost nothing. That’s why, in the U.S., more than 90% — and perhaps as many as 99% — of Covid deaths over the past few months have been among unvaccinated people.

Despite this, a surprisingly…


NYC’s Ranked Choice Voting debacle only helps Republican politicians cast doubt on the legitimacy of American elections

This is a story about deciding not to write a story, and what that tells us about the challenge of getting people to care about election processes at a time when they’re under attack in states across America.

This was originally going to be a piece about the complete mess the New York City Board of Elections has made of the Democratic primary for mayor. The primary, which was held last Tuesday, was supposed to be a showcase for Ranked Choice Voting, an electoral system that allows voters to rank the candidates in a race rather than voting for just…


The Senate is already un-democratic. The filibuster makes it more so.

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In a different world, Congressional debate over the last month would have been focused on issues and on policymaking: arguments over things like whether Congress needs to pass new voting-rights legislation, and if so, whether it should look like HR1, the sweeping bill passed by the House, or like West Virginia senator Joe Manchin’s voting-rights bill. Instead, the focus of attention has been not on policy, but on process, and in particular on one element of that process: the filibuster.

That simple fact expresses the fundamental irony of the filibuster as it functions today — its supporters, including most notably…


Hint: They didn’t really want the law overturned

Ian Hutchinson for Unsplash

Something interesting happened last week. On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit brought by 18 Republican state attorneys general. But that wasn’t what was interesting. What was interesting was that conservatives seemed to barely notice.

You might have thought, after all, that having the Supreme Court — including three conservative justices — refuse to strike down Obamacare would have inspired wall-to-wall coverage on Fox News and fulminations from right-wing pundits. Instead, we heard mostly crickets. There was cursory coverage of the decision, and Indiana’s attorney general, Todd Rokita, blasted the Court for refusing to…


It’s in America’s self-interest to vaccinate the world

Roger Starnes Sr. for Unsplash

The U.S. is adding even more vaccine doses to its already-impressive stockpile, with drugmaker Moderna announcing yesterday that it had sold another 200 million doses of its mRNA Covid vaccine to the U.S., bringing total American orders of the vaccine to a half billion doses. That’s good news for the U.S. — the doses could be used to vaccinate children in the fall, or could potentially be used as booster shots. But it also underscores how much more it — and other rich countries — could be doing to help vaccinate the rest of the world.

That may seem like…


Vaccination mandates are the new political battleground. And now cruise lines are caught in the middle.

One of the most important stories in American politics right now is the growing fissure between Republicans and big business, which historically was the constituency that Republican politicians, at least, were most invested in protecting. The tension between the GOP and big corporations arose because of the emergence of what’s sometimes called “woke capitalism,” with companies taking positions at odds with Republicans on issues like LGBTQ rights, abortion, and, most recently, voting rights. But now that tension is being aggravated by a new issue: Covid vaccination requirements.

Even as widespread vaccination has helped bring down Covid infection, hospitalization, and death…


Delegitimizing the Covid vaccines isn’t just about spreading the perception that they’re not safe

Photo: Daniel Schludi/Unsplash

This is an odd moment in the history of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, developing countries around the world are clamoring for Covid vaccines, access to which has so far been dominated largely by wealthy countries. At the same time, there’s a burgeoning anti-vaccination campaign in those wealthy countries that’s doing everything it can to sow distrust and skepticism of the very vaccines developing countries can’t even get their hands on. Americans and Western Europeans are in the uniquely privileged position of being able to easily protect themselves against Covid. …

James Surowiecki

I’m the author of The Wisdom of Crowds. I’ve been a business columnist for Slate and The New Yorker and written for a wide range of other publications.

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