410. What Does Covid-19 Mean for Cities (and Marriages)?

    When faced with contempt, listen carefully to uncover the root issue and acknowledge it. Seek help if needed and approach the conversation with an open mind and willingness to communicate.

    en-usMarch 26, 2020

    About this Episode

    There are a lot of upsides to urban density — but viral contagion is not one of them. Also: a nationwide lockdown will show if familiarity really breeds contempt. And: how to help your neighbor.

    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Living in cities provides numerous benefits but also increases the risk of contracting diseases like Covid-19. Economist Ed Glaeser recommends unconditional checks as a way to combat economic damage at the individual level.
    • Government intervention is crucial during pandemics to mitigate economic and social damage in high-density living areas. Residents face financial uncertainties, particularly those with unstable employment. Public investment in safe and livable spaces is crucial.
    • For those who have lost their jobs and income due to the pandemic, a universal basic income and direct financial support are urgently needed to ensure basic needs are met. The focus should be on providing immediate relief rather than traditional top-down or bottom-up aid packages.
    • Providing unconditional relief checks and implementing policies such as foreclosure moratoriums can prevent economic Armageddon and protect vulnerable populations. Enforcing quarantines effectively takes strong government, and priority must be given to reducing inequalities and promoting long-term economic stability.
    • A trusted government is essential for enforcing life-saving measures during a pandemic. The distinction between public and private healthcare has evolved, but a chief pandemic officer and increased spending on preparedness are crucial for dealing with catastrophic risks.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for governments to focus on risk mitigation and functional public sectors to prevent future pandemics. Investing in pandemic prevention and reducing unnecessary trips can have significant benefits for society.
    • A pure capitalist system is insufficient in protecting against crises like pandemics and environmental issues. We need both public and private sectors, including clean air policies and efficient health infrastructure, to strike a balance and reduce pollution for a healthier planet.
    • The lockdowns have increased indoor clustering, leading to familiarity breeding contempt, a leading predictor of failing relationships. Coping mechanisms promoting warmth, kindness, and forgiveness can prevent contempt and promote healthy relationships.
    • Contempt is a negative emotion that arises when we focus on someone's faults. It can happen with strangers or people we know well. Paying attention to our thoughts and feelings can help prevent it.
    • Focus on positive interactions, maintain humility, recognize your own flaws, engage in constructive conversations, and practice these strategies to improve relationships with family, friends, and coworkers, especially during times of high tension.
    • Bridging the divide in personal relationships requires effort, empathy, and communication. Breaking bread together can reduce contempt and create connection, but acknowledging individual differences and finding common ground is essential.
    • When faced with contempt, listen carefully to uncover the root issue and acknowledge it. Seek help if needed and approach the conversation with an open mind and willingness to communicate.
    • Couples therapy is not just for those in troubled relationships, but can also improve communication and relationship skills. Nextdoor and similar services can connect local communities to provide support during lockdowns, especially for vulnerable individuals.
    • Nextdoor helps communities stay informed, get things done, and support each other during crises. It provides access to reliable service providers and has partnerships with public agencies like FEMA and the Metropolitan Police. Nextdoor is a powerful tool for building strong, supportive neighborhoods.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The pros and cons of living in cities during a pandemic

    Economist Ed Glaeser suggests that unconditional checks are the best immediate response for economic damage caused by Covid-19 at the individual level. While cities have been known to make us richer, smarter, greener, healthier, and happier, they also have the capacity to make us sicker, as proved by the current pandemic. Cities are connected globally and are the ports of entry for new diseases, making them vulnerable. With the largest percentage of the human population now living in urban areas, it is important to understand the risks associated with living in cities. Nevertheless, it is also important to keep in mind that there are several wonderful things about being in proximity to other human beings as we learn from and work with them.

    The Pandemic and High-Density Living: Threats and Interventions

    The pandemic poses an existential threat to high-density living but effective government intervention can curb its spread. City dwellers may face economic uncertainties during the shutdown, with financial worries disproportionately impacting those who live hand-to-mouth and lack stable employment. While public investment had transformed cities into safe and livable spaces, threats like pandemics, wars, or financial collapses pose immediate challenges. The last pandemic of this scale that coincided with an economic recession occurred in 1919, and its impact on the recession remains unclear. Effective government intervention is crucial in mitigating economic and social damage during pandemics and other crises.

    The Urgency of Financial Support during COVID-19

    The impact of COVID-19 has forced a shift away from the face-to-face economy, which will have catastrophic consequences on those working in the retail, leisure and hospitality industries. While the aid package debate centers on whether to help from the top-down or the bottom-up, the current situation requires people to stay at home, rendering the traditional approach non-applicable. This is the time to write people checks, providing the necessary support for those who have lost their jobs and income. The pandemic highlights the need for a universal basic income to ensure financial stability to meet basic needs. The rise of joblessness, especially in prime-aged males, remains problematic, but the urgent priority is to ensure that families can put food on the table.

    Supporting Those Most Impacted During Economic Crisis

    During times of economic crisis, providing relief and support to those who need it most is crucial. Unconditional checks to all Americans, with higher taxes on those earning more than $200,000, would ensure that money gets out quickly and efficiently, without leaving anyone behind. Policies such as a moratorium on foreclosures and bankruptcy proceedings for companies can help prevent economic Armageddon and protect the most vulnerable. The history of quarantines, such as the Venetian response to the Black Death, shows that enforcing them effectively takes a strong government. Some countries may struggle with compliance due to cultural norms or skepticism towards government orders, which can make things harder. Through it all, it is essential to prioritize supporting those most impacted by the crisis in order to reduce inequalities and promote long-term economic stability.

    The Importance of Government Trust During a Pandemic

    During a pandemic, a trusted government is invaluable as it ensures compliance to life-saving measures. The U.S. government has not been involved in healthcare facilities like they are with other departments, which may pose challenges during a pandemic. The distinction between public and private healthcare has evolved with public hospitals equipped to take in poorer patients and emergency cases, while private hospitals that act like doctors' cooperatives cater to the affluent. However, no individual hospital can handle the catastrophic risk of a pandemic, and a chief pandemic officer may be necessary to provide more hospital capacity. The world has had enough warning signs of such an outbreak, and pandemic preparedness spending should be considered as important as military spending or routine medical expenditures.

    The Importance of Risk Mitigation and Government Functionality in Pandemic Prevention

    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for governments to focus on risk mitigation and ensure that they have functional public sectors capable of preventing future pandemics. It is worth investing billions of dollars to mitigate future risks such as pandemics. The pandemic has also brought about changes in remote working and education, leading to potential shifts in supply and demand in real estate. It may also teach us to reduce unnecessary trips in our lives. Additionally, the pandemic serves as a reminder that a government's role is not just about taking from one group and giving to another, but also about producing a government that can protect all of America, including prevention of pandemics. Environmental destruction is a product of capitalism, and the challenge is to get the benefits of a free market without the destructive capacity.

    The Limits of Capitalism in Pandemics and Climate Change

    While capitalism has virtues, a pure capitalist system cannot protect us against pandemics and environmental issues. We need a public sector that protects, just as we have a private sector that creates. Reductions in air pollution during Covid-19 lockdowns highlight the need for policies that stop firms from overly polluting. A pollution tax is the most appropriate option, but other Clean Air Act-type policies are necessary if we cannot implement it. Cities have large health-related infrastructure and nimble healthcare clinics that are assets during a pandemic. However, suburban life during a storm with electricity loss may be difficult. We need to strike a balance and redouble our efforts to reduce pollution for a healthier planet.

    The Impact of Covid-19 Lockdowns on Relationships: Contempt and Coping Mechanisms

    The Covid-19 lockdowns have resulted in increased indoor clustering for families, friends, and roommates, potentially leading to familiarity breeding contempt, which is the number one predictor of a failing relationship. Contempt is a negative emotion, and one of the four dark horsemen of divorce. Coping mechanisms that promote warmth, kindness, and forgiveness towards loved ones are necessary solutions to maintain successful relationships. With a decrease in workplace sexual harassment and an increase in domestic violence, it is essential to be mindful of these effects as we spend more time at home. Overall, prioritizing communication, respect, and empathy can prevent contempt from damaging relationships and promote healthy and successful connections.

    Understanding Contempt and How to Avoid It

    Contempt is a negative emotion close to disgust that arises when we look down on someone, certain about their faults. It is different from anger or misunderstanding, and can breed more easily when we get to know someone better. However, the idea that familiarity breeds contempt is not always true, as people tend to like things that are familiar. It is possible to feel contempt towards strangers, but it can be worse when it arises between people who have a personal relationship. One way to avoid contempt is to pay attention to what we focus on, as human attention is limited. Contempt may reflect something within ourselves that we do not like about ourselves, but paying attention consciously can help prevent it.

    How to avoid contemptuous behavior towards loved ones

    To avoid contemptuous behavior towards loved ones, consciously focus on positive interactions and maintain humility. For example, try listing three positive things about your relationship at the end of the day. It's crucial to recognize that you may be incomplete or wrong, which can help you be more receptive to their perspective. Engage in a constructive conversation about the issue causing contempt, but be cautious not to allow it to escalate. This approach is especially relevant during times of political division and high contempt levels, such as the upcoming election. Practicing these strategies may help improve relationships with siblings, spouses, children, colleagues, and others.

    Building and Maintaining Meaningful Relationships

    Personal relationships are complex and navigating them can be difficult. While some may resort to contempt or walking away, it is important to find ways to bridge the divide. Breaking bread together, like in the example of the politician, has been shown to reduce contempt and create connection. However, this may not work for everyone and it is important to recognize individual differences. It is also important to acknowledge when we ourselves are the receivers of contempt, and work to communicate and find common ground. Ultimately, building and maintaining relationships requires effort, empathy, and the willingness to work through disagreements and differences.

    Navigating Contempt in a Relationship

    When faced with contempt from a partner, it's important to first ask what is causing the negative feelings. This requires careful listening without jumping to the conclusion that the other person is entirely correct. A little bit of mystery often shrouds contempt, so it's crucial to uncover the core issue and work to resolve it. Acknowledging contempt is essential because it signals a problem and can help prevent it from spiraling out of control. Couples therapy can help guide people through these conversations that can be challenging to navigate on their own, particularly during a crisis. It's crucial to acknowledge that emotions run high during these times and to approach matters with an open mind and willingness to listen.

    The Benefits of Couples Therapy and the Power of Local Communities During Covid-19.

    Couples therapy is not only for troubled relationships, but can also be used as prophylactic measure to learn relationship skills and improve communication. As lockdowns and quarantines become the norm due to Covid-19, social networking services like Nextdoor can help connect neighbors and communities to foster a modern version of the local support networks we had in the past. The power of proximity can break down homogeneity and create more diverse communities. While the internet provides reach, services like Nextdoor can make it easier to find help and resources at a local level, especially for vulnerable individuals like the elderly or those limited by income or geography.

    Nextdoor: The Social Networking App for Strong Neighborhoods

    Nextdoor is a social networking app that helps neighbors stay informed, get things done, and support each other during crises like hurricanes or pandemics. With a user base of more than 250,000 neighborhoods and partnerships with public agencies like FEMA and the Metropolitan Police, Nextdoor is a powerful tool for local communities. The app's utility extends beyond social networking, providing users with quick access to reliable service providers like plumbers and babysitters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Nextdoor has seen a spike in demand from both users and public agencies, highlighting its usefulness in times of crisis. Whether you need help or want to help others, Nextdoor is a valuable platform for building strong, supportive neighborhoods.

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