SWC’s Fast Five

The looming doctor shortage, COVID and flu forever, our energy infrastructure gets a D+, the complicated working out of a minimum wage hike and, go ahead, a trillion dollars is a bargain these days.

So, here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1 The U.S. faces a shortage of 100,000 physicians by 2033

Each year thousands of graduates emerge from medical schools with a virtually useless M.D. or D.O. because there are not enough residency programs to match them. Without residency experience, they do not qualify for licensure in any state.

2 Flu v COVID, not the same but lessons for the future

COVID zero is not going to happen. The reasonable goal is to make it manageable, much like the seasonal flu. Fortunately, the vaccines are doing better than that. For fully vaccinated people, serious illness from COVID-19 is extremely rare, much rarer than serious illness from the seasonal flu.

3 What the Texas crisis tells us about the U.S. energy infrastructure

In its most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. energy infrastructure a D-plus, stating, “Without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions.”

4 Raising the minimum wage, it’s complicated

It’s been more than a decade since the federal minimum wage was last raised to $7.25 (from $6.55). Is a pandemic-afflicted economy the time to do it? It will raise families out of poverty. It will reduce employment. It will raise consumer spending. It will increase the cost of childcare. The pros and cons of what to do and how found here.

5 Trillions of debt – cheaper than it used to be

Massive borrowing by developed nations in 2020 shows a more relaxed attitude toward government deficits among policy makers, investors and economists than a decade ago. “It’s a lesson learned from the (2008) financial crisis that governments shouldn’t pull back their fiscal support early,” said Fatos Koc, a policy analyst at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.