MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: Good morning!
Today, Washington’s response to what’s fast become an economic crisis.
NICK EICHER, HOST: I’ll talk with an economist about the massive stimulus bill today on Washington Wednesday.
Also, today, World Tour.
Plus, something other than coronavirus—once it’s safe to play basketball again—you’ll find it’s a very different game.
PEDON: If you’re going to win at the highest level you’d better be able to shoot and make three-pointers.
And Janie B. Cheaney on spiritual contagion.
BASHAM: It’s Wednesday, March 25th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Megan Basham.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
BASHAM: Now news. Here’s Kent Covington.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Senate reaches deal on $2 trillion coronavirus bill » Senate leaders and the White House have reached a deal on a $2 trillion coronavirus response bill.
After days of wrangling and late night negotiations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the announcement just before 2 a.m. He said the bipartisan bill will help see the country through this crisis.
MCCONNELL: It will rush new resources onto the front lines of our nation’s healthcare fight, and it will rush trillions of dollars of cash into the economy as fast as possible to help American workers, families, small businesses and industries make it through this disruption and emerge on the other side ready to soar.
McConnell confirmed that the plan will include sending checks to most Americans. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer followed with remarks of his own, touting help for those who lose their jobs amid the pandemic.
SCHUMER: Unemployment compensation on steroids. Every American worker who is laid off will have their salary remunerated by the federal government so they can pay their bills.
Schumer also touted more than $130 billion for hospitals and other medical facilities.
Neither leader confirmed the total price tag, but Schumer called the bill “the largest rescue package in American history.”
The Senate will reconvene at noon today and is expected to pass the bill today. Members of the House are in their home districts at the moment and are now deciding how they’ll vote on the Senate bill.
Trump hopes to see economy begin return to normalcy by Easter » Earlier Tuesday, President Trump expressed optimism that a major coronavirus relief package will pass soon.
He also made headlines when he said he hopes to to start rolling back coronavirus measures to let the U.S. economy begin returning to normal operations by Easter Sunday.
TRUMP: That would certainly be—I think that’s a goal that perhaps can happen, or at least for a very large portion of our country.
But health experts say that’s highly unlikely as the peak of the coronavirus crisis in the United States still lies ahead. And Easter is less than three weeks away.
But the president said that while April 12th is his hope and his goal, he will defer to his top health officials.
TRUMP: I will be guided very much by Dr. Fauci and by Deborah and by some of the other professionals.
Dr. Deborah Birx is the White House coronavirus response coordinator and Dr. Anthony Fauci is the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes for Health. Fauci told WMAL radio that despite reports to the contrary, the president has listened to him and other top health officials.
FAUCI: When I have made recommendations he has taken them. He’s never countered or overridden me.
And Fauci said he told the president with regard to his Easter Sunday goal, that he must remain very flexible and be prepared to dig in much longer if need be.
NY facing accelerating coronavirus crisis » Speaking at the White House Tuesday, Fauci also addressed the rapidly mounting coronavirus crisis in New York.
There are more 25,000 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, mostly in New York City, which is quickly becoming a global hotspot for the virus. And the infection rate there is doubling about every three days. With that in mind, Fauci said many New Yorkers are fleeing the area.
FAUCI: They’re going to Florida. They’re going to Rhode Island. They’re going to different places. The idea, if you look at the statistics, it’s disturbing. About one per thousand of these individuals are infected. That’s about 8 to 10 times more than in other areas.
The White House is asking anyone who leaves New York to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Meantime, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said New York could be as close as two weeks away from a crisis that sees 40,000 people in intensive care.
Such a surge would overwhelm hospitals, which now have just 3,000 intensive care unit beds statewide. Cuomo told reporters…
CUOMO: One of the forecasters said we were looking at a freight train coming across the country. We’re now looking at a bullet train, because the numbers are going up that quickly.
Cuomo said hospitals may need to more than double their capacity to provide for a peak need of 140,000 beds.
To deal with a shortage of medical staff, Cuomo is asking former nurses and doctors to rejoin the workforce, and is offering “recertification on an emergency basis.”
India implementing world’s largest lockdown to slow virus spread » India will begin the largest coronavirus lockdown in the world today. WORLD’s Kristen Flavin has more.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the emergency measure in a television address Wednesday. He said “To save India and every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out.” He acknowledged the 21-day lockdown would be a major blow to the economy, but he said the alternative could set the country back 21 years.
He warned citizens to stay inside or risk inviting the pandemic into their homes. He also pledged $2 billion to bolster the country’s strained healthcare system.
The announcement set off panic in many neighborhoods as people rushed to markets to stock up on supplies.
Indian health officials have reported nearly 500 active cases of COVID-19, and 10 deaths. Officials insist there’s no evidence yet of localized spread, but there has been very little testing within India. In a country where tens of millions live in dense urban areas with irregular access to clean water, experts have said local spreading is inevitable.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin.
Summer Olympics postponed » The Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo will not happen this year.
Yoshori Mori is president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee. He held a conference call Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and officials with the International Olympic Committee.
MORI (translated): We agreed that there is no choice but to postpone the games.
The International Olympic Committee said as the world fights the coronavirus pandemic, there’s simply no way to hold the games in July as scheduled. IOC executives said the games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021.”
Other Olympics—in 1916, 1940, and 1944—have been canceled because of war, but this is the first time the games have ever been postponed.
I’m Kent Covington.
Straight ahead: putting the economic stimulus package in perspective.
Plus, the rise of basketball’s three-point shot.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MEGAN BASHAM: It’s Wednesday, the 25th of March, 2020. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Megan Basham.
NICK EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. It’s Washington Wednesday.
The new coronavirus threatens not only people, but the economies they depend upon. As soon as it became clear COVID-19 would bring much of the country to a standstill, investors panicked, markets tanked, and Congress started talking about economic stimulus.
BASHAM: Republicans and Democrats differed on the details of where the government money should go, and what pet projects to stuff in. But they didn’t fundamentally disagree on the scope. It had to be big. Really big. As in trillions-of-dollars big.
EICHER: Joining us now to put that into perspective it is Stan Veuger. He’s a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies politics and economics. Good morning!
STAN VEUGER, GUEST: Thank you, Nick. How are you doing? Thanks for having me on.
EICHER: I’d like to start by putting this stimulus package into a historic context. As a share of GDP, how does this compare to other times when the government made some drastic moves in response to shocks to the economy?
VEUGER: Well, it’s very large. I think the most direct comparison would be to the 2008 policy response which came much later, well after the financial crisis had already unfolded. And was really only about half the size of the package we’re talking about already. So it’s really quite large. Congress is now talking about a package that’s around $2 trillion big, maybe a little less than that, and that would be close to 10 percent of GDP.
EICHER: Have we had something as big as 10 percent?
VEUGER: Well, of course during World War II, we had very, very large deficits and so that would be the only situation where we’ve undertaken more dramatic fiscal policy. The goal there was to defeat the Nazis and not so much to keep people employed and maintained. So, I think it’s really without comparison in that way.
EICHER: Stan, in broad strokes, what are the pros and cons?
VEUGER: Well, I think the pros is that Congress has really understood that it needs to take dramatic action quickly because we’ll see, I think, within a week or so that millions of people have lost their jobs. Millions of businesses are struggling, especially in the sectors that are entirely shut down. And so the fact that Congress realizes that it has to take aggressive action as soon as possible, I think, is a big pro. The composition of the package, then, is the other issue. And I think there that Congress is doing an OK job. I think there’s a realization that both individuals and businesses and state and localities need support. I would say that one weakness so far has been that there doesn’t seem to be enough urgency in combating the direct public health threat, right? So, we haven’t seen that much of a focus on building up healthcare resources, making, manufacturing protective equipment and facial masks and ventilators and respirators much more attractive to businesses. And so that, I would say, is the weakness. What you can think of as the pure economic response, I think they’re doing OK. I worry that some of the programs are smaller than needed and we’ll be back in the same boat we’re in a week from now.
EICHER: One of the sticking points in negotiations over this package involved Democrats’ rhetoric on corporate “bailouts.” I have a view on that, because the “bailout” tag tends to apply when the discussion is around bailing out a company’s poor decision-making—and not typically due to a black-swan event like this. But I’d like to hear your view on the appropriateness—or not—of this package.
VEUGER: I think support for businesses is appropriate here. As you said, I think usually the reason why we don’t like bailouts is because they encourage moral hazard and they reward people for taking risks they should not have taken. Of course that is not the case here for all the bars and restaurants and barber shops and dry cleaners and taxi drivers that are just incapable of operating. I think for those businesses—many of which are relatively small—it’s impossible to plan for or to insure against this kind of shock. And so I think it is appropriate for the government to step in and help them make it through these difficult times. Especially because in many places the government has forced those businesses to shut down. On the larger corporate side of the ledger, I think the government can reduce its activity a little bit. I think many of the larger corporations have better access to creditors. In many cases, they’ll be able to go through the bankruptcy process in more of an organized way. People’s personal savings and businesses aren’t at stake as much. And so there you can use a regular process a little more. So I think what Democrats were right to be concerned about in a previous version of the Senate bill was that there was a lot of money appropriated for non-transparent goals. That’s been reduced a little bit now in the more recent versions of the agreement. So, we originally had a $500 billion fund where the legislative language was vague enough where it seemed like the treasury could do whatever it wanted.
EICHER: And part of what I was getting at was all of those little bits of Green New Deal—
VEUGER: Yeah, so on the House side, for sure, there was a lot of also—to put it politely—tangentially relevant legislative language, yes.
EICHER: You recently wrote about the need for the stimulus plan to target the needs of small businesses. If you have a job at a small business or you run one, that idea makes a lot of sense. But can you explain what that’s an overall good for the national economy?
VEUGER: The way it looks like the plan is going to be implemented is there will be a facility of about $350 billion of basically forgivable loans for businesses that have fewer than 500 employees. And so those loans would cover payroll and a number of other inevitable expenses like utilities and rent and mortgages. And those loans would become forgivable at the end of a period—probably around late June—if you keep your payroll intact. Then there’s a separate facility that runs through the Federal Reserve—and this is where now much of that $500 billion I mentioned earlier is going—where the Federal Reserve will buy up corporate debt both in the secondary markets and potentially also some primary and they will also set up a small business lending facility that would go through the regular financial system. But those loans would be loans, right? They would not be forgivable. So it’s sort of a two-pronged approach. The total sum of money is very significant. So that would be, I think, the way it’s going to end up.
EICHER: Basically what we’re discussing here is the idea of liquidity so that businesses have money, actually, to operate.
VEUGER: Yes, so that’s—on the loan side it’s obviously about pure liquidity. On the forgivable loan side, it’s also about solvency, right? So, those loans would be forgiven if you keep your payroll intact and that would effectively make them a grant. So it’s a mix of pure loans to bridge liquidity issues and direct cash infusions to make it so that businesses that are completely shut down—right, like if you’re a restaurant, borrowing more money to keep your employees for the next two months is not going to make it feasible for you to survive through this period of crisis. Whereas if a lot of that borrowing ends up being forgiven, the picture becomes very different. So it’s a mix of liquidity and solvency that’s being addressed.
EICHER: One other part of this plan involves a stipend for individuals—we’re talking direct checks from the government to families. Completely understandable for people who have lost their jobs or seen a reduction in pay or hours. But, again, talk about the broader economic perspective. How does that help the overall economy to recover?
VEUGER: Well, so there, I mean, the problem we have right now is not exactly one of a shortfall of demand, right? In many cases we actually don’t want people to go out and do stuff and purchase goods and services. And so what these payments are meant to do is to help people just meet their rent, their mortgage payments, buy food for their families, those kinds of expenditures. And the idea behind just a broad based program of sending checks is one you’ll reach everyone—even the people you don’t reach through, for example, the small business program. And then secondly, obviously, a lot of people are just in a very different financial situation than they were two weeks ago. And so to keep the parts of the economy afloat that are not shut down, that can continue to function, I think there is some room there to make sure that demand doesn’t completely fall off a cliff.
EICHER: Stan Veuger is with the American Enterprise Institute. Thanks for joining us today.
VEUGER: Of course, Nick. My pleasure.
NICK EICHER: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour with Africa reporter Onize Ohikere.
ONIZE OHIKERE, REPORTER: Colombia prison unrest—We start today in South America.
AUDIO: [Woman yelling in Spanish]
Dozens of family members gathered outside a prison in Bogota, Colombia on Sunday, hoping for news of their relatives. Inmates rioted over the weekend amid fears that COVID-19 could be spreading within the prison. They set fire to mattresses and attempted a mass breakout. At least 23 people died and 83 others were injured.
Inmates at 12 other prisons across the country also rioted, protesting unsanitary conditions and overcrowding. Colombia’s minister of justice denied those allegations. She also said there are no outbreaks of COVID-19 in any Colombian prison. The country is under lockdown as officials try to stop the spread of the disease.
Croatia earthquake—Next, we go to eastern Europe.
Cleanup crews began scraping through rubble in Zagreb, Croatia after a strong earthquake hit the capital on Sunday. The quake killed one teenager and injured at least 27 others. The tremors toppled parts of buildings and snapped the spire of an iconic cathedral. It was the most powerful quake to strike the city in nearly 1-hundred-40 years.
Officials began evacuating hospitals while panicked residents rushed out of their homes. Originally, the prime minister warned residents not to return to their houses.
AUDIO: [Man speaking Croatian]
But officials soon reversed that policy. They told Croatians to stay home to avoid spreading COVID-19. Croatia has more than 300 cases of the disease.
Israelis protest government phone tracking—Next, we go to the Middle East.
AUDIO: [Cars honking, people yelling]
Hundreds of Israelis gathered Monday to protest the government’s new phone tracking policy. They waved black banners and Israeli flags outside parliament while passing cars honked.
The Israeli government recently began tracking individual smartphones in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Whenever someone tests positive for the disease, everyone in recent contact with that person gets a text alert with instructions to self-quarantine for 14 days.
AUDIO: [Man speaking Hebrew]
Protesters say the Israeli government is using the coronavirus to increase national security and violate individual privacy.
Drive in theaters—And finally, we end today in South Korea.
AUDIO: [Cars, parking attendant]
Although many traditional movie screens have gone dark, drive-in theaters have seen a steady flow of ticket sales. Amid fears of the coronavirus, movie-goers are still able to enjoy a variety of films from the comfort of their own cars.
For some, it was their first time attending a drive-in theater. Many appreciated the opportunity to do something out of the house while still practicing social distancing.
That’s this week’s World Tour. Reporting for WORLD, I’m Onize Ohikere in Abuja, Nigeria.
NICK EICHER: If you’re listening to this in the United States, you’re probably not familiar with Nick Heath. But if you’re a rugby fan in the UK, you definitely know his voice.
He’s not able to use it professionally these days, what with team sports on indefinite hold.
So, making the best of it, Heath is using his broadcasting skills to give sports fans a few laughs in these stressful times.
He’s posting videos to his Twitter account—narrating everyday events as if he’s calling a match.
To set the scene for you, four people lined up at a crosswalk, waiting for the signal. But who will reach the other side first?
Health has also done play-by-play for other recent events like the “International 4×4 Pushchair Formation Final.” Meaning, four moms pushing strollers in a park.
BASHAM: I would have taken first back in my stroller pushing days!
EICHER: It’s The World and Everything in It.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, March 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It…
AUDIO: Steph, with no timeout…six, five… Curry, for the lead… …GOOD!
The National Basketball Association, along with NCAA officials, were among the first major sports leagues to suspend competition earlier this month due to the Coronavirus.
EICHER: Yet, it’ll be back, eventually.
Now, basketball’s been around for nearly 80 years. But in the past decade or so, the game’s begun to change. And that’s because of the three-point shot.
Now, when we start playing and watching again, you’ll have the opportunity to notice the change in the game — from stadiums to kids on the blacktop.
BASHAM: Obviously, we reported this story awhile ago when people could still get together on basketball courts. So here now is WORLD correspondent Maria Baer.
AUDIO: [DRIBBLING, CLAPPING, WHISTLE]
MARIA BAER, REPORTER: 12-year-old Christian Smith likes to let ‘em fly.
SMITH: I just shoot a lot of threes.
Christian and his curly-headed brother, Cameron—both men of few words—play on the same 6th grade basketball team at the Hilltop YMCA in Columbus, Ohio.
AUDIO: [DRIBBLING, SHOES SQUEAKING]
Their coach says the Smith brothers shoot more three-pointers than every other kid on their team, combined. They’re copying what they see in the pros.
AUDIO: LeBron for the tie… he’s got it!
That’s what kids do, right? They watch their heroes and mimic what they see. Well in the case of professional basketball, what they’ve seen over the past 10 years is a major transformation. Take the Smith brothers’ favorite player, for example.
SMITH: Probably LeBron James.
To be clear, this is LeBron country. Columbus is about two hours south of Akron, Ohio, where King James grew up. In 2003, LeBron’s first year in the NBA, he attempted an average of two three-pointers per game. This year, he’s averaging six. That’s a big deal.
Morris Michalski—or Coach Mo—is a basketball specialist for Athletes in Action.
MORRIS: Sometimes I think about it as like, when you have a compost heap or you’re burning leaves or something like, when the leaves are wet, at some moment there’s going to be an override and everything bursts into flames. And I feel like for three-point shooting that’s what’s happened in the last 10 years.
Coach Mo has led college basketball teams for nearly 40 years. He’s also worked with NBA players and Olympians. He says the three-point revolution started because someone finally did the math.
MORRIS: They say if you can just make 50 percent of your shots, that team is going to be a really efficient offensive machine. So a 50 percent shot from 2 point area, is the equivalent of a 33 percent shot from out here.
Here’s basically how it went: a few years ago a coach for the Phoenix Suns told his team to start taking as many shots as they could per game. Didn’t matter what kind of shot necessarily, just more of them. Everyone—analysts, other coaches, other players—thought it would never work.
And for a few years, it didn’t, really. The Suns never won a title. The critics claimed vindication. Then came the lightning bolt.
AUDIO: Does Curry hit another three… for the record… GOOD!
Stephen Curry is six-foot-three. In basketball terms, that’s … short. Curry’s not big on the slam dunk. Instead, he became the best three-point shooter of all time. He combined the strategy of taking as many shots as possible with his own savant-like talent for shooting threes and took his Golden State Warriors all the way to an N-B-A title. That silenced the critics. And completely changed the game.
Ryan Pedon is the offensive coordinator for the Ohio State Buckeyes’ men’s basketball team.
PEDON: I think there’s a trickle-down effect. That generally happens within our sport where the NBA sort of evolves… the NBA game transforms and to some extent college will follow…
Pedon’s been coaching for 20 years, and he’s seen the three-point shot change dramatically during that time.
PEDON: If you’re going to win at the highest level you’d better be able to shoot and make three-pointers.
Pedon said when he was a kid, basketball games were more like a mass of bodies driving down the court, getting as close to the basket as possible, and popping the ball up toward the hoop. Now that the three-pointer is having its day, Pedon says the game has spaced out.
PEDON: It’s made the game less physical, it’s allowed for more creativity, it’s allowed for more spacing on the floor.
In 1986, when college basketball first introduced the 3-point shot, teams attempted three-pointers an average of 16 percent of the time. For this year’s Buckeyes, that average has more than doubled.
PEDON: If you’re looking at our stats, 41.4 percent of the time we’re going to be relying on the three-point shot.
Back at the Hilltop Y, Johannah Couch, who coaches Cameron and Christian Smith’s sixth grade team, totally gets the thrill of the three-pointer. She played in college herself. But here’s the problem: in order for an onslaught of threes to be successful, the players have to be able to, you know, make the shot.
COUCH: They just come down and shoot 3s, sometimes they can make them and that’s great, if they make it keep shooting. But if they miss it they just keep shooting, And they’re blind to their open teammate under the basket.
Although Couch says the Smith boys are particularly good at threes, she still discourages them from shooting too many. Fellow coach Cody Jones sees the problem, too.
JONES: Because kids are taking their shot, falling away, turning around, that’s a big thing that kids like to do. Because you see a guy like Steph Curry, who is the best three-point shooter of all time, and he’s playing right in front of these kids’ eyes, he’s shooting the shot, he turns around, he’s laughing, he’s smiling, he’s waving at the crowd.
The kids don’t see Curry spending his early morning hours at the gym, Jones said, shooting three after three until his arm gives out. That’s a teaching moment.
AUDIO: [BASKETBALL PRACTICE, “LET’S GO LET’S GO!”]
Jones, Couch, Pedon and even Coach Mo all agree the three-point revolution has made the game more fun, both to play and to watch. That’s a good thing, because no one—from the NBA down to the Hilltop YMCA, is looking back.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Maria Baer in Columbus, Ohio.
NICK EICHER: Today is Wednesday, March 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham. Here’s WORLD commentator Janie B. Cheaney.
JANIE B. CHEANEY: By now we should all be caught up on what COVID-19 is and how it’s spread. But in case you could use a little refresher, here’s an interesting explanation that sounds factual. All you geneticists out there, please forgive my clumsy explanation.
COVID-19 is called the “novel” virus not because it’s fictional, but because it’s new. New to humans, that is; not animals. Animals have their own viruses, to which they develop immunities, just as humans do. As we adapt to the peculiar RNA sequences that make up seasonal flu, so animals adapt to their own bugs and blights. For the most part, these viruses stay within species. But sometimes one will jump.
That’s what apparently happened in a Wuhan “wet market,” a place where live animals are sold and often killed. A bat virus jumped to a human carrier and—in unscientific terms—dug in. Because the RNA sequencing of the culprit couldn’t be recognized by the human immune system, the human became infected. And before he even knew he was sick, he had infected a number of others, and they went on to infect others, and the thing grew and grew. And some people died.
What makes it worse, and calls for super-vigilance, is that the COVID-19 virus is very quick: quick to spread and quick to mutate. Every flu develops singular strands, and so does this one: only quicker than most. Already it has developed at least two strains, called L and S for now. The other cause for alarm is that it has a particular liking, if we can put it that way, for human lungs. That’s why smokers, asthmatics and COPD sufferers are at particular risk.
Are you scared yet? Don’t be. Or, as beings better than I have said: Fear not. For behold, I bring you good news. We’ve already been infected by the most benevolent virus possible.
To make a long story short, from the beginning we received our breath from God himself. And then we wrecked that perfect life and became infected with the 100 percent contagious, endlessly mutating virus of sin.
But after this had gone on long enough to prove beyond any doubt that the disease was not curable, a good contagion intervened. You might say that divine RNA jumped from heaven to earth, from God to man, just as an alien strain somehow bridged the gap animal to human in Wuhan.
The good contagion infected a handful of followers. Then a few hundred more. Then 3,000 on one day. Eventually it spread, as fast as humans could take it, to the ends of the earth.
No bad virus can overcome it. So take heart.
I’m Janie B. Cheaney.
NICK EICHER: Tomorrow: We’ll talk to Christian school administrators about their COVID-19 contingencies.
And, we’ll take you to coastal Louisiana where people are dealing with a very different kind of disease.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
MEGAN BASHAM: And I’m Megan Basham.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, or famine? …No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Go now in grace and peace.