Revisiting the function of government through the lens of Covid-19



  1. And then, there are other possibilities:

    Because of the special nature of national “crisis” the President may (or may not) have “total authority” to reopen the economy. Also, if the laws and the courts agree that he has such authority, he may open the economy at different rates within different states while giving power and/or accepting input from each of the state’s governors.

    “Numerous psychiatric and psychological panels and persons”, even without person to person examinations, are willing to gather as birds of a feather in order to label dysfunctional those with whom they disagree. Many Presidents have been “diagnosed” by such “panels”. In Trump’s case these doctors-from-a-distance have decided upon narcissistic personality. I wonder how many who aspire to be President do not to some degree possess narcissistic tendencies. And, when present, why would the possession of this trait necessarily diminish the quality of Presidential duties? For three years President Trump, against extraordinary (and likely dishonest) resistance, has successfully led the Country to achieve, among other things, exceptional economic gains.

    If we are trying to “do no harm”, doesn’t this have different meanings for a doctor and a President? Doctors focus on combating diseases that destroy those who are ill. Presidents focus on the health not only of those who have diseases, but the health of the entire economy which affects myriad life-and-death issues aside from illness. Thus, it makes sense for a President to enlist the help of those who are aware of business factors, factors that will most likely provide the greatest life-saving economic growth. Doctors will save a patient. A President understands that no matter what decision he makes some will be harmed precisely because of that choice. Therefore, for our President the issue is as follows: What degree of economic shutdown is more deadly than the Covid-19 virus? After all, poverty is also a killer. Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said recently, “This is like having to make a choice between cancer or a heart attack”.

    We, the citizens, cannot know all the disparities influencing our least deadly path to the future. Thus, a claim of certitude about future events demonstrates a leap away from some possibilities in order to favor others. This is logical evidence of bias. However, we can be more secure about which arguments are most disciplined to follow the methods of discovery and probabilities. Instead of bias and leaps of faith, we can give greater weight to those who truly exercise self-skepticism and seek to test and correct their own opinions against stated empirical and logical evidence.

    1. One doesn’t have to be discursive or philosophical to know that the relationship between the virus and the economy is that of independent vs dependent variable.The virus kills and affects the economy directly.Mitigation in all forms affects the economy secondarily.Economic shutdown is an undesirable outcome of both mass death and the attempt to avoid it. A significant parameter is time.If we buy time we can maximize the prospect for the future.High tech can help us buy time.The lies of zealots including the pretense that political gamesmanship is not heavily at work in urging precipitous action,like removing financial support for WHO,are running us out of time.

      1. Yes, political gamesmanship is at play. So let’s just outline the nature of our problem as well as we can devoid of the political angle. This done, we might be a better judge of who is actually engaging in politics rather than advancing the good of the Country and thereby saving the greater number of lives:

        Fact: Covid-19 will remain a threat until we have; achieved immunity by surviving the disease (includes herd immunity), have found a medical cure, and/or developed and used a viable vaccine.

        Ultimately, the Country is likely to reach a natural level of relative safety by acquiring what is called herd immunity. The more who have had the disease, the greater the number of individuals likely to have developed immunity. And thus, its spread is diminished.

        By enforced social distancing (which also strangles our economy) and by reducing the number who get the disease, we prevent our care system from being overwhelmed. To the degree that we allow sickness to exceed cure, a greater percentage of those requiring hospital care will die.

        The degree that hospitals are not working close to capacity is evidence that fewer in our population are experiencing the disease. This is both good and bad. Many have avoided becoming sick. But this also means that fewer are developing immunity, and the virus will remain a threat for a longer period of time. Herd immunity is delayed. If the economy is opened sufficiently to allow a few more to risk sickness, (while protecting those now known to have a greater risk of death), but not so many that care is overwhelmed, we minimize death while building the percentage of the population that is immune.

        We have a balancing act. Isolation, increasing poverty, and economic uncertainty will increase the death of Americans, and others in the world economy too.

        Even for the best of planners, the path forward involves some guesses. Known unknowns are a wild card. For instance, during this period of economic shutdown what might be developed in the way of effective medicines and other treatments, treatments whereby the future Covid-19 ill can reap benefits?

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