Balance

by Jon Sullivan - 2020-04-20 - Opinion

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"There is always going to be suffering. It's how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you."

Do we end lockdowns and restart the economy? Or try to save lives while unemployment rises and businesses fail? As in most big social and economic issues, we will have to find a balance. I see people in the street protesting the lockdowns. And though I'm very much in favor of more lockdown rather than less, I have no problem understanding why they feel that need to reopen businesses, even if it kills more people.

Everyone needs to make a value call. Do you want to prevent more poverty and failed businesses, or prevent more death and sickness? If we could do both we would have by now. So what is more important to you?

No matter which way we go, more people will suffer. Ease the lockdowns and more people get sick and die. Don't ease the lockdowns and watch poverty and bankruptcy sweep through the country. We can legitimately point fingers at governments or organizations or policies that could have mitigated a lot of this. But that doesn't have any bearing on solutions going forward. We need to find a solution based on where we are now.

So a balanced solution might look like : Open businesses, but provide government assistance to make sure anyone sick or exposed can stay home. In other words, pay businesses to keep people employed as we "lockdown" sick people rather than locking down the entire workforce. But that won't work with this virus as it can be transmitted by people who have no symptoms.

Another balanced solution might be to let businesses reopen as long as they can show their employees have been tested. But that won't work since tests are still too hard to get, and aren't that accurate. Not to mention people being tested, then infected soon after.

Maybe we can end lockdowns, assuming more might die, but push a "moon shot" type initiative to rapidly roll out testing and a vaccine. The obvious problem there is the potential to see hundreds of thousands more dead and hospitals/morgues overwhelmed.

And none of this addresses the American ideal of "Freedom". We've given everyone a gun and demonized intellectuals. How are we realistically going to order people to change how they live their own lives or run their own business? Where do we draw the line in the "war on Coronavirus" so that it's not more of a war on our civil liberty?

I see no solution that will actually work. Not in 2020. I feel like our government has devolved into just calling people names, blaming others, and not doing anything. While industry has largely turned it's back. I suspect we will basically do nothing. Exactly nothing. The virus will play out over many years. Hundreds of thousands will die from it. And the economy will take decades to recover.

Rather than a balanced solution, we will have a balanced failure. And no matter what balanced value judgement we make, we'll all lose.

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