Regrets already about social distancing policies.

Looking back at the public policy of social distancing as a mandate, it appears we went too far. For one thing, we didn’t know that much about covid-19 when we undertook the policy. We didn’t really know how to stop it from spreading because we didn’t know how contagious it is. And we didn’t know what it would do to all of us as it filtered through our population. We undertook a public policy change in order to cope with the unknown when it seemed so scary.
Historically, it has made more sense to isolate sick people rather than to isolate healthy people. Why did we isolate healthy people? Maybe because we have seen too many scary movies about epidemic illness. We also probably wanted to believe that we could stop the common or uncommon coronavirus with a large social effort that coordinated our resources. Now it looks like we failed to stop covid-19 because it was too contagious and spread too quickly.
One of the ideas that is a little troubling now that I can look back over the last few months is the idea of non-essential jobs. No job is non-essential. Most jobs that exist in our economy only exist because they are essential and are supported by buyers of the goods or services that they provide. It is interesting that any job would be culled from the economy as though it didn’t perform a function that matters.
The idea of some professions being non-essential is related to economic interventionism by government. That’s when a government picks winners and losers by subsidizing certain parts of the economy more than others. Jobs that are important to achieve certain policy goals get government help instead of allowing markets to prove the worth of each one. But economic interventionism doesn’t work in the economic world to stimulate economic vitality. Economic interventionism serves political goals instead. Over time, companies that get government help can become an economic blight that suck up resources instead of producing goods and services that people want and can afford.
I’ve never seen our economy look worse than it does today, and I think that the mess that we find ourselves in has been caused by economic interventionism, including through taxes and bank deregulation. Maybe social distancing as a mandate is just an extension of the economic hubris and political hubris that has become all too common in the United States. Maybe the time is here now for us to reconsider.
If you want to learn more about politics, economics and history buy a copy of Political Catsup with Economy Fries available at Amazon.com.

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