Premature Ending Of Quarantine = Death Panels
I sense that part of the conservative conversation has shifted towards ‘hey we can’t shut down the economy over this’. A WSJ editorial seemed to call for restarting things after 14 days.
What does that call imply? We learn something every day about this disease, so I don’t see how we can know today what we should do in two weeks, unless we simply don’t care.
Here’s what I mean: Right now there is a direct trade-off between GDP and death via this illness. Sometimes life is like that, no perfect optimal solution for the tribe… trade with other villages, and some of the elders die.
(Side point: yes, slowing economy does cost some human life — suicides for example — but also saves some lives: fewer car wrecks, less death from regular flu, etc. There’s no way to know whether on balance a shut down is a net increase or decrease of other deaths, but no doubt Coronavirus deaths will be higher without social distancing.)
Who dies of Xi Plague? Overwhelmingly, it is older people with health problems. Risk factors tend to be diabetes, pulmonary, heart, kidney diseases. Basically metabolic syndrome. To the degree that we end quarantine prematurely (emphasis on PREMATURELY), we are choosing GDP over the lives of the unwell elderly. What would be premature? We don’t know yet, which is why we should not be calling to end the quarantine till we know more.
I’m part of the conservative movement which is focused on sanctity of life, at the beginning and at the end. We Christians have been talking a lot about euthanasia. In the run-up to Obamacare we were warning about ‘death panels’, now we’re forming them.
I’m not arguing that we can put this off forever. I’m arguing for flattening the curve enough to keep the peak of the disease from getting above the line of healthcare capacity. When that peak gets above the line, death rates rise. Old people with lung problems lie in beds without needed respirators and basically drown to death. Because GDP.
I have no moral qualm with those who are operating under the assumption that Coronavirus will be a low death rate disease (based on absolute numbers comparisons with flu, etc.). I don’t agree with that math. I think comparing early stage absolute numbers from Coronavirus to late stage cumulative numbers from the flu, is not apples to apples, but the point is that people who make that argument are making an argument consistent with sanctity of life.
This article originally appeared on Townhall Finance.
Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of AffluentInvestor.com, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.
Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.
Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for CNBC.com, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.
Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.
Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.
Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest three of their seven children.
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