The pandemic and the ramp up to the November election got me to thinking of the following reflections:
- Some claim the pandemic provides an excuse for capitalist overlords and the “powers that be” to scoop up the property of homeowners and small businesses because foreclosures and bankruptcies will occur in the wake of the quarantine. They predict monopolies on steroids consolidating power (capital and political) among the few who will dominate the masses and plunge the final nail into the coffin of the middle class. It’s a terrifying scenario for traditional conservatives who support low tariffs, free trade, free markets, small business innovation and a vibrant middle class fueling consumerism. It’s equally terrifying for traditional liberals who fear over-reach of monopolies, oligarchies and “the powers that be”. Left meets Right.
- Some claim that the pandemic will provide an excuse for government overreach of biblical proportions in a never ending and ever expanding quarantine. They predict total government control. Socialism and communism on steroids. Terrifying scenario for conservatives who generally support states rights, privacy, personal liberties and limited government. Equally terrifying for liberals concerned with the erosion of personal liberties, privacy issues and the potential for a tyrannical, dictatorial governmental concentration of power. Left meets Right.
Left and Right might end up on the same page all because of the pandemic and quarantine. Might some good result from so much bad?
Consider how the Left and Right might be forced to play nice in this Covid-19 sandbox:
- Everyone agrees that no business in a capitalist system stocks up on masks, respirators in anticipation of a pandemic. Pharmaceutical firms don’t devote resources to a maybe/someday pandemic threat. There’s no profit motive. Left & Right might agree that this might be the one circumstance when a command economy makes sense. Government subsidizes what the private sector would never do on its own.
- Everyone agrees that the economy needs to be re-opened but everybody also agrees that we do not want to return to square one and risk a reigniting of the pandemic. Everybody wants to work and nobody wants to die. Now might be the time to launch a campaign to test and isolate the infected while tracing those potentially infected. End goal: clusters do not become outbreaks. Now might be the time to launch a Manhattan Project/D-Day magnitude initiative to facilitate a safe re-opening and longer term cure. This will take money (lots of it, but it will be cost effective in the long run for saving both lives and the economy).
- It will require big government, big money, mandatory measures
- Mandatory testing, treating, isolating of the infected, with mandatory tracing & testing (and isolating as needed) those who are potentially infected (repeating the process as needed to insure there are no virus flare ups). All employers will be required to have their employees tested to certify that their workforce is virus free and continues to be virus free. Costly yes, but the government may be the only entity in a position to fund this so it’s implemented. It’s in everybody’s best interest
- Financial compensation of the tested, treated and quarantined. We can not mandate people to remain quarantined without compensation. Costly in the short run but savings and safety in the longer run. People are not being compensated willy nilly. Only those who tested positive for the virus and those who came in contact with them as high risk contacts would be isolated and compensated.
- Housing arrangements for those who can not safely and consistently be tested, treated and quarantined.
- Medical costs for treating this illness will not be the responsibility of the patient. There can be no allowance for an infected person to avoid treatment and quarantine for fear of lack of resources.
- Ongoing and repeated testing, treating, tracing, housing and quarantining until such time that the virus curve and its manifestations are manageable, flattened, and an effective vaccine has been developed.
- Testing of all persons and quarantining of all infected persons at all points of entry be that via plane, boat or vehicle. Herculean task….yes. But worthwhile since germs know no boundaries. While we’re doing testing for virus, maybe we could make sure that they are not bringing any illegal drugs or weapons
All of the above recommendations are costly, long-term and draconian. However, the Left and the Right can agree that:
- The economy can re-open gradually and safely. Good for capitalism.
- The response is targeted. Only those who are infected are isolated and compensated. Only those who are at highest risk due to physical contact are isolated and compensated. Cost effective solution monetarily and medically.
- Financial safety net for both persons and businesses.
- We get to try out a nation wide comprehensive health care system specific to this illness to determine if it could be applied to other illnesses. We put in place an apparatus (policies, procedures, supplies, etc.) that might better prepare us for the next pandemic. Left & Right plan ahead and work together for mutual benefit rather than mutually assured destruction (MAD).
- Most importantly, we tackle the pandemic while re-starting the economy. We might even find a way to live in greater harmony where Left meets Right