What is best for the economy is not what is most morally comfortable. But which way should we lean? To find out, let’s analyze the following chart side by side with what makes most sense vs. what is most compassionate.
First, the conclusion of each approach, followed by the thinking that supports it:
Logic – We should save the economy and open completely immediately.
Passion – We should save lives and remain locked down until the threat has passed.
By Logic Alone:
The workforce is largely comprised of folks under 65, and for them, the risk of death is at an acceptable level.
Risk is everywhere – car accidents, military actions, other diseases.
Quality of life is essential to happiness, and remaining locked down will lead to great suffering for many years to come.
Older folks have far fewer years left.
Older folks contribute less to the economy and are, in fact a drain in terms of medical needs and social security.
Conclusion: Write off the old folks, open the economy and rebuild a good life for ourselves and our families.
By Passion Alone:
More spreading of disease increases the chances older people get infected, who have a much higher risk of death.
Covid is in addition to all those other risks, and is a higher risk than any of them.
Having a life is necessary for happiness, and depriving others of life for your own happiness is unethical.
All life is precious.
Older folks worked for decades for their retirement and payed into health care in exchange for future health care.
Conclusion: Write off the young folks and make these years better at the expense of years we won’t live to see.
This is where logic and passion come together in compromise to chart the best possible course forward in which neither point of view is fully satisfied, yet neither is inordinately damaged.
- The purpose of the lock down was never to save the lives of those infected, but to save the additional lives that would be lost if the health care system was overwhelmed, which would have doubled or even tripled the number of deaths. Mission Accomplished on that original goal.
- Opening up should never allow hospitalizations to exceed capacity or we would fail our original goal after having achieved it.
- Easing the lockdown should allow for as many deaths as our health care system can accommodate, since losing the economy is a real and immediate threat.
- Care must be taken in reopening the economy so as not to be surprised by a sudden surge that overwhelms the system.
- Extensive testing is needed to monitor increasing cases, isolate those infected, and trace their contacts so as to limit spread wherever possible, thereby allowing the economy to reopening without having to backtrack into more lock downs in order to save the health care system.
We cannot allow ourselves to save as many as we might because the toll on the economy would be too great. But we cannot recklessly reopen as we would overwhelm the health care system leading to a MUCH higher mortality rate, due to lack of medical capacity.
We are taking proper actions in gradually reopening so we can avoid an unexpected surge. We must accept that increasing numbers of people will die as we reopen. We must ramp up our testing to far higher levels to minimize those increases. We must be patient – assertive yet conservative as we get back to life, and we must remain patient until we have an effective treatment and/or a vaccine before our lives can return to something near our pre-pandemic normal.