Category Archives: COVID-19

LIFESTYLE RECOVERY RESET AFTER PANDEMIC

 People encountering the 2020-21 pandemic restrictions may have ‘entered a time warp’, with distortion of familiar values, especially money and time. Finding a way back through unfamiliar financial terrain could be important.

Covid has created uncertainty and anxiety for many people. They have abandoned, slowed or deferred usual activities. There has been a timeout, allowing relaxation from stressful routines but restrictions may have brought complacency and slack inactivity. With insufficient stimuli, time may have dragged.

Without the usual referent of work days and social meetings, personal time may have become disoriented. Personal goals, such as exercising, dieting, studying, writing, may have been abandoned. Social activities may have been stopped. Some people may have enjoyed their freedom but others may have become relatively inactive.

Deadlines that structured activity, such as grocery shopping, may be cast in a new mould. Spending habits may have been limited by the money supply and when that changes, activities such as clothes shopping, may stop. Many people have adopted emptier more relaxed time schedules. 

Reduced consumption may cause money to accumulate and new activities become possible, such as shopping online, investment in home appliances, furniture, autos or moving house. Acquisitions can seem more momentous during pandemic restriction, because although money is cheaply available, there can be fewer than usual investment opportunities and at higher prices. Time horizons are pushed back by restriction delays and low interest rates may stimulate big item spending. Costs of delaying are tolerable and borrowing over longer periods accepted.

Recovery of participation in high risk activities, such as travel and audience events, may be tentative, with empirical results revealing any remaining hazard. To recover, individuals may set goals to revert to previous activities, or they may want to continue elements of their restricted lifestyle. Resetting of goals with new time and money constraints could bring a more purposeful lifestyle.

Sufficient personal time is available for careful planning. 

Conscious resetting of living parameters affected by pandemic restrictions could enable a brave new start, with goals for relationships, employment, residence, motoring, holidays, health, exercise, diet and education. These could provide structure for taking up the reins of a life that may have been partially surrendered in a previous treadmill-like existence. Pandemic restrictions may have brought new experiences that are wanted to continue. There could be a new awareness of the uncertainty of living, a need for patience and a new sense of owning personal time.

My writing about personal time is at https://martinknox.com 

POLITICS NOT THE SAME ONLINE

Failure to reach agreement in a recent international forum attests to the difficulty politicians have online. During the pandemic, some meetings that had been face to face have been attempted online. Political participants have had advantages of reduced travel and emissions, but reduced personal involvement may have made their work less effective. Traditional political skills can be difficult to deploy online: sensing of others’ feelings, friendly behaviour of supporting, joining, sharing and compromising. Creative proposing, finessing and synthesising could be less effective online, with fewer opportunities for rhetorical persuasion and less explanation of commitment conditions. 

Without face-to-face and group interaction, skills of representation, negotiation and diplomacy are in riskier waters. An effective online meetings culture could eventually emerge, but in the meantime the change to online encounters a challenging new environment where traditional political skills may not work and outcomes are controlled.

My writing on politics and government is on https://martinknox.com

BUILD IMMUNITY AND LIMIT TRANSMISSION

People want to avoid risk of infection and they avoid crowds, cancel travel, distance socially and mask up on public transport. To be safer, they want others to do the same and expect governments to regulate it. 

Following this path, free living and going happily where you want disappear. Living is transformed to a shambling half-existence, withdrawn from nature and without clean air. Such risk aversion weakens a person’s immune system with stress, anger, anxiety, depression and learned helplessness. These de-activate the immune response.

The increased risk of infection offsets the risk reduction sought by limiting transmission. Conversely, although social pursuits can cause transmission, they boost morale and promote robust good health, by fending off infections.

Reduced transmission possibilities and strengthening of immune response can both be pursued independently, but can act opposed or together to maintain physical, mental and spiritual good health, as for example by going to work or playing team sport.

Health should not be sacrificed to limit disease transmission.

In summary, infection risk can be reduced by limiting transmission possibilities and by building up immune responses. Public restrictions may be significantly counter-productive and should be withdrawn at the earliest opportunity of good population immunity.

My other writing about Covid-19 is at: https://martinknox.com

HOW MUCH COVID RISK SHOULD WE COVER?

Governments are restricting peoples’ activities and paying to mitigate the effects of Covid 19. Suppose that these measures halve the infection rate, so that admittance to ICU and dying there is reduced from 0.02 % of the population to 0.01%. These numbers are guesstimates. At this stage of the analysis the aim is present a framework for comparison.

In the restricted situation, individuals could be quarantined at a personal cost of $10,000.

Unrestricted, there could be voluntary quarantine with no additional cost.

Loss of earnings would be the same in both situations, with double the frequency unrestricted.

ICU treatment cost until death of $100,000 would incur double the frequency unrestricted.

The government role under restriction would be much more active and expensive. Keeping the population from workplaces and amenities would be expensive, especially when the total cost is divided by the low number of ICU cases.

These numbers show that a strategy of restrictions imposes a much higher cost to government, while withholding restrictions probably increases the risk to individuals, here shown as doubling their hospital ICU admittances. The expected value of costs to individuals could be somewhat higher without restrictions, but the community would benefit greatly by relinquishing pandemic relief restrictions. Individuals could volunteer to be unrestricted with higher earnings (not shown here). 

Financial outcomes should be considered for these and other strategy alternatives. Including economic outcomes is essential when the amounts are large and government debt will have to be paid off. An accusation of callousness in making economic estimates of life or death is easily rebutted: it is more callous to make not estimates. 

Ayn Rand, a philosopher, said: 

Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter

Cynically, restriction is an expensive strategy that provides employment and welfare benefits to many people, far exceeding the cost of unrestriction.

It is time to count the cost of restriction.

My other writing on Covid-19 is at https://martinknox.com

COSTS OF COVID RESTRICTION STRATEGIES RESTRICTEDUNRESTRICTED
Hospital ICU admittance probability death0.0100.020
Victim discomfort loss of amenity, quarantine$10,000 x 0.01Nil
Victim loss of earnings, assuming death$500,000 x 0.01$500,000 x 0.02
ICU treatment cost$100,000 x 0.01$100,000 x 0.02
Pandemic regulatory scheme admin and police per ICU case$50,000 x 1.00Nil
Loss of community earnings and amenity, plus earnings support, per ICU case.$200,000 x 1.00Nil
Expected value of costs (Subtotal X probability)$256,100$12,000
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