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ECONOMY IN TRIAGE

Could policy leaders decide the priority order of treatment for parts of the economy injured or disabled by pandemic restrictions? My proposal draws informally on Keynesian, Classical Monetary and Modern Monetary theories. I reject Laissez Faire theory because governments have already begun large expenditure commitments. I have attempted to derive priorities by screening out activities that could be helped by governments to bring happiness of various kinds: hedonistic, eudaimonic, psychological and spiritual to the various stakeholders employees, customers, suppliers and investors. 

I will not identify my analysis with particular local, state or federal government jurisdictions in any country. I live in Australia, but I describe below phenomena that have been prepared from thought rather than by social research and they could be enumerated in many locations.

Because of their multiplier effect, outputs that are inputs to employment-intensive follow-up activities should have priority e.g. trucks not cars.

Infrastructure projects that cause most sustainable employment should be preferred e.g. construction of public park amenities, not National Broadband Network fibre optics installation.

Public funding should support the greatest good of the greatest number, like public transport, not narrow interests, such as subsidisation of airlines. Haemorrhaging of public funds to support unsustainable industries should cease.

Developments requiring sustainable skilled employment are more desirable than casual unskilled labouring. 

Funding of arts, entertainment and education should recognise their potential for multiplier effects in stimulating development in other sectors.

Diversity of outputs is desirable to reduce currency inflation effects on industries struggling with falling prices for their exports and increasing costs of imports e.g. farms, due to buoyant foreign exchange rates from high growth sectors e.g. minerals (Gregory Effect). 

Priority should go to primary industry supplying secondary and tertiary industry, when it conserves and sustains scarce natural resources.

Value-adding by secondary processing of products e.g. minerals, could have priority where efficient use is made of natural resources e.g. water, land.

Development of the tertiary sector should prefer industries with a high multiplier effect e.g. tourism, education, health. Activities that generate little sustainable employment, for example coal quarrying for export and retirement apartment construction, could be less attractive.

The priorities above are controversial. The task of calling help for some parts of the economy and denigrating others will be contested from personal experience and interest. I have made these calls to draw attention to the parlous state of government treatment of the economic pandemic. I want to register my disapproval for profligate government spending by highlighting some likely consequences.

 For further ideas see my writing on growth, development, government, Covid-19 at https://martinknox.com

HERD IMMUNITY AT WHAT COST?

Herd immunity is the resistance to the spread of a contagious disease within a population that results if a sufficiently high proportion of individuals are immune to the disease, especially through vaccination.

The prospects for a vaccine are, according to New Scientist, 21 March 2020, p45, ‘. . . the fastest we have ever cranked out a vaccine in response to an outbreak was with Ebola – and that took five years . . .

The other way is to allow 50-80% of the population to become infected quickly so that survivors will be in an immune herd. The strategy has ethical objections that it practices eugenics, aiming to improve the genetic quality of a human population. Some consider it is more ethical and politically viable to suppress the pandemic with economic and social restrictions that wreck the economy.

An article in aljazeera asks: Which countries have allowed the elderly and the sick to die in numbers, as an alternative to widespread economic damage caused by more stringent suppression measures?

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/coronavirus-herd-immunity-eugenics-market-200414104531234.html

Countries have responded differently, as is evident from this table.

 

COUNTRY POPULATION AREA

km2

TOTAL CASES COVID-19

Total deaths

 

Deaths per

million km2

Deaths per million
Australia 25499884 7692024 6468 63 8.2 2.5
Canada 37742154 9984670 29929 1191 119 31
UK 67886011 242900 103093 13729 56500 202
USA 331002651 9372610 670598 1645 176 5.0
China 1439323776 9706961 82341 3342 344 2.3
Sweden 10099265 450295 12540 1333 2962 132
Denmark 5792202 43094 6879 321 7465 55.4
Netherlands 17134872 41850 29214 3315 79211 194
Norway 5421241 323802 6848 152 469 28

 

 

It remains to be seen if stringent suppression has merely delayed deaths until later, with more and longer lasting economic damage. A short sharp economic shock from epidemic virulence could possibly be less damaging overall, except for people who are without medical treatment. Countries that adopt a balance between medical and economic constraints may be best placed to countenance the uncertainties.

A possible philosophy is to keep hospital beds treating as many COVID-19 cases as possible.

Data: https://www.worldometers.info/ April 16th, 2020

http://www.martinknox.wordpress.com

CHANGING PARTNERS: JOKE OR VIRTUE?

How to change partners in serial love relationships without vulnerability?

Tom Archer falls for university student Vicki Hillstone, who tricks him to take a lie detector test and finds out he is bedding town girl Barbara. Vicki is distracting Tom from his studies so he reduces his overall vulnerability to love. He ‘shorts’ Vicki for later but he is devastated when she appears to make out with his best friend Richard.

The women counteract Tom’s love commodity investment with tragic consequences. He follows a glittering career in the petroleum industry while trying to take up with Vicki. After the deception of their beginning, can he and Vicki ever become a couple?

Review by Vesna Mcmaster, author and editor.

‘In ‘Short of Love’, Knox has taken the picaresque genre by the cerebrum, presenting a narrative alternately amusing, shocking, and deeply familiar by turns. The unrelenting pace and clean style combine within a paradoxical whole, both epic and microscopic simultaneously. Add to that an author/reader relationship that defies convention, and you have this curious and memorable work, which will present an entertaining challenge to the end.’

‘SHORT OF LOVE’ is a satirical fiction novel by Martin Knox available on Amazon.
http://www.martinknox.wordpress.com

 

Does city population growth reduce lifestyle?

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Consider rocky islands where sea-birds live, such as gannets on Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, or Frigate birds in the Galapagos. The lifestyles of the birds in their colonies deteriorate as the populations grow, until there is migration to found new colonies, or until hunger or disease reduces the population, or until breeding is prevented by enforced infertility, from crowding, or from rivalry, or from predation.

Successful breeding requires a sufficient food supply, viable spaces for construction of nests where the eggs can be kept secure, incubation of the eggs, nurture and protection of the young from predators, including incursions and predation by the same species. Crowded conditions may result in failure to mate, fewer or smaller eggs and reduced rearing of chicks to healthy adulthood.

Are there other alternatives than city population growth?

The political crime fiction novel Presumed Dead exposes the corrupted political dynamic of lifestyle regression in cities: https://wp.me/P1z4yo-n

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