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 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?
Countries have responded differently, as is evident from this table.
|Deaths per million|
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
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.’