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BALANCING PANDEMIC CONTROL

The table attached compares central and devolved responses. 

Some individuals would be better off under the devolved strategy but others could regard it as creating unacceptable risk. Devolvers must obey the centralists’ laws without access to exemption by conscientious objection. By contrast, devolvers do not make any demands of centralists. Separate arrangements for centralists cannot be made by devolvers, nor can they compensate centralisers.

The centralists enforce a model of human behaviour that devolvers could find inconvenient and pessimistic. The centralists do not have evidence that their strategy does more public good. It can create more economic and educative harm. The centralist case is predicated on the disease being transmitted to more people by devolution because spreaders would be controlled by regulations. In the same way that government welfare reduces some peoples’ donations to needy people, social control of spreaders by friends, neighbours and strangers could be more effective than official regimes of isolation and social distancing. The centralist strategy discourages individuals from social responsibility and allows excessive arbitrary control over behaviour against peoples’ economic interests.

To portray humans as either social animals or as individualists reveals both have limitations. Responses should draw on both strategies. Centralism rolls up a snowball of regulations, when behaviours might be better dealt with by voluntary action. The onus is on vulnerable and infected people to limit their sociality and take care of themselves, before demanding others be constrained.

Accepting voluntarism by others requires trust, but so does observance of regulations. Many people prefer intervention by authorities to imposing their concerns on others who threaten. Trust of others has been lost at great cost, perhaps because the exercise of civility has been delegated to authorities to resolve, as has happened with road rage. When I went to work or a party with flu symptoms, some good person would remind me to go home. Could a pandemic be controlled like this?

Question: What if it would take only one miscreant to infect my loved ones?

Answer: Irresponsible behaviour is unlikely to be prevented by any regulations. They might reduce awareness of clear and present dangers.

My writing on Covid-19, trust, performance, government and economic growth is at: https://martinknox.com 

BECOMING BEES OR TURKEYS?

Brush Turkey [/caption
How much of human life should be assigned to individuality, and how much to society?
This was J S Mill’s question in his book On Liberty, published in 1859, the same year as Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species.Today, 160 years later, surviving human societies vary in individuality and sociality. For example, in the USA individualism is reputedly preeminent, whereas in China collectivism is more prominent.
Individual and collective orientations are not mutually exclusive. Many societies draw on both in different amounts. Emergence of societies by legislation and government often relates to both sides, as if there is a choice.
Human models of pure individualism and pure sociality are lacking. In nature, Australian brush turkeys are individualistic, whereas honey bees are social. Human societies vary, having characteristics whose position can be considered along a continuum between these two.
Honey bees live collectively, with a single female reproductive, the queen, a few male drones and a mass of sexually inactive workers. Tasks of commencing, populating, feeding and defending the colony are performed by individuals of various castes. An individual’s caste is determined by special foods, feeding and education. Lives of honey bees are lived within certain social structures without much tolerance for experimentation and deviation. The survival of the individual depends on the survival of the colony, in overcoming disease, weather, famine and attack.
Brush turkeys, by contrast, survive mostly alone. Chicks emerge from the nest without parental guidance or protection. They live freely without social structure and can experiment in mate attraction, new territories and different diets. Mature males build large nest mounds where a female comes to leave her eggs for incubation, under his instinctive supervision. The only social structures concern reproduction.
Unlike honey bees, we humans allow reproduction by workers. In most human societies, mating, home building and education of the young are able to be freely pursued by individuals within their economic constraints. Like honey bees, humans have designated roles in society with duties to perform. In some societies, humans have participative decision making to appoint authorities to conduct public welfare. In honey bees, the queen may communicate requirements. In brush turkeys there are no communal concerns.
Comparing honey bees with brush turkeys does not distinguish which animal species is better off. Australian society has facets of both a hive and turkeydom. Comparison is difficult, especially between the USA and China. For social control more like honey bees’, is control over human reproduction necessary?
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