The Survivors’ Luxury

I see no problem with a debate about when we can reopen major parts of the economy right now. I think the debate needs to deal more in the realities of the situation we face regarding infections than an arbitrary calculation of the costs of economic closures and the cost of lives.

The fact is the scale of this threat is really outside the experience of most of us, including those in positions of policy authority. So I would not suggest there is a balancing act going on right now between loosening restrictions on distancing, and thereby re-opening parts of the economy, and the risks of further loss of life as a result of increased exposure. I do not think we should pretend that we could even somehow find a balance between the two sides of this discussion because in many ways it is all too personal for all involved.

It is only those still alive that have to concern themselves with this balance, and it is their luxury to have this debate right now. That is a sobering thought for me. We should absolutely deal with the economic fallout right now and we will also deal with it into the future. Questions about whether the deficit and debt can bear this now are not the right question for the moment though. There will be time enough to address this on the other side of the crisis.

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