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05/21/2020

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Greg Morgan

Isn't it possible that the short term cost of the pandemic would be much higher if we did not try to mitigate the transmission of the virus? If this is a real possibility, then the debate is not really about how much to discount the future, but rather about which approach will have the lowest cost in the short term. Winsberg seems to assume that we are choosing a more costly option in the short term by keeping people home, but I am not sure we are. Without state mandated social distancing, it is quite possible that demand for many services would collapse anyway and depress the economy even more than the lockdown has.

Deanna Kreisel

Your essay contains the following errors of reasoning: 1. It compares two "costs" by abstracting out the main reason we are shutting down to begin with: to save human lives. If the saving of lives is not part of your "calculus," then of course the current measures will seem draconian. 2. It assumes that we must accept that bailouts will benefit the rich and corporations as opposed to paying a UBE or supporting small businesses, as if this were some sort of unavoidable natural truth. 3. It also assumes at the same time that we would spend all the lost trillions on climate change in the future, which at least in practice contradicts the previous unstated premise. 4. It also, as the first commenter points out, assumes that the (economic) costs of shutting down are greater than the economic costs of not shutting down, essentially begging its own question.

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Here's a link to my past blogging (and discussions involving me) at: New APPS.

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