The confinement, bad for the economy… and health?

Le confinement, mauvais pour l'économie... et la santé?

Since a few days I get messages or I read comments from people who strongly supported the remarks of the president of the united states since the beginning of the crisis of the COVID-19. You already know that between the intuition of the president and the opinion of experts in public health, I have no hesitation in me the side of the scientists.

Among the controversial comments of the last days, there was this possibility, raised by the chair, to resume an economic life more or less normal. It has a bit nuanced, his comments in an interview with Fox News, but for the most part, he argues that the costs that will flow from an economy that is idling greatly exceed the benefits provided by the containment.

I do not believe evil to interpret his statement if I say that it implies that one takes the risk of letting them die more people or even to overload excessively the health system. We would have the right to a vicious circle, since the less they will be able to treat the case of complications, more people will die, then we would have been able to help.

After having hesitated to do so, I decided to share with you the reflections of two of the president’s supporters who are trying to convince their fellow citizens that the containment encouraged by the quasi-totality of experts on the planet, it is not good neither for the economy nor for the health. It is what it is.

The authors of the text published Wednesday on the website The Hill are the man of affairs Robert D. Arnott (president of an investment firm) and Stephen Moore, former economic advisor to the president Trump.

What are the arguments justifying the end of the containment by little, as discussed in Donald Trump? If they recognize that it may seem cruel to assess the risks of all options, while trying to assess the number of dead, they are trying despite all the under-weigh the costs, human life being a indicator like the others.

For example, they argue that government officials assess risks continually while maintaining some of the dangerous activities. If one really cares in the number of deaths, it would prevent people from driving, we would ban swimming pools, we would close all the theme parks and would prohibit the bacon…

To return to the containment, they ask first about the number of bankruptcies and job losses that will result in the extension of this measure. What number is acceptable? In their eyes, all recessions, small or large, have long-term effects. Among these effects: an increase in the number of suicides, increase in the number of divorces, increase of cases of myocardial and increase the consumption of the drug.

They also remind us of the fact that an economy hampered could deprive them of their medication to patients suffering from cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or respiratory diseases, since we could not produce in sufficient quantity.

If I reproduce here their arguments, I also want to make sure that you understand that I dissociated completely. Their argument seems to me flawed, and they forget, deliberately or not, a lot of other options.

Their pitch around the dangerous activities falls under intellectual dishonesty. If only because we associate life choices to a virus that nobody wants. They make no mention of government assistance, while ignoring a threat that weighs on 3% of the world population: death. If the economy can be revived, the dead, themselves, do not rise.

If I am unworthy, that it can be also quickly to be willing to sacrifice human lives (mostly of older people and the poorest of our societies), I am just as upset by the denial of the real consequences of the containment. By acting now and in a mutually supportive way, the important sacrifices that we impose on ourselves, we will allow a return to an almost normal life in a few months. I keep hope while thinking of all these entrepreneurs who shut up shop, sometimes for good. Wish that government assistance (our contributions) will allow to buy the time.

And then, who has not yet understood that the containment applied to save lives, but also allows the health system to avoid the worst? In “flattening the curve”, we help those who suffer from severe complications, but can be life-saving. The two authors of the text do not seem to have thought about the fact that, if we manage poorly this first wave of the virus, returning the world to work too quickly, a second or a third wave could have consequences even more dramatic. How you will manage it economy at this time?

I am neither an economist nor a futurologist. My knowledge and my working methods allow me, however, to observe what has been done in the past and what is done nowadays. Among the constants that I release, there is one that recurs continually: the expectancy and quality of life are based on the latest scientific advances. There is here no certainty, but I believe that we have a little time yet before considering the end of the containment, before the sacrifice of lives (our loved ones or our own, who knows?) on the altar of the economic recovery is immediate.

For the sake of transparency, here is a link to the text published by The Hill.