Most of the people whom I read, and respect, seem convinced that COVID-19 will almost certainly be a national and global healthcare disaster that justifies just about anything that governments are willing to do to control it and mitigate its effects.
Richard Epstein, who I also read and respect, thinks they’re wrong.
He thinks that these doomsday predictions are based on worst-case estimates that have lots of problems, and they do not take into account the evidence we have from this and earlier novel viruses, or the mitigation that will come from the human action that will reduce the speed and extent of the harm. He thinks the economic harm caused by overreacting to the threat will cause more harm.
I’m not sure who is right.
I do know that my natural bias is to believe the Epstein story, because it takes into account the power of widespread, local, solutions and the limitations of top-down draconian measures. It argues against huge government power growth, which is likely to have many bad effects that will persist long after this incident is over. It’s the story that I really prefer to believe.
Because of this bias, I’m trying to discount the Epstein analysis and assume the real threat is probably worse than he thinks, but possibly not as bad as the most extreme alarmists claim.
I suppose I can take comfort in the fact that whatever I think the truth of the matter probably is will have no measurable effect on what ultimately happens.
I guess we’ll see who turns out to be right. But, it could be the case that Epstein’s estimates turn out to be more accurate, but only because most people believe in the more extreme estimates and alter their behavior enough to slow things to a more manageable pace.
We’re living in interesting times.