The Bizarre Refusal to Apply Cost-Benefit Analysis to COVID Debates
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Are those who oppose a ban on cars or a radical reduction in speed limits sociopaths, given the huge number of people they are knowingly consigning to death or maiming?
In virtually every realm of public policy, Americans embrace policies which they know will kill people, sometimes large numbers of people. They do so not because they are psychopaths but because they are rational: they assess that those deaths that will inevitably result from the policies they support are worth it in exchange for the benefits those policies provide. This rational cost-benefit analysis, even when not expressed in such explicit or crude terms, is foundational to public policy debates — except when it comes to COVID, where it has been bizarrely declared off-limits.
The quickest and most guaranteed way to save hundreds of thousands of lives with policy changes would be to ban the use of automobiles, or severely restrict their usage to those authorized by the state on the ground of essential need (e.g., ambulances or food-delivery vehicles), or at least lower the nationwide speed limit to 25 mph. Any of those policies would immediately prevent huge numbers of human beings from dying. Each year, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “1.35 million people are killed on roadways around the world,” while “crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 1–54.” Even with seat belts and airbags, a tragic number of life-years are lost given how many young people die or are left permanently and severely disabled by car accidents. Studies over the course of decades have demonstrated that even small reductions in speed limits save many lives, while radical reductions — supported by almost nobody — would eliminate most if not all deaths from car crashes.
Given how many deaths and serious injuries would be prevented, why is nobody clamoring for a ban on cars, or at least severe restrictions on who can drive (essential purposes only) or how fast (25 mph)? Is it because most people are just sociopaths who do not care about the huge number of lives lost by the driving policies they support, and are perfectly happy to watch people die or be permanently maimed as long as their convenience is not impeded? Is it because they do not assign value to the lives of other people, and therefore knowingly support policies — allowing anyone above 15 years old to drive, at high speeds — that will kill many children along with adults?
That may explain the motivation scheme for a few people, but in general, the reason is much simpler and less sinister. It is because we employ a rational framework of cost-benefit analysis, whereby, when making public policy choices, we do not examine only one side of the ledger (number of people who will die if cars are permitted) but also consider the immense costs generated by policies that would prevent those deaths (massive limits on our ability to travel, vastly increased times to get from one place to another, restrictions on what we can experience in our lives, enormous financial costs from returning to the pre-automobile days). So foundational is the use of this cost-benefit analysis that it is embraced and touted by everyone from right-wing economists to the left-wing European environmental policy group CIVITAS, which defines it this way:
"Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime" - Aristotle "The more I see of the moneyed peoples, the more I understand the guillotine" - George Bernard Shaw "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, will make violent revolution inevitable" - JFK "If wars can be started by lies, they can be stopped by truth." ~ Julian Assange #SurviveAndRevolt
August 26, 2021 at 12:34 PM #442320GZeusHParticipant
- Total Posts: 4,257
How do you do a cost benefit analysis of little Johnny going to school when you have absolutely no idea how likely he is to pick it up and pass along a fatal case to grandma and grandpa? Or, if you don’t care about the old folks, your complete lack of knowledge about when the virus is going to mutate into something fatal for him.
Cost benefit is something that lawyers (like Glenn) can argue endlessly about well after the fact; it’s hard to apply when each day brings a new set of facts.
Corporate America consists of totalitarian entities laser-focused on short-term greed.
August 26, 2021 at 1:06 PM #442329salemcourtParticipant
- Total Posts: 2,965
It has become crazy. Even after two vaccinations and wearing the mask, people are still getting Covid. So maybe we should shut down everything and stay isolated despite the known increase in the number of suicides and deaths due to loneliness and other diseases not getting treated due to the shutdown.
August 26, 2021 at 6:47 PM #442373retired liberalParticipant
- Total Posts: 4,274
Were they inside, or outside. Packed or social distancing? Do they always wear an approved mask and not a bandana or some such?
Which vaccine did they take? That would seem to to be a very important bit of information.
Why do they almost always ass/u/me it to be the Pfizer vaccine, unless they have a break through virus, then just being vaccinated or not, is all that matters. (See second sentence)
On an aside, Pfizer got the contract to vaccinate the military. If there are too many problems, that will hard to keep under wraps. Pfizer probably doesn’t care, they will get paid and they are indemnified from being sued. If something goes wrong, the government may have a different idea.
We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.
The older we get, the less "Life in Prison" is a deterrent.
Always wear a proper mask when out and about. The life you save could be both yours and mine.
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