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Friday 10 April 2020

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How should we deal with the dilemma of economy versus health?
Corona virus

Corona is controlling us right now and will do that for a while. This leads to a lot of suffering; people are hospitalized and many die. Moreover, many people risk loosing their jobs

Several family businesses risk not surviving this crisis. For the current managers that doesn't means that they may lose their income, but also their pride, since the business could fall apart under their leadership.

Governments try to safe as many businesses as they can. The Dutch government is even calling managers not to fire anyone. That is a good aim, but unfortunately, they won’t be able to save all businesses.

So there is a health crisis as well as an economic crisis. Lately there is much discussion about which one we should give priority. Many countries choose to take care of the health crisis first and only in the second place try to ease the consequences for the economy. Other countries don’t want to jeopardize the economy and only take care of the health crisis in the second place.

An important argument to keep the economy strong, is that if there will be a recession after the health crisis, people will have less money and that will negatively affect their health too. So then all measurements to stay healthy would be useless in the long haul.

Whether this argument is tenable is actually unclear. Several studies have shown that during a recession fewer people die. For example, since more people are unemployed, fewer people are on the roads and, hence, there are less traffic accidents. Moreover, I wonder whether people are really going to live less healthy, just because they temporarily have less money. Nevertheless, a recession will have a negative impact on people, so nobody wants a that.

Peiling: we mogen niet om wille van een virus een resessie riskeren

Peiling: we mogen niet om wille van een virus een resessie riskeren

Poll: We should not let the economy suffer because of a virus

Poll: We should not let the economy suffer because of a virus

Read the blog that goes with this poll

Body 2: 

I think that we focus on the wrong things in this discussion. We only look at the consequences of the corona crisis, but don’t wonder how this could have happen. However, that is a very important question, for when we don’t fight the cause, then we risk that more new viruses become a treat, and thus, that we are going to take these measurements more often. Nobody wants that! So, what is that cause?

Why is Corona different?

In order to answer that question, it is first important to wonder what makes Corona different from other viruses. Why do we take these measurements now and not in case Influenza; the ‘usual’ flue?

These viruses are not easy to compare, since in case of Influenza, we don’t take all these measurements. But it is not difficult to imagine that if we hadn’t done all this, then many more people would have died from it and many more had been hospitalized. That would mean that the emergency rooms had been overcrowded, which would have had many bad consequences. So this virus is really different.

A few months ago, this virus was unknown. For that reason everyone was watching what it did. Now it is clear what the consequences are and more and more countries are taking measurements. This is exactly how governments and health institutes should act when there is a new virus. Wait to see what it does and then decide how to respond to it. This is what happened in case of the Mexican flu in 2009 too. First there was a lot of excitement about it, since it was unknown, but later on it turned out that the consequences weren’t that bad and no measurements were taken.

The question then is where these unknown viruses come from. That has everything to do with the way we live. Corona comes from bats. People have entered their territory and since people and bat started to live closer together, a virus could transfer from bat to human. When we take more space from the animals, then the animals have no choice of living closer to us. And since we have an urge to take all the space we can, the chance increases that we will get more viruses from animals.

The problem of economic growth

When we realize this, then it is interesting to think about what we started this blog with: the dilemma between heath and economy. Precisely because we want to become richer and richer, the economy grows further and we need more space on earth. But as a consequence our chances on getting unknown viruses increases. So, at this moment, economic growth affects health and subsequently health affects the economy.

So the debate about whether we should take measurements to protect our health or our economy, is too simplistic. We should try to do something about the cause: our desire to make the economy grow and grow. That is no longer sustainable. Not only because our chances on getting more unknown viruses increases, but also because it has more negative consequences, like air pollution, global warming, etc.

Our contemporary society is build upon the idea that the economy need to grow and grow. If the economy doesn’t grow for two quarters in a row then we talk of a recession. So there is no decline, just no growth! But our planet is not endlessly big and we are not the only inhabitants. If we want to keep it viable and we don’t want to have to deal with unknown viruses every few years, then we need another kind of society, a society in which no economic growth is fine too.

What do you think about this? Do you also think that something needs to change in society? Or do you think that we really need economic growth? Share your opinion, below, or on the forum!

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I will create the vlog that goes with this blog soon!

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