As of writing this blog, we have turned over policy making to medical professionals out of fear and panic of the Covid19 disease. Having a big impact on this policy is the notion of flattening the curve as described here.
The premise is that in an epidemic, the population needing medical assistance starts off rapidly rising, then peaking at some level, and then declining toward zero. By implementing policies of self-quarantine and social distancing (otherwise known as isolation from society), the first phase will slow down, and that slowing down will reduce but spread out the peak, and then begin declining at a much later time.
When depicted, there is a flat horizontal line indicating a constant medical capacity. Supposedly, we can spread out the contagion that would have peaked in weeks so that it lasts for as long as possible, and there would be no change in the capacity of the medical system.
The medical capacity needs resources to keep constant, and even more resources to grow to meet the demand.
For this epidemic, the supply of respirators largely represents the medical capacity to deal with this disease. The goal of flattening the contagion curve is to keep the peak number of people needing respirators below the number of available respirators.
To get more, more respirators need to be made and distributed by people doing their jobs instead of self-isolation or perhaps even instead of self-quarantining. Even if we satisfy ourselves with the number on hand, respirators require replenishing of their supplies, as well as maintenance and possible replacements.
Without a steady workforce behind the respirators, the number of respirators will rapidly decline. This ruins the graphic by replacing the flat line of capacity with one that bends downward after a couple weeks and goes to zero from there without any tapering off.
The reaction to the crisis by the government, by the markets, and by the population at large is starving everything of resources. Through compliance with guidance, people are not working, or at least are reducing their productivity. As a consequence, there will be a drastic drop in money from taxes or insurance premium payments. Meanwhile, the crash in markets means there is no money to borrow even to raise money to pay for the additional costs incurred to the government and to the medical systems.
We are going to quickly run out of money to keep medical systems running, or even to keep the government running. The government that gave us this disastrous guidance in the first place will cease to exist due to bankruptcy. Where is it going to get its revenue? Where is it going to borrow more money?
Flattening the contagion curve guarantees that there will be nothing to draw from.
When it becomes clear that we’ve run out of money to keep everything working, people will no longer pay attention to the policies meant to flatten the curve. For a variety of reasons they will congregate and return the contagion to its original curve. The difference is that the capacity would then be zero. After the contagion runs its course, there will remain nothing to go back to.
The medical professionals are giving competent advice to government, but government can not be run by medical professional advice alone. Government exists because policy decisions need to balance the entire economy where economy is meant in the broadest sense.
- We need to be increasing productivity or at least sustaining it. The medical advice is to decrease it to near zero.
- We need to be increasing or at least sustaining revenues from taxes or insurance premiums. The medical advice is to decrease those to near zero.
- We need to borrow money. The consequence of the medical advice is to crash the markets and thus make no such money available to borrow.
- We need labor to maintain everything. The medical advice is to prevent that labor from doing their jobs.
- We need optimism. The medical advice is spread fear and panic in order to keep people self-isolating.
We need real leadership that can navigate these stormy conditions of screaming from the medical system and its patients. There comes a point where we must accept that we need to ride through the storm and take our losses so that we have a functioning ship for when the waters calm. That point now.
All of the medical advice currently leading the government presumes the government to be permanent and that capacity will remain constant despite the shut down economy. For this reason, we can not allow ourselves to be governed by the doctors.
We lack the leadership with the courage to govern by telling the medical advisers that we fully understand the concept of flattening the contagion curve, but the medical advisers do not understand that the capacity curve can not remain flat indefinitely.