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The Four Rules of Pandemic Economics

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https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/04/new-laws-pandemic-economics/609265/

theatlantic.com

The Four Rules of Pandemic Economics
A playbook that should govern America's short-term reaction to the health crisis. Editor's Note: The Atlantic is making vital coverage of the coronavirus available to all readers. Find the collection here. "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF." With this tweet, President Donald Trump summarized a disturbingly common reaction to social-distancing measures.

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A new playbook

Growth evangelists are right when they state that severe lockdowns produce a parallel human misery of unemployment, looming bankruptcies, and extreme financial anguish. Yet, opening the economy too...

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The false choice

“Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
A group of economists published a paper on the 1918 flu outbreak. Their findings revealed:

  • Early and aggressive...

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A living wage

Asking millions of able-bodied workers to stop working creates a crisis of unemployment.

During this time, the U.S. is expanding unemployment benefits and are also delaying tax filing. I...

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A time machine

Many small-and-medium-sized companies face extinction during the pandemic shutdown. While their income is gone, they still owe wages and rent to landlords. 

This could lead to cascading ...

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Science

A three-or four-month freeze is one thing, a full year of isolation and economic inactivity is disastrous.

Our lack of knowledge about the virus is our greatest weakness. More tests c...

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Existing divisions

Epidemics and other natural disasters tend to both illuminate and reinforce existing divisions.

  • The division in our society is between those who can keep their jobs and work from...

Hope for low-income workers

History offers a precedent. Collective anger at low wages and poor working protections can produce lasting social change.

  • One study that looked at 15 significant pandemics revealed an increase in wages for three decades afterward.
  • After the Plague of Justinian, worker incomes doubled.
  • After the Black Death in the 1300s, textile workers in northern France received three raises a year.

Workers' rights

The pandemic may be bad for workers’ rights.

  • The pandemic might be blamed on outsiders - the Black Death led to massacres of Jews across Europe.
  • In the past decades, many low-income whites have become allied with other whites, not with poor people.
  • Organized labor is still far off. Busy employees at large retailers are spread across the country and don't have a centralized way to communicate.

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Restarting the economy

Restarting the economy

The economy shut down almost overnight. But reopening it will not happen the same way. It may take months and possibly years to fully open, even under the most optimistic estimates.

Implementation is complicated

The proposed three-phase plan will allow many businesses to open in the first phase.

Schools and daycare centers can open in the next phase. But that means millions of working parents could be asked to return to their jobs before they have someone to take care of their children.

Partial reopening

In the early phases of reopening, businesses could be required to operate at a reduced capacity.

Offices might operate in rotating shifts, but other businesses could have a harder time. Restaurants may have tight profit margins even in better times. Operating at half capacity may mean working at a loss.

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Do's and Don'ts for Social Distancing

  • Avoid gathering in public places.
  • Keep 6-10 feet distance from other people.
  • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
  • Minimize social contact and limit ...

When Going Outside

  • If going to the gym, maintain distance, avoid crowds, disinfect all surfaces that are being touched, and keep washing your hands.
  • Use alternative exercising options like nature parks with fewer people around.
  • Avoid going to the grocery store at peak hours.
  • Do not interact face-to-face with strangers while at a counter or if you are delivering something yourself.
  • Work From Home option should be utilized.

Points to note

  • Minimize your use of public transportation or take the ride-sharing option as it has fewer people, and avoid peak hours at any cost.
  • Don't go to and don't initiate parties to which a large number of people are invited.
  • Keep connecting virtually with your loved ones and your elderly relatives.

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