This is not some intriguing policy experiment for wonks. We cannot conduct pilot trials and, if they fail, walk back. If the virus is allowed to spread and the strategy doesn’t work out in terms of bringing a rapid end to the pandemic, there can be no backtracking.
Now I’d normally be very hesitant to contradict or criticise my good friend Judith Sloan. But there is a lot to disagree with in her op-ed in The Australian this morning.
Sometimes the social engineers are economists and sometimes they are medical doctors. It doesn’t change the fact that social engineers are experimenting on society. Right now the current crop of social engineers are experimenting at a scale never before seen in human history. This is not putting our society on a war footing.
What the social engineers are trying to do is spin down our entire society – economy and all – to meet an undefined objective.
Flatten the curve sounds all very well in theory, but what does it mean in practice? So right now the social engineers have not defined what success looks like, nor have they described a viable and plausible exit strategy. To the best of my knowledge they have not even mentioned the notion of an exit strategy.
Now, I’m happy to believe that there is radical uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic. Okay. All that means is that notions of “success” and “exit strategy” need to evolve too. It does not mean that such things do not need to exist at all!