As a global community we have a duty to make the protection of the most vulnerable people our priority, to ensure we leave no one behind. We know countries will want to focus on their citizens first. This is natural and understandable. But they must also care about citizens from poorer countries. Until every country is safe, no country is safe in this interconnected world.
She is quite right – it is in everyone’s best interest interests that contagious diseases be managed at a global level. But her argument and appeal is exactly backwards.
She is appealing to our common humanity – but we saw our people responded to the crisis in the first instance. It was devil take the hindmost and grab as much toilet paper as you can. Crapping on about the vulnerable and leaving people behind is not a powerful argument no matter how morally correct it may be.
Adam Smith recognised this problem almost 240 years ago:
It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens.
An inter-connected world is a good thing for everyone. An inter-connected world will do more to bring the “vulnerable” to economic prosperity. Keeping the world interconnected means controlling contagious disease. Ironically this is one area where global coordination is a good idea. Unfortunately the body charged with that task was too busy persecuting smokers and worrying global warming to actually do its job.