One of the less inspiring aspects of the Covid-19 experience has been the rapid resort to orthodoxies. In one tribe we see ‘lock down for the common good forever (I stand with Dan)’; for another ‘anyone who wears a facemask is a timid coward’, or worse. In the field of public policy, no government dare experiment, lest it be seen to ‘fail’: with the consequence that authorities are both risk-averse and evasive about their true intentions. While this might be dismissed as nothing more than round 537 in the ‘Culture Wars’, one consequence is a lack of substantial but critical attention being given to alternative means of achieving similar policy goals.
Most on the Cat I am sure think that higher national income is to be preferred to lower income. So it is interesting to see a paper linked on Marginal Revolution outlining (albeit conjecturally) an alternative to the poles of lockdown or open-slather: a system of frequent, low cost screening: an idea first promoted by Kotlikoff in March which the authors plausibly suggest would be that most unusual of public policy measures, self-funding. While I’m sure many will disagree that their goal can be achieved, it is something that should be discussed, and preferably before parts of Australia ever enter upon a 4-month mandated lockdown.