On reopening, Robin Hanson suggests a political economy hypothesis

So while the public will uniformly push for more opening, elites and experts push in a dozen different directions. If elites would all back the same story and solution, as they did before, they would probably get it. If they would say “We agree that this is what we did wrong over the last few months, and this is the specific policy package that will produce much different outcomes over the next few months.” But they aren’t saying this.

So elites and experts don’t speak with a unified voice, while the public does. And that’s why the public will win.

While the public tends to defer to elites and experts, and even now still defers a lot, this deference is gradually weakening. We are starting to open, and will continue to open, as long as opening is the main well-supported alternative to the closed status quo, which we can all see isn’t working as fast as expected, and plausibly not fast enough to be a net gain. Hearing elites debate a dozen other alternatives, each supported by different theories and groups, will not be enough to resist that pressure to open.

Winning at politics requires more than just prestige, good ideas, and passion. It also requires compromise, to produce sufficient unity. At this game, elites are now failing, while the public is not.

Here is the full post.  To be clear, none of this implies that a speedy reopening is the correct plan.  More broadly, this is an example of why we need public choice/political economy in our models of this situation.  It is all about the plan you can pull off in the real world of politics, not the best plan you can design.  A lot of what I am seeing is a model of “all those bad Fox News viewers out there,” and I do agree those viewers tend to have incorrect views on the biomedical side.  Still, while that is a very real problem, if you see that as the fundamental problem I don’t think you will get very far understanding our current policy dilemma.


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