The emergency is over. It’s time to pivot to preparedness

Jonathan Rauch has an excellent column in Persuasion, The emergency is over. It’s time to pivot to preparedness. One bit from yours truly:

A useful suggestion comes from Alex Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University who has been saying smart things about the pandemic since it began. “When vaccines were coming, it made a lot of sense to put off a lot of other good things in life—to do what economists call intertemporal substitution,” he said in a recent interview. “Once vaccines are available and widespread, you can’t intertemporally substitute anymore because there’s no more cavalry coming. This is it. Before vaccines, costly actions can delay your getting COVID until after you’re vaccinated, which is highly valuable. But the corollary is that once you move to the permanent scenario and are vaccinated, costly actions that mostly delay when you get COVID have much less value.”

…That being the case, Tabarrok proposes a rule of thumb: “Whatever we do, we should be thinking about, ‘Do we make this permanent or not?’” If measures are not candidates for permanence, “We might as well stop them now or soon.”

Read the whole thing.


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