Scott Hardie | March 28, 2020
Here's a morbid and callous question that has been in the news lately: Is a healthy economy worth a certain number of lives lost? The question of how much a life is worth has been asked by economists lately, not least because Texas's lieutenant governor offered his own life. There are people who do dangerous work to further the economy, like soldiers defending our interests overseas or just people doing inherently high-risk work in construction or other fields, but those people are usually compensated for the danger and carry medical insurance and life insurance. Should we accept a small number of citizens getting sick from diseases like coronavirus in order to keep the economy healthy for everyone?

Samir Mehta | March 29, 2020
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Scott Hardie | April 1, 2020
I would say that the Texas LG's offer is BS unless he says he won't accept any care at all, so as to free up resources for others. But I recognize that he didn't mean his statement literally and was just trying to start a discussion.

I find this topic appalling. When a society believes that it's ok for some people to die for the rest to have it better, then the question becomes which people deserve to die, and this leads to bad things. But I've seen the question raised publicly several times since our coronavirus crisis started, so I figured I'd see what kind of discussion it prompted here.

I agree about the problem of scarce resources in medicine. If we had state-managed health care, it wouldn't have such a ruthless focus on efficiency, but it would be just as overwhelmed with patients right now, judging from what other countries are going through. It seems to me, very much a non-expert, that one good thing we can do after this is prepare for future pandemics now. The world is ever more inter-connected now, so pandemics are inevitably going to happen more; we knew that already, but now that we've gone through such a bad one, maybe there's the political will to spend the money necessary to fight this better in the future. The United States should purchase a massive stockpile of medical supplies and equipment, and store them in or near major population centers, to be refreshed periodically and released to medical facilities when needed. I'm thinking something like the Strategic Petroleum Reserve but for PPE and other gear. If we aren't going to fix our stupid broken American health-care system, then stockpiling emergency supplies so that we can't run out seems like the least that we can do.

Samir Mehta | April 1, 2020
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Scott Hardie | April 1, 2020
Yeah, sometimes I don't understand people's objections to government spending. It's like we're penny-wise and pound-foolish. I've heard people gripe about how much the government gives to NPR (0.01 percent of the federal budget) or gives away in foreign aid (0.88 percent) who have no problem with excessive military spending that even the military says they don't need.

Lori Lancaster | April 5, 2020
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