In the case of Covid the assumption implicit in the so-called road map from Boris Johnson is that it is possible to maintain an equilibrium position with regard to a pandemic. In other words, the belief is that vaccines will let us live with a virus that neither goes away, but does not grow exponentially. It is presumed that R will be 1 and that as a result we will, somehow, settle into an equilibrium that lets us jog along with deaths of 400 or so people a day, which it is believed that the NHS will manage and people will accept.
But this is not how viruses work. They don’t reach equilibrium positions. They either die out, because the opportunity for them to reproduce or mutate is denied to them, or they grow. They just don’t stagnate. You either eliminate them, or accept the rather ghastly consequences.
The government is not trying to eliminate Covid. Instead it is pretending that we can live with it, aided by a vaccine that will always lag mutations. The result is foredoomed to failure in terms of the management of the disease, because the policy can only likely deliver an R of greater than 1.
The number of viruses – virii – that humans have permanently eliminated is, I believe, one – smallpox. We are close with polio but not there yet.
Measles, pertussis, scarlet fever, HPV I and II, mumps, we try our best. We protect as many as we can – and some we just can’t – and then accept that some will always be ill, disfigured, killed, by the minor outbreaks that do occur. The cost of those minor being lower – although perhaps not to the affected individuals – than complete eradication.
This is just what we do about virii. The best we can up to a certain cost limit. Why should covid be any different? It is, after all, no more infectious nor dangerous than some of those others.
Economic equilibrium is itself an absurd concept
Well, bang goes Keynesianism then.
This is also particularly twattish:
That is the approach also taken in the third issue, which is climate change. Here the assumption is that the market will create an equilibrium. The presumption is that rational people who know that the world is in peril will change their behaviour in response to ensure that the catastrophe will be avoided. This, of course, is what standard right wing thinking suggests: the invisible hand will guide us to a solution. But we know this does not work, for two reasons. The first is that we would not be in this state if the market worked, but it does not because it does not price externalities. And second, if the market was going to react we would clearly be seeing signs of that when there is almost no evidence of that happening, at all. So the belief that a market based equilibrium will arise is false.
Yes, externalities, which is why the carbon tax to get them back into the price system. As Stern and Nordhaus insisted.
As to no market reaction, what’s all this windmills and solar being cheap now, as they didn’t used to be? Prices in the generation market aren’t prices in a market? Emissions aren’t lower in the UK than they were two and three decades back? Cars don’t have higher mpgs?
The net outcome? Poor theory, driving delusional thinking, is resulting in dire management. It’s not a good mix.
The blog provides amusement though.
Richard Murphy says:
February 24 2021 at 11:37 am
This is pure lunacy
Sorry, it comes into the category called crass
Read independent sage
And realise that if we treated it like measles it would be great – because we seek to eliminate that
But we are treating it like flu, except its impact is vastly worse
And realise too that very few really die of flu; they die of poverty, which is why it is much worse in the U.K. than other countries
As for the second virus comment….
I am so angry at such stupidity that you are banned