The science of Economics is what I call a gray science. There are so many factors that affect economic outcomes that it is difficult to accurately control or to predict what will happen if you take a particular action. It is like an especially crazy game of Whack-A-Mole wherein you finally end the labor shortage only to see drought, international conflict and inflation popping up. If you listen to economists, you will hear conflicting proposals on which problem to whack first and even on what tools to whack them with.
But there are times when one “mole” becomes so predominant that it is clear what must be whacked first, and sometimes it is even clear what to whack it with. The Covid pandemic is such a mole. In a pandemic such as this:
• Demand diminishes because people are less likely to engage in economic activity that puts them at risk of getting a deadly disease.
• Hospitals can be overwhelmed by a rapidly spreading virus. This can cause panic, increased death and stresses on all societal norms.
• People who are dying or who are sick, cannot participate in the workforce. If they do, they spread the disease, further diminishing the workforce.
• Distribution of goods becomes compromised because people are not buying the same products in the same way. Shortages are likely. Supply will become spotty at best.
Because we are still in a pandemic, all the above factors are in play and economic predictions become harder to make. No one, even a trained economist, knows what the long-term economic effect of this pandemic will be. But we do know this: Our economy will not return to normal until we get the pandemic in check. We know what mole we need to whack, and we know what tools to whack it with.
Wear a mask.
Minimize large-scale indoor activity.
Those things are neither hard nor confusing. If you are not doing those things, you are fighting against the U.S. economy and in favor of the virus. That is not patriotic, it is not healthy, and it will not bring back the economy you want.
Tobey Miller, Fort Payne, Alabama
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