From iSteve commenter Seth Largo responding to my new Taki’s Magazine column:
Seth Largo says:
April 15, 2020 at 3:10 pm GMT • 200 Words(Edit-3839176)
Thanks for clearly laying out what few people (Trump included) seem to understand about re-opening the economy: you need say-so not just from state entities but from consumers and companies (and, as your movie co. and movie theater example shows, usually more than one company must give the say-so for any economic sector to reboot; if Disneyland says “re-open!” but whatever mechanics union fixes the rides says “not yet,” then Disneyland stays closed).
And, oddly enough, it really was companies and organizations who led the economic shutdown. No one told the NBA or MLB to shut down. Nearly every university and K-12 district in the nation shut down well before any state mandates. Ditto a lot of restaurants. And the movie theaters and production companies. Etc etc etc.
I’d like to see the state and federal directives lifted. That’s the easiest blockage to clear. Then each sector can figure out what works for itself, with businesses leading and consumers shortly following.
Government officials do play an important role in opinion generation, but there are a lot of moving pieces.
For example, consider barbershops and hair salons. They aren’t terribly essential, but I wish their owners and employees well and would like to see them back at work.
I think what they might need are some public guidelines that they can post in their shop window and ostentatiously follow, such as that both employees and customers must wear masks and each haircut should start and end with handwashing. This may all be Health Theater, but without some Health Theater it will be hard to rebuild consumer confidence.
We really need to publicly identify the most dangerous activities, so that we can get a sense of less dangerous activities. Here, for example, is Lion of the Blogosphere’s list of what he thinks are the riskiest activities, which overlaps to a considerable degree with things he doesn’t like to do (such as go to a religious event). But it seems like a fairly plausible list. What we need in America is the equivalent of the Heinsberg study in German where various Herr Professors are claiming that their study shows some activities are much more risky than other activities, which hopefully will build consumer confidence in the other activities.
Unfortunately, I have no idea if the Heinsberg study is on the money or not: their preliminary finding is that talking to people is more dangerous than touching things. Early advice from the authorities was that hand-washing would do the bulk of the good because this virus is spread by touching things rather than talking to people. But that might just have been a lie to keep people from buying masks needed by hospitals.
It’s frustrating to still be wondering about the divide between Talking to People vs. Touching Things after all this time. But once we get a consensus on that, reopening much of economic activity ought to be feasible.