Microbe Economics

Paul Krugman:

Econ 101 has lots of good things to say about free markets (probably too many good things, but that’s a discussion for another time), but no rational discussion of economics says that free markets, left to themselves, can solve the problem of “externalities” — costs that individuals or businesses impose on others who have no say in the matter. Pollution is the classic example of an externality that requires government intervention, but spreading a dangerous virus poses exactly the same issues.

Yet many conservatives seem unable or unwilling to grasp this simple point. And they seem equally unwilling to grasp a related point — that there are some things that must be supplied through public policy rather than individual initiative. And the most important of these “public goods” is probably scientific knowledge.

And this again exemplifies how this abject failure of Republican leadership is not about any traditional left-right conservative-liberal partisanship. It’s science vs. willful ignorance. And the simple truth is that the Republicans used to be — or at least fancied themselves — the party of facing hard truths even when inconvenient or downright unpleasant. They insisted Democrats were “bleeding heart liberals”, who chose policies based on compassion rather than facts.

Sunday, 19 July 2020