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The non-linearity of Covid-19 response

My colleague Bryan Caplan has some comments on the topic, right here can also be Robin Hanson here and here.  I feel each are attempting to suit the Covid battle an excessive amount of right into a framework of equating marginal profit and marginal value.  While that MB = MC situation is true tautologically for my views as effectively, I see it as a much less helpful framing given the non-linearities concerned.  It is simply a modest oversimplification to say that both we’re beating again Covid or it’s beating again us, and we are able to’t simply select some extent alongside a clean curve.  You find yourself on one facet of the distribution or one other, in case you are losing you might be not really in control.

Here is a manipulative partisan tweet, nevertheless it nonetheless will get at a real level:

Since America is just not a small, remoted island we don’t have the Kiwi possibility, however you’ll be able to nonetheless see the 2 “winning” and “losing” choices embedded in that comparability.

I feel again to after I was 12 or 13, and requested to play the Avalon Hill board recreation Blitzkrieg.  Now, because the title would possibly point out, you win Blitzkrieg by being very aggressive.  My first actual recreation was with a man named Tim Rice, on the Westwood Chess Club, and he simply crushed me, actually blitzing me off the board.  I had made the error of approaching Blitzkrieg like chess, organising my forces for varied future cautious maneuvers.  I used to be again on my heels earlier than I knew what had occurred.

Due to its potential for exponential progress, Covid-19 is extra like Blitzkrieg than it’s like chess.  You are both profitable or shedding (badly), and also you would like to be profitable.  response is about making an attempt to leap over into that profitable area, after which staying there.  If you discover that present prevention is failing a cost-benefit check, that doesn’t imply the reply is much less prevention, which could fail a cost-benefit check all of the extra, as a result of energy of the non-local virus multiplication properties to close down your financial system and likewise take lives and instill concern.

You nonetheless must give you a manner of beating Covid again.

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