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Sun Mar 29, 2020, 05:08 PM

Ignore the bankers - the Trump economy is not worth more coronavirus deaths

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/29/bankers-trump-economy-coronavirus-deaths

Ignore the bankers – the Trump economy is not worth more coronavirus deaths

Robert Reich

Sun 29 Mar 2020 06.07 EDT Last modified on Sun 29 Mar 2020 06.13 EDT

Lloyd Blankfein, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, whose net worth is $1.1bn, recommends “those with a lower risk of the diseases return to work” within a “very few weeks”.

Tom Galisano, the founder of Paychex, whose net worth is $2.8bn, believes “the damages of keeping the economy closed could be worse than losing a few more people. You’re picking the better of two evils.”

Donald Trump is concerned that a prolonged lockdown might harm his chances of reelection. He agrees. “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem,” the president said last week, announcing that America will be “open for business” by Easter.

But senior public health officials including Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, think this is no time to scale back social distancing.

If anything, they say, the economy needs to be shut down even further. Otherwise the virus will continue to escalate, inundating hospitals and causing far more deaths. America leads the world in coronavirus cases. Dr Fauci believes we haven’t yet felt the worst of the pandemic.

It may seem logical to weigh the threat to public health against the accumulating losses to the economy, and then at some point decide economic losses outweigh health risks. As Stephen Moore, who is advising the White House, warns: “You can’t have a policy that says we’re going to save every human life at any cost, no matter how many trillions of dollars you’re talking about.”

But this leaves out one big thing. The “trillions of dollars” of economic losses don’t exist on any balance sheet that can be tallied against human lives. An “economy” is nothing but human beings. So it matters whose losses we’re talking about – whose losses of life, and whose losses of dollars.
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