A Necessary Public Policy Question

Now, and ending one knows not when, public policy proposals that involve human interaction should address, as a necessary element, the question of whether the coronavirus pandemic affects the proposal.

A person might assume that he could walk through a forest without ever encountering a wolf, and even convince himself that, by power of suggestion alone, he would never meet one. And yet, there’s been not a single documented case of a man avoiding a wolf because he wished those predators away. (There have also been far more cases of COVID-19 in America than there are wolves.)

Wolves do not cause harm the way the novel coronavirus does, but they are alike in two respects: neither speaks English, and even if so neither would be in the least deterred by Trump’s reassurances on Twitter.

Proposals involving human interaction that do not consider the conditions of a pandemic are deficient either from ignorance or willful delusion. They should be rejected pending revision.  The hope that all this will end yesterday is understandably strong; it is not, however, a hope on which planning can prudently rest.

Proposals that that do consider the pandemic may fall short, but at least they will have met an initial, necessary threshold question.

Some policymakers will adjust more quickly than others; some will never adjust.

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