Free Market Road Show Vienna III
Why is policy making based on health only?
Per Bylund summarized the most pressing health issues of the pandemic and lockdown period. All political discourse evolved around one single topic. But other things matter too, and still have been excluded from the decision making. People forgot about the trade offs, which enabled politicians to use lockdowns as only solution. That means a facilitation of power in central planning. In the real world we always experience trade offs, everything comes at a cost – the opportunity cost, the loss of other options that cannot be chosen anymore. The audience is listening to this talk, while they could have chosen something else. But that something else is lost, because they chose the talk. In case of the lockdown, politicians chose for us. We all value different things. If someone else choses for us, we are not likely to get the best outcome, because they don’t know the individual trade offs. Imagine now, if someone choses for us without having our best at heart!
Public health is not only about shielding the people from a virus. Screenings of other types of diseases have been canceled in many countries and the consequences will be terrible. Late diagnosis and postponed treatment might cause deaths, thus indirectly related to Corona. In Addition to that, governments created a mental health crisis by asking people to stay home. We are social animals and need the contact to other people. Children couldn’t go to school, were locked up with the parents only. Frustration ends in aggression more frequently. Unemployment put an additional strain on people’s health and on government’s purse. Businesses that are now wiped out were part of the production structures society depends on. You cannot pause a supply chain. Businesses go under and do not reappear at will. Many will be gone forever with the value they created and the jobs they provided. Life is not simply a beating heart. Life is about experiences, interacting with others, learning, love and friendships, laughs, and intellectual stimulation. All that was lost, because authorities focused on only one variable.
The panel discussion was started by Wolfgang Wein who quoted Ludwig von Mises, “the most important asset we have as mankind is reason.” Thus follows the question whether governments did act reasonably. Wein came to a positive conclusion. Politicians asked experts for help instead of “Voodoo-priests”. The situation was difficult, even the experts had to learn how the virus was spreading. And wearing a mask and keeping one’s distance are easy measures. Politicians had to face the opposition parties. If the lockdown would have started too late, they would have blamed the government. As the lockdowns lasted too long, they criticized this.
The second speaker, Edith Kollermann emphasized a politician’s duty to keep the country running no matter how unknown the upcoming challenges are. In retrospective it is quite easy to judge whether the job was well done. Politicians need management skills, such as coping with complexity. Although the Corona crisis was a challenge, there are more serious challenges coming up the next years: climate change, global migration, demographic changes. Inexperienced trial and error is not to be tolerated. There was no benchmarking, no data was collected in order to find our which solutions worked best.
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