GR US

Should the Economy be Reopened or Not - and Under What Conditions?

Αssociated Press

Children wearing masks against the spread of the new coronavirus ride bicycle past an electronic stock board showing Japan s Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo Thursday, April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

As we go through the 6th or 7th – or whatever number it is now – week of this period of working from home (those of us who are fortunate enough to still have a job), we have entered the phase of impatience and look forward to returning to the way we lived before the coronavirus.

And if that's not possible, then let's get used to the ‘new normal,’ as it will eventually be established.

In addition, these days we are feeling stressed about the economic catastrophe we face after the shutdown of the country's economy for such a long time, with businesses closed, with the ranks of the unemployed reaching tens of millions, with hunger rising to unprecedented levels. We also must deal with the effects on peoples’ psychology and health (both mental and physical) and the societal reactions these will cause.

Most of us, according to research, have saved enough money to be able to live for three months, and already there are millions who are not paying their rent, mortgages, credit cards, phone bills, electricity bills, property taxes, etc.

The authorities have approved hundreds of billions – the second tranche was signed by the president last week – to help the unemployed, small businesses, etc. What is unbelievable is the abuse by big businesses of the first program. When the money finally gets to the intended families and small businesses, that will undoubtedly be a great relief for them.

But it is not enough.

Therefore, the question that is now being asked is whether the coronavirus ‘cure’ – shutting down the economy – causes more damage than the disease.

Already some states in America and some countries in Europe and elsewhere – among them probably Greece, whose economic outlook is already being downgraded by Fitch and Standard & Poor's – have begun the process of reopening their economies.

The dilemma over whether or not to open the economy immediately is huge. Some argue that a significant number of people die of other diseases anyway, including the flu, but we don’t shut down the economy.

Most likely, they say, the number of infections and deaths will increase from what we see at the moment. But not at the levels – in the millions – that were originally predicted by the various models in use – although it must be noted that those projections were largely based on there being no measures taken.

Regardless of this, they add, the vast majority of them belong to vulnerable groups – the elderly, diabetics, heart patients, etc.

This view is not illogical but it lacks soul, heart, and principle. It weighs human life against money and finds the value of money to be superior.

Such a national policy would be morally unacceptable.

Instead, let's be a little more patient until the situation stabilizes, with the death curve taking a bigger dive. Continue the testing and study the virus more, and then, gradually and carefully, open up various areas of business, starting with the most essential for public health and well-being.

History will relentlessly condemn anyone who bases national policy on the sacrifice of our neighbor as insurance for our own survival.