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COVID-19: Are government resources better spent on public health or stimulating the economy? Show more Show less
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Much of the world is now in lockdown to protect populations from the deadly spread of coronavirus. Yet, the US government is looking into an alternative approach. The latest statements from Donald Trump insist that 'the cure...[cannot be] worse than the disease'. These comments mark a striking policy difference to the rest of the world. Namely, they place more value on economic growth than on human life. During this unique pandemic, are government funds better spent on public health, or on stimulating the economy?

Government resources are better spent on economic growth Show more Show less

Stopping citizens from returning to work during the pandemic, will lead to a protracted economic crisis.
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Poorer states with few cases will disproportionately suffer

Blanket lockdown will unfairly crash economies where there are no coronavirus cases. When it comes to the smaller, less wealthy states, the longer they stay shut down, the more they will feel the disproportionate effects on their economies.

Context

In a press conference, President Trump highlighted the extent to which smaller states would suffer if lockdown rules were not relaxed.

The Argument

Government resources are better spent stimulating the economy of states where the risk of destroying the economy is more severe than the risk spreading of the virus. There are several smaller, rural states that have seen relatively fewer coronavirus cases in comparison to major American cities and densely populated states. Among the states/regions with the highest transmission and fatality rates are New York, California, and the District of Columbia. [1]These are also states that are in the top 10 of the best economies in the United States.[2] States like Idaho, Iowa, and Nebraska that have more rural regions and economies that don't compare are the states where COVID-19 fatality rates have been the lowest.[1] It doesn't make sense for states like these to devastate their economies alongside these larger, richer states when the public health crisis is not as dire for more rural states. The President of the United States has communicated to the public several times that vastly rural states like Montana and Utah must take immediate action to open their economies.[3] The government needs to cater to each state's individual needs when it comes to making the decision in favor of public health or economic stimulation. When it comes to the smaller, less wealthy states, the longer they stay shut down, the more they will feel the disproportionate effects on their economies.

Counter arguments

It doesn’t matter if COVID-19 cases are relatively lower in these smaller, less wealthy states. Governments cannot place a price tag on human life. While fatality rates may be lower in these regions, the virus is still prevalent enough as to where people are dying at unnatural rates. The governor of New York has supported this stance, stating that "If it’s public health versus the economy, the only choice is public health. You cannot put a value on human life. You do the right thing.” It doesn’t matter that certain states may see a larger toll on their economies if human life is saved in the process. Those arguing that they are in regions with low cases and struggling economies should realize that the goal is to keep these cases low. If government assets aren’t spent on public health resources and management, and instead spent on reviving the economy, these states will start to see an uptick in cases. The cost will be human lives, which are more important than any economy.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/state-economies-unemployment-and-wages-ranking-july-2019-2019-8#12-south-dakotas-job-growth-rate-of-26-was-the-fifth-highest-among-the-states-and-dc-and-its-unemployment-rate-of-29-was-tied-for-eighth-lowest-40
  3. https://www.cnn.com/world/live-news/coronavirus-pandemic-intl-04-16-20/h_8e435c6b3edd2923377578ba4bba311b
This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 19:55 UTC

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