Good advice from the Brits during WWII and good advice in 2020 as the world faces a pandemic, Daniel Henninger reminds WSJ readers.
Given what we’re up against, “flatten the curve” sounds like a useful rule of thumb—not only for the health-care system but for the economy, politics and even our social and psychological well-being.
Flattening the curve is not a solution. The coronavirus itself is what needs a solution, such as a vaccine or antiviral therapies. The implicit idea inside “flattening the curve” is that the virus’s spread will impose significant, immediate costs across society, and dealing with that also requires a strategy.
Financial Markets – Unrestrained, Undisciplined Panic
Whenever this happens, whether in 1929 or 2008, an overreaction of economically damaging regulation follows. If that post-panic panic occurs this time, it will turn the sacrifices everyone made fighting the virus into a long-term economic decline.
The goal should be to create incentives for the economy to turn upward, not drive it down further with new burdens.
Financial Panic vs. Washington’s Own Panic
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in concert with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, wants to throw a trillion dollars into the country.
Meanwhile local officials in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco are talking about releasing prisoners. And this even as an estimated 200,000 mom-and-pop stores in New York have voluntarily closed. Who’s going to release them?
Madness from the Crowd
By now, what Bernie Sanders represents is looking pretty yesterday, continues Mr. Henninger.
Before this crisis, the real economy and the people who do real work were strong. When it’s over, every level of government—federal, state and local—should declare a two-year holiday from regulatory costs, such as the minimum wage.
Ask any big-city shopkeeper or business owner if that relief wouldn’t help them hire back staff and turn the curve up quickly. Ask the laid-off workers if they’d take that deal.
Cops, Firemen Heroes of 9/11
The heroes of the pandemic of 2020 will be hospital workers.
Miracles aren’t much in fashion, but if politicians took real risks to free the economy after the crisis, someone might even call them heroes.
P.S. In the Age of Coronavirus: a Homemade Throat Sanitizer.
P.P.S. If you can’t find hand-sanitizer, you can make your own.