Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Apple pie

With Espresso House giving out apple pies for 5 SEK, I guess the recession to end all recessions has come also to Umeå, in the most postmodern of versions (especially as the gym remains packed with people).

Irony aside, I do not think the seriousness of the moment can be overstated as the global economy is brought to a screeching halt. Sometimes, I have felt tempted to write an op-ed about the politics of the epidemic but, unlike with climate change, there are some very real and immediate ways in which one can be wrong. Much for instance turns on to what extent immunity is possible and what long-term health effects that Covid-19 sickness may have.

For the developing world, strict quarantine measures may be counter-productive and lead to greater suffering than the pandemic itself. A new study from Yale suggests that with relatively younger populations and scarce access to health care, low-income countries do not have the same to gain from social distancing measures. With health care systems already overwhelmed to begin with, it simply becomes less important to "flatten the curve". One additional concern is the disconnect between urban elites and the rural poor in many countries. Members of such elites may personally be able to financially sustain prolonged periods of lockdown and may also want to show the rest of the world that their country is “modern” and capable of taking drastic measures. As with climate change, elites in developing countries often adopt post-material Western values themselves and show little interest in broader socio-economic development (the most extreme example of this phenomenon may be Vandana Shiva and her fetishation of agrarian poverty).

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