A preventive society rather than a reactive society
By Wayne Clark and Woodrow (Woody) Clark
NPI’s cover a broad spectrum of effective practices and policies that keep our society and citizens healthy. Common are the phrases “an apple a day keeps the doctor away, wash your hands.” Yet there are also half-way houses, mutual support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), physical and emotional assistance thru technology apps, case managers to assist with the issues of everyday life, walking and biking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of escalators, quitting smoking to prevent cancer, polices restricting driving while under the influence, exercise, diet, abstinence and more. The list can go on and on. Historically societies have had many ways to assist with disease, injury, and illnesses whether it is physical or emotional. Today we are looking for a vaccine to prevent and a pharmaceutical treatment for those at risk for or afflicted with Covid-19. Until we get these pharmaceutical interventions, we have NPI’s to essentially manage and overcome inconvenience. Hence, we need to: wear masks even if it is a bit harder to breathe; keep effective social distance even if we really miss being with friends and family; assist contact tracing in finding those who might be infected even if we don’t know the contact tracers; quarantine those exposed when necessary despite the loneliness and isolation. It is quite normal to take a non-pharmaceutical approach with other health challenges. Talk therapy for anxiety, yoga, tai chi, and kinesiology tape (K-tape) for pain management, service animals for persons with health and behavioral health conditions, support groups for those with common health conditions. I am sure the reader can think of many more examples, some relevant to the current pandemic and others for physical and emotional health challenges.
Sticking to your guns because it is too inconvenient to wear masks, maintain social distance, getting on the offense as well as defense. When there is no magic pill, our challenge is to accept inconveniences necessary to stop and reverse a pandemic. Leaders in every arena need to step up, get the word out and persuade their followers and fans to wear a mask, maintain social distance so they can protect their family, their neighbors, and our society. This standard is not too much to ask. We all can remember how effective the sporting world was in closing down and the potential lives saved because they cancelled virtually everything. Even though not having large gatherings has been effective, we are now being revisited by recalcitrant factions of our society.
Drastic actions may need to be taken again, such as extensive, available, and rapid turnaround testing, coupled with contact tracing and quarantining being the law once again. If we do this for several months, the incidence and prevalence of the virus can be contained and then we can safely re-open the restaurants, bars, salons, schools, churches, shopping malls, theaters, stadiums, arenas, and other gathering places for our society. If there are still resisters and they think this is a hoax or a conspiracy, and seem to “want to get infected”, then there are historical solutions for them, called sanitariums. The rest of society can get back to a new healthy normal, since they obey the rules, accept the social and personal responsibility to live in a community!
My brother Woody likes to say, write and publish about “The Next Economics ” because it is focused on Circular Economics, Environment, Green Development which is more sustainable, renewable, and regenerative. It does not assume that the 18th century economist Adam Smith was accurate in saying that all an economist had to do was look at “supply and demand” to understand economics with the use of the “invisible hand of government” (SDG). I think my brother is almost right, but he did not take his alternative theory far enough. Modern society is shaped by different and powerful interactions, ones that promote, prevent, collaborate, and integrate. Modern societies and economies value and use government as “public – private partners” to introduce and promote new technologies to prevent disease and conflict. Now economies is becoming Circular Economics which is not just quantitative indicators of the economy, but also the social and consumer indicators of well-being and social justice so that Circular Economics, Environment, Green Development. Returning to a global social structure and social covenant that all ascribe to and that all benefit from now and in the future. A society and politic that does not react to global problems is one that realizes that the best result for all is a partnership for all, not a constant conflict over who gets what. Let me give a couple of examples from industry, health, and the environment.
We could start with pandemics since we are in the middle of one now. The most successful management of pandemics is to prevent them from happening, promote practices that mitigate the spread, and form partnerships that bring industry and the governments together. No longer are ill conceived concepts of deep state relevant. Instead we all need trained experts who are knowledgeable about how to prevent, treat, and deal with disease. Successfully meeting the challenge of a pandemic means you get the best minds to work with the people to practice safe measures. The leaders of industry produce the necessary products for testing, antigens, PPAs, etc. Additionally, spokespersons from entertainment, sports, technology, and government can broadcast the same positive messages for all citizens to adhere.
A fundamental principle is that local and national governments need to assure there is safety net of financing available for all citizens. Pandemics will thrive on poverty where citizens are burdened with livelihood fears such as where their income, rent, health care, etc. will come from. You base your actions on a common set of assumptions about how individuals, communities, businesses, corporations, and all levels of government can work together. It is more apt to say “that it takes a planet, think globally and act locally”.
Which brings us to our next set of assumptions whereby humans are inhabitants with other living species great and small on this planet. We do best when we respect the ground that we walk on, the air we breathe, and all living things around us. Farmers are the stewards of the land. They know what climate change, animal husbandry, the land and water can do and not do. Modern farming is impacted constantly by weather, disease, international trade, tariffs, governmental crop subsidies. The farmers life is not best described by the supply of and demand for products, it is better described by the floods, hurricanes, freezes, animal diseases, the prevention of disease caused by contaminated crops, and the assistance or lack thereof from all levels of government.
Let’s go to technology and entrepreneurship which is one of Woody’s favorite examples. Portable computers, laptops, smartphones were not created by demand and supply. Instead they were created by innovative thinkers who took risks and built products with new ways of accomplishing tasks that quickly were in demand. Woody likes Steve Jobs as an example because of the Apple Macintosh, then lab-top computers and iPhones. We both like Elon Musk because of the electric cars, solar energy, regenerative braking, and creative use of governments to partner with industry to incentivize development and promote the use of sustainable environment friendly products. Elon also is a lead thinker in the reusable not disposable economy. Batteries that last one million miles, build trucks that last so long by putting spaceship strong metals and glass to reduce damage and repairs. You start to see that it’s not producing more to create demand it’s producing better and more sustainable that is the new economy
Another example I like is Jeff Bezos and Amazon, truly a revolution in how people purchase products and receive their purchases, also an example of government collaboration. Yes, Amazon has become a giant, but that is due to its innovative way of consumer purchasing and convenience of delivery. During the pandemic, the delivery industry has exploded due to people not wanting to be in crowds, restriction on travel, and the convenience of getting things delivered to your door. Or take Google which is a company that saw a way to take a need to organize the gigantic expansion of information in a changing world to place that information in your hands!
These examples are not 18th century thinkers .They are 21st century structures, models, and functions of the new economy in the modern world.
Most importantly the whole foundation for progress should continue to be built on social justice and eliminating discrimination. Recognition that we are on this planet to care for it; be stewards of the land; respect our fellow inhabitants; create new ways to improve the planet; acknowledge expertise, and treat everyone equally. This paradigm is simpler and more accurate than theories of supply and demand with an invisible hand.
Let’s get into the weeds on how this new paradigm does play out and how we can move it along for a more harmonious culture and future. The successful countries in controlling Covid-19 have understood the link between living and livelihood. In addition to the public health non-pharmaceutical interventions these nations supplemented income for those at risk for infection and those already infected. Simply put if a low income essential worker, such as farm laborer, grocery clerk, janitor, bus driver, health aide, etc. cannot work due to Covid-19, then we all need to make sure they have the resources to pay their bills put food on the table and not go out and spread the virus.
Quarantine financial assistance, testing availability to determine contagion, medical care if infected, supply everybody with masks, cover cost of getting to employment via social distance means, in addition to mass transit, at place of employment assure masks are plentiful, sanitizers are available, and social distance is rigidly adhered to. There is a principle here, that is to care for the needs of low-income essential workers to protect everyone and not spread the virus. Yes, this will cost money, necessary financing now that is an investment in our immediate an long term future.
I am reminded of the little song we sang as children, but that I have been informed started during the bubonic plague or black death of the 14th century:
“Ring around the rosies, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, all fall down.”
The ring of roses were the telltale red blisters on the skin of those infected by the plague. The posies were the promises that the plague deniers spread to avoid taking actions, and the ashes were the millions that died and were no longer able to stand.