You’ve heard about ‘fragility’ WRT covid policy.

If we are all following the same centrally determined rules set by government, then those rules have to be perfectly thought-out. If they make policy mistakes (as they frequently do) then everybody in the territory suffers the consequences. These decrees from government are always (necessarily) rigid. It is well known that decisions should be made at the lowest possible level, so they can be flexible enough.

But I’ve realised there is a possible counter-argument. It’s ‘perverse incentives’.

Imagine people are well-informed, because a government has been providing appropriate information. Imagine there is a covid outbreak one day in December. Most people will decide (depending on their personal risk-factors) to stay away from the butchers. But if there is one ‘bad actor’ who goes in anyway, he will get his pick of the turkeys. The man who does bad is rewarded. For any policy to work, breaking the policy must not be rewarded.

And if one man is breaking the rules and benefiting from it, then everyone must do the same.

To be clear, this is not about people who must interact with society despite the epidemic - they have to do some business or work, or for the young people the work they need to do is socialising. Pro-lockdown people would say stop all of that irrespective of its importance. This is a weak argument, but it’s not the pertinent one. This is about people who are compelled to do business against their own best interests, because they know other people will do so.

So (although I’ve never heard it from anywhere else) there is an argument for centrally dictated covid policy.

Do you think it’s a strong argument, despite all the problems with government-set covid policy?

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