A good Twitter thread on COVID-19, inequality, morbidity, and vaccines

I just read the thread that starts with this tweet: https://twitter.com/thrasherxy/status/1524780425847181312?s=21&t=g7F-ikgMkS9so5zKI7PbHQ by Dr. Thrasher.

When I read the first tweet, I immediately saw “base-rate fallacy” flash in front of my eyes. It turned out not to be this at all. I recommend the thread, all of it, and some thinking about the malignant combination of inequality with the COVID-19 pandemic. (Others have discussed the insidious effects of inequality on the pandemic, of course. I am putting together some of those discussions and research for my materials for the economic inequality course I teach and the book on it I am drafting.)

I fear that our society, here in the U.S., is so committed to ignoring the importance of public goods, such as public health measures that mitigate infectious-disease transmission, that it is simply unable to deal with this pandemic effectively. As a result, we will probably see years of mutating Coronaviruses of the SARS-COVID variety, and will be consistently responding the wrong way to their emergence.

(I could of course have responded on Twitter, but I have decided to use this blog more and Twitter less for discussions like this. I am letting this be auto-tweeted, though. I may cease contributing to Twitter at all, depending of how big a mess EM makes of it once it is under his control.)

News organizations provide positive externalities, but we stand to lose them

Adblockers. They’re all the rage in discussions about the future of news organizations. This post on Medium by Dave Pell is one more restatement of the positive externalities generated by news organizations. While it is eloquent, it has no suggestion of how to deal with the problem. That’s because the problem of externalities is a genuinely hard one for our market-based economic organization (and way of thinking). Activities that generate positive externalities (and by extension public goods) are constantly under-provided and are likely to continue to be under-provided for the foreseeable future.