I wrote on February 5, 2020, that “China became the important manufacturing hub for both finished goods and parts.” Further, that “the longer the virus outbreak lasts curtailing Chinese production, the closer global manufacturing will look at finding ways—permanent ways—to not put all of its eggs in one Chinese basket.”
However, the fundamental change described above is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to how Covid-19 will change the world for perhaps decades to come.
At this point in time, the pandemic is a drop in the ocean in terms of overall extraordinary health concerns both in numbers infected and fatalities. But that does not make the impact any less important and historical.
In virtually every country, citizens are caught in the dilemma of depending on the government to put in place policies to protect the people and the desired right to do what an individual wants to do. For example, US health authorities have strongly warned that social distancing is vital, nearly begging people to stay away from crowded venues. Yet one woman posts on social media: “I just went to a crowded Red Robin [Gourmet Burgers and Brews] and I’m 30. It was delicious, and I took my sweet time eating my meal. Because this is America. And I’ll do what I want.”
One US newspaper ran this headline: “Coronavirus vs. Constitution: What can government stop you from doing in a pandemic?” The article goes on to say, “But if it seems these actions are infringing on individual freedoms guaranteed by the US Constitution, think again. You don’t have a right to assemble against the backdrop of known public health risk.”
Common sense should dictate that public health and safety demand that the government should impose restrictions for the public good. Roads can be closed through an area that is experiencing a brushfire without prior warning or consent. But in the case of local government closing places like restaurants for public health concerns, some are saying that a court of law should decide this issue before the closures are enforced.
A man in the US state of Kentucky who was confined in a hospital as a confirmed Covid-19 infected patient, left the hospital without a medical release. He was placed under 24/7 armed guard after refusing to self-isolate. In this case, a court declared a state of emergency and invoked an obscure statute to allow the forced self-quarantine. The patient’s Constitutional rights were protected but the public good versus the individual’s rights is still a contentious issue.
Then comes the interesting question of who pays for public safety. The transportation companies are already concerned and complaining about limits on the number of passengers they can carry, adversely affecting their income. Should they be reimbursed with taxpayers’ money? The mall operators and their tenants are going to suffer huge financial losses. What about these businesses?
Should the dancers and GROs working in the local nightclubs and bars get a taxpayers’ subsidy for lost income? And what about the stall owners at the night markets and even the balut vendors who normally ply the streets after dark?
There are no easy answers to these questions, but in the weeks and months to come, all countries will be forced to make difficult decisions on these issues. Ultimately, the people will decide.
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