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COVID-19: Are government resources better spent on public health or stimulating the economy? Show more Show less

Much of the world is now in lockdown to protect populations from the deadly spread of coronavirus. Yet, the US government is looking into an alternative approach. The latest statements from Donald Trump insist that 'the cure...[cannot be] worse than the disease'. These comments mark a striking policy difference to the rest of the world. Namely, they place more value on economic growth than on human life. During this unique pandemic, are government funds better spent on public health, or on stimulating the economy?

Government resources are better spent on public health Show more Show less

Life is sacred. And the consequences of treating it as anything else will be devastating.
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The role of the state is to protect its citizens

Human life is sacred, the economy is not. The government should look after the health and safety of citizens first. If everyone is too sick to work, the economy's health won't matter.
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America coronavirus economy health politics trump

Context

The role of the state is to protect its citizens. Sacrificing their lives for the sake of profit violates this social contract.

The Argument

The uniting element in the many theories of what makes a state, is that it exists to protect its citizens. On this basis, there is no debate about policy priorities when millions of lives depend on a single action being taken.

Counter arguments

The role of the state is unfixed. This is no clearer than now, as democratic countries have instituted emergency measures curbing freedoms to deal with the coronavirus. In China, for example, phones now log whether their owner is suitable to be outside and go about their daily business. In France the government can now control people's movements as well as ' manage prices and requisition goods...As the pandemic proceeds, it is also likely...[many will] exploit [their] unique power to monitor people using their data'[1]. The role of the state is therefore dependent upon manifold contexts more than anything else. During an unprecedented global health pandemic therefore, we certainly cannot expect the state to conform to centuries old definitions.

Framing

Premises

[P1]The state exists to protect its citizens [P2] Prioritising public health is necessary to protect citizens [P3] Prioritising the economy would endanger citizens

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1]The state does not have a fixed role

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/03/26/the-state-in-the-time-of-covid-19

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 3 Jun 2020 at 16:43 UTC