American journalist Glenn Greenwald said in a new video,“It is now extremely common in Western democracies for large factions of citizens to demand that any measures undertaken to prevent COVID deaths are vital, regardless of the costs imposed by those policies.”
American journalist Glenn Greenwald in a new video describes what he says is the "bizarre refusal" to apply proper cost-benefit analysis when it comes to COVID-related debates and policy.
There's an "extremely irrational" component to the debates around COVID, said Greenwald. He used the analogy that while deaths from car accidents are the leading cause of death worldwide for people under 50, no one is advocating for a ban on cars or significantly reduced speed limits, even though those policies would save countless lives.
Why not? Because we apply a cost-benefit analysis, Greenwald suggested.
"We know that the policy we're choosing, to allow cars, to allow everybody to drive, to allow people to drive 55, 65, 75 miles per hour, we know that's going to cause a huge number of human beings in our society to be killed. But we think it's worth it for those people to die because the benefits of allowing cars -- i.e. convenience, the ability to go more places, the economic benefits to ourselves and our society -- make those deaths worth it."
Why don't we use this same rationale when debating how to treat COVID? Greenwald asked.
In a recent article, Greenwald defined the cost-benefit analysis used by society as a tool that "compares project costs (capital and operating expenses) with a broad range of (social) impacts, e.g. travel time savings, travel costs, impacts on other modes, climate, safety, and the environment."
The cost-benefit analysis used routinely by society has never been controversial, said Greenwald -- that is, until COVID hit.
"It is now extremely common in Western democracies for large factions of citizens to demand that any measures undertaken to prevent COVID deaths are vital, regardless of the costs imposed by those policies.
"Thus, this mentality insists, we must keep schools closed to avoid the contracting by children of COVID regardless of the horrific costs which 18 months or two years of school closures impose on all children."
Greenwald questioned why we use this "rational risk assessment in every single aspect of our public lives," but not for COVID.
"Why when it comes to COVID, do we throw this rational framework out?" asked Greenwald.
People say we shouldn't do anything that causes more deaths, said Greenwald. Governments around the world say we should close schools and businesses and keep people locked down in their homes -- but they aren't thinking about "the countervailing costs to those restrictive measures" and how many lives will be lost as a result.
How much harm are COVID restrictions "causing emotionally, psychologically, developmentally, economically?" asked Greenwald. "Where is the application of that cost-benefit analysis we do in every other realm to the COVID debate?"