President Trump - placing "back to business" over people's lives?

I was taken a bit aback this evening to learn that President Trump is wanting to loosen up the restrictions on social activity by Easter Sunday. I have a real concern that this is too soon, especially if statistics closer to the time show that the “curve” has not “flattened”. I understand that he wants to get people back to work, and that is a sentiment not without merit, but I am just concerned that the economy is being placed above people’s lives and health.

I am thinking that if he does make good on this, perhaps some of his advisers might want to break ranks with him, and speak out against restoring social activity, for the good of the country. If they are on the government’s payroll, they might get immediately fired, but might this be a sacrifice worth making, to save lives? These people are paid very well, and should have enough assets that they could afford to lose their jobs, if it came to that. And Trump couldn’t keep them off the news and talk shows.

Thoughts from the forum?

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I was relieved to hear Trump say that he doesn’t want the cure to be worse than the disease. Doctors cannot just run the country into the ground because they have tunnel vision about slowing the virus at all costs. Apparently some politicians have come to their senses after seeing the latest unemployment numbers.


Your idea is not without merit either, but what happens if contagion rates finally begin to decrease a bit, people start going back out in public, and then more infection takes place, and we end up many times worse off than we were at the peak?

This is exactly what I’m talking about (see the story on Hong Kong and what happened when they tried to go back to work too early).

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He’s damned if he does, and he’s damned if he doesn’t. The man can’t win!

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I was relieved to hear governors like Mike DeWines of Ohio criticize Trump’s callous plan. Thankfully, the states have a lot of individual control over shutdowns, and hopefully will have the intelligence and moral fiber to ignore Trump.

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I think that the form of the question mischaracterizes the tradeoff.

It’s not “lives or economy”.

Rather, there will be lives lost as a consequence of the shutdown, and there will be food shortages as a consequence.

Lost production will affect distribution of medical supplies and equipment.

The questions are about how much and where, not “if”.

Everyone seems to agree that “the other party” is callous and disregarding the risks.

The fundamental problem is that without knowing the future, we don’t even know what the question is.

Under some factual scenarios consistent with current information, more lives will be lost if we don’t go into hard quarantine, block by block. Others, still consistent, call for city by city and stay in place. Under others, all the isolation does is shut down production of resources that would have been usable to save lives.

The risks and probabilities have to be weighted, and a decision has to be made. Some will be “clearly” wrong in hindsight, when we have more information, and others will be better.

That someone disagrees with “your” analysis doesn’t make them evil, nor does it make them callous. People of good will are going to agree.

About the only things I think we can see with certainty are that,
a) if the west had had more information sooner (or had chosen the analysis that is correct in hindsight out of the conflicting possibilities), we could have clamped down harder and sooner, and
b) that it is just plain nuts under any of the variants that travel to and from NYC (and to a lesser extent, other large cities) continued while other areas shut down.

We don’t know that it wasn’t too late for a full lockdown to do anything two weeks ago. And if the undetected cases were that bad, pretty much everything we’ve done is going to cause more, rather than less, deaths. (Personally, I find this scenario unlikely, as I understand the math of the web of the infection, but it cannot be ruled out a priori).

Anyway, the point is that it is very much not an “economy or lives” tradeoff, both because of the horrifically imperfect information doesn’t let such a calculation be made, and the hard truth that lives will be lost because of the economic damage (and possibly, although I find it unlikely, more lives than had the thing run its course).

[ok, for the record, my own inclination is that hard shutdowns and quarantines of areas with infection, and harsh travel restrictions between areas not known to be essentially infection free, is the most likely path to reducing R from R0 to less than 1 (and particularly less than .5), but that doesn’t mean that those who come to other conclusions are evil, heartless, or even bad at math].

OK, enough for reason; now the usual ideological hatefest may commence . . .


I don’t hate anybody. I just thought that a nationwide “return to normal” in three weeks sounded a little soon. We will just need to see if the curve is flattening, and by how much. There could be some kind of phased relaxation of the present strictures, starting with the areas least affected. Time will tell.

If President Trump thinks that Easter is a realistic goal, I just have to wonder if he would take Melania and Barron to the most crowded church service in Washington — assuming there were any — and be at peace with sitting among several hundred people for two hours.

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I don’t mean you in particular, but the inevitable later posts in this thread.

His chief economic adviser is Kudlow, who used to have the only podcast I’ve ever listed to (hey, I’m a displaced economics professor, and he had good access to sources . . .). Anyway, Kudlow called the initial China sanctions crazy an incomprehensible–but noted the exception of if they were actually a bargaining position (in which case they might be brilliant). . . a few days later, it was reported that he spent a half hour or so on the phone with the White House, followed by the announcement that he’d been hired as effectively the chief economic adviser to the president. And what he said this morning was a comment about a selective restart in areas where it was practical, and not where it wasn’t. And this is the man closest to the president’s ear on economic issues. [disclosure: he’s a supply sider, and I’m not; I’m a general equilibrium {classical economics} person, who looks at both supply and demand {so not a discredited Keynesian, either}].

“restarting” and “full normal” are not the same thing, and it appears to me that it is the former, not the later, that is being hoped for (and, quite importantly, neither “scheduled” or “decided” . . )

I doubt that it will happen in most of the US (particularly places like here, Las Vegas. OK, I currently practice bankruptcy law, and expect to be quite busy for the rest of the year ,. . .), but not losing a) food production and distribution and b) heavy industrial production are critical to avoid the loss of lives from economic dwindling.

The economy can, probably, hit the ground running after this odd shutdown for a month, maybe even two, but . . . . three? six? And there are no historial examples for this kind of interruption, either. Yes, wars, recessions/depressions, and even the Spanish Flu have caused disruptions, but never in a way that full production was in effect and ready to continue, but briefly interrupted for non-economic reasons. Q2 being down 10% or even 25% from Q1, yet Q3 being several percent above Q1, is not implausible . . .

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He was just stating what he’d like to see. Of course he will listen to the medical experts before he makes a decision.


Actually, my point was that Gov. Mike DeWines, a Republican, made the very same points —it doesn’t need to be an either/or proposition.

But Trump’s comments about loss of life, and then Dan Patrick’s about those over 70 who should be willing to sacrifice themselves (specifically, die) to open up the economy, are hard to see as anything but callous.

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Well, I’d like to see things “return to normal” by Easter too. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I am praying for that though. I would like my daily Mass back.

While I am concerned for those who contract the disease, and I don’t want to get it myself, I am also concerned for the people who are out of work and have no money coming into the house and are being forced to run up their credit cards in order to pay for food and shelter for their families. While I’m abiding by the stay-at-home order, I’m also not convinced that making half the population of the USA stay in the house is really the way to go. Especially since we have to come out to go to the grocery store if nothing else, and many people have to work essential jobs, and dubiously essential jobs (liquor store, beer distributor…the state makes revenue off those which makes me raise an eyebrow). It would be better if we had widespread testing and could track actual carriers while letting those of us who are not carriers go about our business while social distancing and washing our hands.

It’s also hard for me to imagine ANY politician saying something different from Trump in wishing for the normal work and economy to come back. Some might express it more diplomatically, but then again when faced with an unprecedented crisis, they might not. I don’t have Trump on a pedestal, but this is not the time to be nit picking the President’s every move when it’s unlikely any other President would have done better or had different priorities.


I would hope so, but the man is kind of stubborn. I have morphed into an ardent Trump supporter, most of all because he is in a position to nominate pro-life Supreme Court justices as well as conservative federal judges, but I would be lying, if I said that this hasn’t prompted me to ratchet back my support just a little. Not saying I wouldn’t vote for him, just that I’m a little perturbed with him. Maybe he’s just saying this for the good of the markets, or to boost public morale. I don’t know.

Ditto. Trump says there will be “thousands of suicides”. Where in the world is he getting this from?

Very good idea.

I think they might. This is a golden opportunity for Biden, or anyone else, to tear Trump to shreds, or to try to, anyway.

If you are talking about me, please see above.

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He’s not saying throw the old, sick or disabled to the wolves to get the country back making money. He just knows personally and professionally that when the economy can bounce back and be productive everybody is much better off. People sit at home losing money, not working ,not going about a regular schedule they get depressed and with that will come helplessness and hopelessness. That’s all he’s saying. People sitting around at home not being able to do their jobs isn’t good for anybody. He’s not throwing anybody under the bus for money’s sake he just wants to see people back to their normal work and lives as soon as possible. He’s not going to risk lives. He listens to his experts who advise him.


We find ourselves between the devil and deep blue sea so to speak.

Or on the horns of a dilemma.

We don’t want an economic slowdown but we don’t want to risk lives either.



I don’t disagree with a word you say. I just hope he will listen to his experts, and not fire them when they give him different advice than he wants to hear. This Dr Fauci and Dr Brix impress me very much. (I think I met Dr Fauci many years ago, when I was at an AIDS benefit event at NIH.)


He isn’t.

But a certain Lt. Governor of Texas is saying just that. The elderly must be sacrificed to get the economy making more money.

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This is something on which Democrats and Republicans might actually find agreement. By and large, Democrats are anti-life, while Republicans are pro-money and pro-business. When people are made to stay home, money is not made and the economy doesn’t work right.

In a parallel universe, the Democratic party would be the pro-life party, in that it is a civil rights issue affecting the most vulnerable, but abortion is by and large the product of sexual license. The Democrats want “every itch to be scratched and every wish to be catered to”, as well as to pander to women who — and this isn’t going to come out right — are the ones who get pregnant and the ones who don’t want their lives to be interrupted. Can you imagine a “liberated career woman” telling her peers “oh, yes, I got pregnant, the birth control didn’t work, but I want to keep advancing in my career, so I’m going to have this baby and give it up for adoption to a loving home”? I didn’t think so.

The Republican party and the pro-life movement have always been a strange fit, and I’ve always had to wonder how much Republican opposition to abortion has been for political expediency (translated — cater to pro-lifers because they need the votes, and pro-lifers tend to be more conservative in other matters). No rich guy wants to have to tell his college-bound honors student that she has to put her plans on hold and have that baby that was conceived when she was “out here messing around”. I’ve known of cases.

The elderly are costly and non-productive. Every elderly person who dies is one less person to whom Social Security and Medicare have to be made available.

Not good things to have to be bringing up, but they are the ones who are “throwing it out there”, not me.


So far, a good discussion without the negative politics thrown in. I’ve read several stories talking about this. I think Trump is throwing the idea out there to get other to think through the possibilities. I was appalled at what the Texan said! Was he the one that suggested everyone over 50 go back to work…and what? Let the chips fall where they may with the most vulnerable age group? Why not, instead have those under 50 go back as they’re the most likely to survive!

I may soon face a different but related issue. NY is calling out retired healthcare workers to return to their previous jobs to help with the shortage. These are, of course, the more elderly AND going into areas where the virus is being treated. I’m retired. I know how bad the shortage is in my area (Medical Technologist). I’m 67 and have treated high blood pressure. Would I be willing to go back? Physically, I couldn’t do a full shift but I’m certainly capable of working 4-6 hrs a day performing testing. All labs are currently processing Covid19 specimens foe send out and more will be bringing them in house as tests become available. Exposure possibilities are high.

Once test kits become widespread, I can certainly agree with testing and returning to work of those that are negative. I don’t think there’s any way that will be in place by Easter!

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I heard Doctor Fauci himself say just a while ago that the President would like Easter as the time of reopening the country but if they (the medical experts) tell him it’s better to wait and be flexible with the date that he listens to them. and their judgements.

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There’s another thread about this. Only competent risk assessment and guidance by professionals should be listened to. Go to the CDC site. Find out about treatment. Get good information. This is not the time to question the President who is not an expert on this and who should, himself, rely on expert information.

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