/ Letters / Bat flu economics

Bat flu economics

April 19, 2020

To the Editor:

When the history of COVID-19, Chinese Bat Flu is written, we will all have a chance to criticize the methods used to blunt its effect. Whether we should have seen this coming over the horizon of time, and been better prepared, will be beaten bloody by our media and politicians. These questions now are simply a waste of our energies. It is the “now” of this thing that we all should be ready to face.

As we are isolating ourselves from others and dutifully staying in our homes, significant damage is being done to thousands of micro economies. If ever there was a laboratory experiment conducted to examine the nature of economic activity as regards human happiness, this is it. When arguing with leftists concerning the effects of government regulation, reference to history was never enough to prove the power of freedom. The left’s arguments would always find a path to credit the restrictive policies of some previous leftist progressive administration. Example: Obama should get credit for the Trump economy.

We will now see the effects of most extreme government action. Great swaths of our economy are completely shut down. The engines of our livelihood, running on fumes have received some additional fuel from the trillions of borrowed funds. These though are borrowed from the promise of a future resurgence in the “extended order of human cooperation.” Coined by Frederick Hayek, this principle essentially states that more activity benefits mankind.

Less activity leads to scarcity and death and starvation.  

Carried to a future extreme, there will be no one spared from the economic pandemic. The engine of every part of our lives is this underlying economic activity. We all rely upon people freely exchanging their efforts for money and making things, drilling for things, growing things and creating wealth. This has slowed to a crawl. Certainly, hourly workers will feel this first but ultimately even state, federal, and all pensioners will be affected. The first order effects are visible in the value of IRAs and 401Ks. The value of the stock market, bond market, real estate market and every derivative known to Wall Street rest upon economic freedom. Pension funds rely upon the value of these markets.  The states with underfunded pensions will be devastated. Government revenues from gas taxes, income taxes and ultimately real estate taxes rely upon our ability to pay them. Soon we will not have the cash. We are all in the same boat and it is starting to take on water. 

Our instincts are to pull in, go on defense, minimize our normal spending. This will most assuredly result in a profound depression. Let us resolve though to oppose these reflex actions. Let us be generous with our communities’ needs through food banks and churches. Let us take the risk of employing our fellow citizens when opportunity presents. When the virus subsides and freedoms are restored, it will give opportunity to further our participation in the extended order of human cooperation and Save Our Ship. Government’s ability to rescue us is limited and an illusion. Salvation rests with us.


John Tegtmeier

Lac du Flambeau



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