The problem of declaring a “pandemic amnesty” | Jack Elbaum (2023)

Last week,the Atlanticpublished an article by Dr. Emily Oster, economics professor at Brown University,justified"Let's announce a pandemic amnesty."

In the article, Oster argues that throughout the Covid-19 pandemic we have been plagued by a lack of real knowledge on how best to respond to the virus. Consequently, “almost all positions on all issues were taken. And on every issue it has been shown that someone is right and someone is wrong."

Therefore, Oster argues that we must forgive those who have wronged and move on; after all, how could they be held responsible for their position if all the information was not available? By doing this, he concludes, we can avoid "a repeating cycle" of negativity and address the issues, ranging from a drop in test scores to a spike in mental health problems, that we're currently facing.

At first glance, this may seem like a reasonable argument. It's true that there was a lot we didn't know when the pandemic started; It's also true that dwelling on the past can prevent people from moving forward productively.

At the same time, upon closer inspection, the core of Oster's argument is deeply flawed because 1) it fails to consider the actual injustices inflicted on millions of people during the pandemic as a result of arrogant policies, and 2) it fundamentally fails to understand the nature and role inforgivenessin society.

my last in@ O Atlantic

(Video) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - White Elephant in the Room Scene (8/10) | Movieclips

— ProfEmilyOster (@ProfEmilyOster)31. October 2022

The Consequences of Lack of Humility

The first problem with Oster's argument is that it does not adequately account for the injustices committed against millions of people during the pandemic, largely as a result of policies that are profoundly lacking in humility.

We can divide the design of Covid-19 policy into two periods: One isBeforewe had sufficient information to make credible policy decisions, and the second isafterWe had sufficient information. I understand that these categories are a bit vague, but they will suffice for our purposes because, as we shall see, the problem of policy making was the same in these two periods.

In the early days, when we didn't have enough information to know what was best, interventionist politicians nevertheless acted as if they werefezknowledge. They fell into a trap set by Nobel Prize winner F.A. Hayekcalledthe claim to knowledge: i.e. “the idea that everyone could know enough to shape a successful society”.

In states across the country - in the absence of real evidence but in the presence of real conjecture - it was peopleVerbotento visit sick relativeswithout hospitalsand elderly loved ones in care homes who leave the most vulnerable in our society alone and their loved ones separated from them, even in the last days of their lives. they were strictlimitsOvercrowding at funerals, depriving mourners of the greatest healing power of all: personal connection and support. the same officialsclosed beaches,spilled sandin outdoor skate parks andlay chainsin outdoor basketball hoops and forcing children into prolonged isolation at home.

And for what? How many lives have been saved by such measures? We now know based on numerousstudies, Wasanswerorit's few to none. For example, there was absolutely nothing dangerous about gathering outside for a funeral or playing basketball with friends. But policymakers acted as if they were safe at a time of admitted uncertainty. And to make matters worse, those who questioned these policies were shut out of public debate, accused of wishing people dead, denying science, and spreading "disinformation."

Then, in the second period, whenfezhave the right knowledge to make well-informed political decisions, the policy makers have not followed the evidence, have chosen to follow the ideology and give in to social pressure.

(Video) HARD React Interview Questions (3 patterns)

The closure of schools is a clear example of this. One of the first things that became known about the virus was that it was childrenat leastprone to serious infections. us too soonfoundthat the schools wereNOa hotspot for Covid transmission. Despite this, there have been prolonged school closures across the country, affecting millions of children.

In the 2020-2021 school year, fewer than a dozen states had at least 75% of children who were personally learning; in 19 states, including some of the largest in the country, the proportion was below 50%. Even as children went back to school, many districts instituted ridiculous rules such as requiring children to stay home for two weeks any time they may be exposed to Covid-19, requiring masks in classrooms, not allowing children will talk at lunch and even force them to have lunch outside when it's cold.

Consequently, children now havestay behindMonths in reading and math - with some peopleNoticethat there are third graders who cannot read three-letter words. Mental problems have arrivedmuch worse, and now there are second and third graders who can't remember ever having a normal school year. And the harmful effects we're seeing now are just the tip of the iceberg.

And so the same question applies here: What is all this for? These guidelines have done little to nothing to protect children as they have never been in significant danger from Covid-19. They certainly didn't make life easier for parents as they had to take care of their children's online learning despite having their own jobs. Studies have shown that teachers do not feel safer as a result.Demonstrationthat the schools wereNOa place of high transmission. All of this happened because arrogant policymakers ignored the evidence or assumed they knew they didn't, in order to placate political teachers unionsor his own political ideology that says Covid restrictions must be adjusted to the strictest of risk preferences.

And it's not like officials have learned their lesson.still today, There are schools across the country that won't allow children to attend unless they've received the Covid-19 vaccine, even if they havethe CDC now admitsVaccines do not prevent infection or the spread of the virus.

This is not to say that Oster supported all these measures, I know that for a factShe doesn't. Rather, it is intended to point out that there were real injustices, injustices from which no lessons were learned and which therefore cannot and should not be forgiven so easily.

(Video) Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - African and American Scene (3/10) | Movieclips

Finally, Oster's article seems to confuse mistakes made by individuals without evidence and mistakes made through the arrogance of authorities. But these two things are not the same. The anger most people feel is directed at the latter, but from the start of the play, Oster doesn't make that distinction. But it is precisely this distinction that explains why people think we cannot move forward: that is, why politicians assumed they knew better, foisted their vision on the whole country, and never took responsibility when their policies harmed countless people. .

Misunderstanding the nature of forgiveness

The second major problem with Oster's argument is that it fundamentally misunderstands the role and nature of forgiveness in society. While this is obviously an important virtue, it is notjustVirtue.

In a commentary on the story of Noah, the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks notes that “the first moral principle enshrined in the Torah” is that ofjustice. God says, “Whoever sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God God made man.” Rabbi Sacks notes, however, that this principle alone “would draw people into a potentially endless and destructive cycle of retribution that is bad for both parties.”

Oster intuitively understands this limitation of justice as an autonomous value. She rightly points out that simply focusing on it in the context of Covid-19 would lead to a "repeating cycle of destruction" of negativity that would never allow our society to move forward.

Rabbi Sacks agrees. So giving an account of the limits of justice by acting asjustWorth explains that the second moral principle presented in the Hebrew Bible is that offorgiveness. God said to Noah after the Flood: “Never again will I curse the earth for man's sake, though the intention of man's heart is evil from youth; Nor will I destroy all living things again as I have done.

From this we can deduce that the world is built on the two moral imperatives of justicemiForgiveness. Rabbi Sacks writes that "without this no group can survive in the long run".

(Video) How I'd Teach Myself to Code (for free, if I started again)

He's right. Without forgiveness we would be stuck in a cycle of vicious attacks on each other. But without accountability and justice thatinjusticesthat have occurred are 1) bound to happen again and 2) less likely to be forgiven or forgotten by the victims.

Prerequisites for Forgiveness?

The problem with Oster's argument is that it assumes that forgiveness can and should happen.bisin the absence of justice. But when a person is seriously hurt, we know from human experience that it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to move productively with the abuser until they accept responsibility, apologize, and swear never to harm that person again. So that's hard to believehe canObtaining forgiveness in the absence of justice or accountability. But beyond that, generally accepted moral principles would suggest to those who have done wrongto deserveForgive it, let it go if you want to, unless you take responsibility and take steps to make sure it doesn't happen again. And so we realize that even if we could attain forgiveness without justice, it is not a matter of coursehe must.

All of this is meant to suggest that it appears that fairness and accountability really existprevious requirementsfor forgiveness

In the case of Covid-19, as shown in the previous section, we know that a great wrong has been committed. Therefore, we can conclude that the first thing that needs to happen for forgiveness to end is a substantive reckoning between those who committed these injustices, where they take responsibility for their actions, recognize where they went wrong, and concrete ones Take steps to change the institutions. . , processes and political structures that have produced such errors. This includes people ranging from politicians to public health officials and union leaders.

This would mean demonstrating a tremendous amount of humility, a virtue that others should greatly admire and emulate. Only when that happens can public confidence be restored because now nothing can prevent the terrible things that happened from happening again.

In other words, nothing has changed yet.

(Video) This JavaScript Concept Will Solve Countless Bugs

As always, the right approach involves a balancing act. The point is that many people today take extreme positions that neglect one of the two moral principles discussed above: justice and forgiveness. However, as more people come to realize that justice and forgiveness are not mutually exclusive, but are perfect partners, the closer we come to moving forward as a united country to solve the myriad problems we still face.


1. Proud Boys and Antifa: The State of Extremism in America Today - AJC Advocacy Anywhere
(American Jewish Committee)
2. Cold War 1963-1965
(Glasnost in Our Time)
3. Good News Today - Episode 1267 - Aired Sunday, January 27, 2019
4. Frontline - Don King Unauthorized (1991)
(Cradle of Anal)
5. An Interview with Canadian Communist & Trade Unionist Jack Phillips
(Centre for Socialist Education)
6. Testimonial, Solved PDD like with Intelligence Integration technique
(Moshe Elbaum)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated: 16/07/2023

Views: 5788

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.