COVID-19: An Opportunity to Revisit and Implement Localism Policies

The COVID-19 pandemic is shaking up the global economy.

Major supply chain disruptions have begun to surface as quarantines established in major manufacturing centers to thwart the spread of the disease are having economic effects. In addition, Western nations have finally come to the realization that COVID-19 will not be contained. The result: widespread investor panic has ensued with >$6 trillion in market losses over the past week. Many citizens in Western countries are finding empty shelves in grocery stores as people prepare for unknown consequences of the pandemic.

Many are seeking effective leadership and sensible policies to guide us through this crisis.

Now is the ideal time for systemic change of international policies. Prior to the pandemic panic, the inertia of the globalism imperative was too great to meaningfully influence. However, with the slowing of the global economy there is opportunity now to right course. Additionally, the attention and funding that are being directed at this problem we may achieve the activation threshold to move from one local minimum (modern globalism) to a more stable global policy.

In a recent paper Joseph Norman (@normonics), Yaneer Bar-Yam (@yaneerbaryam) and Nicholas Nassim Taleb, (@nntaleb) highlight the threat of novel pathogens to modern interconnected societies and advocate for localism policies to reduce mobility and spread of the virus. We have seen China implement these policies on regional and local levels to great effect with decreasing numbers of reported new daily cases amidst a severe outbreak of 78,000+ individuals, buying the world time to slow the spread of the disease.

Given the fat-tailedness of infectious diseases, it is inevitable that globalism will eventually lead us off a cliff. Globalism exacerbates the spread of infection and increase the likelihood that a pandemic will be devastating. While it is unlikely that this SARS-CoV-2 will be the end of us, it highlights the downsides of interconnectedness. Moreover, there will always be a novel pathogen around the corner.

Localism policies will need to take root if we are to have any chance of long-term survival as a species.

Critical Thinking (Outline)

Chris Kresser and James Wilks recently debated several points from James Cameron’s film The Game Changers. It was a fascinating dialogue between the two men on the contentious topic of nutrition, where James argues for a vegan diet and Chris argues for an omnivorous diet.

On display were a variety of debate and political oration techniques as the two sides picked apart each other’s arguments. Both sides leveraged nutritional research to support their arguments and I found the conversation to be incredibly valuable. While there are flaws in the arguments presented by both sides, I find this type of long-form public debate to be exceedingly rare and both highly entertaining and enlightening. We need more of this!

The show inspired me to do a deep dive on critical thinking. In particular, I will be developing a series of articles around heuristics, fallacies and biases as outlined below with Wikipedia links for easy reference.