Externalities, public goods, and contagious diseases

Public health expert Doug Samuelson, economist Joe Ballegeer, and Radio Active Magazine host Spencer Graves discuss “Externalities, public goods, and contagious diseases”.  Major conclusions from this discussion include the following:

  1. Most importantly, everyone benefits from others getting vaccinated and wearing masks.
  2. Immigration, customs and border patrol are no barriers to contagious diseases.
  3. The smallpox eradication program program provides an inspirational example.  The global burden of smallpox in the mid 1960s was roughly $1.35 billion US per year.  At an average cost of roughly $23 million per year over 13 years, smallpox was eradicated. The US has reportedly recouped its contributions every 26 days since then.  Some people alive today would not be, because if they hadn’t succumbed to smallpox, their parents or grandparents would have before they were conceived.
  4. Taxpayers should pay for the vaccines and should subsidize the price of effective disease control equipment like masks and fever thermometers.
  5. Pandemics are becoming more frequent as the world population increases.
  6. We need a strong, effective international public health monitoring system to give early warning of future pandemic(s).
  7. We need effective contingency plans so future pandemic(s) are handled more efficiently before they become major threats to public health and to national and international economies.
  8. We need to revise how media are funded and governed to protect free speech while removing the incentives of media companies like ABC, CBS, NBC, CBS, Fox, Facebook and Google to benefit from disseminating false information that makes problems like this pandemic worse.

More information on some but not all of these points is available in the Wikiversity article on “Externalities, contagious diseases and news“.  For earlier, related discussions, see the Wikiversity article on “Optimal public health“.

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