I was surprised to see Ezra Klein publish this piece, but I think it’s quite brave.
I often am frustrated when people always revert to the “default” or “safe” choice, especially in the face of a novel situation or problem. While the upside of default choices is slightly more certainty of outcome, the downside often means a longer path to progress.
In this article, Klein profiles & interviews Alex Tabarrok, an economist from George Mason University and frequent contributor to the blog Marginal Revolution
. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Tabarrok’s refrains are to essentially throw out the playbook and chart a path of COVID-19 policy based on the best available evidence.
And oftentimes, this means making out-of-the-ordinary decisions because these are very much out-of-the-ordinary times.
This excerpt sums it up best (emphasis mine):
In all of this, the same issue recurs: What should regulators do when there’s an idea that might work to save a large number of lives and appears to be safe in early testing but there isn’t time to run large studies? “People say things like, ‘You shouldn’t cut corners,’” Tabarrok told me. “But that’s stupid. Of course you should cut corners when you need to get somewhere fast. Ambulances go through red lights!”
Reasonable people can disagree with some of these positions, but how many things do we not try because “that’s not the way it’s done”.
I think this is worth a read.