Original measures 30 cm x 40 cm on stretched canvas ready to hang.
An original sliced-loaf art piece, created in early April 2020 when the covid 19 pandemic was gripping the world and hard choices were being made between who will live and who will die.
Each night we watch the news and gasp at the new death toll. People and Governments have to make hard choices. This work meanders through the issues there is no right or wrong, just people attempting to chart the best course through it.
<a href=”https://www.economist.com/printedition/2020-04-04″>Inspired by the economist – a grim calculus</a>
“The pandemic that is raging across the world heaps one such miserable choice upon another. Should medical resources go to covid-19 patients or those suffering from other diseases? Some unemployment and bankruptcy is a price worth paying, but how much? If extreme social distancing fails to stop the disease, how long should it persist?
The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has declared that “We’re not going to put a dollar figure on human life.” It was meant as a rallying-cry from a courageous man whose state is overwhelmed. Yet by brushing trade-offs aside, Mr Cuomo was in fact advocating a choice—one that does not begin to reckon with the litany of consequences among his wider community. It sounds hard-hearted but a dollar figure on life, or at least some way of thinking systematically, is precisely what leaders will need if they are to see their way through the harrowing months to come. As in that hospital ward, trade-offs are unavoidable.
<p class=”article__body-text”>Their complexity is growing as more countries are stricken by covid-19. In the week to April 1st the tally of reported cases doubled: it is now nearing 1m. America has logged well over 200,000 cases and has seen 55% more deaths than China. On March 30th President Donald Trump warned of “three weeks like we’ve never seen before”. The strain on America’s health system may not peak for some weeks (see <a href=”https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/04/02/covid-19-and-americas-political-system” data-tegid=”gh5vi66kvfq23i1hlgi80qv31hmtcjkm” data-link-pos=”4″ data-link-perc=”20″>article)</a>. The presidential task-force has predicted that the pandemic will cost at least 100,000-240,000 American lives.</p>
<p class=”article__body-text”>Just now the effort to fight the virus seems all-consuming. India declared a 21-day lockdown starting on March 24th. Having insisted that it was all but immune to a covid-19 outbreak, Russia has ordered a severe lockdown, with the threat of seven years’ prison for gross violations of the quarantine. Some 250m Americans have been told to stay at home. Each country is striking a different trade-off—and not all of them make sense.</p>
Perhaps, though, no new treatments will be found and test-and-trace will fail. By the summer, economies will have suffered double-digit drops in quarterly <small>gdp</small>. People will have endured months indoors, hurting both social cohesion and their mental health. Year-long lockdowns would cost America and the euro zone a third or so of <small>gdp</small>. Markets would tumble and investments be delayed. The capacity of the economy would wither as innovation stalled and skills decayed. Eventually, even if many people are dying, the cost of distancing could outweigh the benefits. That is a side to the trade-offs that nobody is yet ready to admit.