What Should We Do As Individuals And What Support We Should Ask From State

I. Survive – save lives – protect ourselves and others, practice social distancing when needed. That of course results in putting some economic activities into slow motion and some on hold.

II. Be proactive. Think and act for yourself and those around you. Too often we focus on what help we want from the state. We focus on shortages of personal protection equipment. But there is so much we can and should do ourselves. This is time for self-reliance. Not in the self-centered way by stocking up unnecessary items that others might need. This is time for relying as much as we can on ourselves, being creative in our ideas so we can survive and help others around us.

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy’s famous statement: ask not what the state can do for you, ask what you can do for yourself, those around you, your community, your health care system. 

III. Ask state for wise support if you do not have other way. Try not passively ask for a handout unless you really need one. State should help us assure that people have means to live. Live and survive in good physical and mental shape. So we all can come back to being productive once it is safe to revive economy as well. The basic necessities today for most countries are:

  • Place to live, food, electricity, running water;
  • Access to internet, as this provides access to communication, education, and entertainment – also very important today;
  • Education (via the internet);
  • Affordable minimum health care (comparable to the 2019 level). [Comment – this will not be popular in the US or China, but let us focus for other OECD for the moment – this is written from an OECD/Polish perspective]

In order to achieve the above we should expect from our governments the following approach:

  1. Communication of dos and don’ts. Clear regularly updated. We understand that we still do not know much about this disease and ne facts come to light every day. I still have a feeling that we do not know how we can get it. Are we not focusing too much on cleaning our hands while breathing polluted air in confined spaces from central ventilation systems? Broadly speaking we need guidance in two areas:
    • Protect physically: social distancing – how far?, what protection to use and how
    • Focus on your immune system: exercise, stay fit, breathe in fresh air. (Please open our parks)
  2. Access to basic public services, electricity, water, etc. And to internet. This could be either done as part of the “minimum survival income” for those that need or (better) by deducting a fixed amount for very household from the utility bill. NB we could just for the time being charge just marginal cost for electricity – just covering running cost (not deprecation nor profit).
  3. Simple and easy to obtain safety net for those in need. This should be in form of “minimum survival income”. Again – help people – that will help businesses and that will help banks. Not the other way round. In other words, the state should ensure basic income to all adults, so they can isolate and balance their lives while restraining the spread of the virus. This should NOT be confused with unemployment benefits – often stigmatized and cumbersome to apply and maintain. That should be automatically given to any person that lost or paused his job by taking an unpaid leave of absence regardless of the form of employment. This should also (amount to be discussed) should be also paid to those work in vital industries – couriers, food stores public transport and of course health care incentivize them.
  4. Priority funding to the frontline of fight against the virus. Proper funding for personnel especially nurses.
  5. Fast track paramedical training for army, civil defense, police force and volunteers to provide relief for medical personnel.
  6. Preparation of makeshift hospitals in case the number of infections increases. [NB according to the most recent research mega hospitals such Florence Nightingale in London may not be the best idea because of the concentration of the virus. EN We should prepare for the possible transformation of sanatoriums, resorts, cheap hotels (those without central air conditioning), and schools. Perhaps we could count on the Church’s help in making monasteries available.)]
  7. Conversion of manufacturing facilities to ensure production of masks, visors and other protective wear, ventilators, oxygen supply, etc. “War effort” for the healthcare support.
  8. Addressing the unemployment by mechanism incentivizing sharing the vital jobs – creating incentives so people without work (restaurant personnel, etc.) so they can release shop assistants, couriers etc. and share the exposure. Since we have fewer jobs we should allow and incentivize more people to work part time, perhaps by paying some amount ex. “minimum survival income” also to those willing to work part time in vital industries. We should not allow companies that are in vital industries to take advantage of high unemployment by underpaying desperate applicants.
  9. Measures that would promote local food production and production of other basic necessities. Support the local basic and “intrinsic value” economy.
  10. Freezing of rent/mortgage flow. As most of the economy is on hold we should also Press a [PAUSE] button on some financial flow. Banks should not charge (but postpone interest free) mortgage on household on primary dwelling. Landlords should put on hold rent to tenants who lost their jobs and if they do so they should not charge them mortgage for that property. Also installments and leasing fees for assets that are not in operation (such as restaurant equipment) should be frozen. Mam ochotę dopisać, żeby nie ratować banków na razie. Nic im się nie powinno prze chwilę stać, kilka miesięcy bez przychodów przeżyją (jak wszyscy). I takie podejście spowoduje, że firmy, (jak również osoby fizyczne) odciążone mają większą szansę przetrwania, a więc i mniejsza dziura w bilansach banków. Ale ten punkt mam szczerze powiedziawszy jeszcze nie do końca przemyślany. Feels like adding that we should focus on saving the banks for now. Nothing should happen to them for a moment, they will survive a few months with less income (like everyone else). The proposed approach will result in relieving companies (as well as individuals) s they having a better chance of survival, and thus a smaller hole in the banks’ balance sheets. But honestly speaking this point is not thoroughly thought out yet.
  11. Education – do not forget about universal access to education. Amend curriculum and teaching ways for on-line use. Provide free internet to all students. Provide some funding for computers for students. NB as in Poland each child under 18 get 500 PLN a month there should be no excuse for not having a computer. In that case do not provide additional funding but at most a 2-3 month advance in that program.
  12. Last but not least Do NOT forget about human needs across all levels of Maslow’s Pyramid. (Of course, I understand that this concept is not ideal, it is disputed, but at least it is simple and well recognized)

If we play it right and help people to cover their basic needs of food and safety, they will be able to realize needs at all levels if they only choose so. Even with this pandemic the our basic needs are covered to the degree unprecedented in human history. If w take a step back and see that we still do have food and safety of the roof over our heads we can focus on higher needs. I cannot help here those, for whom safety means million dollars in savings account and a few houses. But most of us – we are fine. So we still have the right as well as means to pursue happiness. As long as we are watchful so we do not allow our other fundamental rights of life and liberty be forfeited.

[Tu dygresja, coś się ludziom popiermyliło, dla wielu brak „safety” oznacza, że nie mają jeszcze odłożonego miliona dolarów, dla niektórych że miliarda. To też by trzeba gdzieś zaadresować]

[Side Comment – something gone wrong, for many the lack of „safety” means that they have not yet set aside a million dollar, for some a billion. I feel I should also need to be address it somewhere]