… is from page 166 of Bas Van Der Vossen’s and Jason Brennan’s excellent 2018 book, In Defense of Openness :
It’s not just that when people get wealthier they can afford better homes, medicines, and sanitation, and so are less likely to be killed by earthquakes, hurricanes, or climate-related disease. A wealthier world is also a world in which more human minds can be dedicated to high-level problem-solving rather than meeting basic needs.
DBx: The truth of this insight is easy to miss in the midst of a crisis such as the one now upon us. However much danger a virus or other threat poses to us, we judge that danger relative to our expectations and sense of risk-exposure before the crisis arose. And the fact is that those of us in wealthy countries had been – and continue to be – protected from many of the sources of mortality and morbidity that routinely afflicted humans throughout history.
We must be careful not to let panic over COVID-19 (and, by the way, also over climate change) lead us to endorse policies that make us materially poorer over time. Any such reduction in wealth will have difficult-to-detect but nevertheless very real negative consequences on humanity’s future ability to predict, possibly avoid, deal with, survive, and cure viruses and other calamities that nature will throw, as she has always thrown, at us.