… is from page 162 of the 2009 Revised Edition of Thomas Sowell’s Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One:
However much we may agree with sweeping rhetoric about safety, or even vote for those who use such rhetoric, nevertheless when faced with choices in our own lives we weigh incremental safety against incremental costs. We may consider it worthwhile to avoid one chance in six of getting killed from playing Russian roulette, but not worth it to pay a thousand dollars to avoid one chance in six million of getting killed by some fluke occurrence. Indeed, if the cost of avoiding one chance in six million is merely an inconvenience, some may still refuse to pay for it. In short, even those who talk about safety in categorical terms – “if it saves just one life, it is worth whatever it costs” – actually behave in their own lives as if safety is an incremental decision, based on weighing costs against benefits, not a categorical decision.
Yet this wisdom was ignored by so very many people over the past two years. Every reduction in the risk of exposure the the SARS-CoV-2 virus was regarded as worth whatever might be the cost of that reduction. It is this mindless attitude toward the risks pose by Covid-19 that I call “Covid Derangement Syndrome,” for to truly act in such a way is deranged. No normal person does so – and no normal person can be coerced to do so without being driven mad.