Liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has always been great at taking complex subject matter, breaking it down and making it readable without dumbing it down in the least. Krugman does exactly that in his October 19 column, explaining why a COVID-19 vaccine mandate could help unclog the United States' "supply chain."
Krugman starts out his column by comparing traffic jams in New York City to pandemic-era challenges with the supply chain for physical goods and products. The economist notes that just as getting from Mid-Town Manhattan to John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens is much easier without "traffic snarls," the supply chain causes less frustration and fewer headaches when it isn't clogged up.
Krugman explains, "There has been excellent reporting on the details of the logistical mess that has created shortages of almost everything…. You see, the supply chain hasn't broken down; U.S. ports are actually unloading a record quantity of goods. The reason everything is delayed is that people are trying to buy more stuff than ever before, and their demands are outstripping the supply chain's capacity — the same way that morning-commute traffic in New York outstrips the road network's capacity. And once things are that stressed, small disruptions tend to snowball into large delays."
The economist/columnist notes that during the COVID-19 pandemic, "Consumers are buying fewer services and more goods than usual."
"It's not a mystery: We've been afraid to indulge in many of our usual experiences and bought stuff to compensate," Krugman writes. "People ate out less, either because indoor dining was banned or because it didn't feel safe, so they remodeled their kitchens. People couldn't or wouldn't go to the gym, so they bought exercise equipment."
Krugman adds that the "biggest thing" the U.S. could do to deal with this lower demand for services/greater demand for goods challenge and make life easier for the supply chain is "by making people feel safe buying more services and fewer goods."
"The way to do that is by getting the pandemic under control, above all by getting more people vaccinated," Krugman observes. "And how can we get more people vaccinated? Mandates."
Krugman continues, "No need to spend time here rebutting claims that requiring workers or customers to be vaccinated is an assault on liberty: Sorry, but freedom doesn't mean having the right to expose other people to a potentially deadly disease…. In other words, what our economy needs now is a shot in the arm — or rather, millions of shots in millions of arms. And vaccine mandates will provide those shots, in addition to saving lives."