Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Opinion
Tyler Cowen

Being Irresponsible About Covid Isn’t the Main Problem

Even rational individual decisions can make the pandemic worse.

At the White House last month: What did they get and how did they get it?

At the White House last month: What did they get and how did they get it?

Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

It’s become increasingly clear that President Donald Trump and much of the Republican leadership have behaved irresponsibly in failing to take basic precautions against Covid-19. Less commonly understood is how even a “thinking man’s approach” can lead to a kind of recklessness. Therein lies a lesson: Fighting this pandemic requires better policies, as education alone is unlikely to work.

The sad truth is that even if each individual’s choice is rational, it can lead the collective to some undesirable places.