Acceptable Tradeoffs

As I watched the State of the Union Address last night, the scarcity of masks caught my attention.

According to the Seattle Times, data show that:   

  • The daily number of Covid-19 cases has dropped 63%.  
  • The average number of hospitalizations has dropped 44% over the past 14 days.
  • The daily average number of deaths is still roughly 1,900 — a 23% drop over the past two weeks — but that is expected to fall further soon because of the lag between hospitalization and death rates.

This is good news! 

However, I worry that the longing to return to “normal,” a word so vague but so powerful, that nearly 2,000 deaths per day are an acceptable tradeoff. 

What are acceptable tradeoffs

I question who and what are considered acceptable tradeoffs.

Tradeoffs are a key concept I’ve taught in introductory and intermediate economics.  Tradeoffs, both theoretically and practically, must be understood. 

For example, if you provide a woman access to the full scope of health care, which includes full access to reproductive health services, she controls when and if she has children, not the government.

Suppose you provide the LBGTQ community access to the full scope of health care, including gender reassignment care and services.  Then individuals control when and if to have gender-affirming surgery or use gender-affirming names or pronouns.

I consider these acceptable tradeoffs.

In her response to the President’s State of the Union Address, Ms. Reynolds, Governor of Iowa, said:

They’re tired of politicians who tell parents they should sit down, be silent, and let government control their kids’ education and future.


Allow me to point out the hypocrisy.

Politicians cannot mandate masks or teach the truth about American history but can mandate when women have abortions or who can have gender-affirming surgery or use gender-affirming names or pronouns?

I disagree with Ms. Reynolds that Americans are being treated like the enemy.  But I recognize the animosity towards the LBGTQ community and women’s rights.

The future is not female

In her WISER Minute, Dr. Janice Johnson Dias reminds us that the future may be woman or girl, but it is not female:

“The future is female undermines everything we’re trying to get to in terms of equity, no disrespect to those of us who were born with XX chromosomes.  The future is clearly girl.  The future is clearly woman.  Those things are gender.  Female is biology.  Female is a very different thing from woman and girl.”

Janice adds:

“[The future is female] excludes people who are not born with XX, chromosomes.  It forgets that the patriarchy, the hatred for women and girls, is not just biological.  If you are perceived as a woman or girl, then you’re going to experience a penalty.  So the future may be girls, the future may be women, but the future certainly is not female.”  Click here to watch.

On March 15, Equal Pay Day 2022, we will have information on the wage penalty for being a woman.  Please keep in mind that inflation exacerbates the consequences of wage inequality.

The penalty for being a woman also increases during a war.  

So on this 7th day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and 1st day of Lent, I leave you with words from Pope Francis,

“May the Queen of Peace protect the world from the folly of war.”

Be well,