Economic Lessons via COVID

Thoughts on a Free Market Economy…

“Economic Lessons via COVID-19”

By Phyllis Hunsinger

May 1, 2020

            In the middle of a world pandemic, rarely is anything identified as a teaching moment; however, after this virus crisis is positioned in the rear view mirror, there will be an acknowledgment of lessons learned.  Every segment of society in the U.S. and around the world has been impacted by COVID-19.

            Schools were as ill-equipped to survive in these challenging times as any other industry or business.  Teachers had to be trained to develop online lessons; students needed to develop habits to facilitate online learning; and, administrators were compelled to figure the nuts and bolts of running a district whose requirements were for face to face contact with students and staff. The study of economics is not even a graduation requirement in many school districts, yet some of the greatest lessons to be learned from this pandemic will be economic ones.

            Innovation is defined as a new method, idea or product.  To transform education from a brick and mortar mindset to virtual reality via online learning was nothing less than innovation.  Throughout the history of the world, innovation has been the key to increased productivity and economic growth.  Change comes through innovation, and education has been forced to change and become more innovative in the face of COVID-19. 

            Another basic economic principle in evidence is that scarcity exists and it doesn’t go away.  Because resources are limited, people must make choices.  This principle was on display during the pandemic when shortages of all manner of items became a fact of life almost overnight.  The run on basic household goods and food items left grocery store shelves empty and shoppers frustrated.  The citizens of the U.S. have never experienced empty shelves or a scarcity of basic household goods, thanks to a free market system where decisions are made at a local level and actions can be taken quickly to meet consumer needs.  During the pandemic, government officials at all levels enacted edicts in the name of protecting citizens from contracting or spreading the virus; and, the result was an upheaval of the free market system.  Outside forces making rules and regulations without regard to the market structures disrupt the natural ebb and flow of economies that are capable of responding to the demands for and supplies of goods, services, and resources.  Scarcity always exists, but in the light of the disruption of free market forces, scarcity is on full parade.

            There are many economic lessons to be learned from this health challenge, not only in education but also in business, industry, and government.  A good place to start is to teach young people economic principles; bring economic education back to the classroom.  This will help the future leaders of tomorrow know how a free market economic system works and make better decisions to support the economic structure in both good and bad situations., Phyllis Hunsinger © 2020 All Rights Reserved

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