Pictured above is an example of a joke that’s been circulating for a little while. It’s a picture of a dinosaur panicking about the economy when seeing a meteor coming overhead. The joke is that, during a potential extinction-level crisis, the dinosaur is expressing concern for the economy, which is conveyed as though its priorities are misplaced. The joke circulated during the coronavirus epidemic as a jab towards those expressing concern about the state of the economy during an epidemic where people are getting sick, as though their priorities are similarly misplaced.
The fact of the matter that seems lost on many people is that the economy actually is something a person can have a valid concern for in the face of an epidemic. Or any other disaster, for that matter.
This is because “the economy” isn’t just some abstract concept that only smart people and investors in the stock market talk about. In fact, it’s relevant to anyone who manages finances. If you care whether a box of pasta costs $1 or $5, then the concept of an economy is something that’s relevant to you.
The etymology of the word “economy” has its origin in the Greek word “oikonomia”, which refers to the management of wealth and resources in a household. It wasn’t until the 1650s that it referred to the wealth and resources of society as a whole. The word used by English-speaking countries to refer to the concept came to be “economy”.
While it might seem like the concepts of wealth for households and societies are independent of one-another, the fact is, the two are connected. This is because the condition of income for a household is dependent on the state of society, especially considering that in the present-day world, very few people hunt, gather, or cultivate their own food. For that matter, they don’t build their own homes, or manufacture their own automobiles or electronics. Everyone’s prosperity is largely dependent on the rest of society functioning well. That seems truer today than it’s ever been.
When one considers this, they come to the realization that the economy is a valid thing to be concerned about during the outbreak of a contagious disease. Or in the aftermath of a meteor strike, for that matter. Natural disasters or any event that has a significant impact on society has the potential to influence the income of resources for any household that that society hosts. If supply lines are disrupted, homes are likely to notice when there are shortages for certain items deemed “essentials”. Even items not related to the disaster can be quickly cleared from the shelves due to a widespread consensus to value them, as was the case for toilet paper during the initial coronavirus outbreak.
A mere concern about a virus was enough to significantly impact the economy, and households (that went without toilet tissues) felt the impact.
After the initial outbreak, governors decided to enact widespread shutdowns, during which some businesses were closed, and many people lost their jobs. Those who were unable to provide for their families and those who became dependent on government assistance are in a great position to understand the consequences a damaged monetary ecosystem can have on their household!
Ironically, the shutdowns had a more devastating impact on the typical American household than the virus that they were intended to respond to, comparable to how a person might take a final walk into the ocean just to avoid ever being diagnosed with cancer. While the person in question might avoid a diagnosis of cancer, the consequences of such a foolish move are obvious.
The dinosaur beholding the meteor would actually be right to be concerned for the state of its economy. After all, the meteor might damage the ecosystem’s capacity for sustaining it.
But if the dinosaur were a leftist, it might instead exclaim:
To have a better understanding of the conditions that sustain your life is to be more in-touch with reality.