Our civilization depends on our ability to move about and trade.
Which is based, in part, on trust and reciprocity and mind-your-own-business. The basic ‘deal’ is ‘I won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me.’
But it’s not just manners and morality. When we fear that being around others, especially strangers, could lead to catching a severe or even life-threatening illness, the normal business of commerce breaks down.
Which becomes clear, now that a new disease in China threatens to break out worldwide.
Called the ‘2019 Novel Coronavirus,’ the illness has become widespread there, leading the government to quarantine the city of Wuhan, said to be the epicenter of the contagion.
“The lockdown follows fears that the respiratory disease could become a global epidemic,” writes Isabel van Brugen in The Epoch Times, “and as the United States this week became the fifth country outside of China — and the first outside Asia — to confirm a case of infection.”
“The closures,” said the municipal government, “will continue until further announcement.”
Pestilence and war are the two major reasons for this kind of collapse in normal commerce. But contagion may be less controllable even than war, so learning the lesson Wuhan’s inhabitants are now learning is something we can eagerly import from China right now.*
Have food on hand, in case a pandemic bars you from going to market for days or weeks on end.
Wuhan folk are scrambling for supplies now.
Take it as a cue to shop for staples: stock up on bottled water, beans, sterno cans, and, say — with a tip of the hat to the beset Chinese — rice.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* Since my first draft, two more cities have been closed to travel, and six countries outside of China have experienced cases of infection. And questions have been raised about how transparent totalitarian China will be.