March 22, 2020
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Apart, Together

Ryan Avent: Apart, Together

There’s no need to hoard, but if each individual suspects that others may hoard then it makes sense to hoard, and so there’s hoarding. But what determines whether a community refrains from or engages in hoarding? It’s about mutual expectations, yes: I think you won’t (or will) and you think I won’t (or will) and so we don’t (or do). But what shapes and informs those expectations?

We face a real risk is the collapse of civil society. Trump and his allies make this far worse by undermining trust. Sooner or later, the government may want to tell people that they ought to do something they don’t want to do. Will anyone believe them?