Recently, The Spectator published a piece highlighting the success of Sweden being able to defeat the model projections for Coronavirus deaths. The Imperial College London published a study at the end of March that predicted Sweden would see 40,000 deaths by the start of May and possibly 100,000 deaths by June. As of May 4th, Sweden has just 2,680 deaths from the virus, a far cry from the projection. How did Imperial get it so wrong? They assumed the numbers would be devastating simply because Sweden had not done what so many other countries (the U.S. included) had done at the time: entered a full lockdown. Instead of shutting the entire country down and grinding their economy to a halt, the Swedish Prime Minister said he is relying on “Folkvett” or “people’s wit” to guide his country’s response to this virus. The data is showing the world that he was right and the models got it wrong.
The same common sense approach can work here in the United States as well. As several governors across the country are seeing, there are ways to mitigate the effects of the virus while allowing for Americans to get back to work and something that resembles normalcy. The longer that lockdown is in place, the more devastating the effects are on families and the economy.
Recently, FreedomWorks along with The Committee to Unleash Prosperity, published a study grading each governor on their response to the virus, ability to manage the economic well being of the state and citizenry, as well as the projected reopen dates. To announce the study, they were joined by the Governors Brian Kemp of Georgia, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma to talk about their strategies and considerations in moving their states forward amid the pandemic. During the discussion, all three governors expressed their desires to both keep the citizens of their states safe, but also create as much space as possible for their economies to start again. A large portion of this work required them to encourage Americans to make smart and safe decisions when visiting family, patronizing restaurants, or shopping at stores. In other words, they informed their citizens, empowered them to take charge of their lives, and then encouraged them to use common sense in making daily decisions.
Another amazing example of leaders using Folkvett, comes from Superintendent Bonnie Lower deciding to open Willow Creek School in Willow Creek, Montana. After assessing the potential dangers and weighing them against the desire of the families in the community to reopen, Superintendent Lower made the decision to reopen the small school in Willow Creek for the final two weeks of school. Can all schools across the country use the model the Superintendent Lower is putting in place? Not at all. However, she is showing the rest of the country that responses to the virus must take the risks into consideration, put in measures to mitigate that risk, and then empower the citizenry to take part.
Americans do not have to choose between safety from the Coronavirus and a viable economy. We do, however, have to choose between innovative or reactionary leadership to guide us through these unprecedented times. Now is the time to rise to the occasion and least use a little Folkvett.