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Coronavirus is a health crisis spilling over into an economic meltdown – and it needs a smart response

The ABC’s Ian Verrender writes (9.3.20) about the looming economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak, suggesting the federal government needs to plan a timely response – including targeted fiscal measures – to the growing health emergency.

‘If you believe the economics profession, human beings are rational creatures.

‘According to the theory, we always act in our own best interests, dedicating our lives to maximising utility, which is a fancy way of saying our own personal satisfaction.

‘That healthy competition between individuals drives behaviour which ultimately leads to the efficient allocation of resources and supply meeting demand, thereby benefiting us all.

‘It all sounds so civilised, so perfectly reasonable.

‘Except, looked at another way, you could argue the theory really means we’re all a bunch of greedy, conniving hedonists, scrambling to get one up on the bloke next door or the woman across the road, just to prove we’re better than them.

‘And occasionally, we’ll do almost anything to achieve it, rational or otherwise.’

Coronavirus could spark a revolution in working from home. Are we ready?

Libby Sander writes in The Conversation (11.3.20) that the coronavirus outbreak could prove to be the tipping point for remote work arrangements to become the norm in Australia and elsewhere, further raising concerns over job security and working conditions.

‘Imagine your employer asking you to work from home until further notice.

‘As COVID-19 continues to spread, this seems an increasingly likely scenario. “Everyone who can work from home should work from home,” said Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage this week.

‘In China and neighbouring countries, millions are doing so for the first time.

‘In the United States, companies readying staff to work remotely include Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and JP Morgan.

‘… In Australia, Clayton Utz, Cisco and Vodafone temporarily closed offices last week as a precautionary measure.

‘The likelihood of extended workplace shutdowns seems increasingly likely. So what do we know about the pros and cons of working from home?’

Morrison, compassion and coronavirus: when crisis refines leadership

Sen Sendjaya and colleagues write in The Conversation (16.3.20) that, having learned from his underwhelming performance in the bushfire crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is now showing signs of becoming a “servant leader”.

‘News that the Morrison government paid A$190,000 last year for advice on how to empathise with the Australian people was met with ridicule. Yet it might be worth the money.

‘In late January, Morrison was continually criticised for appearing to lack compassion over the bushfires.

‘He himself said, “there are things I could have handed on the ground much better”.

‘There are signs he has taken that to heart during the coronavirus outbreak.’

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