Gov. Ron DeSantis, in a recent speech to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, blasted corporate America for supposedly “kowtowing to a very elite ideology and an ideology that’s not reflective of the vast vast majority of the country.” The governor also criticized the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because a survey showed that 64 percent of small business owners support businesses in their locality requiring that their employees to be vaccinated. But DeSantis should know that it’s not just the owners. A Gallup poll shows that a majority of workers are for a vaccine mandate.
Here is a quick primer on the economic concept of a negative externality. It is a cost that is suffered by a third party as a consequence of an action or an inaction, which in this case is not getting vaccinated. By not getting vaccinated, you are allowing the possibility of more lethal variants of the virus mutating that the existing vaccines cannot subdue. The vaccines are between 85 to 95 percent effective, which means that up to 15 percent of the vaccinated population, especially those who are immunocompromised, could get infected.
The governor is against a vaccine mandate, yet vaccines cost the government — not the individual — about $25 per jab. But he is all in for monoclonal antibody treatments, which can cost far more. It does not make economic sense, especially for a member of the “conservative” party.
Corporations may want their employees to be vaccinated because they do not want infected workers to infect the rest of the workforce. This virus spreads quickly and exponentially. If a critical mass of employees gets infected, their operations could grind to a halt, curtailing their profitability and negatively impact the stock price.
Corporations are beholden to their stockholders, not to the governor’s whims and fancies about “freedoms.” And why is he trying to regulate the private sector? I thought the governor belonged to the party that is against regulations.
It is understandable that both political parties like to score points. Which is what the governor did this month in calling a special session to blunt federal vaccine mandates and then wasting no time signing into law four Republican bills that offset federal rules. But when the governor engages in hyper-partisanship, he is putting political and party interests way, way ahead of the country’s interests. That’s not what statesmen do.
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Murad Antia, now retired, taught finance at the Muma College of Business, University of South Florida (USF), Tampa.