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On Corona: Ego Choosing Own Constitution VS Empathy Based Mask? How about "&" instead?

Image by Paul Sancya/Associated Press in Weiner (2020)

First part of the title reflects a near rebel uprising (Ego at work) over mask wearing and sequestering people to slow the spread of the Coronavirus, claiming the economy needed to re-open very rapidly, giving the liberty to choose death for own-self and any others who might become infected because of the opening (Weiner , 2020). Second part of the title reflects a call for (Empathy at work) walking-in-the-shoes-of-others who might be infected if masks are not used and the economy is not reopened in reasonable ways, being sensitive to the health of both consumers and workers (Blake, 2020). On the first part, rebels carrying military grade weapons protested Governor Whitmer of Michigan efforts to slow the spread of the Cornonavirus by reopening the economy at a slower pace, looking to protect both workers and consumers. On the second part, Governor Burgum of North Dakota asked residents to “dial up your empathy and understanding” by wearing a mask: Wearing a mask, at least around vulnerable people, is a shift to Empathy. The Michigan protest is largely about Ego: It is seemingly too much Ego that results in a person bringing a military grade weapon to use in intimidating a seated legislature and a governor. Even without guns, it becomes an Ego oriented move, with apparently little to no Empathy for those who might be infected by a person not wearing a mask or going to work too soon in business and industry, especially if it is not possible to provide adequate personal protective equipment.

Balance, anyone? How about "&" rather than "VS"? Metaeconomics points to the essential need to balance ego&empathy in all matters of economy&community, Market&Government. And, while Metaeconomics is all about freedom and liberty, it is about freedom and liberty in humane liberalism as originally pointed to by Enlightenment thinkers in the 1700s. It is about science&ethics, science and humanities. It does not seem humane to unnecessarily expose people to an easy to spread, deadly virus? Just asking.

Being humane is to practice Empathy: walk-in-the-shoes-of-the-other and temper one’s own Ego driven self-interest only driven behavior. Governor Burgum summed it up quite concisely: “I would just love to see our state, as part of being North Dakota Smart, also be North Dakota Kind, North Dakota Empathetic.” Being Smart, Kind, and Empathetic is about tempering the Ego, tempering the self-interest only.

Metaeconomics makes it clear that it is essential to ensure liberty and freedom, and, that it has to be humane, which requires Empathy tempering Ego. It does not allow for infecting others with an easy to spread virus, especially in not requiring people to go back to work without protective gear. There are social costs arising out of excessive expressions of Ego, just as there are costs of going too far in the other direction to excessive expressions of Empathy. It is about Balance.

Metaeconomics sees being more Empathetic, in balance with being Egoistic, a key feature of a truly viable Capitalism. Adam Smith understood it, too, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. It is becoming quite clear that many modern leaders---Governor Burgum and Governor Whitmer, representing Right and Left, being exceptions--- are largely unaware of the fundamental role of the Sentiments (Empathy-Sympathy). In fact, good balance in ego&empathy is a key feature of the US Constitution: It is about resolving conflict, which means to find said balance, not about creating conflict with military grade weapons in a state legislative house. As Weiner (2020) makes clear, the Constitution cannot be used to justify intimidating political leaders with weapons, especially over a common sense thing like wearing a mask and ensuring workers can be protected within reason, which is all about a public health (including the health of those not wearing masks and brandishing weapons in public) issue. Try Empathy, instead.

And, overall: Empathy based other(shared between the two groups, perspectives)-interest would resolve all of it. The shared other-interest in public health, in slowing down and stemming the spread of the Coronavirus, is the issue of shared concern. Empathy needs to go both ways, and find the common ground to deal with the public (shared among everyone)-health problem.


Blake, Aaron. GOP governor offers emotional plea to the anti-mask crowd: Stop this senseless culture war. Washington, DC: Washington Post, May 22, 2020, Digital Edition.

Weiner, Greg. Anti-Lockdown Rebels Don’t Get to Choose Their Own Constitution. New York Times, May 31, 2020, Digital Edition.

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