Time for ‘War Economy Planning’ to Beat Coronavirus

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"With some kind of 'war economy planning', they could be made to churn out the required gear for reducing mortality rates caused by COVID-19," he said in an email interview from his home in the Danish capital. "Much of the textile sector is essentially idle as there are no orders and some of it has already kicked into gear and is mass producing masks and medical overalls.

"However, in the absence of some national level planning apparatuses, the risk is that we will have patchwork industrial conversion of this kind, rather than a more systemic one. It is time to let go of that 'anti-communist' rejection of planning, as this is survival we are talking about."

He added: "Without industrial planning the US would have stood no chance against Japan and Germany during World War II and wartime planning did not translate into authoritarianism after the war. On the contrary, it ushered in a strong labour union movement and more egalitarian income policies. The same is true of Britain." 

Although coronavirus cases remain relatively low in Central and Southeast Europe compared with those in Western Europe, health systems are starting to feel the strain, with hospitals appealing to the public for protective equipment and more and more medical staff infected by the virus.

Experts say one reason cases are still quite low is that countries in the region are several weeks behind Western Europe in terms of infections.

As of Monday evening, Poland had recorded over 2,000 cases, with 31 deaths. Fatalities in Czech Republic and...

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