Masks and Slobs

From Twitter:

So much for my theory that the main use of masks is to keep slobs from sneezing in people’s faces.
Maybe masks are useless even to keep superspreaders in check.
Scott Imberman @imbernomics
Am at farmer’s market and someone literally pulled down his mask to sneeze
3:50 PM · Aug 1, 2020·Twitter Web App

This is a great example of why ex post regulation is usually better than ex ante. Ex ante rule: require 300 million people to wear masks, to prevent a few from sneezing in your face. Ex post: impose fines if the few follow their preference and sneeze in your face. In practice: require masks, but no penalty if you take it off to sneeze

Thoughts from “Coronavirus: The Basic Dance Steps Everybody Can Follow
Part 2 of Coronavirus: Learning How to Dance“,
Tomas Pueyo, Medium.

Presymptomatic people do a lot of the spreading. But I bet they do it by sneezing and coughing mostly. Even healthy people sneeze and cough, from colds and allergies and too much pepper on their food. That just reinforces the point that masks are useful. Also note that a lot of people are slobs. I think “superspreader” is really a polite term for “slob”. There are people who just don’t care who they sneeze on. Those are the people we need to control. How? Hard question.

Maybe we have to require everyone to wear masks to deal with hte 5% who just won’t use a tissue or sneeze into their elbow, however much we tell them to. I’d rather fine people who don’t catch a sneeze in a tissue $500, but we don’t have the politicl will I suppose. It would probably be easy enough to use pattern-detection and existing CCTV - - if a slob gets the $500 fine even once in 5 times, he may start behaving politely.

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