There is a concept that gets thrown around in economics classes called opportunity cost. In that context, opportunity cost is simply the fact of life that if you invest in one thing, you are necessarily no longer able to use those resources to invest in another. If you put ten thousand dollars into buying a car, that’s ten thousand dollars that you can’t use for the down payment on a house. If you invest 30% of your salary each month in your retirement accounts, that’s 30% that you can’t use now to go on vacation. A fairly simple concept, really, and it rarely is discussed outside of economics classrooms.
These arguments look at the published statistics, showing that the virus is apparently under control in Eastern nations, and isn't in Western nations, and suggest that perhaps the supposedly example-setting Western democracies need to take a lesson from these Eastern countries. I have even seen some essays suggesting that the progress of the pandemic in the East and the West demonstrates that the time for Western-style democracy has passed. What is left unspoken in all of these arguments is that these discussions are assuming the primacy of utilitarian morality.
As I was writing several of the scenes in the later episodes of Blood Magic's first season, I was struggling to describe what, exactly, Prime Wezzix and Borivat do all day. Specifically, I had a discussion in episode eight about Merolate's budget. As I was writing it, I was trying to make it realistic, but I found myself wondering what a budget for a nation-state at a level roughly comparable to Italy in the thirteenth or fourteenth century might reasonably include.