League of His Own

24 March 2020


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

UK Lockdown, Trump Talks Opening America


Boris Johnson has been labeled the Trump of Britain, but this is somewhat unfair to him. Yes, he is a rich prat who doesn't think before he speaks. And yes, he is out for himself and maybe a few of his class. And yes, he really was something of a fraud when he had a career outside of politics. But when confronted with the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus, he has opted (at last) to put the UK in the kind of lockdown Germans, Italians and New Yorkers have. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump was talking yesterday about the cure being worse than the disease and the re-opening of America sooner rather than later. Mr Trump is in a league of his own.

Mr. Johnson said, "To put it simply, if too many people become seriously unwell at one time, the NHS will be unable to handle it -- meaning more people are likely to die, not just from coronavirus but from other illnesses as well." That justifies the lockdown with simple logic and a desire to survive.

The BBC notes that some activities remain permissible:

  • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible
  • One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk or cycle. This should be done alone or only with people you live with
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents' homes, where applicable. Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable can continue to take their children to school
  • Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home

The Beeb added, "Businesses that will not need to close include supermarkets, petrol stations, post offices, launderettes, bike shops, pet shops, hardware stores and banks."

Meanwhile, the President of the United States rambled through another of his stream of semi-consciousness press gatherings yesterday. During his blathering, he said, "America will again and soon be open for business -- very soon. We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself." He also tweeted late Sunday night, "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!"

As a general proposition, the cure shouldn't be worse the the disease ever. In this instance, the problem itself is so horrendous that the cure can't even come close to being as bad. Presuming an infection rate of just 10% and a mortality rate of 1% (low by global experience), that means 33 million Americans infected and 330,000 dead. That is an optimistic estimate.The cure of closing the economy down to limit social interaction, and hence transmission of the disease, is not going to kill anyone. It will create hardships, but it isn't going to run down the stockpile of coffins.

A fifteen-day lockdown is not going to help. Wuhan, in Hubei province in China, has been in a lockdown much tighter than New York or San Francisco, with forcible quarantine for those who test positive for Covid-19. Wuhan's lockdown started in mid-January. The Chinese government has said that the travel restrictions for the city will be relaxed on April 8 for those who can prove they are virus free. That is a lockdown of three months, not fifteen days. This won't be over any time soon. The Japanese government intends to postpone the Olympics scheduled for July 2020 by a year.

Mr. Trump wants to re-open America for business so that the stock market will go back up and people will have jobs. He wants to erase the last month of his presidency and pretend it never happened. Unfortunately, it did, and there is no way back. Going forward requires months of caution, and only when the people have faith that it is safe to return to work will they return to work. The medical situation conditions the economic situation, and the economic decline is merely a symptom of the pandemic.

© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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