Sign of the times
Police “too busy” to look through videos from just one named building to find the criminals, who must have been caught on camera! I bet that if a Jew complained that he was insulted there, the police would find the time, magically…The police really are usually a waste of space now. They are unwilling to help the public or to detect and solve crimes, most of the time, but prefer to act as a poundland KGB and thought-control force.
There are tentative signs that the crisis has already peaked in Europe and much of Asia. In Italy, the death toll has reduced for the 7th consecutive day, and Sweden (which is not even in “lockdown”) is no worse off than the UK (which is). In the UK itself, the death toll is still increasing but that comes after a few days of decline and after the goalposts were moved by changing the statistical criteria. In Denmark, the government has said that it will be reviewing whether to ease restrictions after Easter, i.e. by mid-April.
Whatever is happening in the Americas, we in Europe can hope that this, or most of this, will be over by June.
The evidence is sketchy either way, but it seems logical to me (and always has), as a lay person, that if the virus can only live on or in people for 3-4 weeks at maximum, and if it can only live on inanimate surfaces for between seconds and a month (and usually for less than a few hours), then the virus as a social crisis is going to be over within a couple of months. By then, a vast number of people will have been infected, most will either have shown no symptoms or very mild symptoms, a lesser number will show symptoms not requiring medical care, a few will require such care, and a tiny minority will die. Whatever happens to those infected, it is all over, one way or the other, within a month.
In all cases, the virus will have done whatever it will have done within a few weeks or so. Even bearing in mind that new and uninfected people could still be infected, the main links of infection will not exist after May, it seems. That is, about 8 weeks or so from now.
In any case, if the present shutdown of the UK economy continues beyond May, the damage will probably be irreparable.
To what extent is the “lockdown” in the UK helping? It must be helping, but to what extent? We do not know. Sweden’s stats are broadly similar to the UK’s on Coronavirus infections (and better on deaths), but there they have no general “lockdown”. It is logical to assume that the UK “lockdown” is helping slow the rate of infections. However, the main safeguarding measure is that understood from the start: washing hands efficiently and frequently with soap and water.
Differences within Europe
The NHS is a very fine institution. In principle. In practice, it is patchy. The surgical and some other aspects are excellent, but the administration is more suited to some backward country in Africa or pre-1989 Eastern Europe. Shambolic. A bad joke. Coronavirus has cruelly exposed all of this.
In Germany, Scandinavia, even France, we see their health services dealing with the situation. In the UK, we see political squabbles and nonsense, shambolic NHS mismanagement, combined with fake “community” involvement like something out of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four: “Clap-in for the NHS”, and now “Second Clap-in for the NHS”. A kind of almost-forced “community involvement” for a country where the most important thing is virtue-signalling; and like other kinds of virtue-signalling, it accomplishes nothing.
The last thing that I would want would be for the NHS to become like the rapacious money-obsessed American healthcare model, but the NHS does need reform, as well as more money. In fact, part of the problem with healthcare in the UK is that we are given this false choice of “either British NHS or American get-what-you-pay-for healthcare”. That is not the choice. There is a variety of different healthcare models in the world, a variety of funding solutions.
Britain has been hampered in choosing and implementing a better healthcare system for several reasons:
- the NHS as a “sacred cow” that cannot be changed (or criticized);
- botched “reforms” by inane and often anti-NHS politicians;
- the huge inertia in a system that employs over 2 million people;
- entrenched group interests of the various blocs of healthcare professionals;
- very poor and often hugely overpaid administrative layers.
Anecdote: I knew a retired British couple when I lived in France. The husband and wife both had serious health problems, in the case of the husband mainly heart-related. At first, he used to return to the UK for treatment, thinking, as English people do, that the NHS was bound to be better. When he finally decided to access the French system, it was revelatory. The equivalent of a “consultant” asked him (in English) what medicines he had been prescribed for his condition. He replied. The French consultant was visibly underwhelmed and said “well, I think that we can do better than that.”
The wife of that couple had a cancer condition. She was also far better taken care of in France than in Britain (or so I was told).
Another aspect to the above anecdote. The couple described lived in Finistere-Nord in Brittany. The treatment took place in the city of Brest, an hour’s drive away. The couple had cars, but preferred not to drive too far, partly because of their health problems. The French healthcare system paid for both of them to get to and from the hospital in Brest by commercial taxi! This is in fact quite normal there. In fact, a friend of mine found that it was hard to book a taxi in Finistere for ordinary reasons because most are booked-up by such hospital journeys.
Government aid to private economic enterprises
We are told that large enterprises which are now facing collapse must be given hundreds of millions of pounds each to keep them standing. Virgin Atlantic, BA etc. This is unsustainable, for more than a couple of months anyway. I am not sure that it is even desirable. The support should be given to individuals, not companies. The companies may go down. New companies will emerge, when trading conditions improve. Throwing money at what in many cases are already failing capitalist enterprises is the worst thing that government could do.
Economic growth comes from demand. Demand comes from the bottom, from the millions and tens of millions in the country. Their demand for goods and services fuels the birth and growth of new companies supplying those goods and services. It is wrongheaded to support existing, often poorly-run, companies. In effect, by doing that, government is subsidizing shareholders at the expense of other citizens. This was the conceptual error behind the bank bail-out of 2007-2008, which has suppressed the real economy for the past decade. Money, on a vast scale given to rapacious and incompetent banks run by incompetent and rapacious managements and owned by greedy shareholders. No understanding that banks are just “useful parasites” upon the real economy.
Even government, with its huge reach based on huge borrowing, cannot subsidize the whole economy —not for long—in a situation where the real economy is mostly not functioning. The various “lockdown” restrictions will have to be eased quite soon if mortal injury is not to be done. That may in fact already have happened.
Coronavirus in China and Europe: going, going, gone?
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water is the best protection. The countries of Europe with the worst personal hygiene (Italy and Spain) have been by far the worst-hit by Coronavirus (why not Greece too? God knows…).
- In China, and across Europe, the Coronavirus infection rate and death rate are both stabilizing or, in most places, falling.
- Social isolation was a good policy to try for a week or so and it has probably greatly helped but in a secondary way. The handwashing is far and away the most important.
- “Social distancing”, while obviously useful, is not of much importance.
- Most people either do not get the virus at all, or show no symptoms, or mild symptoms only.
- Only a few (in the UK about 1 in every 3,000 people) will need to be hospitalized.
- Very few people indeed —speaking relatively— will die from Coronavirus (in the UK, so far, about 2,900, out of maybe 70 million people, which is about 25 people out of every million or 1 person out of every 40,000).
Went out to Waitrose. Marginally busier than it was 2 days ago on Tuesday (also at 1930). A few poor souls like me lining up, ten feet apart, waiting to be approved by the three or four Handmaid’s Tale militia (Waitrose marshals) loitering outside, then given a trolley and permission to enter the sacred precincts of the store.
Inside, the absurd thing was that the same people religiously “distancing” outside were shopping within a couple of feet of each other at times! Shaking head territory…
Most items available. Pasta (dried pasta) cleared out (again), but plenty of sauce in jars. Rice rather depleted too, though available. Loo paper shelves full of product. Eggs available. Milk too. Bread too. No chickens, and no lemons. Are the locals all making lemon chicken? Ignorabimus (we shall never know).