There certainly seems to be a consensus in the media, and among political elites, that if there is another “outbreak” of the Coronavirus, then the “shelter in place” order will be the law of the land. “Shelter in place” is an official order, issued during an emergency, that directs people to stay in the indoor place or building that they already occupy, and not to leave unless absolutely necessary.
The present trend gaining momentum is that grocery stores and food companies are preparing for a possible surge in sales amid a new rise in Covid-19 cases. Supermarkets are stockpiling groceries and storing them. Food companies are accelerating the production of their most popular items, and leaders across the industry are saying they will not be caught unprepared in the face of another pandemic surge.
One hardly can blame business owners and managers for wanting to be ahead of the curve, as governments at all levels have been merciless to businesses and employees, driving thousands of firms into bankruptcy and leaving millions of people unemployed. Furthermore, given the overt hostility that governments have toward private enterprise, politicians will take shortages and empty shelves as “proof” that private enterprise is in league with the devil to subvert the social order, and act accordingly to punish these miscreants.
First and foremost, it should be understood that locking down most of the population is at best a very temporary strategy. Even the economic consequences of quarantining a majority of business enterprises and shutting down their workplaces – the lockdown strategy – does little to combat the spreading of the virus, since it gives people no chance to build up immunities, which is the key to stopping it.
The health authorities should focus on boosting immunity through exercise, fresh air, sunlight, proper dietary supplementation, and the promotion of general well-being. Instead, our politicians, bureaucrats, and media insist on business lockdowns, school closures, distancing, isolation, masks, and the mirage of a fast, effective vaccine.
The problem is that the virus is not going to disappear. Even if one temporarily prevents its spread by shuttering people in their homes, sooner or later people will have to mingle, and when they do, their bodies will not be conditioned to fight it, and as a result the infection rate certainly will increase. In fact, that is what we have seen so far, as we have lockdowns followed by relaxation of the rules, followed by a surge of new infections. That surge then leads to panic in the media and among the political classes, with the new “solution” being – even more lockdowns.
One would think that this seemingly endless cycle of lockdown-relaxation-lockdown would lead the authorities to rethink their strategies, but that is not the case; and this willful blindness is not limited to Sri Lankan Politicians. We see governments in Denmark, Belgium, New Zealand, and elsewhere reverting to lockdowns after an increase in new infections.
Looking at the world, we see that the infection rate in Sweden is clearly falling in comparison to the infection rates of countries that have followed strict lockdown procedures. To a casual observer, it made sense to think that over the past eight months, if the mainstream “experts” were correct, Sweden would be a basket case, as Swedes have carried on with their lives—usually not wearing face coverings—in a way that would seem to be an open invitation to mass spreading of Covid-19.
Moreover, if the media is to be believed, Swedes should be dying in record numbers. We see none of that happening, yet the “Sweden-must-lock-down-or-else” narrative continues to dominate the news.
Rather than imposing a hard lockdown in March as other countries did, the Scandinavian nation relied on individual responsibility to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. This is the idea of accentuating on the common sense of the people — and the approach made headlines at the time. Gyms, stores and restaurants remained open; schools were open for kids up to age 16; while gatherings of more than 50 people were banned.
Authorities predicted that 40% of the people in Stockholm would get the disease and develop protective antibodies by May. The actual prevalence, however, was around 15%, according to the study published on 11th August 2020 in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
The Economic Aspect
Then there is the economic side. For the most part, progressives have framed the economic damage as a necessary “sacrifice” in order to bring the Covid-19 pandemic under control. Progressivism is a political philosophy in support of social reform. Contemporary progressives promote public policies that they believe will lead to positive social change.
If we should have learned anything in the past eight months, it should be that massive lockdowns impose huge costs and dubious benefits. The progressive notion that we can just close businesses, religious places, sports venues, and other offices—the unemployed being compensated with printed money—until someone develops the magic vaccination, and not suffer huge consequences. The financial and emotional stresses that come from lockdowns are harmful to both physical and mental health, and the evidence is all around us.
Political Class benefits from Lockdowns
We have to understand that the political classes and their media have a vested interest in the lockdown status quo, and that includes regular provision of what can only be called disinformation.
As for politicians, the Covid crisis has been a godsend for those governmental executives and bureaucrats who see constitutional restrictions that limit their authority, as mere obstacles to be easily swept away.
Governments often create crises or, at the very least, they manipulate events such as natural disasters, and use them as opportunities to expand governmental powers. Even after the crisis ends, governments keep some of their newly self-granted powers—and most people raise little or no concern even when the government has curtailed more of their freedoms.
Second-Wave Lockdowns miscarry usefulness
We know how the “second wave” lockdowns will end. At some point, with the economy of the country in shambles, the authorities will gradually lift some of the restrictions while demanding that people “voluntarily” engage in mask-wearing and social distancing. Not long after the rules are relaxed, there inevitably will be a new surge of infections, as people who have been long separated come together without having built up their immune systems.
With no other options and because the governing classes have declared lockdowns to be the only way to defeat the virus, there almost surely will be Lockdown III, where the regime can get away with it. Whether the political classes here follow the same plan is very much an open question. We know beforehand that quarantining healthy people actually makes the long-term infection picture worse, and that the starting and stopping of the economy wreaks havoc on its own.
In the end, we only can conclude that shutting down much of social and business interaction, restricting worship services, and closing schools is ineffective in stopping viral infections, be they from the Covid-19 virus or some other pathogen. However, we also must conclude that ordering massive restrictions has become a winning political strategy. We also should understand that Covid-19 is not the last pandemic that will hit the world, and when a new pandemic—or even a hint of one—arises, the political classes will be at the forefront.
Despite the persistent myth that governance is about “solving problems” and “serving the people,” it is the rare person in governmental power these days who does not seek power for the sake of power itself. Those who use power to push progressive policies can be expected to receive positive media coverage, even if their policies are disastrous.
A Quote to Ponder : The great Frenchman Honoré de Balzac wrote, “Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.” ’