12 Experts Question the Coronavirus Panic

25 Mar

I’m resistant to the idea of covid-19 as a huge scam, cooked up for one or more of – introducing draconian curbs to liberty … tilting further the balance of class forces from labour to capital … covering up for a huge financial crash that was going to happen anyway … consolidating the grip of elite bankers, regardless of lost trillions in the ‘real’ economy. All of these possibilities and a few besides have been aired on social media.

But I’ve been talking with a smaller group of sceptics whose views I respect. A sample of what is being said by and to them can be found in comments below two recent posts, Labour Party: your silence is deafening! and Lancet Editor slates UK “failure to act”.

Few of this smaller group of doubters question covid-19’s existence but all ask: how reliable is the evidence for covid-19 as unprecedented threat, hence for the extraordinary measures, their costs incalculable, we are now seeing?

That’s a fair question when the ‘cure’, it can validly be argued, may be worse than the disease. When the global economy takes this level of battering, lives will also be lost. These will not be easily reckoned but a useful parallel might be US sanctions unleashed on disobedient states.

On pre invasion Iraq even US corporate media – and, famously, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – accepted that half a million children under five died as a result of the Bill Clinton led embargo. Iran and Venezuela have been similarly ravaged. Recessions, whether from systemic boom and bust or monstrous acts of hostility, cost lives.

My response so far to those questioning the extent of covid-19’s threat has been that:

  • I don’t know, and neither do they. Because I oppose capitalism, its defects exposed as never before in my lifetime, more than I oppose authoritarianism I’ve been inclined to bend the stick of doubt in favour of accepting covid-19 as “a real and terrible” danger. But I’ve made clear I could be wrong, and suggested that time may swiftly tell. Nor, I hasten to add, do I offer anti-authoritarianism versus anti-capitalism as an objectively grounded either/or. Simply a framework, largely subjective, within which I make my leaps of faith where we haven’t the luxury of certainty.
  • If this is a devilish plot, I’m struggling to identify the beneficiaries. Not just the small and medium capitalists – always expendable in a crisis – but big capital too are being hit as never before. The costs of global lockdown will be measureless to man.
  • If this is a devilish plot, how come China, Russia and Cuba are in on it too?

The first point stands regardless, and in future posts I will continue to drive home the message – now a little less abstract, a little more real – that capital’s logic is, for the majority of earth’s citizens, that of the mad house.

My other points? Maybe I and others on either side of the is-it-real divide have been asking the wrong question. Maybe this isn’t a devilish plot.1 Maybe this is a simple flat out panic, spreading with a contagious velocity more deadly than any coronavirus.2

Given all this, may I ask that you do please take a few minutes now to read this OffGuardian post from yesterday. Don’t get me wrong. You’ll find no smoking gun there. I repeat, we have not the luxury of certainty, and can all of us cherry pick sources till blue in the face. Then again, have we the luxury of ignoring counter-voices as authoritative as these?

Hear what they have to say, and judge for yourself.

* * *

  1. Which is not to say our rulers won’t seize the opportunities opened up. In this regard Caitlin Johnstone’s words from yesterday have the ring of truth. if your government is pushing suspension of civil liberties before coming up with a healthcare plan or providing you with financial security in an unprecedented economic crisis, then their desire to suspend civil liberties has nothing to do with fighting the pandemic.”
  2. On the panic idea, a short chain of acquaintance – not firsthand but shorter than any you’re likely to read in the media – offers an insight. A pal of mine tells me a pal of hers works in the TUC building where government ministers are holding talks with top officials. Pal 2 is not senior enough to be in the room but sufficiently senior to work with those who are. The word is, says Pal 1, that the government is in a blind panic.

38 Replies to “12 Experts Question the Coronavirus Panic

  1. “flat out panic spreading with a contagious velocity more deadly than any coronavirus.”

    This is the real issue. I can’t vouch for what is going on “up there” but the stampeding and escalating fear “down here” is having devasting consequences.

    Also, I don’t know if you’ve seen today’s news but it seems that the state of Texas is using this pandemic as an opportunity to shut down abortion clinics. Whatever the true story, the reactionary forces are wasting no time in exploiting the situation.

    • Yup, just checked out the Texas move. And yup, our ruling classes do know how to run with an opportunity, whether or not of their making. A good parallel is the 2008 crash.

  2. A very thoughtful intro to this piece, Philip, and I concur with George’s view expressed above (as I did with his comments the other day). But of one thing you are DEFINITELY right: none of us knows for sure.

  3. I have now started “working from home”. And the computer I have been given won’t even connect because there are too many others cramming the now inflated lines. I now have plenty of time to reflect and…

    I note that the “wartime economy” spiel has some wonderful implications for capitalism. You can now get people to work unusual hours, extended shifts, introduce volunteers (with the hint of future employment being rearranged on lower wages) etc.

    Also with everyone now stuck at home, we seem to be moving towards a “matrix” type society where everyone has to depend on social media as never before. A couple of times in my own personal life recently, I have pondered the usefulness of virtual chat rooms. Now that offers the potential for some perhaps worrying developments. Although I may be getting (more) paranoid here.

    • IMO George the lines of inquiry you open up here are where we should now be focusing our energies:

      1. Nationalise the banks! Renationaise essential industries starting with private healthcare and its 8,000 beds. All without compensation.
      2. QE not to bail out speculators but to pay a living wage to workers who can’t work, to the self employed and to small proprietors whose businesses are trashed.
      3. Proper protection – equipment and procedures – for essential workers
      4. Cancel all debts including rents and mortgages.

      There’s plenty more but you get the general drift.

  4. One thing I noted is that nobody is fooled by this “three week” pledge from Boris. But if (when?) he makes an announcement about extending the period, there will surely be an outcry. Indeed I foresee an increasing wave of domestic tension. Perhaps cases of violence. Even suicide? Did this not happen in China?

    • Its worse than that George.

      Assumptions are being made which are not necessarily valid.

      Such as just because an announcement has been made and a policy articulated that it is:

      1. Being adhered to.
      2. Being implemented, effectively or otherwise.

      Notwithstanding the mixed messages and the dithering we still have the Heathrow port of entry, at least, still operating with no effective screening, separation or containment protocols:

      https://skwawkbox.org/2020/03/25/shocking-video-makes-mockery-of-lock-down-while-tories-chastise-workers-for-using-tube-heathrow-is-a-free-for-all/

      Some lockdown?

      Meanwhile social media is full of photos and videos of people crammed cheek by jowl on the London underground and on buses as reductions in public transport up and down the Country force workers to crush together because the majority cannot work from home and, unlike the bankers and billionaires, are getting next to no assistance from the printing of free money they will eventually be asked to pick up the tab for.

      https://skwawkbox.org/2020/03/24/want-to-take-a-guess-why-lockdown-isnt-stopping-crowding-on-public-transport/

      Some social distancing?

      Similar photos and videos abound showing packed construction sites and their canteens.

      I suspect I have perhaps been a little kind to the UK powers that be in giving them the benefit of the doubt recently. Because its clear, despite the verbal statements at press conferences and written announcements, they are still operating in practice by accident or design (and who can tell the difference with this lot) their policies of trying to cull the herd.

      On that issue recent research from the US indicates not all cases or deaths occurring are limited to over 60’s with pre-existing health conditions. It remains to be seen if this is replicated or not when poorer countries with less robust health provision and populations become affected. Assuming of course it is reported.

      Its certainly a reasonable bet there may be domestic tension but not necessarily for the reasons you imply as the herd starts to realise what is actually happening in practice rather than theory.

  5. What I know is that everyone I know in the health sector takes it very seriously. Opinions range from extremely concerned to seriously frightened. Hospitals here are at bursting point, and they’re not just full of old people. Perfectly healthy young people are also dying. Yesterday, in the hospital where my daughter works, two stroke victims were admitted after lengthy delays because the whole place has been reorganized and there are shortages of beds, doctors, materials, ambulances, x-ray facilities…
    The lockdown is intended to prevent the collapse of the hospital system.
    Here, in Catalonia, we have a strict protocol before anyone can go to hospital, self diagnosis by app, complete self-isolation, contact health service, monitoring, testing and further monitoring, hospitalization.
    Camp hospitals are being set up.
    I don’t think the entire sector would go to these lengths unless they thought it necessary. There has been no official opposition by the sector, only overtime, hard work, exposure (13% of infected people are health workers and many have died).

    • Thanks Stavin. I agree the authorities wouldn’t go to the lengths you describe unless they thought them necessary. My leaving room for doubt on the scale of the threat does not extend to assuming outright lying on the part of said authorities. See bullets two and three of my post. Both begin, “If this is a devilish plot …”

      See also my remark, picked up in George’s comment, about “flat out panic spreading with a contagious velocity more deadly than any coronavirus.”

      What’s been striking about the debates I’ve been in or observed is how even people with good arguments on this question – they exist on both sides – are tending not to address but ignore good opposing arguments. This isn’t surprising to any seasoned observer of the human condition. When uncertainty and high stakes combine, tolerance and room for the possibility we might be wrong descend in inverse proportion.

      A friend wrote to me this morning:

      … look at China … they’re relaxing restrictions (with what impact we don’t know yet) and their economy and health care system is intact. It’s a false dichotomy to counterpose cure [problem?] and remedy this way and the Johnson- Cummings and Trumpian neo liberal arguments are beginning to grip the US establishment and media. If the UK government had geared up a comprehensive public health response on WHO guidelines to start with in January, this absurd nonsense of ‘balancing ‘ cure [problem?] and remedy would never have any traction.

      I think that’s a good point. I’d always meant to focus my writings here on the appalling inability of hollowed out, neoliberal, zero-hours-contract-and-no-such-thing-as-society capitalism to respond to pandemic, whether or not its scale is, deliberately or not, over stated. I’m hoping now to get back to doing my tiny bit on that front.

      • I still think the best argument against the virus-as-scam theory is the damage it is doing to the capitalist system itself. If it is a scam (and by that I don’t mean a hoax but an exaggeration) then, as well as China and Russia being “in on it”, you have to ask what it the scam is aiming for. Granted, the ruling class could make off with an enormous theft of the public commons (another period of primitive accumulation?) but it would eventually lead to the collapse of their own exploitative system.

          • I still think the best argument against the virus-as-scam theory is the damage it is doing to the capitalist system itself.

            Me too. But due in no small part to people like you, I’ve dropped inflammatorily strawman words like ‘scam’ and ‘hoax’.

  6. The, at present, suggested possibilities of blind panic/pre-planned scam/taking advantage of a situation which presents itself do not easily, if at all, offer a palatable lesser than other evils option.

    Blind panic as a feasible possibility, unfortunately, does not rest entirely on a single report based on what a friend of a friend has said. It’s obvious from the body language and facial expressions of Government Ministers, including Johnson, at every TV press conference and announcement.

    If any of these talking heads have received any media training involving how to look confident in front of the camera it’s not worked. Panic is visibly reeking out of very pore and unguarded expression.

    There are two key related problems with a blind panic reaction. Firstly, why that reaction has been generated. Observational experience suggests it’s usually a reaction based on a combination of realisation you are out of your depth – in large part as a result of previous inadequate and/or mistaken decisions, often based on adherence to some belief system, taken prior to the dawning of this realisation.

    This generates the second problem of making the situation worse by taking even worse decisions than previous as a result of he panic. This must present a real difficulty for those decision makers who have committed to a specific approach who are having to take any decision which represents the opposite of what they believe in. There will certainly exist the temptation amongst some to be half hearted, go too far or a combination of both.

    The problem with taking advantage, under whatever scenario one might favour (blind panic, manufactured scam or whatever?) is it’s not always a one way street. Others might combine together to take advantage in different directions when such openings appear.

    Provided of course they are so inclined or not distracted.

    Right now the collapsing casino market system which underpins current arrangements is once again being bailed out in blind panic to desperately reinforce the bubble and continue business as usual with money printed out of thin air with non existent fiat debt which looks certain to be presented as a further decade or more of austerity bill to the rest of us just as in the 2008 GFC.

    Or maybe even the aftermath of the Mississippi ‘bubble’ in 1720 France. Because regardless of whatever it is or not considered to be the driver right now the present unsustainable bubble was going to burst at some point. A larger repeat of bailing out billionaires/big finance and speculative behaviours to resurrect a collapsing system with the scale of the numbers involved is as scary a scenario as it gets. We could see some fiat currencies collapse?

    Either way we are where we are which is not necessarily where we might like to be. Consideration of why we got to where we are (manufactured scam, blind panic, hype, taking advantage, and, yes, the possibility this is real) seems somewhat academic in terms of present pressing priorities.

    More pertinent questions occur about, as one of many, suddenly having the money to bail out those who have more money than you can shake a stick at (again) after years, perhaps decades, of being told there was no money for health, education, housing, decently paid employment, infrastructure, social services, transport, utilities, emergency services and so on.

    And, as a previous post on this blog alluded to in a so far vain attempt to move focus to such urgent issues, the present ‘loyal opposition’ are just not up to such tasks.
    There are others who have also attempted to take advantage in a different direction, sketching out other scenarios and opportunities and asking these kind of questions.

    Unfortunately, as is always the case on the left, the fact these are based on taking a we are where we are face value approach (which by necessity requires a critique of deliberate and callous inaction by the PTB which put many systems as well as people at risk) seems to have drawn some flack for not being the ‘right’ flavour of, let’s call it, analysis.

    To be frank, and at the risk of upsetting anyone, arguing the toss about how to define how we got where we are and what motivation or otherwise got us to this point as the only relevant question or issue, is a sterile debate right now.

    We have to do the job that’s in front of us.

    • the collapsing casino market system which underpins current arrangements is once again being bailed out in blind panic to desperately reinforce the bubble and continue business as usual with money printed out of thin air with non existent fiat debt which looks certain to be presented as a further decade or more of austerity bill to the rest of us just as in the 2008 GFC

      Yes! And there are voices out there – see the demands of MMT guru Richard Murphy as set out in the second part of my Labour Party: your silence is deafening post. Never mind that I have suspicions about MMT. Doesn’t matter. He’s set out a list. It’s far from complete. For instance it doesn’t call for requisition without compensation – Spain did this weeks ago – of the 8,000 beds in private healthcare. But its demands are in the spirit of Lenin’s “bread, peace and land”, and for that matter Trotsky’s transitional programme.

      I’m also looking forward when I get a spare few minutes to reading the always cogent views of Michael Hudson, as set out in a piece another friend – it really is good to have a few of these in such times! – sent me earlier today.

      We have to do the job that’s in front of us.

      Amen to that too.

      • I spoke with my Barcelona buddie last night. It seems I’d gotten the wrong end of the stick about Madrid commandeering Spain’s private healthcare sector.

  7. The COVID19 pandemic isn’t a scam cooked up to deprive us of our liberties…there are much easier ways to do that. But I am certain that there are those in the ruling class and in government who are more than happy to use this crisis as a jumping off point for consolidating their power and ramming through policies that would otherwise be unpalatable and resisted by the citizenry.

    Here in Canada, for example, the government is doing sweet fuck all really to mitigate the spread of the virus or help the people who must pay for food and shelter and other essentials whilst laid off or otherwise unable to work. They did, however, promptly bail out the moribund oil and gas industry and issue stern warnings to the citizenry that draconian quarantine measures may be introduced (eg. using cell phone transmissions to enforce quarantine compliance) if they resist orders to hide away in their homes day and night. Unfortunately Canada has a terrible habit of copying the United States when it comes to political and economic issues.

    There might be a silver lining to this pandemic. As doctors, nurses and healthcare workers across the neoliberalized world are saying repeatedly, after decades of cutbacks and austerity public health systems are on the verge of total collapse…they do not have the staff, equipment or space to treat a massive influx of critically ill people. Parallel to this, the global economy is collapsing as workers stay home and consumption grinds to a halt. Neoliberalism is clearly on the rocks and everybody and their dog is now seeing the results of the “there is no such thing as society” way of governing.

    Will we finally see neoliberalism relegated to the rubbish bin of failed economic experiments, and a system that considers the well-being of ordinary people rise in its place, or will see instead see a rise in authoritarianism and permanent states of emergency to “protect” us from killer viruses and unruly citizens who refuse to blindly obey authority?

    • I agree on all of this, Eric. Including the silver lining. I’ve posted eighteen times on the issue, though my first was only thirteen days ago. I’ve plugged away at capitalism’s inadequacies and insanities – hitherto understandable only by engaging with abstract laws, like the law of value, when most folk’s lives are lived in the concrete. Now they’ve been revealed in unusually visual and concrete forms. Yes, even in an affluent West whose labour sellers have long escaped the worst, thanks in part to imperialist plunder, in part to the fading legacy of cold war concession.

      I’d say the silver lining is faint given that memories are short and capital, not its critics, holds the best cards in respect of that crucial thing, control of the narrative. How will all this be explained? Our rulers and hired opinion manufacturers will go into overdrive to explain these extraordinary events in ways least damaging to their rotten status quo.

      With that in mind, and pending further unfoldings which may settle once and for all the is-this-all-being-overegged? question, I want to park it. It’s right I engaged in it but for now I see no gain in continuing. I want back to the day job: attacking capitalism, now in the context of covid-19.

    • “The COVID19 pandemic isn’t a scam cooked up to deprive us of our liberties…there are much easier ways to do that.”

      I couldn’t think of a more effective one. How else could you guarantee such an enthusiastic response from the public not only to accept a state of marshall law but to insist on one? How else could you get them to actually physically avoid each other and spy on each other on the lookout for transgressors?

      • Well large members of the public have certainly been enthusiastic about something.

        However, when you witness with your own eyes (and ears, because a lot of them are bragging about it on various media) hordes of people congregating in parks, open spaces, beaches and the countryside; packed like sardines on public transport and construction sites across the Country; milling about in a a packed Heathrow (which still has no containment protocols in place) etc etc etc it sure as hell ain’t actual evidence of a public enthusiastic for Marshall law.

        For sure, there will be those packed together on the tube etc who need to go to work to earn a living because the majority of people, contrary to the the narrative being pushed, cannot work from home. In a context in which the ideologues trying to hold their system together are more interested in supporting the wealthy than the majority and they have little choice but to put themselves or others at risk even when they don’t want to.

        But what the hell! As long it fits a pre-packaged narrative we can ignore those awkward questions which don’t fit that narrative like Government incompetence and treatment of the workforce eh.

        Or such as putting front line medics and the public at risk by not supplying the necessary equipment and testing. Like ignoring an immediate offer of 5,000 ventilators from a British company to allow a non British Company which engages in offshore tax avoidance to waste vital weeks developing and testing its own versions because it has a cosy NHS, monopoly courtesy of its lobbying donations to the Tory party and it’s politicians who make nose decisions.

        And we have not even considered other practical realities like enforcement. It’s not just the NHS which has been cut to the bone – with 100,000 vacancies. Police and other emergency services, along with the military, have also been massively reduced in personnel terms.

        If anyone around this valley encountered a police presence in current circumstances the police would need non existent back up to stop people getting the bunting out and holding a street party. You’ve got more chance of stepping on rocking horse droppings then running into the busies.

        The practical reality is there are just not enough personnel and other resources to enforce Marshall law. There is certainly not the level of competence when a pandemic threat to the country and its social order are not even a twinkle in the milkman’s eye in the considerations of the Security Services raking in £billions to protect the realm.

        Their agenda is still operating, like it was during WW1, to a different era and time in the past.

        That’s the problem between high faluting theory and the practical real world. This lot cannot even adequately run their own system never mind Marshall law. And those systems, as previously detailed in Janet and John terms, are falling apart at the first sign of stress.

        Because real world systems, as Ackoff outlined in great detail, are a complex “mess”. They don’t operate to easy simple or simplistic narratives.

          • I recall being advised that with reductionism you know more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing.

            Whereas, with systems you know less and less about more and more until you know nothing about everything.

            Apparently.

            A variation of his latter maxim appears to have been adopted by the neo- liberal management movement as a religious doctrine over the past several decades at least.

            This works on the basis of doing more and more with less and less with the objective of being able to do everything with nothing unde the guise of something referred to as ‘continuous improvement.’

            But hat just the optimist in me coming out for a rare airing.

        • Fair enough. I live in a rural area where it is much easier to self-isolate. We already do it most of the time anyway. And I have certainly noticed the (and there’s no other word for it) glee with which some are willing to rat on others. Half – no, make that three quarters – of them are proto fascists. Oddly enough, the same number of them are farmers. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence!

          • That’s always been the case unfortunately.

            I recall someone on the estate reporting my grandfather to the DHSS in the sixties after he retired. Apparently someone who spent 44 years of their lives hauling railway freight charging 3/- an hour to tend the gardens of local elderly people who couldn’t manage it whilst drawing an old age pension is more of a crime than shovelling money by the truck load to billionaires.

            And ultimately, that’s why Marshall law isn’t needed. If the recent General election proves anything its that the PTB have most of the population already enthusiastic about dying in a ditch to support a system which is screwing them and everyone else over all the time in such a way.

            And that enthusiasm in that context would include not asking the awkward questions and/or distracting attention away from awkward questions about competency; running down systems to the extent they cannot cope with any stress test at any level; openly bragging about culling the population; the economic dogma which results in such outcomes and so on.

            Because to ask those pertinent and relevant questions requires acknowledging that the current stress on those systems and the resulting outcomes – from inadequate cut to the bone health systems unable to cope through to the unsustainable financial bubble and bailing out of billionaires from the newly found magic money tree – is real not manufactured.

            Acknowledging all that does not fit a narrative which seeks to claim that stress is either manufactured or not having that great an impact or must be part of some nefarious grand plan.

            It simply diverts attention conveniently away from those awkward questions and issues which might otherwise result in not just awkward questions but awkward actions.

            For which the PTB will be grateful.

  8. Phil – there’s a commenter over on Off-G who goes by the moniker “clickkid” and he is making an argument which I think you might agree with. He is responding to a typically doom mongering scenario by a writer called Andrew Korybko. Anyway clickkid says:

    “The moves the elites are making now are being made from a position of desperation, not of strength, as their financial system is falling apart.

    …. I sympathise with (Korybko’s) points, but he fails to understand that free people are more productive than slaves.

    The mistake that leaps out is that he maintains that only a few jobs are necessary for society to function. That may appear so to somebody sitting in a comfortable armchair in a western suburb, but in fact that whole lifesyle depends on numerous intricate supply chains which stretch across the world. Those supply chains have been deteriorating for a couple of months now, it’s just that we haven’t quite had time to notice them yet. Those supply chains incorporate numerous job roles that are invisible from that western armchair. He is like a guest in a restaurant who thinks that the waiter does everything.

    For example, he talks about health care professionals and techies. Those two groups are nothing without the products they use – drugs in the first case, computer hardware in the second. The supply chains of those two categories stretch across the world and would take years to reorganize, even if possible.

    Why doesn’t Korybko realize this?

    Because the current conditions have only been in place for a couple of weeks. They are in fact completely unsustainable.”

    • Hi George. I’d want to know more of clickkid’s underlying thinking but at face value, yes, I agree.

      Government desperation – check (see footnote 2 of my post).

      Free people more productive than slaves – check. (Hence capitalism’s wars – French Rev, US Civil War – to defeat feudalism and slavery.)

      How many workers needed? Yes, more than a few, and for the reasons ckickkid gives. But there’s a bigger issue – we can have a profitable workerless factory but not a profitable workerless world.

      • Hi Phil

        I’m intrigued by your comment, “I’d want to know more of clickkid’s underlying thinking”. I’m sensing a certain wariness here.

        And just a minor niggle – something I just noted. You said, “I’ve dropped inflammatorily strawman words like ‘scam’ and ‘hoax’.” And yet in the very first line of your article you say, “I’m resistant to the idea of covid-19 as a huge scam”.

        I don’t mean to come across as unfriendly. I genuinely want to know your interpretation. Frankly I am looking for some hope.

        • No, not wariness. And my agreement with the sentiment, regardless of the underlying worldviews informing it (in any case unknown to me) is wholehearted. A part parallel is the list of demands laid out by Richard Murphy and cited by me in Labour – your silence is deafening. I back the demands (to which I’d add a few more) without reservation, despite reservations about the MMT informing them.

          My use of “scam” in line one is deliberate and I say non contradictory: see the next two paragraphs. Those three paras have to be taken as a whole. There are people referring to covid-19 as “hoax/scam” but as a matter of respect for more refined sceptics of that part of the narrative, I will not attribute such words to them.

          I’m looking for hope too. Mine is that this unprecedented situation offers a small window of opportunity to capitalism’s critics. It’s a thin sliver of hope IMO but I believe we must leverage it to the best of our abilities. This is why I’m wanting out of the debate on whether covid-19 is being overegged. I want to direct my efforts elsewhere.

            • I suppose you have hit on a major issue – indeed always THE major issue i.e. what anyone can do about all this. And at present no-one has any choice but to follow orders or, if you’re cynical, “the script”. Speaking of which, I see they have announced that Boris now has it. The sceptic in me says, How convenient for generating a sense of solidarity across the classes. But there are many shade here e.g. perhaps he does have it, perhaps he doesn’t but it seems like a good fib to generate the aforementioned sense of solidarity. (Which is not to imply that the virus is a fraud.)

              But to get back to what we can do, the unprecedented measures being put in place (all the UK effectively on “house arrest”) ARE clearly unsustainable. Over an extended period this is bound to have explosive effects.

            • I think someone needs to tell all those people cramming public transport to get to work, milling about grafting on construction sites and elsewhere (apparently our local Beer Off is considered a vital service*), still emptying the supermarket shelves, out walking in droves around the beaches and countryside etc that they are supposed to be ‘under house arrest’.

              Or perhaps all of the above, like the impact of an apparent over hyped normal winter flu on the health systems which front line staff here and around the world with no axe to grind are maintaining is real, is just a figment of imagination?

              Theory is one thing. Practice is something else.

    • Well the supply system was able to come up with 5,000 urgently needed ventilators which were rejected in favour of passing out a contract to one’s donor’s:

      https://skwawkbox.org/2020/03/26/tories-ignore-5000-approved-and-ready-ventilators-to-order-10000-new-unapproved-design-from-dyson/

      Not to mention the Swiss manufacturer of masks who went elsewhere with his wares a month or so back muttering about a total absence of basic contingency planning on the part of what passes for Government in the UK.

      Fact is its perfectly possible to switch production. And if need be the Government should be commandeering those industries in an emergency. Can you imagine Churchill meekly asking private companies if they could see their way, if its not to mush trouble, to building a few Spitfires?

      But they won’t. for exactly the same reason Callaghan rejected the same notion when put to the so called Labour Government in the seventies by the Shop Stewards combine at Lucus Aerospace with the alternative corporate plan. They would rather shut down production and see people put out of work than switch production from armaments to socially useful products. Some “Free” choice.

      The result of that was other Countries developing those products and gaining an advantage.

      Clickkid has a point inasmuch as there are too many bullshit and unnecessary jobs in existence because its more lucrative to the neo-liberal based system. Whilst jobs which are necessary – like medics, social care, emergency services etc do not have enough people to cope.

      Even police numbers are so dire they cannot in practice enforce a simple edict of “house arrest?”

      And those supply chains etc have been deteriorating not for months but for years as capital and technological substitution of jobs cut them to the bone in the name of bottom line “efficiency” – replacing them with non-jobs, zero hours, franchising, low paid self-employment etc to service the needs of the 1% and their hangers on.

      The systems, as previously observed, no longer have sufficient efficacy. And that includes the financial system and the economic dogma upon which it is based.

      Yet, so called “free people” continue to harbor the delusion they are “free” rather than rapidly reducing wages slaves (the lowest wage rate rise since the Napoleonic Wars two hundred years ago following the GFC of 2008). Believing that a political/economic/social choice which is akin to being able to “freely” choose between Blue (Coca) Cola; Red (Pepsi) Cola; Yellow (Virgin) Cola and Purple (Generic supermarket) Cola with no option for Water makes them “free” rather than slaves.

      As the Yanks say: ‘Go tell it to the Marines.’

      • Can you imagine Churchill meekly asking private companies if they could see their way, if its not to much trouble, to building a few Spitfires?

        Nope.

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