Coffee Space


Listen:

Hidden Lockdown Costs #opinion

Preview Image

Preview Image

These are tough times, no doubt. At the time of writing we are at ~4 million cases of China virus, ~276 thousand deaths - with no signs of slowing down. As the number of active cases climbs, the world continues to be worried about potential the possibility of overwhelming the hospitals.

During this, it's important that we are still free to ask ourselves important questions. It's very easy to make an argument from the perspective of impending lockdown economic repercussions, but something we should also look at is the cost of the lockdown ignoring the economic impact.

We're not talking conspiracy theories here, we're talking about real cost.

The Medical Argument

"Stay home, save lives" in the mantra being spread world-wide as people are locked in their homes. But we must consider reasons why people left their homes in the first place - other than to work and collect groceries. There used to be valid reasons other than simply to socialize or to relax in some social setting, such as a bar or restaurant.

I'm not going to make the argument from the perspective of exercise, in my experience people have been using their allotted daily exercise as a good opportunity to not kill the people they live with. During World War II, despite shortages and potential malnutrition, generally Britain's health improved both mentally and physically. Like war, we have a common enemy and a strong resolve, I believe we will come out the other end of this stronger - we'll need to be.

It's quite likely that progressive diseases such as cancer will be allowed to ravage those who have it. Regular check-ups have been postponed, people are too afraid to seek medical treatment in fear of the silent enemy and as a result, there will be a death toll as a direct result of our actions.

But almost as pressing as cancer is heart disease, obesity doesn't simply go away because we will it to. Because these people are unable to socialize and are fearful of visiting medical facilities, people are going to die from heart attacks, strokes, maybe even diabetes. Very few people are actually aware of what these things look like.

And those are just two major diseases affecting the population of the world, not to mention of the many, many others. It turns out those doctors and nurses did actually do something useful before this virus happened.

I make this argument as somebody who has lost people to cancer, people diagnosed with diabetes and died from the China virus. These are difficult decisions to make, but I think that when posed with two bad options, one should pick the lesser evil. We need to have an honest discussion about the medical cost of this virus.

The Doctors Argument

Due to a lack of PPE (thanks China) and continuous close contact, medical staff have been putting their lives on the line. It's why people have been stupidly clapping and ignoring the quarantine to do so.

The result? Doctors and nurses have been contracting the virus, some dying, some taking time to recover. They didn't sign up for this, when they were studying they were not told "you may need to sacrifice yourself to help people". They didn't think the probability of dying as a result of their work was very high (and are paid to reflect that). When they were told "wear this PPE for several days" and "your PPE is now bin bags", many doctors and nurses have simply quit.

Bright-eyed bushy-tailed students are looking at this and thinking "will I be thrown onto the front-line next to sacrifice myself?". I suspect that although the medical workers of today will be hailed as heroes, we could potentially see a large drop-off in people applying for such positions all around the world. People don't tend to be so fast to rush towards their own demise.

The Economic Consequence Argument

To be clear, this isn't an argument about preserving our wealth (as this doesn't appear to phase the Marxists of you), this is simply to discuss what will happen without it. There are links between economic growth & health, economy & health, education & health, work & health.

We could do this all day, the link is very clear: People in poorer economies often have poorer health, whereas people in richer economies usually have better health. And in this case we can extend health to mean a healthy life-style, including education and work security.

The Freedom Argument

This may not be so pressing to others, but it is to me. Many people will happily give away their freedom at the promise of potential safety, but it's ultimately our freedom that makes us safe and people tend to not understand this.

Is our freedom at risk? Yes. After 9/11 (the September 11th terrorist attack in 2001), a significant number of freedoms were given up in the US. Privacy was breached in digital communications, freedom of movement was lost or at least hindered by security searches, freedom of speech was threatened, the right to bare arms in some places, the list goes on - all in the name of "national security". People were frightened and willingly gave over these freedoms.

Once again we are in a position where people feel frightened and governments have enacted restrictive laws in the name of "national health". Are these restrictions needed and if so, will they definitely be lifted after the virus outbreak? Possibility not. Freedom is easily lost and hard to win. Ask the slaves, ask the people who died for it.

Why is losing freedom bad? Losing freedom is extremely bad in the long run. The best places in the world are the most free. All the places I could name where I wouldn't want to live are either a dictatorship or are communist, i.e. a dictatorship by one or many. Our freedoms allow us to act without fear, they ultimately allow us to question authority.

Conclusion

There is a cost to saving lives and it's this: Other people's lives. Everything has a cost and we should consider exactly what that is when making our decisions. Yes, people will die due to the virus, maybe even a close family member of myself. But we must also consider the greater picture and be willing to do the right thing in spite of our own potential mortality. We will pay a price for these actions and we should be aware of that in advance.

I don't have the answers. I wish I did. I hope the people who are able to get the answers are actually asking them.