Australian beaches packed with sunbathers, English parks crowded with walkers taking in the fine March weather, packed tube trains and Sunday markets brimming with bargain seekers, supermarket shelves stripped of merchandise…
On the face of it, the populace seem intent upon ignoring the dire warnings of government: the virus is dangerous; we must self-isolate, we must protect ourselves – so why?
Essential mistakes have been made:
The health gurus suggest that only older people or those with underlying health problems are in mortal danger, so the young and fit, if the odds are no higher than the chance of getting a rather severe dose of flu will be tempted to gamble. The possibility of passing on infection matters relatively little to those who, for the most part, live at a distance, physically and emotionally, from their elders. Besides, we are being advised to exercise, aren’t we? In a city, the streets aren’t safe, so where else can that happen but in the parks?
In UK anyway, the National Health Service is continually crying wolf. Every winter the population is treated to threats of inadequate staffing, long waiting times and tragic outcomes, that somehow omit to mention the prevalence of expensive agency staffing and the manner in which specialists apportion their time between NHS and private practice. Are most of us unaware of these inconvenient truths? And then, of course, there is personal experience, which largely runs counter to the media blast.
UK consumer credit is at an all-time high, so I can only imagine the pressures upon those who are nominally ‘self-employed’ or who work in the ‘gig economy’. Living costs in big cities are phenomenally high and millions live at the absolute limit of their means, or beyond. A government loan is no answer for them – it is simply additional debt. They need to work or face homelessness.
Finally, there is an issue of trust. It is no surprise that Australia, whose Prime |Ministers’ chances of dying in bed equate to those of medieval British Kings, should regard sententious warnings from politicians with cynicism. Nor is it likely, so hot on the heels of the Brexit debacle, that the British should be easily persuaded of sincerity in a politician. Throughout most of the First-World, the press is the willing bedfellow of those with the most power to deflect it, propaganda is rife and there are no steadying voices. All journalism is sensationalist, all journalists will sacrifice truth for a story.
Few aboard the rusting hulk of ‘democracy’ feel in a position to trust the rudder. The idealistic young, aboard the fleet yacht of simple solutions have delivered their verdict, and unless the statistics hit blitzkrieg proportions, as they have in Italy, who’s to say that they are wrong?
Personally I am in favour of quarantine (I will not use that rabble-rousing and etymologically incorrect term ‘lock-down’); but then, I am over 70 with underlying health issues, so I would be, wouldn’t I? Even so, threatening me with fines or arrest if I raise my head above the parapet is hardly likely to win my heart.