Saturday, October 10, 2020

We Need to Stop Right Wing Journalists from Crashing the Economy

We are not doing well in the great Covid sweepstake. 

Our death rate is the third highest in Europe, behind Belgium and Spain, according to Worldometer

Economically, the OECD finds that only Spain and Peru have had a deeper percentage decline in GDP than the UK.

Meanwhile the BBC has a non-ending discussion on "the balance between health and the economy", the fight against the pandemic and the fight against economic collapse. 

The fact is that we are losing on both fronts.

It is clear that we need first to suppress the virus in order to get  the economy moving again. Looking at the OECD graph above, the six countries who have suffered least economically are all between 90 and 189 in the league table of deaths per million, whereas we lie, shamefully, in the 12th position from the top. 

Why are we doing so badly? 

First, here is a list of 22 errors committed by Johnson's Tories in their handling of the pandemic. 

The other reason is that the BBC and other right wing media sources have been providing a continual obbligato of criticism of the lockdown measures. They give a platform to extreme libertarians who moan about their refusal to wear "muzzles", and how wrong it is that they should not be allowed to keep on drinking in the pub as long as they want. 

This grumbling was given apparent respectability by the Great Barrington Declaration  from a group associated with neo-liberalism from the same stock (and with the same Koch funding) as man-made climate change deniers.

This carping filters down into the popular consciousness into a spirit of non-compliance with social distancing, mask wearing and hand hygiene. This in turn pushes up the R-number, and this in turn prolongs the agony, and forces us all into more self-isolation and more job losses. 

We may even find ourselves in the position that the rest of the world is getting back to work (hopefully in greener economies) while we in the UK find ourselves quarantined if we visit these more sensible countries.

Nobody wants another lock-down. But we have to stop the increase in the R-number, and this means that somehow, we have to continue to exercise discipline on our interactions. The measures brought in on 22nd September have had an effect, as this graph from the excellent Symptom Tracker demonstrates:

The cases were growing exponentially until the rule of 6 and other new measures were brought in on 22nd September.

So hands, face and space does work. We just need to make sure that distancing is adhered to by everyone. 

And this means telling some influential journalists to support the public health agenda if they want to get the economy to pick up again.

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