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Destroying our economy to save the NHS?

This is probably one of the few places in the internet, never mind the regular media, where people can get to debate the wonders of socialised medicine without being under the burden of proving that they are not evil. In the UK, we have had since the late 1940s a healthcare system that dominates the field, with a relatively small private sector. The National Health Service, funded from tax and run as a monopoly, with politicians and civil servants allocating resources, was modeled, as so many post-war institutions were, on the idea of state central planning. The narrative of the time was that planning was the way to go, unlike all that messy, chaotic “laissez faire” that had been associated, however wrongly, with the Great Depression and so on. (Here is a good paper on the NHS by the Institute of Economic Affairs.) I can also recommend this book, by James Bartholomew on the many problems with the UK welfare state.

The NHS, like many of the other socialised medical systems in much of the developed world, faces the monstrous coronavirus. And so much of the current policy approach – the UK is going into more of a lockdown as of this weekend – is designed, so it is said, to flatten the potential surge of infections and deaths, so that the NHS and other systems don’t collapse. The cost/benefit calculation is being made that it is better to smash the world economy, to force millions into idleness, possibly for months, and tide them over with cash payments funded from vast amounts of debt, than it is to allow the NHS/other to be forced into a nightmare of running out of resources. In some ways I can see the merits of preventing a horrendous surge in deaths; I also think that saving the NHS and other models of healthcare is a sort of virility test of today’s Welfare States. Nothing can be done to admit they have limits, even if that means economic damage on a major scale.

That cost/benefit calculation may look just about defensible now, but what about in two months’ time, particularly if there is no real sign of a deceleration in the virus, but if the struggle to buy even basic household necessities leaves a lot of people in real hardship? I assume that farmers and others in the food production business are not being told to stay at home, but such is the level of madness about this situation that I wonder. I’d like to know how locking people in their homes for months is going to be enforced.

There are also health considerations to be taken into account by such a lock-down, particularly if it goes on for months on end. Humanity is not designed for prison, and those of us in relatively free societies (“relatively” being the operative word) will move from being restless to downright homicidal of this goes on into the summer and beyond. There aren’t enough police to keep everyone cooped up in their homes.

Those bastards in the Chinese Communist Party have a lot to answer for. And yes, COVID-19 began there, and it shows how derelict some of our media/political class has become that is frowned upon to point that out. (The anger is rising, and will have major consequences for our geopolitics.) It would be rather ironic to think that something unleashed by a Communist state, whether by accident or whatever, has put such pressure on Welfare State societies in the West.

Final point: I was due to give a talk tonight at Brian Micklethwait’s place about the recent calls for anti-trust assaults on the Big Techs such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, and I was going to look at parallels with the campaign to break up J D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil more than a century ago. One thing you can say about Rockefeller, was that as well as being a brilliant businessman, and philanthropist in the area of healthcare, among others, he also understood the importance of integrated supply chains in commerce. He’d have looked at our current predicament with interest.

40 comments to Destroying our economy to save the NHS?

  • Mr Ecks

    The other scenario is that rather than loads of deaths and economic ruin–we have economic ruin and the massively enraging knowledge that the coro was another bubble of bullshit.

    Very good news from the point of view of all of us and our loved ones. But nothing but trouble from the POV of how are we going to provide for ourselves, kin etc in the ruins of a mega-crashed world economy.

  • APL

    Johnathan Pearce: “Nothing can be done to admit they have limits, even if that means economic damage on a major scale.”

    There you are, you know when the system the media claims must have no limits and which is funded from the economy that is being destroyed, that you’ve hit the limit.

    Johnathan Pearce: “Humanity is not designed for prison, and those of us in relatively free societies (“relatively” being the operative word) ”

    I think Johnathan, you can use the past tense there. ‘formerly lived in relatively free societies ..’
    We already have the Blairite ‘Civil Contingencies act’, but apparently that isn’t enough for Boris. God knows why!

    Johnathan Pearce: ” will move from being restless to downright homicidal of this goes on into the summer and beyond.”

    Stand by for a huge rise in domestic violence, days rather than weeks. And if we have a hot summer, then there will be riots in every British city and I expect numerous European cities.

    Johnathan Pearce: “Those bastards in the Chinese Communist Party have a lot to answer for. ”

    Yes. Their lock down of fifteen Chinese cities in mid January tells us they new about the situation in late November or December. Not one travel advisory to foreign governments warning not to travel to China.

    Johnathan Pearce: “He’d have looked at our current predicament with interest.”

    Is there not one European businessman or financier thinking, ‘there is an opportunity here’?

  • ROBERT SYKES

    Today, the US is in a Second Great Depression with unemployment at 25% and rising and a stock down by a third and falling. COVID-19 in the US is expected to peak by the end of May, with new, but declining, cases through the end of August. By then a large fraction of the service sector (70% of the US economy) will be bankrupt, and many of those businesses will never reopen.

    The Russo-Arabian oil war has added to the depression. At $25/bbl no American oil company can make money. Frackers are insolvent at $60/bbl, and most of them are going away, with a large reduction in oil production.

    The Great Depression gave us fascists, nazis, communists, and militarists, and they gave us a world war.

    Turchin, strauss and Howe, and others predicted a major crisis in the 2020’s, but their predictions were based on endogenous factors, not a world pandemic.

  • djc

    On the one hand— when reliable statistics are collated it will be no more than a bad year for seasonal flu. The ‘pandemic’ is one of information and our media: we know too much in too much detail, precision is not accuracy, accuracy is not significance, nor relevance. We will have trashed our economy and much else because we are not grounded, we have no balance and sense of proportion.

    One the other— ‘this time is different’, nothing will avail, in the end the face-saving of the NHS’s will be of no matter, the damage and dislocation will be more profound than that —the new Black Death?.

    And between those poles— it is understandable that at the individual level we will value our lives and those closest too us as ‘priceless’, but we should expect our goverments to be made of more rational stuff.

    For my part I despair to see people —friends I thought level-headed— swept up in this hysteria.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Here in Estonia, the number of new cases is already decreasing. Yesterday was the 1st day with new cases in the single digits since March 11. Today we are back to double digits (16) but that is down from a high point of 56.

    I know, the numbers are too small for reliability, but they strongly suggest that no drastic measures are needed if action is taken early. But the UK is way past that point.

    There is, of course, also the fact that you cannot easily parcel the UK into units of 1.3M people and close the borders between those units. (Not that the borders here are **completely** closed.)

    There is also the fact that Estonian public debt is itself in the single digits (as percentage of GDP), so that the government can borrow to compensate for several month’s loss of income, and still maintain a debt/GDP ratio much better than the UK. (Not to mention Italy.)

  • Chester Draws

    There is, of course, also the fact that you cannot easily parcel the UK into units of 1.3M people and close the borders between those units. (Not that the borders here are **completely** closed.)

    It’s early days yet, but the small nations are generally coming through this better than the large ones so far. Isolated ones better than connected ones.

    It will be interesting to see if this leads to a decrease in a desire for projects like the EU.

    Because the split is not authoritarian/liberal, and many of those coping best haven’t gone into lock-down.

    (I might add that I don’t trust the Chinese figures in any way at all. Their apparent control of the situation is more about looking good so that their borders will be opened for trade than any genuine rate of the disease. I’m sure it’s spreading slower, but the magical drop isn’t credible.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Chester:

    It will be interesting to see if this leads to a decrease in a desire for projects like the EU.

    Seeing how helpful Germany has been to Italy in the past weeks, i should think that there has been, at best, no increase in enthusiasm for the EU.

    Not just in Italy: in all countries where people have been paying attention.

  • Mr Ecks

    Snorri–A worldwide crash/Depression Doug Casey-style –will leave no one untouched.

    Unless Estonian trades only unto Estonian ,your foreign trade will take one Hell of a hit. As everybody else will be broke.

  • thefat tomato

    “The other scenario is that rather than loads of deaths and economic ruin–we have economic ruin and the massively enraging knowledge that the coro was another bubble of bullshit.”
    what is the number of UK COVID-19 deaths where, in retrospect, you call it a “bubble of bullshit”?
    For my part, if UK COVID-19 deaths stay under 2,000, this was a “bubble of bullshit”, and heads need to roll, in the media, in the political class, in the public health policy bureaucracy for starting a panic.

  • Mr Ecks

    Fat–If the people who died were going to die very shortly anyway and very, very few actual NEW cases have died–as with the INIH figures showing 3 actual pure coro virus deaths out of 300+ examined “victims”–then I call it a bubble of bullshit in relation to the economic damage done and to be done. Plus the large number of other extra deaths that damage will cause.

  • JohnB

    This piece, published a around a year ago – so the timing fits, suggests a probable route by which it arrived.
    But, however it came, the whole handling of it seems to border on the surreal.

  • John B

    ‘ I can see the merits of preventing a horrendous surge in deaths…’

    All the data to date shows no significant death rate as a percentage of population. Death rate is being calculated as a percentage of reported cases, but how many cases are unreported? The focus is on the number of new reported infections absent any comparison with total population and without taking note of how comparatively few are being infected. This is misleading. In fact it does seem the large majority of the population do not get infected or are asymptomatic. A tiny fraction die.

    Additionally, unlike other influenza variants, this one seems no/low risk to the very young.

    So… horrendous surge in deaths?

    There was a truly horrendous surge in deaths during two World Wars in which the young paid dearly for our freedom: that freedom is now valued so little we are prepared to give it up cheaply to preserve the lives of a handful of the elderly.

    I suppose that is in-keeping with history, the old send their young to die in wars so they can stay safe at home.

    Opportunistic or deliberate, it is a good dress rehearsal for closing down the economy and limiting freedom to ‘fight’ the ‘war on climate change’. If the current measures are justified to save a few thousands, how much more justified to save the entire Human Race?

    Let nobody say they couldn’t see it coming.

  • APL

    John B: “that freedom is now valued so little we are prepared to give it up cheaply to preserve the lives of a handful of the elderly.”

    It’s done. Dusted, we can now trade with China on equal terms. Gresham’s law applied to civil society. Totalitarianism drives out freedom.

    John B: “Death rate is being calculated as a percentage of reported cases, but how many cases are unreported?”

    This is a media inspired crisis. and that is the tool of their hysteria. Always reported the absolute number of deaths ( in which they don’t break out normal influenza deaths ) and all ascribed to Covid-19. The government has given up governing, in favour of policy driven by the media, BBC, SKY et al.

    In fact, this is what a narcissistic self obsesses Boomer crisis looks like.

    Here and Italian consultant describes this as more like pneumonia than influenza.

    Which makes me think my partner has had it – GP consultation on Wednesday, A&E 2am following monday morning. Diagnosis? Pneumonia.

  • Johnathan Pearce poses the question: “Destroying our economy to save the NHS?”

    I suppose it is an OK-ish question, though I do not like it. As to why, try comparison with this alternative title question.

    “Destroying our society to save our economy?”

    As a second challenge, I worry about the expression “to save the NHS”.

    As has been argued here on Samizdata, many times and sometimes with my assistance: the NHS has many faults. However, at this extremely worrying and difficult time, what we need to do is make the best of the healthcare system that we have. This includes repairing, as quickly and as best can be done, those faults that are currently important and can be at least somewhat repaired.

    This is, IMHO, not actually the best time to argue the longer-term improvements to the healthcare system that we currently have, nor the political faults, other origins or long-term exacerbations of the existent deficiencies.

    How about “to apply as effectively as practical, the healthcare system that we have.”

    Best regards

  • Nullius in Verba

    “All the data to date shows no significant death rate as a percentage of population.”

    But that’s exactly what would be predicted in the early stages of any epidemic. This is reminiscent of the man falling from a skyscraper, who as he passes each floor is heard to say “So far, so good.”

    “Opportunistic or deliberate, it is a good dress rehearsal for closing down the economy and limiting freedom to ‘fight’ the ‘war on climate change’.”

    Actually, I see it as a reassuring sign of the opposite. Current events show that governments can and will take drastic action if they perceive something as a genuine global emergency. Governments since the times of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution have *not* taken more than token action on Climate Change. That tells me that they don’t believe in it either.

    “Gresham’s law applied to civil society. Totalitarianism drives out freedom.”

    Gresham’s law is based on the observation that people keep/hoard the good money, and trade away the bad. Is that what you mean?

    “I suppose it is an OK-ish question, though I do not like it. As to why, try comparison with this alternative title question. “Destroying our society to save our economy?””

    The way I would put it is “Destroying our economy to save ‘a handful of old people’.”

    Boris is using the line of saving the NHS as a way to disarm labour/lib-dem opposition, and to get public support. But fundamentally it is about the political optics of half a million dead. Voters’ mothers and fathers – as well as the voting elderly. And younger voters who know that one day they too will be old, and hope to live in a society that will care about them.

    And whatever the statistical comparisons with other causes of death that we routinely ignore, that’s exactly how the media and the political opposition are going to present it. We didn’t react to 9/11 or other terrorist atrocities by going to war in the Middle East because the sheer number of deaths was significant. Politics is about sentiment and emotion.

    “There was a truly horrendous surge in deaths during two World Wars in which the young paid dearly for our freedom”

    Some might have said at the time that we destroyed our economy and (temporarily at least) gave up many of our own freedoms to save the lives and freedom of the people of Poland, and other Europeans. Why should we have cared? Why should the Americans, for example, have cared about the lives and freedom of people in Europe?

  • Exasperated

    Does anyone have a compelling explanation for Italian death tolls. I’d consider anything even that authorities are misrecording deaths. Maybe its a synergy effect where a lot of little things add up to more than the sum of the parts. Without an explanation, it is reckless and arrogant to ignorethe Italian experience. Maybe it has to do with socialized medicine. When my cousin in Canada contracted SARS we came face to face with the differences in care between US and Canada, but that was years ago. The hallmark of American treatment of infectious diseases is disposability of supplies. But, oh no, our bureaucrats bungled the supply chain, despite yammering about its criticality for first responders for 18 years, since 9/11.

  • Snorri Godhi

    We didn’t react to 9/11 or other terrorist atrocities by going to war in the Middle East because the sheer number of deaths was significant. Politics is about sentiment and emotion.

    There is also the fact that terrorism is similar to an epidemic: you have to respond to an attack before another attack inspired by the first has taken place.

    But fundamentally it is about the political optics of half a million dead. Voters’ mothers and fathers – as well as the voting elderly.

    Forgive me for making fun of this, but Trump needs to be even more careful than Boris (and he is), because in the US the dead also get to vote.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “There is also the fact that terrorism is similar to an epidemic: you have to respond to an attack before another attack inspired by the first has taken place.”

    Agreed. Good point.

    “Forgive me for making fun of this, but Trump needs to be even more careful than Boris (and he is), because in the US the dead also get to vote.”

    🙂 Forgiven!

    Actually, that’s an interesting point. Why do movies about a zombie apocalypse never mention which party the brain-eating hordes would vote for? It would make a good story-line for a comedy, I’d think. Maybe not popular in Hollywood, though.

  • Snorri Godhi

    If i had paid attention to the explanation that Perry gave years ago on how to embed images, i would embed this.

  • neonsnake

    How about “to apply as effectively as practical, the healthcare system that we have.”

    Assuming I’ve understood Mr Sedgewick correctly (not a given!), I agree.

    This is exposing a whole load of stuff that should be, but isn’t, different to our Actually Existing Systems. We can argue about what could be, what should be, but in the context of what we have, a practical solution within existing parameters might be best.

    (In a similar to sense to how the purist in me doesn’t agree with UBI or LVT, but the tactician in me says that it’s the right next step)

  • staghounds

    Once again the real figure that matters, the one we aren’t getting, id gross deaths over a given calendar period over gross deaths during the same calendar period last year.

    Without that, the reporting is just panic mongering and noise.

  • neonsnake

    Christ. In my circles, all the an-coms have turned into proper tankies, all the an-caps have turned into proper fuedalists.

    Neither side is getting shit done, other than the anarcho-mutualists, who are just cracking on with mutual aid and helping each other and so on while ignoring everyone else.

    Free markets for the win, I guess?

  • staghounds

    “In the city of Bergamo, there were 108 more deaths in the first 15 days of March this year compared to 2019 (164 deaths in 2020 vs. 56 deaths in 2019) according to the mayor of the city Giorgio Gori.”

    My attention is fully engaged by that number- three times the usual number of deaths in the time of Coronavirus.

    The U. S. had 2,839,205 people die in 2018, the United Kingdom 616,000.

  • staghounds (March 21, 2020 at 6:35 pm and March 21, 2020 at 10:39 pm), +1.

  • Paul Marks

    The reason the leftist (“liberal”) establishment elite do not like any real opposition to the Chinese Communist Party Dictatorship is that they have long decided that the United States (like the United Kingdom before it) must go into “managed decline” to be replaced on the world scene by a new power – in this case the People’s Republic of China.

    This is the inevitable verdict of “History” (whom the “liberal” establishment elite serve) – and any resistance to the domination of the world by the Communist Party Dictatorship is “stupid” and “ignorant” as well as “racist” (sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic and so on) – and just proves ORANGE MAN BAD (as the intellectual elite put it).

    Minor details such a pointing out that is is odd to accuse people of being “Islamophobic” for opposing the Communist Party Dictatorship of China when it is actually atheist and has about one millions Muslims in concentration camps, will get you punished.

    The Communist Party Dictatorship covered up the spread of the virus for months – and dealt with anyone who tried to warn the Chinese people and the world (but one can not point that out either).

    The “liberal” establishment elite do not just include the Usual Suspects (the “mainstream” media and the education system which produces them) – it also includes most large Corporations and many of the individual rich – after all Corporate types get “educated” in the same way (and in the same places) as the elite media types. “Death to America! Death to the West!” might as well be the “mission statement” of many large Corporations, as well as for certain multi billionaires.

    As for the National Health Service – I forget the official origin story for this year. It changes – sometimes the NHS was supposed to have been based on a coal town fraternity, sometimes on the Friendly Society (fraternal association) of the Great Western Railway, sometimes it is some other story.

    In reality of course it was based on the Soviet health service – “Lenin” having nationalised the hospitals in Russia after the German backed Marxist coup that brought him to power.

    The German Chancellor Otto Von Bismark had introduced a government welfare scheme decades before, that paid the medical bills of poor people in private hospitals, the British Liberals were to the same in 1911 – what was new about the Soviet system was that it was a system of government owned and run hospitals all over a vast country (one actually much bigger than the United Kingdom).

    Of course this does NOT prove that there is anything wrong with the United Kingdom National Health Service (after all Shostakovich and the AK47 were both Soviet – and they both have many admirers), but we should understand the facts.

    The NHS was not “the first in the world” (not even close) – and it was not some “organic evolution” of earlier voluntary efforts. It was a top-down nation-wide nationalising of existing hospitals by the state. That does NOT prove it was a bad idea (if the state is going to pay the medical bills there is an argument for it to own and run the hospitals, otherwise it might get ripped off, as Medicare and Medicaid allegedly rip off the American taxpayer – it is said they pay a lot and get little). The NHS just is what it is.

    Much the same was done with coal mines and steel mills in the United Kingdom – and again the Soviets did it first.

  • Paul Marks

    When did “mission statements” and “a commitment to Social Justice” (i.e. to ever bigger government and the eventual extermination of “capitalism”) first start creeping into Business Schools?

    I think it was in the 1970s – in which case Donald Trump (who went to Wharton in the 1960s) just missed it.

    There are very few large companies that do not give money to Social Justice groups now – and it takes about five minutes to find out that these groups are controlled by Marxists.

    Are we really supposed to believe that the Corporate executives do not know who they are giving money to?

    “Social Responsibility” ah millionaire Comrades?

    “No Paul – you do not understand. In reality the money is a sort of Protection payment, they pay so the left do not launch campaigns against their companies”.

    I see – so they are not Marxists themselves, they just pay the Marxists because they (the “capitalist” executives) are degenerate cowards.

    That makes me feel so much better.

  • Paul Marks

    John D. Rockefeller.

    Your political and religious opinions did not influence his business judgements – he did not discriminate against customers on the basis of their opinions.

    Discriminating against people om the basis of their cultural, religious and political opinions is the CORE of Google, Facebook, Twitter……

    The idea that these are “neutral public platforms” (what they formally claim to be under American law – to get protection from being sued for content) is a LIE – they are LIARS, FRAUDSTERS, especially Google – which RIGS-SEARCH-RESULTS-ON-POLITICAL-GROUNDS. They are trying to RIG THE ELECTION – just as they did the 2018 Congressional election, by controlling where people were directed on the internet (what they were told about candidates).

    There is no need to “break them up” – just enforce existing law. They voluntarily claim to be “neutral public platforms” (they make a legal claim to be such – in order to gain advantages from-the-government) and they are LYING.

    Nothing is done about this – they are not PUNISHED in any way (no CEO’s being sent to prison for make false LEGAL CLAIMS that they run a “neutral public platform”). And that is why the Rule of Law has become a joke.

    A possible counter argument – because it is late and I am tired.

    When J.D. Rockefeller sold various sorts of oil he expected to be paid directly by his customers.

    When (for example) someone uses the Google search engine it is “free” – there is no direct payment for using it, how Google (or any of these “Left Coast” companies) make money is very odd – at least compared to the way traditional “capitalists” operarted.

    So they could turn round and say “we are not cheating customers – because you lot are NOT our customers, after all you are not paying us anything”.

    When, for example, a Youtube “content creator” gets kicked off the platform beause they (Google Youtube) do not agree with his political or cultural opinions – they could always say “you never paid us anything in the first place – you are not a customer, we have no contract with you”.

    It would be a bit like J.D.R. selling “free oil” and some nasty person (me) then complaining “but this stuff is WATER!” – Mr Rockefeller could reply, “O.K. I will give you your money back – oh you did not pay me anything, did you”. Bit”coin” has been established to NOT be a fraud – on the grounds that the people who sell it are always clear they are are selling the contents of an empty bag -“special numbers” (so if people want to buy the contents of an empty bag they have no just grounds of complaint). This could be something similar.

    At least the old “Left Coast” industry, films and television shows, had some connection to old style capitalism – in the past at least film companies wanted lots of people to buy film tickets (I do not think they really care now – indeed I suspect that many modern films are DELIBERATELY bad to show they do not care) – so, in the past, the film companies were capitalist in the traditional sense.

    I am not sure what the bleep the modern Left Coast companies are based on. “Selling ads” – really? “Selling personal data” – O.K. I suppose, but I do not see how even that justifies the vast sums of money these companies are supposed be worth.

  • Bruce

    “Derelict” is not how you spell “COMPLICIT”.

  • Gary

    Nice deflection from Spaffer’s laziness and incompetence, people. The UK Government failed to order ventilators even though they knew CV was imminent. They failed to order equipment even though they knew this was coming.

    No checks at Heathrow.
    Allowing pubs to stay open.
    Allowing gyms (breeding grounds for CV) to stay open.
    Protecting Insurance companies (Tory donors) while throwing everyone under the bus.

    The cost cutting plan to cull the Elderly, called “Herd Immunity”, was being followed by Spaffer (Because it enabled him to do his favourite thing; nothing) until it was pointed out to him by Imperial College that it was utterly stupid.

    Since then we have seen the buck being passed, this sloth of a PM preferring to do nothing. You can see the annoyance ar havimg to do actual work, in his eyes.

    It took China 10 days to build a hospital, it is taking Spaffer two months to begin to get off his fat, lazy ass.

  • bobby b

    “Since then we have seen the buck being passed, this sloth of a PM preferring to do nothing.”

    Sometimes “doing nothing” isn’t driven by sloth. Sometimes it’s just the right thing to do. The assumption that government must always act is so . . . progressive.

  • APL

    Gary: “The UK Government failed to order ventilators even though they knew CV was imminent.”

    And just as well they didn’t too. Since ventilators are useless for this condition.

    In fact, if your lungs are full of mucous, forcing oxygen into them could end up causing internal bleeding and death of the patient sooner.

    Since this condition has been in the UK far longer than January 20th when the BBC started its panic mongering, ( Chinese students**, have been travelling back and forth between China and the UK all of last year ), it is very likely we are already at or approaching the herd immunity ( you so deride ) and thus the Covid-19 strain will die off naturally.

    Gary: “It took China 10 days to build a hospital, ..”

    Some people are so gormless as to believe everything the BBC spews forth. It wasn’t a hospital, it was an isolation unit where the Chinese government left patients to die.

    Notice the BBC have moved on from this magnificent hospital that the Chinese built in ten days. Because the truth doesn’t fit the BBC narrative.

    **Chinese students being among the young healthy demographic that can carry the condition but not succumb to it.

  • APL

    February 17th

    The hospital was damaged in several areas including its roof, water tanks etc and the whole building experienced leaks and flooding that caused critical equipment failures.

    The new hospital that was meant to be served as a quarantine center for coronavirus infected patients will suspend services till repairs are done but this will affect the delay of treatment for new patients.

  • Rich Rostrom

    NiV:

    Governments since the times of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution have *not* taken more than token action on Climate Change. That tells me that they don’t believe in it either.

    A lot more than token action, unfortunately. Not the truly effective actions required by the professed goal of eliminating fossil carbon fuel consumption, of course. But still very substantial actions (banning incandescent bulbs, subsidizing solar and wind power, obstructing coal, interfering with appliance designs) which collectively have cost on the order of a trillion $. Also billions of hours of extra household labor.

    In the global economy, this has been a mere inconvenience. For those not directly affected, life goes on largely unchanged. The general public just bleed a little, while the targeted beneficiaries (industrial, financial, academic) get rich.

    Nonetheless, to paraphrase the late Senator Everett Dirksen, “A trillion here and a trillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” Even the powerhouse economy of the last generation has been damaged.

    I note further that the policymakers have refused to challenge effectively leftist prejudices against nuclear power, despite it being the only remotely practical alternative to fossil carbon. Instead, they have embraced cheap natural gas. (The recent move to ban gas heating in the UK is a shuck: the electricity to run the heat pumps proposed as replacement will come from gas-fired power stations.)

  • NiV: Governments since the times of the Byrd-Hagel Resolution have *not* taken more than token action on Climate Change. That tells me that they don’t believe in it either.

    A lot more than token action, unfortunately. (Rich Rostrom, March 22, 2020 at 5:33 pm)

    I agree with both of you, but probably predominantly with Nullius. Politically cheap decisions are taken (politically cheap – which I suspect is what Rich is noticing). Politically expensive decisions are not taken. If this were for real and not for propitiating the narrative and/or leveraging votes out of it then at least a real debate on nuclear would have been held.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “But still very substantial actions (banning incandescent bulbs, subsidizing solar and wind power, obstructing coal, interfering with appliance designs)”

    All of which had other purposes and motivations – mainly protectionist subsidies for businesses with powerful lobbies. So for example, European light bulb manufacturers were being outcompeted by China in the incandescent market, and nobody wanted to buy the twisty fluorescent bulbs in which they were still ahead. So they got the government to ban the former. Sod all to do with climate change – the difference in energy usage was trivial and hardly likely to ‘save the planet’ and they knew it. Even more so for that stupid business of limiting the power consumption of kettles, so they would take twice as long to boil. But obviously, you can’t admit openly that you’re doing it for Protectionist reasons, so you claim to be doing it for Environmental ones.

    Governments use the Environment to justify doing things they want to do, but which otherwise would be a tough sell to the public. Nobody is allowed to criticise if it’s For The Baby Polar Bears – Aaaah! Sweet! However, none of the corrupt bastards has or will ever do anything that damages the industrial lobbies paying them, like shutting off the power or shutting down the country. Or, as you say, going nuclear, which would be the only sensible option if it was actually true. It’s a hobgoblin, used purely for public persuasion.

    The American Senate recognised that in the Byrd-Hagel Resolution back at the time Clinton and Gore signed the Kyoto Treaty, it was voted near unanimously by *both* sides of the house, and basically said that yes, we do believe in climate change, and just as soon as the rest of the world proposes a plan that would actually make a difference, and not simply destroy the American economy for no benefit, we’ll join in. Nobody has made such a proposal. And even Obama, when the Chinese backtracked on their commitments made at Bali, followed the same policy.

    No government believes in it. No major business believes in it. But they’ll all cheerfully use it as cover when it’s in their own interests to do so, and yes, some of that has been pretty expensive. But so it ever was, when governments are run by Protectionists.

  • ben

    So at my local Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s for some time now in order to reduce the amount of plastic bags that are being purchased at the store instead of stocking a supply of plastic bags at each self-checkout terminal they have a store worker carry around a bunch of plastic bags. I guess the idea is that by decreasing the convenience of purchasing bags they will decrease the sales of the bags. Considering the need for social distancing I’m surprised they haven’t reverted back to the self-serve plastic bag model. Though, I guess it is not completely clear if it would change anything or even the direction of the change.

  • APL

    It’s official. The UK is now a police state.

    The one saving grace may be that the prisons are already full to overflowing with Islamic terrorists and foreigners. So there probably won’t be any room to lock up an appreciable proportion of the rest of us.

    But, then I suppose that is what House Arrest is for.

  • Mr Ed

    The latest government announcement that I have seen as an advert:

    GOV.UK ALERT CORONAVIRUS New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info and exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.

    ‘Protect the NHS’ – i.e. feck you and your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And on LBC radio, Iain Dale was almost weeping talking about applauding NHS staff.

    To which I say: “I will listen to praise for the NHS from anyone, provided that they recite to me first, in order of death, the names of all the 1,200 or so victims of the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Slaughterhouse, and the names of those responsible for their deaths”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “‘Protect the NHS’ – i.e. feck you and your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”

    1. Protecting the NHS is very popular. They’re just using whatever phrasing they figure is most likely to work with the public. Address your objection to the general public.

    2. The reason they keep on going on about ‘protecting the NHS’ is that while the NHS has the capacity, the death rate is low, but if the NHS gets overloaded by several times more patients at once than they have beds, the death rate goes up. Thus, it *is* your life they’re talking about.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Incidentally, there’s a very interesting graph here.

    Think about what would happen if a majority in either one or both of the ICU or hospitalisation columns died instead, because the health system had run out of capacity? What would that do to the overall death rate?

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