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Samizdata quote of the day – state mandated recession edition

To see the folly of the UK’s approach, you just have to look at Sweden, which had no lockdown and far lighter restrictions. As a cancer surgeon pointed out in the Spectator last year, the difference in access to cancer services was astonishing. Taking prostate cancer as an example, during the first wave in 2020, the number of patients undergoing prostatectomies fell by 43 per cent in Britain, but by just three per cent in Sweden. Such a stark gap cannot simply be blamed on the virus. Lockdown is the difference here.

Perhaps the most obvious impact of lockdown has been on the economy, where a new grim milestone is surpassed every month. Shops, restaurants, offices and factories were shuttered for months on end in 2020 and 2021. Vast swathes of the economy were either mothballed or severely disrupted – far more by state-enforced restrictions than by the pandemic itself. The lockdowns of 2020 resulted in the UK’s worst recession in the history of industrial capitalism – a fall in economic output not seen since the Great Frost of 1709.

Fraser Myers

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – state mandated recession edition

  • Paul Marks

    It was not just Sweden – all, all, the nations that did not have a lockdown had a lower (not a higher – lower) death rate than the United Kingdom.

    Some governments talked about it endlessly but did not actually do it, such as the government of Japan. And some rulers almost ignored Covid in 2020 – such as the rulers of Nicaragua and Belarus, I remember in 2020 thinking (with horror) that ordinary people were now less free in the United Kingdom than they were in dictatorships such as Belarus and Nicaragua that I had opposed-all-my-life.

    On the other hand, some myths need to be contradicted – for example “there was no lockdown in Russia” keeps flouting round the internet, yes-there-was – and Mr Putin’s lockdown was just as much a failure as the lockdown of Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak.

    Indeed, sometimes I wonder if Mr Putin’s health problems are linked to certain “vaccine” injections he had – but it is impossible to know for sure.

    Om the other hand some nations, such as the Dominican Republic, followed an Early Treatment policy for Covid 19 (with good success) – but that was not followed in the United Kingdom and the United States, perhaps because the government medical agencies are (in the United Kingdom and the United States) part funded by the Drug Companies they are meant to policy – and so tend to think in terms of new technology “vaccines” or experimental new drugs in general, rather than old medications for treatment.

    It is a pity that some of the nations that followed an Early Treatment policy, are now being pushed down the injection road – by Mr Gates and so on.

    By the way, even I was shocked by the interview with Mr Dominic Cummings (former top “adviser” to Prime Minister Johnson) when Mr Cummings kept going on about “Bill Gates” when explaining why he, Mr Cummings, changed his mind and stated pushing lockdowns.

    Mr Gates is not a medical expert, he is a college dropout (who was not even studying medicine) who got vast sums of money from a sweetheart deal his, Progressive Establishment, family arranged with IBM (yes – Mr Gates is not even a great computer programmer) – why does anyone take his medical policy advice?

    Still there are a whole class of these people – very rich (often because of “pull” – sweetheart deals and so on), but having nothing else special about them. Yet everyone is supposed to fall on their faces and obey their instructions – on heath policy, “the environment”, and everything else.

  • Paul Marks

    As to why these very rich people (and corporations) back international organisations such as the “World Health Organisation” with its Marxist Doctor of Philosophy (not medicine) head – well it is hard to believe that all these “Capitalist” Big Business types are all closet Marxists, it is more likely they support some sort of international (world) Saint-Simonism, Collectivism run by Big Business (the Credit Bubble banks and so on).

    Governments? “They are the EXPERTS minister – you must sign this international treaty, do not worry it-is-legally-non-binding”, that has been the case since George Herbert Walker Bush and John Major signed up the “legally nonbinding” Agenda 21, right to Mr Sunak agreeing to the “G20” vaccine passport thing – to be administered (of course) by the World Health Organisation. And what is “legally nonbinding” always turns out to be very binding indeed, at least the officials say it is (later). “You have to do this – it is POLICY” (it never seems to occur to politicians, of any political party, that they are the people who are supposed to make, and to change, policy).

    Regardless of who one votes for, the officials and the “experts” remain – and they rule, that is the case in many countries. Although some American State Governors stood up against it and never had a lockdown – North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska, spring to mind.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the economic harm the international lockdowns did – it may well have been deliberate, designed to destroy small business enterprises and hand over control to vast Corporations working in “partnership” with “stakeholders” (governments and “non profits” – the same people who help rig elections in parts fo the United States).

    The idea being to make people dependent on a few corporations and on government. This policy is very far advanced in such place as California – and the people are so brainwashed that 60% of them just voted to re-elect the Governor who is helping reduce them to serfdom.

    Thousands of lives were saved in California by Early Treatment for Covid – carried out by Doctor Bryan Tyson and others, now these doctors are to be punished. A new law in California means that telling the truth about a disease can cost a doctor his “medical license” and so send them to prison if they continue to practice medicine without this “license”.

    That is the way of this world – the evil, such as the Governor of California (and make no mistake, he is no innocent dupe – the Governor is an evil man) are rewarded and the good are punished. With the education system and the Corporate media brainwashing most people so they clap, like seals, with approval at all the evil being done in front of them.

    The United Kingdom?

    No responsibility is being admitted for the insane lockdown policy, supported by all political parties, even Mr Sunak (who flung away more than 400 Billion Pounds – 400 Billion Pounds “not much if you say it quick”) carries on as if he had done nothing wrong – with any economic or social collapse in the United Kingdom being blamed on “Putin”.

    Mr Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine did Russia no good (indeed it greatly harmed Russia), but it gave Western leaders an “out” from the consequences of their own (insane) Covid lockdown policies – now they could pretend that the economic and social consequences of their terrible policies were due to “Putin”.

    It is almost like a script, with Mr Putin, and his deluded followers, playing the role of the baddie or baddies – as in a Pantomime villain, or the Bad Guy in American wrestling.

    “You are against the Western establishment? You must be an agent of Putin! You stooge of the Ivans!”

  • JohnK


    Dominic Cummings has a strangely deferential attitude towards Bill Gates. It’s hard to understand. Perhaps he feels that if Bill Gates is so rich he must be very wise, rather than the lucky chancer he really is. I don’t know, but it is strange, Cummings usually has no tolerance of bullshitters.

    As to “policy”, that was surely President Trump’s cardinal sin in the eyes of the permanent state: he had his own views, and as the elected president was determined to follow them, whatever “policy” dictated. They got him in the end, of course, thankfully in a less violent way than President Kennedy suffered.

  • Kirk

    When, in the history of pandemic and epidemic response, has anything like the lockdown regime been tried before the COVID panic?

    Did we do it for any of the influenza epidemics of the 19th and 20th Centuries? Nope; so why did we do it this time?

    Fauci and Birx both ought to be pilloried for their incompetence. They won’t suffer one bit of consequence, however, ‘cos they work for the US government where the policy is not only “F*ck up, move up…” it’s “F*ck up, move up, get a performance bonus…”

    Fauci should go down in history as one of the worst actors ever in the field of public health. He should have been fired in the aftermath of any one of the things he’s screwed up, down the years, from AIDS to the various Ebola outbreaks. Instead, he became one of the highest-paid civil servants in the US government, and will likely go down as the highest-paid ever in retirement.

    There’s something intrinsically wrong with this. Screwing the pooch on this scale shouldn’t be survivable, let alone as profitable as it has been for him.

  • Roué le Jour

    Fauci is a Lord of the Left and consequences are for peasants. In any case, history written by the winners will record him as the hero that stopped Trump.

  • Paul Marks

    Roue le Jour – I wish I could argue with you, but the facts are on your side.

    And not just on Covid – for example in the Midterms a couple of weeks ago, elections were blatantly rigged in several States, for example Arizona, yet the media ignored the rigging (even though it happened in real time and on camera “sorry you cannot vote – the machines are not working”, this only hits Republicans because Democrat “votes” are preprepared, “mail-in ballots”) and it will not be recorded in the official history books – the same sort of history books that record that Herbert Hoover followed a free market policy (he did not) and that Franklin Roosevelt’s policies were good for the United States (they were not).

    The history books will record that the lockdowns and injections were the correct response to Covid – and that there was no motive to destroy what is left of freedom, and the history books will record that the elections are totally straight.

    Kirk – no there was no precedent for these insane policies, because the motive was never really about Public Health. The Marxist Doctor of Philosophy who heads the World Health Organisation could not care less about saving lives – and neither could the World Economic Forum.

    JohnK. – yes the attitude of Cummings and co is “he is very rich – so he must be correct”, but it is not just that.

    Notice that when a rich person “steps out of line”, for example Elon Musk coming out against censorship (the “cultural aspect” of Agenda 2030 and all that) – the establishment then turn on him.

    Say Mr Bill Gates had come out AGAINST lockdowns – then he would suddenly find himself attacked (savagely attacked) in the media (certainly in that “Times” – which is essentially toilet paper), and no longer invited all the important conferences.

    And then there would be “investigations” into Mr Gates – and possible prison, for imaginary crimes.

    As for Donald John Trump – yes indeed, and the establishment have not finished punishing him for not following the line (on immigration and everything else), I suspect there will be a lot more persecution of both him and his family, if not an assassination.

    By the way, I am told that Jeff Bezos does not believe a word of the Collectivist bilge he comes out with at gatherings and is printed in his “Washington Post”.

    Mr Bezos likes being very rich (and that is fair enough) and he knows that the policies of the establishment (such as lockdowns) add to his wealth – and that if he opposed these policies, he might find himself in prison (for imaginary crimes).

    It is just the world we live in.


  • Jim

    “The lockdowns of 2020 resulted in the UK’s worst recession in the history of industrial capitalism – a fall in economic output not seen since the Great Frost of 1709.”

    Tim Worstall has often pointed out that one of the reasons the UK suffered a ‘worse’ Covid lockdown recession compared to its European counterparts (ie a greater drop in GDP) was that the ONS attempted to quantify the actual loss to GDP of State services that were still being paid for, but not achieving much, if anything, such schools and hospitals. Other nations just used the standard ‘We pay Xbn for it, so its adds Xbn to GDP’ formula, regardless of whether those services were functioning or not. Thus the UK’s 2020 drop in GDP far exceeded that of its neighbours, because we were measuring differently.

    Now there’s arguments over the recovery being worse in the UK too, and why that could be, but the way we calculated our GDP during the covid recession was definitely a reason we looked an outlier.

  • Paul Marks

    Jim – GDP is indeed not a good measure of the economy, but that is cold comfort.

    The United Kingdom government was incredibly bad – for example the tens of billions of Pounds just thrown away on the useless “Track and Trace”. Tens of billions of Pounds – it does not sound much just written on a computer screen, but imagine how many small business enterprises are destroyed to pay for “just” one billion Pounds. Chancellor Sunak managed to get through almost half a TRILLION (financial trillion – one thousand billion, which is, in turn, a financial billion – one thousand million Pounds, just try and imagine one thousand million Pounds and then multiply that by 500) – and this was just on terrible (and medically useless) Covid policies – it was on-top-of an already massively bloated British government budge, even before Covid government spending in the United Kingdom was cripplingly high.

    And now Mr Sunak is Prime Minster and, therefore, First Lord of the Treasury, and Mr Jeremy Hunt (the lockdown extremist – who thought Mr Johnson should have done MORE) is Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    Since the Autum Statement we know what having Mr Sunak as Prime Minister and Mr Hunt as Chancellor means – even higher government spending (contrary to the media – there is no “spending restraint”), even higher taxes (already at an all-time high) and even more regulations.

    “But Paul you yourself have repeatedly said that politicians have little power – so you cannot, consistently, blame Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt for what is really decided by officials and international bodies”.

    Where is the evidence that Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt are struggling to free themselves from the officials and the international tyranny?

    They are not innocent prisoners desperately trying to free themselves – they are very much part of this international “club” (for want of a better word).

  • Jon Eds

    I’m more optimistic than you, Paul, that the lockdowns (unfortunately maybe not also the “vaccines”), will be seen as a mistake in future history books. The complete failure of the lockdowns is just too well documented, in particular through the example set by Sweden and Florida. Rigged US elections – yes, you are probably right, this will be memory holed.

  • GregWA

    Re the OP, but this enormous drop in economic output was accompanied by a similar drop in government coffers so spending went down and there were mass layoffs of government workers…just like small businesses. ha, ha, ha, ha…had you going for a minute!

    Seriously, as others have noted, had the WFH with no issues crowed been denied that option, this all would have ended in a matter of weeks. There would never have been a vaccine mandate so only Fauci’s admirers would have gotten the jab and we’d have the best ever controlled experiment nicely underway.