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Time to open the economy or risk poverty and starvation

As we continue in idleness, the socio-economic resources we need to fight Covid-19, or any other foe, are being depleted and will soon enough be exhausted.
Herb Dunton Abbotsford, BC

We’re caught up in a false dilemma: either preserve the economy, or save lives from COVID-19.

We’re trading human lives for human lives thanks to experimental lockdown policies. We’re deciding who will live and who will die. We’re exchanging the lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people worldwide through the destruction of the economy for the lives of a comparatively few COVID-19 sufferers.

The trade-off is morally unjustifiable, and even obscene. It is also completely pointless. Killing the economy won’t save lives anywhere. Arguably, strengthening the economy is what saves lives. A strong economy and a strong virus response are complementary, not mutually exclusive.

We need to meet the COVID-19 threat at our greatest strength, not paralyzed by fear, and in isolation, immobilization, and the disconnection we see now. Adding the destruction of our economy and social fabric to the problem is regressive. Life must go on, despite its risks.

Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi said: "[The lockdown measures] are grotesque, absurd and very dangerous… The life expectancy of millions is being shortened. The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people … All these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide based on nothing but a [fright]."

All the intricate networks of our organically knit economy, destroyed in an instant on purpose by bizarre government policies. On the matter, Dr. David Katz said: "The unemployment, impoverishment and despair likely to result [from the lockdowns] will be public health scourges of the first order."

We must turn back from these errors. It is imperative that we set our economy at peak production in all sectors to generate the resources required to overcome this virus and restore society.

As we continue in idleness, the socio-economic resources we need to fight COVID-19, or any other foe, are being depleted and will soon enough be exhausted. The current lockdown measures will end in the complete collapse of our socio-economic, and even political infrastructure.

Some say we need to be on a "war-footing"  to meet this viral enemy. If that is true, then that means doing as much as we can, producing as much as we can. There are risks in ‘war’ – the theoretical risk here, is that more people may become infected and die if we return to business as usual, that ‘casualties’ will increase.

However, even if that theory is correct, which is implausible on the evidence, it is imperative that the opposite side of the equation be considered as well, which is the vastly greater number of casualties, the many more lives and livelihoods being lost because of the lockdown – not the disease.

Remember the poor, in this strange drama. They are the ones suffering most from these containment policies. Aid agencies warn that far more people will die from the economic consequences of the lockdown measures than from COVID-19 itself. Conservative forecasts now predict that 35 to 65 million people will fall into absolute poverty or starvation. That is an unspeakable tragedy.

Wealthier nations may survive this lockdown, sort of, but poorer nations and poor people worldwide will not, they cannot. Countless millions around the world subsist on a meal or a tiny stipend brought home daily as a wage, which has been struck from their hands by these lockdown policies.

While we seek to "flatten the curve" of this virus by shutting down normal life on the planet, we are causing wild spikes in many other curves of human deprivation.

In India, for example, more than 40 million migrant workers, dismissed from their employment en masse have had to trek home on foot, beggared and spreading the virus as they go.  How many of them will die of their lockdown-imposed poverty? No one will ever count these fallen or record their names – but every COVID-19 death in the west is a "crisis".

In the west, many of our people will be permanently ruined by this set-back. The poor will be forgotten the instant this theoretical crisis is called off.

We cannot continue trading lives for lives. Choosing to lessen the suffering of the few at the expense of millions of poor people worldwide is an unthinkable miscarriage of justice.

It’s also completely pointless. The choice between saving the economy or stopping a virus is a false dilemma. The best defense against COVID-19 is an economy running at full strength. A strong economy and a strong virus-response are interdependent allies in a mutual cause.

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Herb Dunton
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