Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Covid-19: Aftermath and future perspectives

 Except for two world wars, never since the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic has the world been in such panic. We are in lockdown and we now have social-distancing and self-isolation to contend with. Death is looming around the world and politicians are struggling to get the world back to normality. How did we get there and where are we going?
In December 2019, the Chinese city of Wuhan first identified the deadly coronavirus infectious disease, which has now caused massive numbers of death around the world. As of yet the world experts have not found answers or a cure, as a result governments have locked us down and are coping with the rise in cases and deaths as best they can, so far with some partial results. Governments have dealt with the pandemic in different ways, some better than others, but the lack of testing remains a major obstacle as data remain sparse at best. Recommended measures like 14 days self-isolation may mitigate the rise of cases. Estimates put the possible deaths in the thousands if not millions. The lack of solid data has caused panic and given rise to many conspiracy theories.
The virus origins are still being investigated. The first cases where found in China, the political rhetoric and spinning have done nothing to alleviate our fears. The Chinese government has accused the Americans of spreading the virus, and President Trump has called the disease a ‘Chinese virus’. While the origins are being disputed a report from the South China University of Technology has surfaced commenting on experiments using horseshoe bats and stated: “The killer coronavirus probably originated from a lab in Wuhan. Safety levels may need to be reinforced in high risk bio-hazardous laboratories.”  China was very late in advising the world of the outbreak, and it seems that it may have been too late for necessary precautions to be taken; hence a worldwide infection became inevitable.
Governments and world institutions have failed us. The World Health Organization (WHO) was very late in declaring the outbreak a pandemic, while the WHO leadership consistently covered the Chinese government for its lack of transparency. Italy became the first European country to see the rise of daily number of deaths, followed by Spain and France, and now the United Kingdom. In the United States the first cases where found in the State of Washington and has now spread in all fifty States with New York being the epicentre. Much of the uncontrollable rise in cases and deaths may well be due to the refusal to close borders and flights from abroad. In Canada the greatest number of cases and deaths are in the four cities which were still open to flights from abroad. Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta As data is collected models project thousands of deaths before the pandemic is brought under control. All sports activities and competitions have been suspended and gatherings of more than 15 people has been prohibited. The irony is that ordinary citizens can be fined and prosecuted for being outside, the left social justice zealots would like to see prisoners released,
The number of deaths and the inability to control the rise of the disease has not stopped the politics. Governments have had to inject trillions of dollars into the economy as a world recession is expected. It is the role of government to protect its citizens but it is the different approaches that should alarm us. Politicians always find a way to use a crisis for political gains, some more than others. The massive injection of money into the economy gave some politicians the latitude to try and increase their powers. In Canada Prime Minister Trudeau, who incidentally has been self-isolating himself since the beginning of the pandemic, has tried to get dictatorial powers to tax and spend without the approval of Parliament. In Great Britain former Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are asking for  ‘temporary’ World Government, once achieved we know how temporary this will last.  The idea of a ‘world government’ is no longer a real of conspiracy theory as it is now being discussed openly. The new Deputy Prime Minister of Canada Chrystia Freeland also espoused those views openly. Many see this new world order as a means to extend Keynesian economic theories through The  World Bank and  the International Monetary Fund as they claim  an increase in their financial firepower to cope with the impact of the crisis on low- and middle-income countries. The idea of a one world government has long been percolating in leftist circles, but now in opposition to Trump’s policies it has now surfaced openly. The composition, without the U.S, is still being considered.
Trump may be blamed for many things but he must also be given credit for his open trade war on China and his departure from globalist policies. The coronavirus crisis has exposed the fragility of the reliance of supply chains, mainly from China. The majority of pharmaceuticals are produced in China and now the shortages are very apparent. Given the source of the virus, can we trust China’s Huawei for the implementation of 5G networks? Furthermore the World Trade Organization’s regulations have given China so much latitude that they virtually control many of the world’s manufacturing. Despite these failures the left sees the crisis as an opportunity to counteract Trump’s views of ‘America first’. In my view this is going to be the next drama of division in the international arena.
All the while the crisis has also provided many opportunities due to the closure of businesses, schools and the heavy burden of the healthcare institutions. As we come out of this dangerous crisis we can use what we have learned to make drastic changes to the way we work, live and play. In future I see an increase use of the internet as a means of delivery for many of our services. Education has already embraced online schooling. The medical profession can see many opportunities to streamline how we provide healthcare. There are opportunities to re-engineer many of our public sector organizations. Economic measures must be measured and responsible, too much reliance on Keynesian theories may harm us in the long run. Philip Cross writes:  “Canada wasted its opportunity to focus on policies that raise long-term potential…Unrelenting monetary and fiscal stimulus gradually reduces the economy’s long-term potential growth rate.”
As I mentioned earlier our governments have failed us, and we should remember what Obama said in 2012: "If you've got a business—you didn't build that”, fortunately in this crisis it is being proven that it is the private sector that has come to the rescue, producing thousands of personal protective equipment, gloves and masks. Grocery stores, restaurants and fast food small businesses have continued to feed us while we are confined in our homes, Trump’s call to the private sector has been answered in no uncertain terms.
While the world struggles to cope with this unprecedented pandemic, we must also examine the role of the media. It is important to get unadulterated news that informs the public to avoid panic. Unfortunately, for political reasons this has not been the case during this time of need. Too many reports have actually caused panic buying and shortages. The hate for President Trump is apparent in many media reports. First he was branded a xenophobe for trying to close the borders for flights coming to the United States. There are calls for the curtailment of his daily briefings because it may be used as a campaign platform. His every word is being parsed to find a chink in his armor. All the while the media has ignored many of the problems of other leaders, Canadian media has used every Trump faux pas , increasing cases and deaths, to inoculate the Canadian Prime Minister who has been absent, except for a daily outing out of his residence like Wiarton Willie out of his den. They have ignored, quite deliberately, the reports that Canada sent tonnes of health equipment and lab viruses to China. European leaders have failed miserably as death tolls rise in Britain.  Boris Johnson and his health Minister have both contracted the virus. The European reaction to the pandemic has been slow at best, but the eyes are all on Trump. It is stated that the number of deaths in the U.S has surpassed those of China, but can we rely on data coming from the WHO and China?
There is no doubt that the world will have weeks if not more months of hardship as we face the consequences of this pandemic. However I strongly believe that we shall come out of this stronger if we take the right steps. There are many opportunities; necessity is the mother of invention, and we are seeing this take place every day. Innovation, not government platitudes will get us out of this crisis.
 Bob Dylan sang: ‘the times they are a-changin’ - and they have. We must use what we have learned to make better choices, less reliance on government for certain services that can be better provided by the private sector. Be aware and very cautious of politicians who would use this crisis to acquire greater powers, especially their agenda to increase reliance on international organizations leading us a to a One world global government.

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