One thing economists hate is being asked to foresee the future. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the stock exchange, inflation, or GDP… why would someone share their knowledge for free? More importantly though, if it was so easy to foresee the future, wouldn’t they have already done so and become filthy rich?
Something similar happened when the West was introduced to COVID-19. All of a sudden everybody became scared to death while at the same time trying to foresee the future, all in the hope of better handling the consequences of the ‘deadly’ virus. From the highly-paid analysts around the world to the lonely individuals stuck at home, practically all of us did this. And of course, we were all wrong. Some were more wrong than others, but we were all wrong! What is worrying though is not that we were wrong, or the pandemic itself, but rather what comes after the pandemic.
The pandemic autocrats
Nothing less should be expected from China and similar autocratic regimes than the use of government power to ‘solve the problem’ in the name of the ‘greater good,’ – usually by any means necessary. That is exactly what China did from the get-go. However, if the pandemic proved anything, it is that the measures used by so-called liberal democracies only differered in scope and scale, not in principle.
It all started with ‘trust the science’ and ‘two weeks to flatten the curve.’ Soon after, mandatory face mask coverings were the orders of the day. Then came the full disregard of the first amendment, especially when it came to religious gatherings. It all culminated (and for you the culmination might be different) with the full closure of society and closing up shop for most of the businesses (of course, primarily the small ones!). It is unfair to compare the pandemic with the 1940 Blitz, or any war for that matter, but it sure did feel like it, even though bombs were not falling from the skies.
Thus, in a heartbeat, the individual stopped being sovereign and able to make decisions for himself. In a heartbeat, the glorified democracy and the will of the people were replaced with technocracy. After all, we don’t live alone in this world, we were told. We live in a society, together!
The curse of a crisis
Since time immemorial, governments around the world knew, in Churchill’s words, to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Compared to the pre-crisis levels, we have seen the government’s scope and scale enlargened many times throughout history. The Great Depression, the aftermath of the Second World War, and most recently the Patriot Act after the fall of the Twin Towers are great examples.
The same thing happened during the pandemic. Overnight, we became gullible and trusting. In a heartbeat, politicians and government officials ‘became’ angels, caring more about us than themselves and their re-election. Sadly, when it comes to government power, just like before, I doubt we will follow a different path after the pandemic. A path where things go back to the pre-crisis mode is unimaginable.
Led by fear and the need for feeling safe, we didn’t stop there. We blindly accepted almost everything the ‘experts’ said, no matter how many times those same experts were wrong. We made fun of the few who dared to express their disagreement. We shamed Sweden and its citizens who accepted one of the most lenient approaches to the crisis. We became the Soviets of the Cold War paper cartoons, reporting on neighbors to the police for leaving their homes for a walk during curfew hours. All of a sudden, groupthink prevailed and “you are either with us or against us” was the modus operandi. Just like that, the cherished individualism that the West proudly wore on its chest as a badge of honor became a relic of the past.
Businesses were failing, unemployment grew rapidly, government spending and money printing were steeply growing, and no one batted an eye. People sat at home, cashing in miserable $600 and $1200 checks they will only end up parting with one day, be it through taxes or inflation.
The pandemic absurdities
For far too long we were at a standstill, and the only things growing were the absurdities and inconsistencies we could see all around us. During the George Floyd protests happening all over the US, the pandemic was apparently non-existent. The pandemic was also non-existent for the 161 million people voting later that year. However, small family gatherings for Christmas – even after vaccination was underway – were super-spreader events.
Over the past few months, we saw people gathering in large numbers around the world, protesting against COVID-19 measures. For the French that might have been just ‘another day at the office,’ but not for the Australians, whose country became the largest prison on Earth. And if the pandemic was forgotten during the 2020 protests, today it is protests that are forgotten, or at least hardly reported on, just like as with the Hong Kong protests a year earlier.
So, if you were as ‘smart’ as I was, believing no Western government would go as far as they did, it is time to become less smart about it. Just like I couldn’t fathom what has been happening over the past eighteen months, even after president Biden’s rule by executive order, I never would have thought a day would come when workplace vaccine mandates were a reality. And again I was wrong, as recently, President Biden proposed exactly that – and this week, a new law comes into force in Austria, making vaccination mandatory for all adults.
I have no idea what the biggest threat is right now. However, one thing I do know is, if we don’t fight for our lost freedoms of the times we were scared, our children won’t know which freedoms their pаrents have enjoyed and gambled away.
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