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Why are Western Politicians Destroying the Economy?

The economic devastation wrecked upon Western economies by governments will have consequences for many years to come.

Submitted by Finn Andreen…

An economic cataclysm has been unleashed upon the world by Western politicians and bureaucrats. Unbelievably, economic activity in the West has slowed to a creep, as entire populations have been confined to their homes for weeks, if not months. As a result, millions have had their lives turned upside down. Most entrepreneurs and self-employed have had their livelihoods jeopardized.

The EU economy may shrink by 5% according to the ECB, and similar figures are forecast for the US. The economic devastation wrecked upon Western economies by governments will have consequences for many years to come. It will inevitably lower the quality of life of European and US citizens for a long time, impacting their health as well.

It is important to understand that this disaster is not the result of the Coronavirus pandemic, which is a public health problem, but of overzealous government officials reacting to the pandemic. The Coronavirus pandemic itself seems just slightly more severe than the seasonal flu, which kills hundreds of thousands of people every single year globally, without any particular political reaction. As with influenzathe mortality rate of Covid-19 is close to zero in children and very low in healthy adults. And as with the flu, Covid-19 has a non negligible death rate for the elderly and those with a history of illness, as the case of Italy clearly shows. The pandemic in itself does not thus warrant anything close to the unprecedented authoritarian measures that have taken by most Western governments.

The question then begs : why the hysterical reactions to the Coronavirus from Western politicians, bringing the entire economy to its knees and severely curtailing the fundamental individual freedoms of millions of citizens? Of course, there is the usual incompetence and herd behavior in the political leadership of many countries to be reckoned with. But other reasons exist for this disastrous and irresponsible behavior. Here is a list of probable ones.

Firstly, politicians have generally little understanding of the free market. Steeped in administrative and policy thinking, most politicians have never worked in the private sector, nor studied market economics. They do not understand nor appreciate the possibilities of the unhampered market economy, with its unfathomable amount of daily exchanges, its myriad commercial relations and its never-ending adaptation to surrounding conditions. Further, in their political power logic, it is counter-intuitive for politicians to rely on Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” for solutions. This is not new; it has always been a typical trait of politicians and bureaucrats. The political reactions to the Coronavirus pandemic has just dramatically confirmed this truth yet again.

Politicians also, naturally, make political calculations; having reelection constantly in mind, they do not want to be held responsible for anything that goes wrong. In a crisis, they always prefer to act than not to act; all else being equal, to show that they tried something. At least then they cannot be accused of idleness, negligence, shortsightedness, or callousness. However deleterious their actions, politicians generally are not held accountable and can present themselves as heroically standing firm in dangerous times, acting forcefully and with determination. An example of this was President Roosevelt’s harmful economic policies during the Great Depression and WWII.

Thirdly, politicians sometimes rely too much on scientists, who generally have no training in social matters at all. Even more so than politicians, scientists often have great difficulty in grasping the concept of spontaneous order of the market; not surprisingly so, being followers of the rigorous scientific process. Albert Einstein’s frankly embarrassing economic proposals is a famous example of that. But where the politician is at least fully aware of the subtle grey shades of policy making and the fine balancing act of satisfying various stakeholders, the scientist generally means well but sees the world in black and white.

Thus, if a scientist is asked how to stop the spread of a pandemic, he or she would probably answer that the best and most efficient way is to order the strict confinement of the entire population to their homes for weeks. This is what the France’s influential “Conseil Scientifique” has recommended, and it may well be true, from a purely scientific point of view (although that is open to debate now). The problem arises when politicians enthusiastically follow such opinions without considering them in the light of their political and economic consequences. The first two reasons mentioned above may explain why politicians tend to place too much trust in scientists: firstly, politicians are not familiar enough with market economics to fully grasp the  consequences of acting on such scientific advice, and secondly, it may be in their interest to act on such advice since to do something – anything – is key.

A fourth reason why politicians have acted so recklessly to counter the Coronavirus pandemic is certainly the pressure that they are under. In times of (perceived) crisis, they are looked up to for guidance, if not for orders to follow, by an unwitting and politically uneducated electorate. But the pressure comes not only from the people, which should perhaps be normal in a democracy, but also from foreign politicians. No leader wants to be outdone by his foreign colleagues and be left with the weakest plan to address the crisis. In this case, the UK‘s Boris Johnson and Sweden‘s Stefan Löfvén have been slowly bowing to precisely this external pressure to act.

But the strongest pressure on governments probably comes from the media, in particular in the current times of pervasive internet and social media. Politicians are now constantly scrutinized and held responsible in a way that they were not just a generation ago. Further, mass media is prone to dramatize and exaggerate events, as this things makes for better ratings, but also because journalists are not virologists. Mainstream media often tends to misinterpret and simplify the facts, inadvertently or not. An example of this is the mortality rate of Covid-19, which is constantly reported to be much higher than it is, because only declared cases are used (CFR). More generally, the prevailing attitude from the media is that everything must be done to save a small minority of the entire population today, even if that comes at the price of future economic pain for tens of millions of people. This is the classic socialist and interventionist dilemma: where does it stop? In a world of scarce resources, how much taxpayer money should be spent by the State to save one life?

As a final reason, it is necessary to entertain a darker and more cynical explanation for the political reaction to the pandemic: power in a time of crisis. The State never misses a chance to increase its power. Crises are considered great political opportunities, and have thus been used countless times in History by rulers. This was the case during and after WWIWWII, as well as after 9/11 with the passage in Congress of the Patriot Act. But this is also true of smaller crises, like the current Coronavirus pandemic. The economic stimulus packages that are now being proposed will again benefit corporatist bankers, like it did during the financial crisis. This is why the big banks have been the first calling for and cheering more “economic stimulus”, since they stand to immediately benefit from such “government aid”.

That most Western governments have now managed to emulate the Chinese dictatorship in imposing a severe lockdown of society, should be a wake-up call for those innocent souls who still think, even with the showtrial of Julian Assange, that the West still protects individual freedom. A dangerous and frightening political evolution is on the way in an already fragile political and economic system. The political consequences of the generalized confinement of millions of people in Europe will have long-lasting consequence to the balance of power between State and society. Though the Western “Liberal Democratic” order was never really one except in name, it is clear that a decisive step has now been taken.

This politically triggered economic crisis could then also lead, hopefully, to a clearer understanding among the population, that constitutional changes are due in many countries, in order to limit the powers of executive branches everywhere. Let us hope that will be the lesson learned by the millions confined to their homes by the arbitrary will of the State.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.

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Haeul
Haeul
March 25, 2020

Prey tell, what are the governments supposed to do? Let the virus spread and tens of thousands die? It’s no secret Western governments put the interests of big capital ahead of that of the public. Their knee-jerk reaction was to simply let things play out. They only started implementing actual measures after they saw the Italian disaster unfold.

Haeul
Haeul
Reply to  Haeul
March 25, 2020

*Pray

Angel Garcia
Angel Garcia
Reply to  Haeul
March 25, 2020

A reasonable person can deduce by brief research – there is 7.8 billion people in the world – total deaths from coronavirus doesn’t even reach 1%. INFLUENZA is killing more than coronavirus and still hasn’t reached 1% of population. A stupid person could deduce, this mass HYSTERIA has been inflicted with intent. Their motivation was multi faceted, divert attention of the masses, profit from it and rip more constitutional RIGHTS away to gain more power. Divert attention: The world was learning in the news, U.S. Government officials and Prince Andrew HAD BEEN AIDING and abetting a convicted child predator Jeffrey… Read more »

jrkrideau
jrkrideau
Reply to  Haeul
March 25, 2020

Let’s be tolerant with the delusional.

asiddha
asiddha
Reply to  Haeul
March 25, 2020

expand the medical capability to treat infected people. if you do the math, it is far less expensive to build hospitals, implement effective protocols to prevent spread, and to provide triage care than it is to shut off economic activity, destroy careers, businesses, stunt development, and on. Spend a few billions (maybe $7-10) build sufficient icu facilities, mobilize medical personnel (and pay them for closing their practices), provide supplies and equipment, and put into place practical protocols for the populace, including mass testing and id of community spread, and uses face masks for all.

Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  asiddha
March 26, 2020

The west lacks the capability to build a hospital in 10 days, like China did. Never mind building 16 new hospitals in a few weeks. The bureaucracy is so demanding that any epidemic has peaked by the time they’d manage to issue permits. Meaning building hasn’t even started yet. What you are suggesting is wishful thinking. Because you cannot wish something into existence that is simply not there. Italy has 60million people and 5000 intensive care units. The UK has 66million people and 4100 intensive care units. Germany has 82million and 28000 intensive care units. Which country has the fewest… Read more »

Sally Snyder
Sally Snyder
March 25, 2020

Here is an article that examines death statistics from normal seasonal influenza:

https://viableopposition.blogspot.com/2020/03/covid-19-engineered-health-crisis.html

Governments around the world are using a faulty and incomplete data set to suspend the rights of their citizens to freedom of movement, engineering a “health crisis” to justify their control over all of us through the coercive use of fear.

Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  Sally Snyder
March 26, 2020

There has not been a flu season in our current generations that has required hospitals to triage patients or caused exceeded hospital capacities. Read my comment above for more details.

JanetC
JanetC
March 25, 2020

The article is full of misinformation, the most glaring being that Covid-19 is just “slightly” more severe thn the seasonal flu. One of the reasons for such confusion around Covid-19 is the crappy statistics available and the biased way many people are using them. But this pandemic is not just about statistics, it’s about lives, and there’s plenty of on-the-ground evidence that it really does exist – contrary to the protestations of the “it’s no worse than the flu” crowd. So ask yourself: When, during an ordinary flu season, have you ever seen: –hospitals run out of equipment or tell… Read more »

Clarity
Clarity
Reply to  JanetC
March 26, 2020

exactly. In addition, restricting movement will reduce incidents that usually require emergency services such as accidents, keeping capacities available for covid patients. Never mind that anyone needing emergency services will then be subjected to a lot of infectious patients, reducing the chance of a positive outcome.

Btw, hospitalization rates are about 20% on average. Which is still extremely high and well above what you’d see from a flu.

mklerikos
mklerikos
Reply to  JanetC
March 26, 2020

Sick people die all the time. How many people get the flu, never report it, never run to get tested, recover, and whistle on their way. Where are the ‘statistics’ for healthy people. Rather we put everyone in gaol and allow the lunatics and panic merchants to run the gaol. Brave New World where the weak and sick control the 99% healthy. And the mainstream media hype it up for all its worth and more.

Feudal Peasant
Feudal Peasant
March 25, 2020

Think GAZA.

Richard Moore
March 25, 2020

Unfortunately you never got to the real reason the economy is experiencing planned demolition. Have you never heard of Agendas 21/30? Or Rockefeller’s Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth”? The old economy needs to be cleared away to make space for centralized technocracy. The Duran has its heart in the right place, but needs to expand its perspective to the bigger picture.

Tony Sustak
Tony Sustak
March 25, 2020

As the blood sucking Clintonoid/Obamite, Neo-Liberal politician, Rahm Imanuel said, “Never waste a good crisis”. The previous writers observations about politicians is borne out by simple observation. The first reaction of politicians like US Senate boss, Mitch McConnell was to organize to hand over massive public resources to the billionaires. So over the top was the Republican response, that the “Me Too” crowd in the Neo-Liberal Democratic “opposition”, fearful that McConnell’s billionaire boot-licking was just so blatant, the Peo-Liberal scum headed by Pelosi and Schumer, had to say “No!” “No”, not to giving vast gifts to the billionaires, but that… Read more »

mklerikos
mklerikos
March 26, 2020

Governments in general don’t want to be overruled, so they keep weakening anyone or anything which looks like a threat – healthy people must be vaccinated and their immune systems and income potential to attain individual freedom must be crushed. We are all somewhat competitive but allow a sporting chance to our opponents. Governments are run by the people who don’t play sport, have never had a proper job, and see any competition as a threat to their existence. Get used to the attack everyone of you free thinkers and mavericks. This is not going to stop. Love The Duran

Olivia Kroth
Reply to  mklerikos
March 26, 2020

Donald Trump had a “real job” before he became President of the USA. He was a real estate developper, who became a billionaire with his job. Vladimir Putin also had a “real job” before he became President of the Russian Federation. He was a KGB Secret Service Officer.

Ralph
Ralph
August 14, 2020

Its easy when trying to understand an event like this to slip into darker waters but it is there perhaps where the truth resides. But keeping things on the surface I think you touch on an important and discernible aspect of all of this. That is a great divide between the elitism of the political class and its alienation from economic activity. It may consider easyjet. Spanish holidays, pubs and rock concerts the stuff of the lower classes but it is more profound than that. People selling their labour to capitalists in the production of goods and services is what… Read more »

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