Dads Army and the Coronavirus

One of the best books I’ve ever read was Freakenomics, published 2005 by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Steven J Dubner.  Its message is that you should never believe what you read and hear.  You should question everything. 

Never has that been more true in relation to the ‘dad’s army’ of government regulation, guidance and panic which we are required buy-into.  Like dad’s army, it is all over the place.  It changes daily with every government announcement.  And to be quite frank, none of it makes much real sense.  But of course the UK government is not alone.  In ‘follow my leader’ fashion, almost every other national government is doing the same.  Einstein’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, has never rang more true. 

The latest fad is the circuit-breaker lockdown which is intended to halt the spread of the virus by requiring everybody to stay indoors for a month.  But we all know that as soon as the circuit-breaker ends, the ‘R’ number will spring back up again.  So what is the point?  Is the idea that we all have a good Christmas?  So what about all the people who have lost their jobs in the meantime? And have you noticed that those who scream loudest for these lockdowns are the television and radio presenters – and of course the scientists – whose livelihoods will be unaffected.

There has never been any serious political debate over the need for these repeated lockdowns.  There is more issue over the amount of financial support which the government can provide to compensate people and businesses for lost-wages and lost-profits.  It is as if all the problems of the pandemic could be solved by a giant printing-press which is primed to pump out the trillions required to compensate for lost-wages and lost business-profits. 

£4.2 billion each day.  And that’s just the UK economy. Crazy!  Imagine if that money had instead been put into the National Health Service.  We’d all be in a better place.  What will future generations think of us?  They’re going to be the ones picking up the bill. 

Even some of the figures seem too convenient.  It is as they have been produced to fit the policies – not the other way round.  Around a week after lockdown, we get the good news that infection rates have fallen.  So does staying at home for a couple of days really work that quickly?  And does stopping me from buying a pair of trousers really help to stop the spread of virus?  Or how does forcing everyone out of a COVID-safe pub or restaurant environment onto the streets at 10.00 PM help stop the virus?

I began writing Coronavirus: Keeping Business Open in May this year as businesses began to open up following the March 2020 lockdown.  All I wanted to do was collect together all the coronavirus legislation and guidance and publish it as a traditional law-book.  But that became impossible because the legislation changed every day – first going forward and then into reverse. During the writing I also began to question the accepted ‘wisdoms’ which lay behind this ever-changing spew of any regulation and guidance.  No – I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  And yes – I know that the views of anyone who questions the accepted ‘wisdoms’, will never be taken seriously, even if they are one of the 12,000 scientists who signed the Barrington Declaration.  It is why I changed the focus of the book to an explanation of the general law which underpins coronavirus legislation. 

Whilst the numbers may change, the general principles do not.  By approaching the subject in this way, I would hope that my book will be of use to business-owners as well as anyone who is tasked with enforcing the legislation.  I hope you enjoy reading it.