COVID-19 has done some harm to people around the world, the but the toll of the response and the aftermath are much worse.
June 1, 2020
By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP
But then there’s the government response to this virus. That was a profound mess, which has lead to such economic chaos and destruction, that in some jurisdictions like San Francisco, they saw more deaths from suicide due to the lock down than COVID-19 itself.
While there were talks of hundreds of thousands of deaths from COVID-19, which incidentally were never realized, that policy-makers would ignore the collateral damage from their lock downs is either willful ignorance or sheer malice.
Aside from the suicides and substance abuse issues, we have domestic abuse on the rise by nearly 20% globally. The whole number amounts to about 15 million people.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo made a very detached commentary on this:
“Economic hardship, yes, very bad, not death. Emotional stress from being locked in a house very bad, not death,” Cuomo said. “Domestic violence on the increase, very bad, not death, and not death of someone else. See, that’s what we have to factor into this equation. Yeah, it’s your life, do whatever you want, but you’re not responsible for my life.”
He added, “You have a responsibility to me. It’s not just about you. You have a responsibility to me, right. We started here saying it’s not about me, it’s about we. Get your head around the we concept, so it’s not all about you. It’s about me too. It’s about we.”
I wonder if anyone found this consoling?
Screenings are down by over 90%, which means the odds of early detection are lower, which means those who would’ve otherwise caught cancer during a treatable phase, won’t.
Here’s the whopper though… all those numbers, while high and tragic, are dwarfed by the numbers attached to starvation: 130 million could be pushed to the brink of starvation worldwide. The World Food Programme Executive Director, David Beasley shared his concerns with the UN.
[H]e said he raised the prospect of “a hunger pandemic” because “there is also a real danger that more people could potentially die from the economic impact of COVID-19 than from the virus itself.”
Chile is staring down civil unrest over food shortages brought on by lock down policies. The supply chain in Latin America has been severely disrupted due to these policies. Food is becoming costlier hitting of course the poor first.
But wait… wouldn’t you know it? There’s more!
Lock down policies could be responsible for a 45% rise in child mortality. That’s 1.2 million additional, but preventable, child deaths.
The risk of children dying from malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea in developing countries is spiralling due to the pandemic and “far outweighs any threat presented by the coronavirus”, Unicef has warned.
“Indiscriminate lockdown measures do not have an optimal effect on the virus,” [Dr Stefan Peterson, chief of health at Unicef] told The Telegraph. “If you’re asking families to stay at home in one room in a slum, without food or water, that won’t limit virus transmission.
All this, so that some people don’t die from what basically amounts to a strain of the common cold.
That’s a long way for a hot dog.
Alas, it doesn’t end there. There’s the disease itself that comes with its own damage. Then there’s the response, which we’ve seen leads to its own damages. But then, there’s the aftermath… when the clean-up and bills come due.
We discussed how one of the major civil casualties in all this will inevitably be privacy. Which sucks. But when economies get hit, that also means government revenues get hit, and that comes with an even larger toll to the private individuals and businesses.
First up is Arizona. They were in the midst of debating a civil asset forfeiture bill in the state legislature when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
The state had already reformed its civil asset forfeiture laws back in 2017, requiring a tougher evidence threshold and also keeping cops from bypassing state restrictions on forfeitures by partnering up with the Justice Department. S.B. 1556, sponsored by state Sen. Eddie Farnsworth (R–Gilbert), would tighten the rules further: It flat out requires a criminal conviction before police and prosecutors can attempt a forfeiture, with some exceptions if a defendant dies, flees the state, or abandon the property. The bill passed the Senate unanimously in March.
They took a recess and when they reconvened, what looked like a bill that would receive bipartisan support to pass, was instead struck down, with all 29 democratic legislators voting against it.
When asked why, it came down to revenue. The legislators tried to back pedal, and make it about stopping criminals, but there’s no evidence to that effect. In fact, it’s remarkably clear that it targets innocent people who are never charged with anything.
Nor does it do anything to reduce crime since it usually doesn’t ensnare the criminals at all.
But several Democrats who switched their position on this bill did so because the state could not afford the loss in revenue, and said as much.
While this is rather overt, I think many of the lock down jurisdictions will resort to some level of extortion and theft to make up their losses… to benevolently avoid raising taxes of course.
Places like California and New York stand no chance of making up the difference in asset forfeiture. There will be inevitable tax hikes, and more massive migration out of these states.
Then there’s Canada. Many countries like Canada and the US offered large “stimulus packages” to bridge the gap for businesses and individuals. The strings attached to these loans are nasty.
Canada has a program targeting businesses worth $300 million or more, with loans starting at $60 million:
Interest will be set at 5% in the first year, rising to 8% in the second year, and 2% annually thereafter. The terms of the program posted online say companies can pay off the interest on the loan through in-kind contributions, usually goods or services, for the first two years of the loan.
Sounds reasonable right? Helping to keep them in business and their employees employed, with modest interest rates. Here’s the rub:
Large companies that receive bridge financing through a new federal loan program will have to give the government the option to take an ownership stake, or provide a cash equivalent.
In addition, these other requirements are placed on the corporate borrowers:
Recipients would also have to agree to limits on executive compensation, dividend payments and share buy-backs, as well as show they are contributing to the Liberals’ goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau says this is to make sure that these are indeed loans and not bailouts. Fair enough, at least in theory. The irony is this is no less predatory than what he suspects these large corporations of being. The government policies put these business in a no-win situation, and then offered “help” that comes with massive strings attached.
Indeed, this pandemic has really brought out the true colors of so many politicians, it might have people looking to relocate, but reassess where they were considering to relocate to!
Expect a lot more of this sort of thing to come to the surface in the aftermath of these lock downs.
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