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Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Politics of Pandemics


By Gilbert Morris:

There will be no reckoning: the idea of reckoning is not the arrival of catastrophe.

The calamity is here and deepening absolutely. But this pandemic will not produce any sort of systemic or structural reckoning as a correction for past failures in the political sense.

Governments across the world have adopted an authoritarian stance - from America, to Philippines, to Austria, Italy, Poland and Brazil - in which they assume the citizen-voter’s perspective means nothing!

We ourselves in the Caribbean have known this political authoritarian - know-it-all - stance since independence. Most winning political parties don’t bother about with policy substance, campaigning by merely maligning their opponents.

The Hon. Mia Mottley MP in Barbados - a heroine for her humanity in this Covid 19 era - is potentially the only leader whom citizens voted for rather than against the outgoing administration.

So, there will be no reckoning: governments in the places named will wreck their citizens lives through haphazard policies at a time when 20% of jobs will vanish and 80% of what’s left will pay 50% of pre-Covid 19 wages levels.
There will be no reforms for three cardinal reasons:

1. In crisis cronyocracies seek to protect cronies, not citizens. Lackeys and government form an unimpeachable cabal - as is to be witnessed now in the US - and they claim all must be done to save businesses, premised not on innovation, growth or fair broad prosperity, but rather whatever is needed to maintain chokeholds on their patronised economic sectors!

2. Congenital imaginative laziness: cronyocracies induce creative avoidance and laziness. Ideas have no career in such places.

Our governments in this region will largely await the opening of the US and “wing it” on the hope that there are no explosions in Covid 19 infections.

That is because Cronyocracies cannot respond to crisis in any broad sense. First, because they do not possess or cultivate citizen trust.

Second, because they destory and so lack strategic verve or creative capacity!

3. Citizens who howl at crony government cabals are themselves to blame as well. We have the governments we deserve. Cronyocracies survive because each demented political tribe feeds off of collusive nexus, in hopes of some temporary crumbs from its table of feckless skullduggery!

We are our worst political enemies!

There will be no protests because governments now have the excuse of “Emergency Powers”; which means they can prevent citizens protesting against failures now crippling their lives, even though that failures have been expanding for decades.

This is how pandemics work politically!

Country defaults and company bankruptcies will cascade. Governments will never blame their cranial sclerosis for the carnage; even as they ignore, wilfully, basic sound policy options in preference for reactionary decisions that protect their we are now discovering with Trump and Boris Johnson in the UK!

They will have at the ready - galloping nonsense - excuses, stating the obvious that this - pandemic - has never happened before; despite the fact that the majority of their citizens have been living in Covid 19 conditions for decades.

For companies the only margins available will be those which digitisation brings...but that means not only 20% fewer jobs globally, it means at a time when nations have seen their incomes vanish, the social-safety-net/public assistance will face unprecedented demands.

And starvation level suffering will pervade the world, whilst overfed politicians make mumbling excuses. 

Mark my words!