Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Lockdown czars don’t bear economic costs, workers do

The year has barely begun and ordinary people have already been slapped with yet another set of measures restricting their ability to fend for themselves.  

It is as if the hardship that businesses and private sector wage earners endured from coronavirus lockdowns since April last year, is not grave enough for some. 

The thing about these restrictions is that it really does not matter what you call them. Call them whatever you desire: lockdown, curfew, essential or inter zonal permits and so on and so forth. What matters the most is that these measures have thrown the economy into a partial shutdown. 

So it doesn’t matter that our health czars are driven by the imperative to fight the coronavirus.  We are not concerned about the intentions behind the lockdown or curfews. 

We are rather more concerned about the effects of such restrictions on livelihoods. And borrowing from the Holy Scriptures, we are reminded that “people do not judge of a tree by its leaves, or bark, or flowers, but by the fruit which it bears.”  Therefore, in the same vein, the restrictions on economic activity that have been meted to us by our health overlords have costs. They are our bitter fruit.

Shutting down economic activity has real and dire consequences for those who live in the real world where income is earned on no other basis but strictly work done or service rendered. Although the government decreed for example that companies would neither   restructure nor retrench staff during the state of emergency, with time, this is proving to be not only illogical but unsustainable.  

By the way, the above world of only earning income by proving a service, differs markedly from that of the men and women who frequently sanction lockdowns and curfews.  The latter is assured of full pay at the end of the month irrespective of how much they worked. 

So whether they work hard or not has absolutely no bearing on how much they earn. It should surprise no one therefore, that as everyone out there in the real world was preoccupied with preserving jobs and the little cash they still had in the midst of an economic slowdown, the government on the other hand was busy splashing its employees with a reckless pay rise. And true to form, the pay rise was not linked to performance or productivity. It’s only now that reality is sinking in and the government is scampering around to explore options of preserving cash. Perhaps it has finally dawned on the powers that be, that they are running out of other people’s money.  

So, by juxtaposing the real world and government, we begin to see why it is easier for the latter to view outsider objections to lockdowns as either unimportant or crazy. Moreover, they have never really had any real use for the non-government sector because armed with mountains of diamond money, they could fund schools, roads, airlines, universities and generous social welfare schemes on their own. From that pedestal, they could decree against retrenchment, close businesses and churches.  

Even though it is clear that the lockdowns hurt businesses – especially small ones-, our czars could not care less. And you can’t blame them because it is human nature. As rational human beings, they see that businesses are floundering as a result of the lockdowns and that notwithstanding, such a situation does not affect government employees’ earnings in any way. That obviously must imply that these private institutions are not essential. It is the reason why in their ubiquitous television briefings, the czars brush aside valid concerns about compensation for the loss of income suffered by private wage earners and small business owners during shutdowns.

It is time people are left to pursue their livelihoods   even during this crisis and not be shackled with lockdowns. In any case, all we have is one is one lockdown upon another without telling why the previous one was not successful.  

A state of affairs whereby only the government sector matters, is untenable. It is the road to economic ruin. 


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