I share this post from my friend and former boss, Paul Murphy. Paul is unique in that he’s “American” in the legal sense but has spent most of his life not in the States. That includes working, raising kids, starting businesses, and just generally living. I share this post as a followup to my “The Uncounted Casualty of 2020” post – Keith
I didn’t want to write about Covid again, but how can I avoid it? I’m in Italy, a democratic country that feels less democratic with each passing week.
As of October 26th, most schools have gone back to distance learning. Gyms are closed. All public gatherings are forbidden. No restaurant may be open later than 18:00 (6pm), so no dinners out. And many cities are now under curfew.
This is the start of flu season, not anywhere near the peak. We have more restrictions coming soon. We’ve been told to avoid public transit and, for that matter, any movement except for work, grocery shopping, or emergencies. This is still voluntary, but will become obligatory if the infection rate doesn’t go down. It won’t, and we’ll be punished for it. My four year old is still allowed to go to school, but that won’t last. A single case will shut it down.
Last year, lockdown meant a €500 fine for anyone caught away from home without a good excuse, and the police were vigilant. Roadblocks everywhere and street patrols in cities. We’re going back to that.
This is happening all over Europe, and most people are supportive. Large parts of the UK are locked down more severely than we are. France has a curfew starting at 19:00 (7pm). 19:00. A curfew. We haven’t had those since the end of WWII.
Pretty soon European countries will start closing their external borders again, and then internal borders. Governments and media will continue whipping up the fear that drives the popular support for these measures. We are living in a totalitarian state.
“Stop exaggerating”, people tell me, “this is a democracy.” Actually, it hasn’t been since last February when the government took emergency powers which (a) prevents it from falling and (b) allows it to issue edicts without going through a legislative process. They’ve given themselves this power until January. No doubt it will be extended.
When propaganda is well made it can’t be countered in polite company. How can anyone advocate killing old people? That’s either selfish or heartless.
In Italy, like in Spain, we have an extra ingredient to keep everyone compliant: Catholic guilt. Yesterday one of my neighbors told me that the new measures are the result of our not having behaved well over the Summer. Justified punishment.
The government has said that they will not impose strict lockdowns like last year’s, but no one believes them. The economy is in shambles already. People know it. Children and young adults who desperately need to socialize are being forced into unnatural isolation. Trying to eradicate this virus is setting the economy back years, and maybe even decades. We don’t have any idea what sort of emotional scars will be left on people growing up today.
Is this worth it? No evidence suggests that any of these extreme measures do any good. Italy’s death rate is higher than Sweden’s where no mask mandates, no social distancing measures, and no lockdowns were imposed. The disparity is likely to get sharper as the weather gets colder. At some point people will have to start asking if any of these measures do any good at all.
Or maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll continue to support a government that forces them to exchange civil liberties for a feeling of comfort.
“We’re all in this together.”
“By wearing a mask I protect others.”
“Everything will be OK in the end.”
That’s today. I’m waiting to hear:
“Enough is enough.”