Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Race to the bottom

All over the world, there is a demand for more Covid-19 related restrictions (eg, lockdowns). It seems that countries are busy “outperforming” their neighbours. In the financial world, such a situation is called a race to the bottom. Such a race never ends well. Philosophy professor René ten Bos comes to a similar conclusion in his recent article in the Dutch Financial Times.

A race to the bottom might be compared to entering a tunnel, using tunnel vision, and claiming to see a glimpse of light at the end of that tunnel. Unfortunately, that light belongs to a wildfire of (economic) devastation. At the end of the tunnel there is no alternative. The point of no return has long been passed and boats and bridges were burned.

Last Saturday, the first major Dutch newspaper appeared to be making a U-turn. It’s questioning whether a lockdown is really better and observing that lockdowns had a brief impact and huge financial damage. Before, all Dutch newspapers had been demanding more restrictions. I suppose that looking into the abyss is making people feel uncomfortable. 

Last Saturday, one of my neighbours also appeared to be reconsidering his view. He mentioned that a recent influenza year had resulted in more casualties than Covid-19 has done until now. Actually, Dutch government data claim that three recent influenza years had more casualties: 2015, 2017 and 2018, while 2013 is just below the (current) Dutch number of Covid-19 fatalities.

There are two main differences between influenza and Covid-19:

  • Death by Covid-19 is worse than death by influenza (eg, feeling of drowning);
  • People have accepted the annual number of influenza deaths – unlike Covid-19.

We have learned to live with the annual Q4 and Q1 influenza waves. In general, the lack of sunlight – and especially the lack of ultraviolet C radiation – is responsible for the surge in viruses. According to Nature‘s Tree of Life (see my 2016 blog) viruses are “dead”. Viruses need a living host to multiply, and decrease in strength when the fatality rates of their hosts become too high.

We should never forget that viruses are also crucial in human evolution and survival (eg, Frontiers in Microbiology-2019NCBI-2003, New Statesman-2020PBS-2016Science Daily-2016). From this perspective, a race to the bottom reflects human stupidity.

Bicycle Race (1978) by Queen
artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

You say black, I say white 
You say bark, I say bite

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.

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