Thirty-six years ago, I opened a restaurant in Canberra. It has done well – until January 2020 that is.
In January 2020, we had major bushfires that blanketed the city in smoke. Business slumped. The smoke and slump continued into February, but gradually, life and business began to return to normal.
Then, early in March, the media beat up of the Wuhan Virus began. Fear was quickly created, the media boomed and restaurant figures slumped again. The media did such a good job that people began keeping away from other people and were too scared to dine out. Then, on March 24th, came the unbelievable and still incomprehensible decision to force ‘non-essential’ businesses to close.
Why? Because of a 14yo school girl’s computer model.
March, April and May is the peak of our business. We pay off any lingering debts from the weaker summer trading and declare dividends for the year. We lost all those months, all that money and the bills continued to mount.
Last week, after a fruitless meeting with our landlord, we were tossed out (as was their right). Our business has been destroyed and seventeen people have been put out of work.
Why is this important (apart from to me, my family and employees)? Because I am rather sure that variations of this story are being repeated around the country.
Australia (and some other countries) are suffering from a major tragedy, besides which the Wuhan Virus is a minor irritant. The tragedy is the full-on exercise of the totalitarian impulses of government. They can never see a problem that they don’t believe that it is their job to fix. Even if it means the total abrogation of property rights and placing honest people under house arrest – and even though they have scant evidence of ever being successful in any of their ‘save the people’ endeavours (remember the War on Drugs and the War on Poverty? How’s that looking?). People that were scared were already self-isolating. Those who were better able to assess the real risk were forced to do the same.
Some tips for avoiding this plague are:
a/ never shake hands with a politician,
b/ keep at least two kilometres from a politician, and
c/ wear a mask (and carry a gun) – a little joke. My wife accuses me of being rather too prone to them.
It usually takes a few years for totalitarian actions to destroy all the capital and collapse economies. In that sort of time frame, the source of the problem is obscured for most. The Wuhan Virus has put the process into hyperdrive. Could we hope that for once the connection between cause and effect will be more obvious to people?
Out of this government created and enforced tragedy may come, one can hope, a wiser electorate. The post-WW2 lurch toward socialism and other forms of authoritarian government could be reaching a peak.
We may be entering a poorer, but wiser, world.