Indesit Proposal: we need to plan now for prolonged shutdowns

Indesit Proposal: we need to plan now for prolonged shutdowns

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 30, March, 2020

I HAVE BECOME the latest victim of the Coronavirus. I'm perfectly well though, not remotely infected, but my ancient Indesit washing machine has decided just now to silently leave this world, like tears in rain, time to die.

It had a good innings. It was the Dot Cotton of washing machines, ironic really given her career was entirely surrounded by them. It was reliable, monotone, a little raspy, and just never ever seemed to age. Sadly it is without question now an ex-washing machine and it's festering away in my kitchen like dead meat in a wound. I should be grieving but I feel offended somehow because this really wasn't time for it to die.

A month ago would have been ideal, in a month's time would be acceptable but how am I supposed to bury this love of my life this week and how on Earth do I sort out a quick replacement? I can manage a fling with the kitchen sink for a while but really I want a companion, some real commitment. I need another Dot Cotton and it breaks my heart to admit it.

There is a serious side to this, beyond finding a way to boil my socks urgently. I've planted a few spuds in the lawn, I've kept my outgoings low but this simply isn’t the 1940s. There can be no war time spirit in the UK because we are simply too materialist for all of that. Whether it is white goods, or smart goods, or tropical fruit we are consumers of the world and our pace of life is fast. Even when we don't need a new washing machine we live in a world where, if needed, we can get one sorted very quickly. Very little of our daily lives now really needs careful planning and we have become very used to paying for our convenience.

We have gone back several decades in a few days with the current lockdown and it's time to accept that we just can't do it. Certainly we can't do it without a considerable and unacceptable drop in our living standard as well as economic output. There needs to be serious planning now at government level on how to manage this lockdown because life simply does go on for the rest of us.

We can go for a strategy other island nations have done and adopt mass testing and isolation for confirmed infections. We can go the Swedish approach of laissez faire for the low risk population and confirm isolation to the over 70s and those with severe illnesses. We may need to stream the workforce into those who are immune or not, just as we have to do in surgery and medicine where only those immune to Hepatitis B and without HIV or Hepatitis C infection may perform exposure prone procedures.

The UK had a long history of civil defence planning and it is clear it has been shot to ribbons in recent decades. Had this been a biological warfare attack we'd have been finished. We will from now on need very large stockpiles of protective equipment including face masks for whenever such a pandemic is again threatened. We also need to have a permanent pandemic warning, like the tsunami early warning systems and that means forcing China to be open and honest or face being booted from the WTO.

Extended supply lines and open borders from now on can only apply to open societies as well as open economies. If China wants to remain in the world of politburos, agitprop, and mafia-like economic networks we need to keep China in quarantine and in lockdown. For me, my patients and my recently departed Dot Cotton, the Chinese Communist Party is a public health hazard and its impacts on our lives and my socks is no longer acceptable.

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