A world away from ‘normal service’

I decided to take a few weeks off writing – I noticed the quality and content was meandering somewhat. I re-emerge with us technically out of lockdown and so ‘lockdown diaries’ has now been dropped from my headers. However we’re not picking up from where we left off, but getting a glimpse of what the new world will look like.

But first, what did I miss over the last few weeks? Initially it felt not that much, as we hit peak lockdown boredom; and then we had the Dominic Cummings shit show to shake things up. Ever since it’s been the haste unwinding of lockdown (Classic Dom, to move the narrative along as a cover up…). Unfortunately many people decided to follow Dom and use their own judgement in relaxing the rules – as can be seen by those who legged it to Brighton to catch some beach time. Is it all too early to start opening from 1 June?

The corona alert system still sits at 4, the relaxation of rules should happen when we’re at 3 (the Government tried to fudge the graphics to show the little pointer sitting closer to 3). So this is more of a political decision, than ‘following the science’. No doubt weary of the costs being racked up. There will be a lot of reliance on the population being sensible and following guidelines on things such as social distancing. Scrutiny on Government credibility will be ratcheted up over the coming weeks and how much damage has been done by the Cummings saga. Watch this space.

And the news stories not involving coronavirus have begun to flow freely. We only have to look across the Atlantic and see the aftermath to George Floyd’s senseless killing by local police. I am no expert on American history or politics, but it seems mass protest is going to be the cornerstone to how change in the law occurs to protect black people in local communities. I think you need to create enough ruckus for those decision and policy makers to take notice. Colin Kaepernick tried to highlight the issue peacefully and even sacrificed his career to no avail. More drastic action thus is required.

How bad will this get? We’re already seeing looters using the cover of protesters to create havoc. And I fear we may see things get worse before they get better. Normally the President would act as a calming figure, but we have an inflammatory figure occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, so this is a story that will likely continue. Donald Trump wanted coronavirus to stay out of the news, but this was probably not what he intended.

(Side note – speaking of DJT, he was fact-checked by Twitter and then later censored for inciting violence. He’s decided to go and pick (another) fight that could have unintended consequences. Censoring a tweet from Trump was probably only a matter of time. And leaves social media platforms with a dilemma as to how far they go in banning politicians who may be inciting violence).

If the United States descends into further anarchy will depend on a three things. Firstly whether the 3 other policeman who were on the scene are formally charged and whether they’re charged to a sufficient degree. Secondly the trials of those charged and whether they become landmark cases to enable more prosecutions of police officers who offend.

And lastly, the economy. Over the years, previous campaigns and protests have burnt out. Largely due to people needing to get on with their lives. However jobs have been ravaged due to the coronavirus (we must ignore the disconnect with the markets, where the philosophy is unfathomably ‘buy more equities’). Over 40 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in the US. How many of those jobs will be recovered as lockdown eases? It is an unknown. If the general recovery is not sharp, more livelihoods will suffer and probably disproportionately skewed towards the black and ethnic minority communities. This will continue to feed the flames which have been ignited as the number of disenfranchised and disgruntled Americans grows. We may see a sustained summer of protests.

This points to the need to have strong leadership. Trump seems to have decided he needs to be ‘tough’ and could begin waging war with normal Americans. Doubling down with his base in light of the elections in November? If things get worse and Trump still gets re-elected, I’m not sure what to think of America, Her credibility and global strength will be further diminished and the country will become even more isolated.

And all this is happening while we hold our breath, wait and see if Covid-19 infections rise as we ‘normalise’ and if we experience a deadly second wave in the autumn. If this does happen and another lockdown is imposed, those businesses that were teetering on the edge of survival will definitely go bankrupt.

A bit of a long post and I’ve not even touched upon Hong Kong where China has decided to abandon the whole ‘peaceful’ 2 system policy. Always good to see countries use a pandemic to impose some new laws. To close, I want to touch upon a book I’m currently reading – Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. It uses a fictional endemic to give an insight into American life. It’s a long book, requiring some time to set aside, but it makes for eerily appropriate reading. Stay safe folks.

J

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