Angus McIntosh

Temporary Government Programmes

by Angus McIntosh Economist Milton Friedman: "Nothing so permanent as a temporary government programme." Let us take a moment to look beyond the current turmoil of the pandemic and the ensuing policy chaos and to consider its possible legacy. At this point we are struggling to cope with the tide of misery which Covid and the lockdowns have created. But eventually, through a combination of spring weather, natural immunity and the vaccine, the virus will subside to the point where we could start to live with it as a normal part of the disease landscape. It may then take a decade or more to recover from its terrible toll of death, depression and poverty and this is tragedy enough. But potentially even more damaging for our long-term future are the lasting shifts in attitudes which the virus may leave behind. These will be many and complex, but there are three which are particularly likely: Permanently lowered public tolerance for life’s normal risks and challenges.Increased popular willingness to sacrifice freedoms in pursuit of safety.Greater tendency for authorities of all kinds to exploit the above. The first two of these malign legacies represent acceleration of existing trends, rather than completely new phenomena. But the third is undergoing more of a revolution. Anyone who doubts that we have taught certain policymakers an unexpected...

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