the lucky generation?

So here we are. Only a few months ago I said to my wife that we are the “lucky generation”. We were lucky because we born into a world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and NO WAR.

My German granddad lost a leg in the second-world war and even though he passed away when I was very young, my grandma filled in the blanks for me. I pretty much remember all the stories about the Nazis, the bombings, food shortage and other horrible things.

As Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his book Homo Deus: “We have developed the means to defeat famine, decease and the effect of war…we are more likely to die from obesity than hunger…war is an exceptional occurrence rather than a given, you are more likely to die from diabetes than war and even the Ebola crisis killed “only” 11000 people.”

But here we are.

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The next few months will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture.

I look at my two boys and am pretty scared. Not panicky scared but really scared. Yes, this crisis will pass and we will survive but we will inhabit a different world. We are no longer the lucky generation. Nor are my kids in the lucky generation.

Who knows how this all will impact them. Mental illness and suicide rates are predicted to go through the roof, some Governments including the Australian and US government scare the shit out of me.

A five and a thirteen-year-old boy died in the UK of Coronavirus, Germany today has 800 infected kids in the age group 0-4 and 1600 in the age group 5-14. Australia doesn’t show any numbers and I suspect that’s due to the fact that kids are not tested because they don’t show any symptoms.

Of course, these numbers are a tiny drop in the ocean compared to car accidents or the “normal” flu. To be honest, the next person that comes up to me with that braindead explanation I’ll… never mind. Car accidents don’t jump on the plane and go viral in another country. Get a f&%*ing perspective and do some reading on how serious this is.

What is totally beyond me is why in Australia childcare centres and schools are still open? Both are hotbeds of infections at the best of times and even though the kids “show little to no symptoms” they can very well be infected, carry the infection and pass it on. Like every other human being. Whether they actually die from this (well they seem in the UK?? Hello!!!) is totally irrelevant, they should be in self-isolation as every adult. In our case, the boys have been kept from school for the last 4 weeks starting with the first news from Italy.

Please don’t come to me with the “essential service workers” won’t be able to go to work if they have to look after their kids. There are solutions for this and I can tell based on my litmus test of 7 doctor friends, they have had their kids at home before you even knew about the virus. Of course, doctors and nurses are not the only essential workers. That includes cleaners, postmen, truck drivers, grocery store workers and so on but please, there are super-easy solutions for this such as dedicated childcare workers or centres for essential workers. It is pretty straight forward, more importantly, everyone gets tested (kids and carers) going in/out. There you go.

I am super angry and had to write this down. I currently live in Australia and am extremely unhappy with how the Government is dealing with the crisis. I am a big fan of Bill Gates, not for his achievements with Microsoft but this guy has single-handedly eradicated Polio off the face of this earth, was in involved in helping with the Ebola crisis and even warned about this current crisis 5 years ago (see video below) and he says (with a focus on the US) “if we do it right, we’ll only have to do it once for six to 10 weeks, but it has to be the whole country,” on the complete lockdown of the US. The same is true for Australia but I fear the exact opposite is going to happen. We are not in full lockdown at all and given the decreasing numbers of daily increase of new cases we will soon see a softening of the self-isolation rules. I do not believe this is over yet and we have not done enough testing. A second wave as predicted and active in many countries is highly likely.

The weird thing is, Australia has the unique advantage of space and distance. Our major cities are wide apart making a lockdown and detailed monitoring much much easier than in any other country on this planet.

And for everyone talking economy here’s my take: we can bring an economy back to life, dead people not so much! And please don’t be so shortsighted. We are part of a global economy even, even if Australia was all hunky-dory tomorrow we have umbilical cords to economies like China, UK and US, plus the rest of world that send tourists to Australia.

Australia’s Service industry comprises over 70% of the GDP. It dominates the economy, which employs over 79% of our labour force! That’s the tourism, media and entertainment, healthcare, logistics, education, and finance sectors.

Without the other world economies being well again we will have no economy!

Let’s be safe rather than sorry.

March 2015 – Bill Gates