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Anyone agree with Lord Sumption?

(119 Posts)
eebeew Mon 06-Apr-20 00:21:15

Lord Sumption is against the extreme measures being taken to prevent spread of the cv which will cause great future suffering.
“He believes it is fear which has prevented governments and the public from thinking about 'remote costs' of the measures brought in to avoid tragic coronavirus deaths, and adds that we do not know enough about the Covid-19 mortality rate, which he hints is lower than stated due to limited testing.
Making the comparison to cars, which he calls 'the most lethal weapons ever devised', as they kill and injure thousands every year, he states that society has accepted that fact as a 'Faustian bargin' in order to drive in comfort - suggesting we may have to take the same approach to the virus.
Lord Sumption said current government measures are inflicting suffering on other less obvious victims of the coronavirus, such as future generations who will be left to deal with 'high levels of public and private debt' and the one fifth of businesses being pushed into bankruptcy.”
(Quoted from Daily Mail)

Hetty58 Mon 06-Apr-20 00:31:52

I don't agree. He can't compare it to car use. We have an individual choice about whether to risk travelling by car. Lowering the death rate should be our top priority.

The economy will recover. We were well overdue for a recession anyway. History will look sternly at those countries with the highest death rates.

quizqueen Mon 06-Apr-20 00:36:17

I agree with him. The world has to carry on regardless. Other things cause many more deaths each year. What the world needs to do is to bring in population growth control and change the way we treat animals. I don't suppose either of those things will happen and it will be the downfall of the human race, and well deserved it will be too.

Labaik Mon 06-Apr-20 00:38:07

If it's the man I started watching on a link on another forum that said the country was suffering from mass hysteria I stopped watching it at that point. Which was about 30 seconds from the start...

Eloethan Mon 06-Apr-20 01:59:46

I think what he says is worth considering. We have a population of, I believe, around 68 million people. During the Spanish flu epidemic around 250,000 people died in the UK - bearing in mind that our population was very much smaller then. It is said that people could feel ill in the morning and be dead by the evening. This current virus is very serious but not as serious as that.

The devastation that will be caused if everything stops until, say, July (or later) may well bring problems - including deaths and illnesses from different causes - that may not be so obvious but equally damaging and much longer lasting.

However, if we just carried on as normal it appears it would mean there would definitely only be enough resources to help some, but not all,of the people admitted with the virus. That in turn would mean that doctors would, on a regular basis, have to make decisions as to who should be treated. It would place an intolerable burden on doctors and health workers (impacting on their own health) - and in all likelihood it would be older people who would not get access to treatment.

A prolonged period of distancing may have catastrophic effects. Some children may be very adversely affected by missing out on school. Not every child's home situation is a good one. There will also be huge pressures on relationships, particularly these days when modern houses and flats are much smaller than in the past. Some adults - and children - are very likely to become less physically and mentally healthy. Added to that, issues of how to manage and pay back debt will place even further strain on society. Perhaps there could be negotiated some sort of "economic re-set button" whereby all debts are written off but instead of money being the means of organising the production and exchange of goods, it has become a product which can be bought and sold and gambled with.

Testing is the main issue. Once we know who has, has had or has not had the virus some sort of normality can be established. After a few more weeks of semi-lockdown, it seems to me that it makes more sense for healthy adults and children to return to work/school (that is why testing is the key) and for people with significant underlying health issues and very elderly people to stay at home, with very limited outside contact, until the danger of infection subsides.

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 02:22:13

So who's going to sacrifice themselves for the cause of reducing the population?

paddyanne Mon 06-Apr-20 02:22:41

Actually Eleothan my sons friend lost his mum a couple of days ago,she was a wee bit off colour at breakfast and dead by 10pm .I dont think everyone has the same set of symptoms or the same timeline with it ,Thats why its difficult to diagnose.
My great niece has the symptoms that are being widely advertised and has been getting progressively worse since last Tuesday .IF she's no better when the week is up she will be seen at the assessment centre a mile from her home .Then it will be decided how to treat her and if hospital is needed

FarNorth Mon 06-Apr-20 03:25:37

That's terrible, paddyanne.
I hope your great niece improves.

eazybee Mon 06-Apr-20 07:16:19

A very interesting philosophical point, which I don't think I agree with, but would be happy to discuss later. Now is not the time.
Survival is the prime concern at this time, as I am sure any family of Coronavirus victims would agree.

Davidhs Mon 06-Apr-20 07:28:35

Now is not the time, maybe in a few weeks, we will
probably see changes at the end of April, until then lockdown.

suziewoozie Mon 06-Apr-20 07:29:16

It’s a pity that his actual article was behind a paywall. The bit I was able to read sounded way OTT. Last week he was whingeing about our being ‘a police state’. I think he’s just bored staying at home and so is attention seeking.

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 07:50:06

His viewpoint is not humanitarian, but historical. His argument is that the economic damage to the country outweighs the loss of life. He argues that the country can overcome the loss of life and will be in a better position to move forward if the economy isn't trashed.

The government believes that approximately 80% of people in the UK will eventually be infected. The original intention was to let that happen with minimal intervention. There's an argument that most of the people (ie over 80s) who will die would have died within the next year or so anyway.

It wasn't until Imperial College produced a report, showing that would mean the deaths of approximately 500,000 people and overwhelming the NHS, that the government changed its strategy. Even now, infections can't be prevented by vaccines and the only way to control it is by social means.

Sumption has often argued that there is no moral obligation to obey the law, which is a strange view from a former barrister.

Pikachu Mon 06-Apr-20 07:59:52

Lord Sumption from his lofty perch does not say how hospitals will be able handle waves of ill people at once.

Davidhs Mon 06-Apr-20 08:10:56

Economically there should be no restrictions, let the disease run it course and the weak die, as the weak are predominately the old and disabled that are not economically active

Politically that is not possible, Stalin or Hitler probably would have taken that view, any government would get hounded out of office today.

M0nica Mon 06-Apr-20 08:13:23

I did agree with Lord Sumption's concern that we were in danger of quietly becoming a police state. It is worth stating that after his comments, the police stopped setting random road blocks that stopped every motorist and queried why they were on the roads and are now concentrating just on those that are clearly flouting the distancing rules.

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 08:19:16

Pikachu That's easy to solve. If many of the people in intensive care will die anyway, just let them die at home.

PS. I'm not actually suggesting that, but it's the logical outcome of the argument.

CherryCezzy Mon 06-Apr-20 08:20:27

I don't always agree with the base principle of utilitarianism and the size world's population is unsustainable. There will always be competing ideas of what the greater good is and this is just another example of that. Is it the greater good to sacrifice some people to protect economic power which in turn theoretically protects the financial future of the many and subsequently the happiness of those that remain?
Why is it when it comes to a question and answer of greater good it is those most vulnerable, in whatever way they are, that are the sacrificial lambs?
As a humanitarian I can never agree with that.

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 08:22:50

MOnica If people (everybody!) behaved responsibly, police action wouldn't be needed. It's the same argument generally. If people behaved in a civilised way at all times, police forces wouldn't be needed anyway. Unfortunately, there are people who will behave in whatever way they want - just because they can.

I don't believe the UK is anywhere near being a police state, especially because people are being stopped from going on unnecessary days out.

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 08:26:11

It's an age old question CherryCezzy and why I have always argued that democracy (the will of the majority) is not the holy grail people claim it is. Democracy needs to exist alongside rights for minorities and the weakest.

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 08:28:13

Especially Davidhs as those who would die tend to vote for the political party currently in power (in the UK, at least).

suziewoozie Mon 06-Apr-20 08:32:34

I do also feel that white men if LS’s age and privileged background do not and can not appreciate or understand the lives of many UK citizens. In a pandemic free for all, who do you think would be first in the queue for the inadequate number of hospital beds and ventilators?

Hetty58 Mon 06-Apr-20 08:32:54

Any government that didn't try to save lives would be judged later - for mass murder. I can see both sides of the argument but there is only one way. The death toll will be horrendous anyway, despite everyone's best efforts

suziewoozie Mon 06-Apr-20 08:38:12

The real issues are going to be what next, whenever next comes along. Does anyone believe it can ever be business as usual or instead we will have to rethink our economic and social model - as we did after WW2?

growstuff Mon 06-Apr-20 08:43:27

suziewoozie There wouldn't be a queue for beds and ventilators if people were just to be allowed to die at home. angry Even now, deaths outside a hospital setting don't always show up in the official death statistics.

suziewoozie Mon 06-Apr-20 08:50:58

I thought deaths outside of hospital are not in the daily count but will now appear in the ONS weekly stats.