Surely Steven the real question is: what do we mean by safety? For example, more than one million people a year worldwide die in road traffic accidents. Shall we ban automobiles? Three million die of obesity-related diseases. Shall we ban McSlop? More than seven million die of smoking-related diseases. Shall we ban cigarettes? What level of risk are we willing to tolerate?

Today, more than four months into the coronavirus pandemic, around 250,000 people have died worldwide, or, to put it another way, only 50% of the average death toll each year from regular flu. We need to remember that risk is always relative. In order to “save” temporarily some lives we’ve thrown more than 500 million people in the world’s poorest countries into absolute poverty and many are starving to death right now, although the Western media is studiously avoiding reporting on this because it wouldn’t be “on message.” So, how many lives will we sacrifice in order to “save” others? Do we let ten million starve across Asia and Africa in order to “flatten the curve” in Western nations?

And, let’s face it, the only reason we’ve been fed the “flatten the curve” nonsense is because so many Western countries have systematically under-funded their health systems (UK, Spain, Italy) or have such abysmally dysfunctional health systems (USA, take a bow) that they have no capacity for handling any kind of surge in demand. It’s notable that Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands, and a few other nations haven’t rushed to lockdown/shutdown and they haven’t been overwhelmed because they didn’t neglect their health care systems for decades.

So basically we’re starving millions in order that Western politicians can pretend they’re not to blame for woefully inadequate infrastructure. Where’s the trade-off between “safety and freedom” in all of that?

Clearly we haven’t understood the problem at all. Instead, we’ve simply been stampeded into hysteria by an irresponsible mass media that relies on creating sensationalism in order to sustain revenues. Politicians have thereafter hid under the covers of this sensationalist nonsense in order to evade responsibility.

So as we neither grasp the basics of relative versus perceived risk, nor have any grasp of the true reasons for and costs of our panic-induced actions, it seems otiose to ponder “freedom versus safety” when we haven’t even begun to comprehend anything whatsoever about the real issues facing us.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.