• Unattractive Alternatives

    Richard Prebble in today’s Herald rehearses his familiar charge sheet under the guise of trying to find something to commend in the government’s handling of the pandemic.

    What he, and other critics, fail to recognise is that the coronavirus pandemic provides a series of manifold and varied challenges that – typically – offer a series of choices between two alternatives. Should the government help hard-pressed businesses with financial assistance and accept the risk of higher inflation? Or should they tell business-owners that they are on their own because the government can’t find the money to help them? Is lockdown the answer to the spread of the virus or should we take our chances on vaccination to stop the spread?

    It is in the nature of things that, whatever answer the government gives to these conundrums, the way is open for critics to lambast them for the downside that inevitably attends whatever choice they make. How easy it must be to sit on the sidelines and intervene with a stinging criticism of a decision which is, in the end, inevitably a choice between two unattractive alternatives offered by a once-in-a-generation crisis!

    And there is a further puzzle in the Prebble analysis. If the government has made so many mis-steps, how is it that our rates of infections, hospitalisations and deaths are so much better than those of other countries, and why is our mid-pandemic economy doing so much better than those elsewhere?

    The government must have been making quite a few good decisions and doing a lot of things right. It would be good if this could occasionally be recognised.