Monday, 27 September 2021

COVID Follow-ups: Western Europe

This is the first of my follow-up reports on COVID-19 in individual countries. The list of countries I had selected for follow-up was so large, that I decided to do things a different way. So, I put some more automation into my “world supergroup” workbook that summarizes the data for the 191 reporting countries. That workbook can now produce textual summaries of the status of the epidemic in each country. These summaries are of two types. The first, Counts, gives data on the epidemic as a whole to date in a country, such as cases per million and deaths per million. The second, Current Status, gives a snapshot of the current state of the epidemic in the country, such as daily cases and deaths per million.

Armed with this new tool, I can now follow-up on every reporting country in the world. For each country, I will show the basic graph of cases and deaths for the country, together with the two summaries, and any general comments on the country’s handling of the epidemic. Since a country’s performance can only be fully understood in the context of its policies on vaccinations and lockdowns, I will preface the detailed reports with information on these measures. For vaccinations, I will show the lists of percentages of “susceptibles,” that is, those still liable to catch the virus, among the population in each country. The calculation is based on the assumptions that two jabs are 65% effective and one jab half that, and the number of people who have already been cases, and who get the virus a second time, is negligible. For lockdowns, I will show the lockdown percentages for each of the 9 types of lockdown, stacked up into single bars so that the total lies between 0% and 900%. Note: these are not the same as average lockdown stringencies, since the Blavatnik stringency measure does not include face coverings.

The data, on which I am basing these reports, goes up to September 22nd 2021. Since Europe as a whole (46 countries) is too big to cover in a single report, I decided to divide it into two parts. This report covers Western Europe; that is, the groups of countries I call “Europe 14” and “Rest of Western Europe.”

Susceptibles

Here are the ordered lists of percentages of “susceptibles”:


Luxembourg has done the least vaccinating, and Portugal the most; though San Marino runs it close. The Vatican shows as an outlier, because it is not supplying any vaccinations data.

Lockdowns

Here are the stacked bar charts of average lockdown levels:


It’s noticeable that the top four countries in average lockdowns are all Catholic countries. Make of that what you will.

Here are the current lockdown levels:


Andorra

Andorra Counts

Cases per Million: 195892 (rank 3/191)

Deaths per Million: 1681 (rank 33/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0.9% (rank 154/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 31.5% (rank 13/91)

Tests per 100000: 275341 (rank 12/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 7.1% (rank 73/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 54.1% (rank 43/191)

People Vaccinated: 66.7% (rank 34/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 48.5% (rank 137/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 16% (rank 110/173)

Andorra Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 83 (rank 80/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.14 (rank 43/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0 (rank 160/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0% (rank 160/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 31.41% (rank 20/91)

Current Susceptibles: 41.15% (rank 184/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 51.9% (rank 79/174)

Andorra is a small territory in the Pyrenees, sandwiched between France and Spain. The virus has hit it particularly hard, as shown by the cases per million, almost 20% of the population. Each cases peak has been lower than the previous one, deaths per case have been relatively good, and lockdowns have been generally milder than in the larger European countries. But the virus still won’t quite lie down; and excess mortality is quite high. Verdict: Some have done an awful lot worse.

Austria

Austria Counts

Cases per Million: 80581 (rank 44/191)

Deaths per Million: 1209 (rank 52/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.5% (rank 104/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 8.8% (rank 55/91)

Tests per 100000: 920514 (rank 2/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 0.9% (rank 121/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 59.1% (rank 34/191)

People Vaccinated: 62.5% (rank 49/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 60.9% (rank 72/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 15.4% (rank 115/173)

Austria Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 202 (rank 41/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.05 (rank 63/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 1.22 (rank 72/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.77% (rank 116/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 7.5% (rank 45/91)

Current Susceptibles: 53% (rank 160/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 60.2% (rank 44/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 58.4 (rank 18/30) (0.8% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 20.1 (rank 9/26) (9.2% full)

The Austrians did very well against the first wave of the virus, but seemed to lose their way against the second. They have done an enormous amount of testing, quite a lot of vaccinating, and a middling amount of locking down, though recent lockdowns are harsher than average. Deaths per million and excess mortality are both lower than many other European countries. Verdict: Not the best, but by no means the worst.

Belgium

Belgium Counts

Cases per Million: 105674 (rank 24/191)

Deaths per Million: 2195 (rank 14/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 2.1% (rank 70/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 10.1% (rank 54/91)

Tests per 100000: 168146 (rank 22/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 6.2% (rank 82/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 71.6% (rank 13/191)

People Vaccinated: 73.4% (rank 18/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 56.1% (rank 103/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 24.2% (rank 56/173)

Belgium Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 173 (rank 50/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.09 (rank 51/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.58 (rank 97/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.33% (rank 144/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -3.95% (rank 78/91)

Current Susceptibles: 42.71% (rank 181/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 43.1% (rank 107/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 58.5 (rank 17/30) (1% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 18.7 (rank 11/26) (11.7% full)

The Belgians were the hardest hit of all by the second wave, and they must have known it. Since the new year, cases have been relatively well under control. Lockdowns have been generally lower than other countries in the area. Excess mortality is now negative. Verdict: They went through a nasty period late in 2020, but otherwise they have controlled the virus relatively well.

Denmark

Denmark Counts

Cases per Million: 61447 (rank 66/191)

Deaths per Million: 453 (rank 94/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0.7% (rank 159/191)

Average Excess Mortality: -0.4% (rank 80/91)

Tests per 100000: 700859 (rank 5/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 0.9% (rank 120/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 74.5% (rank 8/191)

People Vaccinated: 76.4% (rank 10/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 52.2% (rank 120/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 15.8% (rank 111/173)

Denmark Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 56 (rank 93/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.72 (rank 144/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.42 (rank 104/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.28% (rank 146/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 4.48% (rank 54/91)

Current Susceptibles: 45.22% (rank 174/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 24.1% (rank 164/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 21.5 (rank 25/30) (0.9% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 5.5 (rank 21/26) (8.2% full)

Why have the Danes done so much better than anyone else in mainland Europe? Relatively low lockdowns, low cases and deaths per million, average excess mortality negative throughout the epidemic! Quite strong vaccinations. No national face covering mandate, until just recently; wonder why they did that? And no big panics since the second wave was scotched before Christmas. Verdict: Skål! (But you can’t drink with a face mask on).

Finland

Finland Counts

Cases per Million: 24799 (rank 106/191)

Deaths per Million: 191 (rank 113/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0.8% (rank 158/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 1.5% (rank 75/91)

Tests per 100000: 125292 (rank 32/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 2% (rank 113/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 58.7% (rank 36/191)

People Vaccinated: 73.9% (rank 16/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 44.7% (rank 148/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 4.9% (rank 168/173)

Finland Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 71 (rank 87/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.77 (rank 136/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.28 (rank 116/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.26% (rank 150/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 3.23% (rank 57/91)

Current Susceptibles: 55.91% (rank 153/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 36.6% (rank 132/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 17.1 (rank 29/30) (0.5% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 4 (rank 23/26) (6.5% full)

Well done the Finns! Very low cases per million, even lower deaths per million. Excess mortality within the “normal” range. Second lowest average lockdowns in Western Europe. No national face mask mandates at all. Something in Nordic culture must help them against this virus. Verdict: Very good, under the circumstances.

France

France Counts

Cases per Million: 104513 (rank 26/191)

Deaths per Million: 1731 (rank 32/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.7% (rank 90/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 7% (rank 63/91)

People Fully Vaccinated: 63.7% (rank 20/191)

People Vaccinated: 73.6% (rank 17/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 59.1% (rank 84/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 23.4% (rank 61/173)

France Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 113 (rank 68/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.76 (rank 138/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 1.08 (rank 75/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.46% (rank 138/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -0.12% (rank 68/91)

Current Susceptibles: 45.62% (rank 172/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 66.7% (rank 29/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 148.2 (rank 4/30) (2.5% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 31.5 (rank 4/26) (27.2% full)

The French have been overall the least heavily locked down among the big Catholic countries; though they do seem to like to use full lockdowns, and they are under heavy lockdown now. In the middle of the league on vaccinations. Verdict: About how you’d expect the French to do.

Germany

Germany Counts

Cases per Million: 49742 (rank 76/191)

Deaths per Million: 1111 (rank 56/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 2.2% (rank 59/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 3.3% (rank 70/91)

Tests per 100000: 86175 (rank 44/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 5.7% (rank 87/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 62.6% (rank 26/191)

People Vaccinated: 66.6% (rank 35/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 63% (rank 61/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 23.3% (rank 62/173)

Germany Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 99 (rank 73/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1 (rank 79/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.68 (rank 93/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.59% (rank 131/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 4.29% (rank 55/91)

Current Susceptibles: 53.77% (rank 157/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 56.5% (rank 58/174)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 17.2 (rank 12/26) (4.4% full)

Low cases per million, and quite low deaths per million, for the area. Excess mortality low. Heavier lockdowns than many. Vaccinations not as high as you would expect from the usually efficient Germans. Verdict: Doing OK so far, given the circumstances; but due to strong early control on cases, they may find themselves with a long haul to reach herd immunity.

Iceland

Iceland Counts

Cases per Million: 33661 (rank 94/191)

Deaths per Million: 96 (rank 136/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0.3% (rank 179/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 1.1% (rank 77/91)

Tests per 100000: 180859 (rank 17/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 1.8% (rank 115/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 79.9% (rank 4/191)

People Vaccinated: 81.9% (rank 3/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 43.8% (rank 151/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 7.6% (rank 162/173)

Iceland Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 92 (rank 76/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.85 (rank 118/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0 (rank 160/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0% (rank 160/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 18.99% (rank 30/91)

Current Susceptibles: 45.07% (rank 175/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 41.7% (rank 110/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 17.5 (rank 28/30) (0.6% full)

Icelandic deaths per million, deaths per case and excess mortality are outstanding. The “Nordic factor” strikes again! The way they scotched the first wave was exemplary; almost a perfect Farr curve. The second and third weren’t bad, either. They have got the job done so far – with the lowest average lockdowns in Europe! Very strong on vaccinations, too. It may be a long way from here to herd immunity, though. Verdict: As near exemplary as you’re going to get.

Ireland

Ireland Counts

Cases per Million: 76134 (rank 49/191)

Deaths per Million: 1045 (rank 58/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.4% (rank 111/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 2.5% (rank 73/91)

Tests per 100000: 144238 (rank 27/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 5.2% (rank 90/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 72.3% (rank 11/191)

People Vaccinated: 75.3% (rank 14/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 67% (rank 41/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 29.1% (rank 31/173)

Ireland Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 339 (rank 26/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.91 (rank 105/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.86 (rank 84/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.25% (rank 151/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -1.56% (rank 73/91)

Current Susceptibles: 45.4% (rank 173/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 48.2% (rank 93/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 63.2 (rank 15/30) (2.1% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 11.8 (rank 17/26) (18.2% full)

The Irish have consistently been locked down harder than anyone else in Western Europe except the Italians. It seems to have worked in its own terms, so far; but the price is high. And cases even now are well above the WHO’s “endemic” threshold! Verdict: Could (and should) have treated the people better.

Italy

Italy Counts

Cases per Million: 76960 (rank 47/191)

Deaths per Million: 2162 (rank 17/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 2.8% (rank 38/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 15.3% (rank 38/91)

Tests per 100000: 148127 (rank 25/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 5.2% (rank 91/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 65.5% (rank 17/191)

People Vaccinated: 73.3% (rank 19/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 68.4% (rank 33/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 27% (rank 41/173)

Italy Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 66 (rank 89/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.86 (rank 115/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.92 (rank 80/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.88% (rank 109/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -0.82% (rank 70/91)

Current Susceptibles: 48.41% (rank 169/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 69% (rank 26/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 77.4 (rank 14/30) (2.4% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 9.3 (rank 20/26) (7.4% full)

Heaviest lockdowns in Western Europe, yet in the world top 20 in deaths per million. And cases per million aren’t that high! Three big, bad bloopers right there. They seem to be reasonably on top of the virus right now, but no sign of relaxing any lockdowns. Verdict: The Italians should demand their money back.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein Counts

Cases per Million: 89638 (rank 35/191)

Deaths per Million: 1568 (rank 37/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.7% (rank 83/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 10.6% (rank 53/91)

Tests per 100000: 171731 (rank 21/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 5.2% (rank 92/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 56.9% (rank 39/191)

People Vaccinated: 62.5% (rank 50/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 39.4% (rank 160/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 14.1% (rank 129/173)

Liechtenstein Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 131 (rank 62/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.02 (rank 75/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0 (rank 160/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0% (rank 160/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -31.03% (rank 90/91)

Current Susceptibles: 54.01% (rank 156/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 25% (rank 161/174)

Lowest average lockdown stringency outside the Nordics. Cases per million reasonable, deaths per million not great. Current excess mortality is very low indeed. They seem to think they now have the virus beaten. I hope they have! Verdict: A really good try so far.

Luxembourg

Luxembourg Counts

Cases per Million: 122165 (rank 14/191)

Deaths per Million: 1315 (rank 48/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.1% (rank 138/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 3.1% (rank 71/91)

Tests per 100000: 551417 (rank 6/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 2.2% (rank 112/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 62.9% (rank 25/191)

People Vaccinated: 65.3% (rank 41/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 48.6% (rank 136/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 10.9% (rank 149/173)

Luxembourg Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 125 (rank 65/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.04 (rank 64/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.23 (rank 128/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.17% (rank 158/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -18.11% (rank 88/91)

Current Susceptibles: 64.81% (rank 129/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 34.3% (rank 139/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 58.3 (rank 19/30) (1.3% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 14.2 (rank 15/26) (5.7% full)

Cases per million above 12%, probably due to strong testing. Vaccinating slower than some neighbours. Deaths per million and excess mortality lower than many. Lockdowns lower than most; they were the only Western European country to unlock completely after the first wave (but that only lasted 3 days). Verdict: They have done as well as anyone except the Nordics.

Malta

Malta Counts

Cases per Million: 71975 (rank 55/191)

Deaths per Million: 886 (rank 69/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.2% (rank 129/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 6.7% (rank 64/91)

Tests per 100000: 235434 (rank 14/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 3% (rank 107/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 81.3% (rank 2/191)

People Vaccinated: 81.4% (rank 4/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 52.5% (rank 118/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 25.8% (rank 52/173)

Malta Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 45 (rank 99/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.71 (rank 150/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 1.67 (rank 67/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 1.77% (rank 65/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -14.29% (rank 86/91)

Current Susceptibles: 40.29% (rank 185/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 43.5% (rank 103/174)

The Maltese seem to have done pretty well, though their lockdowns have been heavy compared with other small Western European countries. Second highest full vaccinator in the world. They were caught napping by the delta variant in July, but seem to have got over that. Verdict: Along the right lines, but the lockdowns have been too draconian.

Monaco

Monaco Counts

Cases per Million: 83477 (rank 40/191)

Deaths per Million: 835 (rank 71/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1% (rank 143/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 13.5% (rank 42/91)

People Fully Vaccinated: 59% (rank 35/191)

People Vaccinated: 67.5% (rank 32/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 57.6% (rank 93/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 20.3% (rank 80/173)

Monaco Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 51 (rank 95/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.45 (rank 173/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0 (rank 160/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0% (rank 160/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -2.74% (rank 75/91)

Current Susceptibles: 51.61% (rank 162/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 37% (rank 129/174)

Unsurprisingly, the Monégasque epidemic profile is similar to the French, though here the big peak was the third wave, not the second. They have done quite a bit better than the French, though. Lockdowns are the highest among the small countries, but still comparable with Belgium and the Netherlands. Verdict: They have done OK, considering.

Netherlands

Netherlands Counts

Cases per Million: 118061 (rank 16/191)

Deaths per Million: 1079 (rank 57/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0.9% (rank 145/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 8.8% (rank 56/91)

Tests per 100000: 75136 (rank 48/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 15.5% (rank 27/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 63.5% (rank 22/191)

People Vaccinated: 70.2% (rank 26/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 60.4% (rank 78/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 19.9% (rank 84/173)

Netherlands Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 112 (rank 69/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.79 (rank 131/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.43 (rank 102/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.28% (rank 147/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 6.51% (rank 48/91)

Current Susceptibles: 44.93% (rank 177/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 41.7% (rank 110/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 25.3 (rank 23/30) (0.8% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 11.9 (rank 16/26) (18.7% full)

The Dutch have had among the lightest lockdowns among the major Western European countries. They have almost 12% of the population as cases, and a far lower cumulative deaths per case than most of the other countries. They have done the least testing in Western Europe. They, too, got over the delta variant very quickly. Verdict: A pretty decent job in the circumstances.

Norway

Norway Counts

Cases per Million: 33776 (rank 93/191)

Deaths per Million: 156 (rank 123/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0.5% (rank 175/191)

Average Excess Mortality: -1.3% (rank 85/91)

Tests per 100000: 139227 (rank 30/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 2.4% (rank 110/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 65% (rank 19/191)

People Vaccinated: 74.4% (rank 15/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 53.1% (rank 114/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 11.9% (rank 144/173)

Norway Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 135 (rank 59/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.79 (rank 131/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.24 (rank 124/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.09% (rank 159/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -1.01% (rank 71/91)

Current Susceptibles: 52.95% (rank 161/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 38.9% (rank 121/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 21.2 (rank 26/30) (0.6% full)

The Norwegians have locked down a bit harder than the other Nordics except for Sweden. Unusually, in Norway (as in Finland and Iceland) each successive peak of cases has been bigger than the last. But cases per million are low, deaths per case very low, and excess mortality negative. Verdict: A pretty good performance so far.

Portugal

Portugal Counts

Cases per Million: 104642 (rank 25/191)

Deaths per Million: 1764 (rank 29/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.7% (rank 88/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 10.7% (rank 52/91)

Tests per 100000: 177101 (rank 20/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 5.9% (rank 85/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 81.9% (rank 1/191)

People Vaccinated: 87.1% (rank 2/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 65.5% (rank 48/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 26.4% (rank 46/173)

Portugal Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 79 (rank 82/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.72 (rank 144/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.72 (rank 91/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.37% (rank 142/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 5.12% (rank 50/91)

Current Susceptibles: 35.78% (rank 190/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 52.8% (rank 71/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 56 (rank 20/30) (1.7% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 11.8 (rank 18/26) (28.1% full)

Reasonable cases per million, but poor deaths per case. Third highest average lockdowns in Western Europe, including some really nasty ones, like travel restrictions all week-end, every week-end for weeks on end. The hospitals and ICUs have been full to overflowing. But Portugal is now the top vaccinator in the world, which does seem to have helped keep recent cases down. Verdict: For the Portuguese, all this has been a bit of a nightmare.

San Marino

San Marino Counts

Cases per Million: 159453 (rank 4/191)

Deaths per Million: 2646 (rank 9/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.7% (rank 89/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 29% (rank 17/91)

People Fully Vaccinated: 71.5% (rank 14/191)

People Vaccinated: 71.5% (rank 23/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 50.2% (rank 131/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 18.5% (rank 92/173)

San Marino Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 88 (rank 78/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.02 (rank 75/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0 (rank 160/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0% (rank 160/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 22.45% (rank 27/91)

Current Susceptibles: 38.22% (rank 189/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 50% (rank 88/174)

The Sammarinese got hit really hard by the first wave, as shown by the deaths counts. But though they are surrounded by Italy, their lockdowns have been light in comparison. Their vaccinations seem largely to have been completed. If, as I suspect, that little bump in cases in July was the only effect of the delta variant, then they’re in good shape from here on in. They are probably as close to herd immunity as anyone in the world. Verdict: They have suffered bad times; but absent another new variant, I think they’ve pulled through them.

Spain

Spain Counts

Cases per Million: 105697 (rank 23/191)

Deaths per Million: 1842 (rank 26/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.7% (rank 85/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 14% (rank 40/91)

Tests per 100000: 123114 (rank 33/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 8.6% (rank 59/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 76.6% (rank 6/191)

People Vaccinated: 80% (rank 6/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 61% (rank 69/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 18.7% (rank 89/173)

Spain Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 57 (rank 92/191)

Reproduction Rate: 0.73 (rank 143/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 1.37 (rank 69/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.96% (rank 104/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 9.47% (rank 44/91)

Current Susceptibles: 39.39% (rank 187/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 42.1% (rank 109/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 106.4 (rank 12/30) (3.6% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 26.2 (rank 6/26) (27.1% full)

The Spaniards have suffered under the cosh of heavy lockdowns. The deaths per million are lower than Italy or the UK. But like Portugal, the hospitals and ICUs have been filled to capacity. The vaccination program is strong. Verdict: A bad experience for all, and excess mortality is still up, but hopefully they’ll get there in the end.

Sweden

Sweden Counts

Cases per Million: 112978 (rank 19/191)

Deaths per Million: 1458 (rank 39/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.3% (rank 124/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 2.9% (rank 72/91)

People Fully Vaccinated: 62.3% (rank 27/191)

People Vaccinated: 69.6% (rank 28/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 55.3% (rank 105/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 13.3% (rank 135/173)

Sweden Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 72 (rank 86/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.14 (rank 43/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.97 (rank 79/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.95% (rank 105/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -3.51% (rank 76/91)

Current Susceptibles: 47.21% (rank 170/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 37% (rank 129/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 33.5 (rank 21/30) (1.5% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 5.4 (rank 22/26) (9.3% full)

The Swedes lost a lot of people at the beginning of the epidemic; but deaths per million have not risen as fast since then as they have in many other countries. And the excess mortality has been excellent. Their lockdowns have been heavier than most other Nordics, but they are by far the largest Nordic country. I think their relatively “light touch” approach, compared with non-Nordic countries, has been vindicated. Verdict: There are certainly worse places to have been during the epidemic than Sweden!

Switzerland

Switzerland Counts

Cases per Million: 95261 (rank 31/191)

Deaths per Million: 1265 (rank 50/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.3% (rank 119/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 8.2% (rank 58/91)

Tests per 100000: 114987 (rank 34/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 8.2% (rank 62/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 52.9% (rank 46/191)

People Vaccinated: 61% (rank 56/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 51.1% (rank 123/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 15% (rank 117/173)

Switzerland Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 189 (rank 45/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.06 (rank 61/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 0.77 (rank 88/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.27% (rank 149/186)

Current Excess Mortality: -8.21% (rank 83/91)

Current Susceptibles: 54.59% (rank 154/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 44.4% (rank 100/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 81.5 (rank 13/30) (1.8% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 26.2 (rank 7/26) (23.8% full)

The Swiss, in their own quiet and methodical way, have been keeping the virus under control better than some of those around them. The delta variant bump seems to have lasted longer here than elsewhere; perhaps because of their relatively laid-back attitude on vaccinations. But the excess mortality is now strongly negative. Verdict: A decent performance.

UK

UK Counts

Cases per Million: 110923 (rank 21/191)

Deaths per Million: 1993 (rank 23/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 1.8% (rank 79/191)

Average Excess Mortality: 11.2% (rank 48/91)

Tests per 100000: 386574 (rank 7/128)

Cumulative Cases per Test: 2.8% (rank 108/128)

People Fully Vaccinated: 65.1% (rank 18/191)

People Vaccinated: 71.2% (rank 24/191)

Average Lockdown Stringency: 62.7% (rank 64/174)

Average Time in Full Lockdowns: 23.1% (rank 66/173)

UK Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 459 (rank 17/191)

Reproduction Rate: 1.03 (rank 69/184)

Daily Deaths per Million: 2.07 (rank 59/186)

Deaths per Case (21 day offset): 0.42% (rank 141/186)

Current Excess Mortality: 11.14% (rank 40/91)

Current Susceptibles: 45.05% (rank 176/191)

Current Lockdown Stringency: 41.2% (rank 113/174)

Hospital Occupancy per Million: 113.3 (rank 11/30) (4.5% full)

ICU Occupancy per Million: 14.4 (rank 14/26) (21.8% full)

Cases per million have been growing rapidly since the push for herd immunity began in mid-July. Deaths per million and cumulative deaths per case are bad, but not as bad as you might have expected given the awful performance in the first year and a half of the epidemic. Lockdowns have been stringent; there seems to be a battle between the “advisors” who want to lock everyone down as hard as possible for as long as possible, and some of the politicians, who realize that doing so won’t be good for their careers. In England at least, these politicians won the July round; perhaps because the new health secretary is actually half way numerate. In consequence, case counts are now behaving like a yo-yo. But every yo and oy takes us a step closer to herd immunity.

Verdict: Overall, a rubbish performance; and one that, typically, has shown no concern at all for the “little people” like barbers and small shopkeepers. But since the change of health secretary, the strategy of going for herd immunity has been, I think, the right one.

Vatican

I won’t bother with the graph because it shows nothing of interest. So here is the report:

Vatican Counts

Cases per Million: 33251 (rank 95/191) (12 cases in all)

Deaths per Million: 0 (rank 187/191)

Cumulative Deaths per Case: 0% (rank 187/191)

People Fully Vaccinated: 0% (rank 185/191)

People Vaccinated: 0% (rank 187/191)

Vatican Current Status

Daily Cases per Million: 0 (rank 180/191)

Current Susceptibles: 96.67% (rank 42/191)

And with this wholly (or holy?) uninteresting country report, I’ll close.

 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Some thoughts for the Reform Party UK

The Reform Party UK is due to hold its very first party conference on October 3rd 2021 in Manchester. While political parties are not really my thing, in view of the potential importance of the Reform Party to the on-going battle for liberty in the UK, I have made plans to attend. I thought that before then I would look out their latest policy documents, refresh my memory as to what they are proposing, and make some comments on their ideas from my highly individualist and libertarian point of view. The document in which they have published their proposals is “Reform is Essential,” dated May 2021 [https://reformparty.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Reform-is-Essential.pdf].

I will put quotes from the document in “italics inside quotes.” My own thoughts will be in normal font and informal style. Where necessary, I will address those responsible for the policies in the second person.

Introduction

“We must reform the way our country is run and managed, so it works properly for the people.” Absolutely. It must work, as John Locke put it, “for the public good, i.e., the good of every particular member of the society, as far as by common rules it can be provided for.”

“Let’s reclaim our right to free speech…” Again, absolutely. Particularly in the light of their “online safety bill,” that seeks to put absolute power in the hands of bureaucrats to decide what is “harmful misinformation” in social media and on the Internet, and will give them power to fine social media or internet service companies millions of pounds if they fail to take down such material. That must be scotched.

“…let’s celebrate our pride in being British; our amazing culture, our incredible heritage, and our wonderful values.” If by “our wonderful values” you mean the values of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, as filtered through English (and Scottish) culture, then yes, we should celebrate them. But I feel no pride at all in “being British” in the political sense – that is, being subjected to the wallies and prats that now fill parliament.

“Leaving the undemocratic EU was just the beginning.” Yes. Brexit was a sine qua non for many vital things we need to do, like withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and from all other environmental commitments that cannot be justified by rigorous cost-benefit analysis based on hard evidence and good, honest science.

“People’s eyes have been opened as to the benefits of being an independent sovereign UK.” I don’t think we have seen much if any of the benefits of Brexit yet; COVID being a major reason for that. And in my hat as an amateur ethical and political philosopher, I have no time at all for “sovereignty” – a 16th-century system that not only allows arrogant psychopaths to grab political power and ride roughshod over the needs and desires of ordinary people, but also lets them get away with it. But the key here is independence. To be independent means to make your – and my, and our – own decisions, and not to have to kow-tow to any external party. That is essential.

Reform Our Economy: to succeed, we must become a low tax, smartly regulated, high growth economy.” Low tax, definitely. High growth, definitely. But “smart” is a word that gives me conniptions. To me, smart people are too clever for anyone’s good (including their own). “Smart meters” and “smart cars” are worse. I’d prefer “lightly and justly regulated.”

“Faster growth is the only way to better wages and more tax revenues to invest in better healthcare and other public services.” I’m not sure it’s the only way, but I think it’s the right way under current circumstances. I am reminded of the German Wirtschaftswunder of the 1950s; though I think the state played too big a part in that. Support for fast growth also puts you (like me) firmly and squarely against the green craving to subject us all to “de-growth.” I think it’s also worth making the point that lower tax rates often result in higher tax receipts.

“Our bold economic vision frees up over 6 million people from paying income tax and frees up over 1.2 million small businesses/self-employed from paying corporation tax.” Sounds great! We “little people” have had a real bashing from successive governments of all parties. It would be great to get some of our own back for a change!

“We would also remove a raft of stifling taxes.” Including IR35, I hope! As a one-man software consultant, I myself have been a victim of IR35 for more than 20 years; and they have recently used the same bad law to hammer the lorry drivers, with negative effects that are obvious to all. In my view, government must never interfere with economic activity, unless there is actual harm being done or intended to someone, or people’s rights are being violated, or fraud is being committed; or there is criminal negligence, or recklessness beyond the bounds of reason.

I wonder if you might benefit from thinking wider and more radically about taxation in general. For example, should what individuals pay for government not mirror more closely the benefit that they get from it? (In my view, the benefit from properly provided government is very much in proportion to the individual’s total wealth). The present system is very regressive, because people with good earnings but no or little capital end up paying far more tax than the rich with lots of capital, who can live well without needing to earn much.

Reform our Public Sector: we must be ambitious, seeking faster, more efficient public services that work better for us all…” As a radical libertarian, I don’t think there should even exist a “public sector” as such. There are core functions of governance, such as courts, police, military defence and the support services they need. There are things which arguably can best be done by government, like emergency services and maintenance of public infrastructure. And there are things like education and health care, which should be de-politicized. That said, we are where we are, and change has to be incremental to start with.

“Our police need to focus on preventing crime and catching criminals, not woke nonsense.” Spot on!

Reform our Institutions: major change is needed to the bodies that impact our lives, the unelected cronyism of the House of Lords, the unaccountable civil service, the bloated BBC.” Yes, very definitely.

“Reform is essential to our voting system so it is fairer and more representative...” I think the problem goes far deeper than the voting system: “democracy” is not an appropriate way to run a system where people are divided. To get around that problem you need, at the least, smaller political units and far more local autonomy. To me, Brexit has been only the first, small step in what needs to be an ongoing process of down-sizing and de-centralizing of government.

“…the two-party system embeds the status quo and prevents real change.” I think this understates the problem. Today’s political system is in effect a one-party system: the Big Green Establishment Party.

Freedom is Precious

“Return all the freedoms and liberties that we enjoyed before COVID. Every single one.” Of course. But there are other freedoms we have had taken away in recent decades, as well – for example, our privacy has been destroyed by cameras everywhere, and by government monitoring our on-line activity. These freedoms must be restored, too – and those that have infringed them must be brought to justice. Moreover, we must fight to retain other liberties that are under threat today – for example, the right to use cash.

“Free us from the woke nonsense that pervades through Westminster and for too much of our lives.” Yes, indeed!

“Restore the democratic right to protest.” I would add to that “in a non-disruptive way.”

Reform Our Economy

“The government is increasing taxes to the highest level in 70 years with medium-term growth expected to be the lowest for 60 years.” I get the feeling that they have belatedly woken up to the fact that – as some economists were telling us more than a decade ago – UK government commitments on items like health care and pensions are unsustainable. The establishment are a bunch of kleptomaniacs anyway; but I read these moves as an attempt to “kick the can down the road,” by getting enough money in to give them a few more years in power before brown stuff hits fast rotating object. Of course, it won’t actually do anything to solve the problem; and will probably make it worse by depressing the economy as a whole.

Low Tax, Simple Tax

“Free up 6 million people from income tax, by lifting the maximum threshold to £20,000.” Sounds like a winner to me! (As long as the numbers to justify it have been worked out right). It would also provide retired people with an incentive to start working again part-time to supplement their pensions.

“Free up 1.2 million SME’s from paying corporation tax.” This too sounds helpful to the “little people” – who are treated by the establishment parties as mere objects to be exploited.

Simplification Plan Highlights.” This, too, sounds mostly good stuff; subject, of course, to the proviso about the numbers justifying it. I’m not sure how your online delivery tax would work, though. Would it apply to all transactions done online, or just to payments made online? For example, would a hotel reservation made on the Internet but paid for at the hotel attract the tax or not? And since business rates today go to local government, how would you work out who would get the revenue?

Reform Our Public Sector

“Our public services are paid for and valued by us all.” I disagree; not all of them are valuable to us, compared to what we are forced to pay for them. And for some of them, we get exactly the opposite of what we pay for. For example, funds which should be used to make roads better are used instead to put in speed bumps, cycle lanes that nobody uses, or “low traffic neighbourhoods.”

“The vast and growing mountain of daft, unproductive regulations that hinder small businesses and restrict growth are all part of the same problem, lacking in common sense.” I think you are far too kind here. I see these regulations as being driven by a hatred that the establishment seem to feel for independent people, and particularly small business people. But yes, we should pile all these bad regulations into a bonfire, and set light to them.

Reform Our Public Services: Health

“We should aim for zero waiting lists.” I’m not sure this is even feasible. I think there needs to be a prioritization system that everyone can understand, and that is fair to all.

“Stop the taxpayer being ripped off by pharmaceutical companies.” Sounds good, but how to do it?

“Re-open the nursing and midwifery professions to recruitment without the degree requirement.” Why is government imposing such an idiot rule in the first place? I can understand the need for a certificate of competence to carry out specific medical activities, but requiring a degree to enter the market amounts to an arbitrary kind of “business licensing,” which no government should ever do.

Reform Our Public Services: Education

“University students are being ripped off with high fees often for just online learning.” I think the problem is much bigger than that. Many arts degree courses seem not to be teaching anything that is useful to anyone but the “woke.” Indeed, I think universities are a major disseminator of these attitudes that are hostile to the Enlightenment values that you and I share. You should be looking at which university departments do teaching and research that actually deliver needed skills or useful knowledge, and de-funding those that don’t.

“We have to be honest that many young people would be better learning while in work rather than accruing debt at university.” Spot on. For me, learning is a lifelong process. Once you have learned how to learn, nothing can stop you as long as you have the energy and the time.

“Teachers must be free to teach pupils how to think, not what to think, without fear of the woke police or religious persecution.” Absolutely.

Reform Our Public Services: Policing

“Common sense dictates more police on the streets will help prevent crime and help catch criminals.” My (cynical) view is that most crimes today are done in government offices!

“A focus on combating violent crime, robbery and burglary, rather than enforcing restrictions on free speech and harassing people sitting on a park bench.” Yes, absolutely.

Reform Our Institutions

Reform the BBC: Bloated, wasteful and obligatory.” I’d say, abolish the BBC – the Biased Broadcasting Corporation. You could sell off the parts (like sports) that make programmes that are actually worth watching, and just shut down the rest.

Reform the unelected, crony filled House of Lords: … A properly representative second House is needed.” I’d say the real need is not so much a second chamber, but a quality control system to be applied to government. Independent, honest auditing of the ethical standards and value-for-money of government departments, of companies contracted to do government work, and of parliament itself, is something I would very much like to see. But if the Lords is to be reformed and made elected, then I think no-one belonging to, or closely connected to, any of the major political parties in the Commons should be allowed to be part of it. Everyone in it should be a cross-bencher! Without this, there would be a danger of it simply becoming a rubber-stamp; unless the elections to the two were staggered, as in the USA. And even that doesn’t really give people enough protection against bad government.

Reform the Civil Service: Better leadership, more accountability, and greater welcome of successful people from the private sector to come in and serve the nation.” I agree; though I’d say that in a supposed “democracy” this function should serve the people, not the nation. And I think there are probably two different areas in which people could usefully come in from the private sector. One is to encourage more dynamism; the other is quality assurance, such as the audits I referred to above.

I also think you might look more closely at local authorities, what they do and how they do it. Too often, they get co-opted to implement “by the back door” wide-ranging policies that no-one has voted for and many of us strongly object to; such as creeping speed limits and obstacles on the roads, and 5G masts going up all over the place.

Reform our Border Controls and Immigration: I am unusual among supporters of Reform UK in that “illegal” immigration isn’t one of my hot-button issues. In my view, people should be able to move around, as long as they don’t become a drain on or a danger to the people they are living among. I am far more concerned about the sheer volume of immigration that is being forced on us (in my area, they tell us we need to cram in 20% more people inside 20 years, even though birth rates are below replacement!) I suspect this is probably down to earlier attempts to try to defuse the UK health and pensions bomb by expanding the tax base, for example by inviting in many people from Poland. All I will say for now is: (1) any system of controlling immigration must be fair to all applicants, and (2) decisions should be made at the lowest level possible – by people who will actually have to live with the immigrants, not by central bureaucrats.

Reform the voting system: As above, I think there are much deeper problems with “democracy” than the voting system. One is that the candidates of all the establishment parties are often of very low quality in their personal ethics, as shown by the expenses scandal; some kind of “honesty audit” on prospective candidates might help to improve this. I can accept, up to a point, direct democracy on the type and scale of a Swiss canton or a New England open town meeting, where every individual has a voice. But I don’t think that “representative” democracy can work, unless the representatives are held fully accountable for the effects on the people of what they do. Which they are not under the current system.

Reform Wasteful Government Spending

(Disclosure: I am a member of the TaxPayers’ Alliance).

“Tens of billions of pounds of our money is wasted every year.” I think that’s a gross under-statement. There is also a huge quantity of tax money spent on things that, if they benefit anyone at all, benefit only vested interests and political pressure groups. The green agenda is a prime example; what have we got for all the money we have paid over decades in “climate change levies” and the like, except sky-rocketing energy prices and an unreliable and uncertain energy supply? And they can’t even show hard evidence that the world is any cooler now than it would have been if we hadn’t paid that money! Even if a cooler world would be a good thing. Which, in my opinion, it would not be; for historically, human civilizations have flourished in relatively warm periods such as Roman and early mediaeval times.

“Amongst wasteful government spending, one of the greatest areas is effective foreign aid.” The foreign aid payment of 0.7% of GDP each year came out of a commission headed by Willy Brandt in the early 1980s. Such payments, as we know, re-distribute wealth from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. And these payments have been going on for 35 years. I would say that only to halve this payment is not going nearly far enough.

Reform Border Control and Immigration

I already addressed this subject above.

Reform Our Environment

(Disclosure: In the last decade and more, I have acquired a decent level of expertise in the area of environment, and in particular in the history of the green agenda. Sufficiently so, that I have published on the Internet several major articles on the subject, some of them at wattsupwiththat.com, “the world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change.” For those who are interested, I will put some links at the end of these comments.)

“We are all concerned about the environment…” My own concern is for the environment for human beings. The things we need in order to fulfil ourselves, like peace, civil liberties, a free market and objective justice, are far more important than (for example) polar bears or saving a few watts of energy. Deep green environmentalism puts something called “the environment” up on a moral pedestal, to be worshipped and preserved without any change, however small. It is like a religion – and a very intolerant and dangerous religion, too.

“…and we all want cleaner air. Let’s celebrate our success so far, as the UK has led the way by reducing our emissions since 1990 by about 50%.” This is true, but it misses an important question: what is an acceptable level of air pollution? Clearly, the level of air pollution in London in the 1950s (particularly from burning coal) was unacceptable, and the problem was, rightly, dealt with. But this isn’t necessarily so today. The issue is that, if you try to reduce and reduce and reduce air pollution, you reach a point at which the law of diminishing returns kicks in. But green policies on air pollution never seem to have a finishing line; and they don’t take cost-effectiveness, or loss of freedoms, into account. I would simply have said, “we all want air that is clean enough,” and left it at that.

“…to reduce emissions further and capture emissions…” I was rather surprised that this section didn’t specifically mention carbon dioxide (which is not a pollutant, and doesn’t impact air quality) and the associated “global warming” accusations. It will not come as a surprise to you that I consider these accusations, and the policies resulting from them, to be a giant scam. I have traced the back-story to these accusations far enough to have found some really unconscionable and ethically outrageous things that the UK government has done in support of the green agenda. See my links below. At the very least, I think you should be demanding an independent, honest audit of the evidence and the facts of the case, and encouraging full, open, public debate on what should or should not be done.

“We must maintain a range of types of energy supply, so we are not overexposed to any one particular supply; prices, technology, and relative performance will vary over time.” Yes, this is very important. Energy sources should also be appropriate to the purposes for which they are to be used (e.g., you can’t generate base load power using intermittent sources like wind and solar; you can’t run transport like cars or buses on fuels with low energy density).

“We will boost the solar and wind renewable sector…” This needs to be considered and costed objectively and very carefully. The big problem with both solar and wind are that they are intermittent. When the sun don’t shine, there’s no power on the line. When the wind don’t blow, the power don’t flow. That means they need to be backed up by other “conventional” power sources, which also have to be paid for. Moreover, when you take away the subsidies and consider costs over the whole life cycle, is power from wind and solar actually as cheap as it’s made out to be? I very much suspect not.

The Cladding Scandal

I’m not particularly well up in the details of the cladding scandal. But I can see that current UK environmental policies are likely to lead to similar scandals on an even greater scale, when millions find themselves forced to pay vast sums for things (for example heat pumps, home insulation or electric cars) that they neither want nor have the money for.

Links to some of my articles which may be of interest

Warning: some of them are quite long!

On environmental matters

Review of the UK government’s “green industrial revolution” plans (January 2021): https://misesuk.org/2021/01/24/green-industrial-revolution-or-great-leap-backward/

History and analysis of the “global warming” accusations (January 2021): https://misesuk.org/2021/01/31/a-dark-green-background/

A review of “Our Common Future,” the UN report which in 1987 set the green juggernaut in motion (April 2017): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/04/20/our-common-future-revisited-how-did-the-roadmap-for-the-green-juggernaut-fare-over-30-years/

About the Precautionary Principle, and its perversion by the UK government (January 2018): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/01/22/on-the-precautionary-principle/

About the role of universities in spreading “woke” ideas, and in developing the green agenda (February 2020): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/02/29/on-cambridge-university-post-modernism-climate-change-oppenheimers-razor-and-the-re-enlightenment/

About the economics of the “climate change” agenda (March 2020): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/03/17/on-externalities-integrated-assessment-models-and-uk-climate-policies/

About the social cost of pollution from cars in the UK, and the backstory on air pollution reduction policies (August 2017): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/08/11/the-social-costs-of-air-pollution-from-cars-in-the-uk/

The War on Cars (video talk, August 2019, updating the August 2017 paper): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUpOj7KabvM

On ethical, political and general philosophy

Six essays, totalling almost 60,000 words (June/July 2021):

1.     On philosophers who have influenced me: https://misesuk.org/2021/06/19/six-thinkers/.

2.     My large-scale view of human history: https://misesuk.org/2021/06/24/the-rhythms-of-history/.

3.     An overview of my philosophical system: https://misesuk.org/2021/06/29/two-world-systems/.

4.     My views on metaphysics, epistemology and ethics: https://misesuk.org/2021/07/04/the-i-dimensions/.

5.     My views on politics and the economy: https://misesuk.org/2021/07/09/the-we-dimensions/.

6.     Some (long and radical!) ideas on how to reform politics: https://misesuk.org/2021/07/19/us-and-them/. Includes a brief summary of the first five essays.

Other links of interest

“Are Politicians Psychopaths?” (video talk, October 2016): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVR5Dv_yhAo. There’s a revised and updated written version at https://misesuk.org/2019/04/12/on-politics-and-psychopathy/.

About science and the scientific method (January 2018): https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/01/11/on-science-and-nonscience/.

About SAGE, the UK government “scientific” advisory body on the COVID epidemic (October 2020): https://misesuk.org/2020/10/17/eighty-six-sages/.