As is widely discussed, 2020 has been cancelled due to Coronavirus.

This is a small response to the #StayTheFuckAtHome “movement” (or rather, lack thereof) (good on you for finding a clever way to stress test a static site host).

The author (a software engineer from Germany) is upset at the governments of the world not taking severe enough action in their opinion, and has instead decided to deliver their own advice. The advice written there, essentially boils down to:

nobody should leave their house, indefinitely

I don’t think this is a very good idea

Infrastructure

Now, there’s a small flaw there that may be easily overlooked by someone who employment is entirely information based (like a software engineer). When you turn on your taps, water comes out. When you charge your laptop, there is power to do this. There are farms which produce food, some of which only lasts a few days before it goes bad. Those farms need to get their goods from place to place - by road, rail and air. There’s a whole bunch of infrastructure which allows your daily life to happen, which needs to be maintained.

Imagine if everyone who’s job it was to keep all of this infrastructure running just decided to ‘stay the fuck home’, even if they were healthy.

Answer: everyone in the world would be very safely sitting in the dark, slowly dehydrating and starving.

People who are critically sick (from anything, not just coronavirus) need hospital care. If there are fewer medical staff available to treat them, even people with unrelated illnesses could die as a result.

Economy

Lets imagine that the people who maintain the global infrastrcture running ignored this advice (very sensible of them), and, both figuratively and literally, kept the lights on. Small businesses which rely on physical presence (like cafes, resturants, cinemas, music venues, pubs, art galleries, etc) will have been completely destroyed by months of barely any business. Say goodbye to your favourite local independent coffee shop. And, indeed, pretty much any indepdendent business - who doesn’t have the reserves to fall back on and may only just about make rent every month. But what about indepdendent businesses that can operate online? Well, if everyone is staying the fuck home, then who’s going to deliver their orders? Who’s going to ship their orders?

I think, generally, we can agree that small independent businesses are generally a Good Thing™ - there are 5.9 million of them in the UK, which employ 60% of the workforce and contribute to half the size of the entire economy1. Maybe we shouldn’t shaft them quite so badly?

The mega-corporations that can weather the storm will be entirely fine - perhaps especially so ones which also have a line in streaming video on the side.

In fact, it’s entirely likely that the economic impact of this pandemic will last far longer than the health impact.

So, what then?

My position is: if I am ill, I won’t go out until I’m better (this is not all that different to how I normally behave).

If I am healthy, I’ll be following government advice - but as far as is possible, carrying on as usual, and supporting my local independent businesses where I can.

But why listen to me? I’m just a Systems Engineer who knows how to make a website and put a hash before five words. Oh, right.

It does make you wonder, though, whether it’s good that one random person in their appartment to be able to effectively dictate global public health policy, because they have a better understanding of social media than a government does.