No, you can’t have your old life back

 

It would be madness to think people can rewind the clock to the pre-COVID days. Not when this marvelous opportunity has presented itself in all its shining, virtuous glory.

Never let a crisis go to waste, as the man said. Let’s check in with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, speaking to the WHO about the current situation. Will we conquer COVID? Yes, but don’t think a vaccine, coupled with the inevitable burn-out of the virus, means we can return to the life we led before some people somewhere did something. 

At the same time, we will not – we cannot – go back to the way things were.

Throughout history, outbreaks and pandemics have changed economies and societies. This one will be no different. 

In particular, the pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change.

He’s not a medical doctor, which is a good thing. Imagine your doc giving you a bad diagnosis and saying that this news has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to your disease. It’s gassy gobbledegook, but in your case it’s intended to make everyone nod: things must be done. What? You know, the things. Any of them. All of them. 

The pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers. 

It’s remarkable what you can do when you choke economies, forbid personal movement, and infect old people in nursing homes who apparently vomited tons of plastic into rivers and spewed carbon monoxide from their withered, toothless mouths.

Building back better means building back greener.

In May, WHO published our “Manifesto for a Healthy and Green Recovery”, with 6 policy prescriptions for protecting nature, investing in water and sanitation, promoting healthy food systems, transitioning to renewable energy, building liveable cities, and stopping subsidies on fossil fuels.

By some odd coincidence, this coincides with the climate-change agenda. No more meat or cars. 

In July we added “actionables” for each of these policy prescriptions, providing 81 concrete steps for policy-makers to build a healthier, fairer, greener world.

Eighty-one! And they’re concrete! 

Since then, over 40 million health professionals from 90 countries have sent a letter to G20 leaders to call for a Healthy Recovery from COVID-19.

And we have seen many examples of countries acting to protect lives, livelihoods and the planet on which they depend.

Nairobi, Kenya is improving parks, adding urban forests, building more sidewalks and improving drainage.

That’s nice. I am pleased to learn that Kenyans responded to the COVID pandemic with such specific, salutary initiatives, but if you’re thinking of flying to the fracking district of North Dakota, telling everyone that they’re going to lose their jobs, but that they must see this in the context of positive developments like new sidewalks in Nairobi, you’re not going to have a receptive audience.  

Hardship is always an opportunity to learn, to grow and to change.

Someone with a remnant shred of dignity and self-respect might consider changing the WHO’s relationship with China, so it doesn’t resemble a dog licking raw blood off a policeman’s boot, but you do you.

COVID-19 is a once-in-a-century health crisis. But it also gives us a once-in-a-century opportunity to shape the world our children will inherit – the word we want.

I thank you.

And I thank you for your honesty. I’d engage with you more on these matters, but I understand you’re late for a panel that praises the smokestacks at the Uyghur crematoria. New technology means the scrubbers ensure a zero-emissions output.  

One little detail about the fellow who wants to reorganize the world:

On 18 October 2017, Tedros announced that he had chosen President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe to serve as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador to help tackle non-communicable diseases for Africa. He said Zimbabwe was “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all.”

He was widely criticized, and accused of returning a favor, since Mugabe had backed his WHO appointment. But you have to admit Mugabe did his part for reduced greenhouse gas emissions; starved cows don’t blurt methane, and dead people don’t drive cars.

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  1. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Hi James,

    I want to respond to your title “No, you can’t have your old life back.”  That immediately resonated with me.  Then I saw it concerned COVID-19.  What had come to me when I saw your title, was “No, you can’t have your Reagan Republican Party back.”

    Gary

    • #1
  2. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Your piece is well written.  I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world.  No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    • #2
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Doormat Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Tucker Carlson touched on much of this same topic here, discussing the WHO’s attempts to “never let a crisis go to waste.”

    • #3
  4. Heisenberg Member
    Heisenberg
    @Heisenberg

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Hi James,

    I want to respond to your title “No, you can’t have your old life back.” That immediately resonated with me. Then I saw it concerned COVID-19. What had come to me when I saw your title, was “No, you can’t have your Reagan Republican Party back.”

    Gary

    Wow, everything really DOES look like a nail, doesn’t it?

    • #4
  5. Ekosj Member
    Ekosj
    @Ekosj

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Hi James,

    I want to respond to your title “No, you can’t have your old life back.” That immediately resonated with me. Then I saw it concerned COVID-19. What had come to me when I saw your title, was “No, you can’t have your Reagan Republican Party back.”

    Gary

    Hi Gary.    I know you disagree, but I  see today’s Republican Party as having more in common  with Reagan’s “A Time For Choosing“ Or “Bold Color’s” ideas than the party has had at any time in the past 30 years.   

    • #5
  6. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    If leading Democrats like Pelosi or Harris openly agree, it could help convince people that the restrictions are not about health and should be disobeyed.

    • #6
  7. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    What is it with Democrats always wanting to change our lives?

    Remember when Michelle Obama included this in a  speech she made in 2008?

     

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

     

    • #7
  8. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Maybe this parasitic hack ought to clean up his own house before going entirely beyond his remit to lecture us about a subject about which he’s got no more expertise than the kid who bagged my groceries this morning.

    • #8
  9. DrewInWisconsin, Doormat Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    What is it with Democrats always wanting to change our lives?

    Remember when Michelle Obama included this in a speech she made in 2008?

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

     

    I ‘member! And I ‘member what my response was: “I thought he was working for us.”

    • #9
  10. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    • #10
  11. DrewInWisconsin, Doormat Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    It just pisses me off that he took a thread that was not at all about Trump, and made it all about how much he hates Trump.

    • #11
  12. J Ro Member
    J Ro
    @JRo

    James Lileks:

    In July we added “actionables” for each of these policy prescriptions, providing 81 concrete steps for policy-makers to build a healthier, fairer, greener world.

    Eighty-one! And they’re concrete!

    That’s an amazing ‘to achieve’ manifesto.

    But I can’t have any respect for a World Health Organization which illustrates its propaganda with photos of people riding bicycles without safety helmets.

     

    • #12
  13. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    What is it with Democrats always wanting to change our lives?

    Remember when Michelle Obama included this in a speech she made in 2008?

     

    Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

     

    They view us not as individuals to be celebrated but as projects needing to be brought into their superior enlightened state. They want to fix us and that means remaking us in their image.  They really do see this as ‘for our own good’ but of course they also understand that because they are willing and able to take on the challenge of ‘fixing’ us they deserve to live a lavish lifestyle at our expense.

    • #13
  14. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    It just pisses me off that he took a thread that was not at all about Trump, and made it all about how much he hates Trump.

    Ditto.

     

    • #14
  15. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    It just pisses me off that he took a thread that was not at all about Trump, and made it all about how much he hates Trump.

    Ditto.

     

    I don’t even like Trump any more than Gary does, but I don’t see what Trump has to do with this thread.  The first symptom of TDS is thinking everything has to be about Trump.

    • #15
  16. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    James Lileks: Someone with a remnant shred of dignity and self-respect might consider changing the WHO’s relationship with China, so it doesn’t resemble a dog licking raw blood off a policeman’s boot, but you do you.

    This mot couldn’t be any more bonner if it was riding a tyrannosaurus, draped in an American flag and spitting bullets from a .50 machine gun.

    • #16
  17. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Either Jim Geraghty or Jonah Goldberg, heck maybe both of them, commented sometime in May or June that the Left was crowing about how the Earth was repairing itself and their climate change policies would work. They pushed back that yes, but look at the destruction to the economy that was required. There were plenty of jokes going around at the time about not enjoying the thirty-day trail of communism.

    • #17
  18. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    When ever I hear some politician or other declaring there is a “new normal” its an admission of failure. The government has failed to maintain equilibrium.

    The Covid 1984 pandemic isnt a once in a century, or even a once in a lifetime opportunity. Pandemics are common events coming along every 10 years, clockwork regularity for a natural event.  (SARS, MERS, assorted flues) The truth is we live on top of boiling cauldron of single cell life. Little critters that are constantly and rapidly evolving, in competition with us, and with each other to find the perfect balance murder and mayhem.

    What is different this time, was the governments extreme over-reaction to it. The government’s reaction, with the economic harm that caused, has been deadlier than the actual virus. Do you realize that 65% of the counties in the US, have not had one case of Covid 1984 – not 1. Not 1 death, not 1 hospitalization. Its been a massive over reaction to shutdown economic activity in an otherwise healthy community. How much different would it have been if county by county each commissar of public health determined what was necessary in their own communities based on cases being detected and treated in their community?

    Thing would still be bad, but maybe we’d be talking about an unemployment rate of 12% instead of 20%.

    Its unfair to create a counter-factual and argue that if things where different they wouldnt be the same. The entire debate around everything Covid 1984 has been engineered to be unfair from the beginning.

    • #18
  19. ToryWarWriter Reagan
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    If the government knew everything they now know, there would never have been a shutdown.  At most the border would have been shut down, and maybe New York city would have been quarantined.

     

    • #19
  20. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    If the government knew everything they now know, there would never have been a shutdown. At most the border would have been shut down, and maybe New York city would have been quarantined.

     

    If the people knew everything then that they know now, we never would have allowed the shutdown.

    Just for starters, if in March instead of “two weeks to bend the curve” the government had told us “At least six months, and maybe not until there’s a vaccine”, this never would have happened.

     

    • #20
  21. Tonguetied Fred Member
    Tonguetied Fred
    @TonguetiedFred

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Maybe this parasitic hack ought to clean up his own house before going entirely beyond his remit to lecture us about a subject about which he’s got no more expertise than the kid who bagged my groceries this morning.

    I assume you are talking about Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu and not James…

    • #21
  22. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    My sainted mother voted for Trump and she is certainly not deplorable.

    • #22
  23. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    It just pisses me off that he took a thread that was not at all about Trump, and made it all about how much he hates Trump.

    Ditto.

     

    I don’t even like Trump any more than Gary does, but I don’t see what Trump has to do with this thread. The first symptom of TDS is thinking everything has to be about Trump.

    My point is that when I first read the title I had an immediate response to it.  I regret that so many people felt the need to respond to it, and could not just let it be.

    • #23
  24. Gazpacho Grande' Coolidge
    Gazpacho Grande'
    @ChrisCampion

    Total Covid infections in the US is 5.8MM.

    Total Swine Flu infections in 2009 was 60 million.

    Does anyone else remember locking down the economy for six months in 2009?  Anyone?  Bueller?

    • #24
  25. aardo vozz Member
    aardo vozz
    @aardovozz

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    James Lileks: Someone with a remnant shred of dignity and self-respect might consider changing the WHO’s relationship with China, so it doesn’t resemble a dog licking raw blood off a policeman’s boot…

     

    At the risk of a COC violation, I was thinking of a totally different anatomical location.

    • #25
  26. Cato Rand Inactive
    Cato Rand
    @CatoRand

    Tonguetied Fred (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Maybe this parasitic hack ought to clean up his own house before going entirely beyond his remit to lecture us about a subject about which he’s got no more expertise than the kid who bagged my groceries this morning.

    I assume you are talking about Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu and not James…

    Yes.

    • #26
  27. Richard Fulmer Inactive
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    The Tedros COVID prescription: Take two wind turbine suppositories and call me in the morning.

    • #27
  28. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Doormat (View Comment):

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Gary Robbins (View Comment):

    Your piece is well written. I agree that the Green New Deal folks see an opportunity to remake our world. No, I am not willing to have my world be remade, any more than I am willing to have the Reagan Republican Party remade under Trumpian lines.

    To quote WFB, I am standing athwart “progress” and yelling “Stop.”

    So I am agreeing with you and adding my own p.s.

    No offense, Gary, but do you ever get the feeling that you’re posting on the wrong site? Or are you on a mission to educate and enlighten the rest of us, the deplorable, un-scrubbed masses?

    It just pisses me off that he took a thread that was not at all about Trump, and made it all about how much he hates Trump.

    Ditto.

     

    I don’t even like Trump any more than Gary does, but I don’t see what Trump has to do with this thread. The first symptom of TDS is thinking everything has to be about Trump.

    Absolutely.  This is an unhealthy obsession, Gary.

    • #28
  29. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    James Lileks: Someone with a remnant shred of dignity and self-respect might consider changing the WHO’s relationship with China, so it doesn’t resemble a dog licking raw blood off a policeman’s boot, but you do you.

    This mot couldn’t be any more bonner if it was riding a tyrannosaurus, draped in an American flag and spitting bullets from a .50 machine gun.

    “James Lileks has the so many mots, and they’re the bonnest mots – ask anybody.” 

    • #29
  30. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):

    If the government knew everything they now know, there would never have been a shutdown. At most the border would have been shut down, and maybe New York city would have been quarantined.

     

    That being true it’s high time to end the shutdown, contain the damage and begin to recover. But they can’t because there is an election coming round the corner, so whoever suggests such a thing is hounded to silence.

    • #30
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