Keep a sense of historical perspective

Tom Switzer

23 April 2020 | Ideas@TheCentre

This has been the week of doomsayers. Forecasters talk about double-digit unemployment. A major airline has gone into voluntary administration. Businesses of all kinds are retrenching staff. Employees are sacrificing their salaries. Retail figures have slumped. We face a massive amount of debt. We clearly face hard times.

But it may help us get through them if the Australian people keep a sense of history and perspective. Remember nothing on the horizon suggests we face sufferings of the kind that were commonplace a century ago. Those were the days of a world war (62,000 Australians were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed or taken prisoner), a much deadlier pandemic than Covid-19 (we suffered more than 12,000 deaths during the Spanish influenza in 1918-19) and a Great Depression (many did not find new employment until the Second World War).

As we commemorate Anzac Day this weekend, bear in mind that our troubles in coming months look pretty paltry alongside those of our grandparents and great-grand parents.

Yes, the coronavirus crisis threatens many with disappointments and distress. But we should recognise that the sacrifices demanded from us will be infinitely smaller than those of past generations in crises of war and depression. And we should recognise that if Australia recovers from the Covid-19 economic shock, our leaders should put in place the kinds of economic reforms –- tax, workplace, infrastructure, superannuation, education – that CIS has long supported.

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