The Quivering Lower Lip

  • Her Majesty’s Government puts Nigeria on the red list.
  • Currently, only African countries are on the red list.
  • The rewritten rules went into effect within two days, creating more travel chaos.

Good morning!

It’s a sunny Tuesday here in Cebu.

After I write this edition of the Rude, I’m taking my friend and business partner, Andy, to the airport.

He’s leaving the Philippines for good today, heading to the UK to see his son and daughter for the first time since the government-mandated private-sector shutdown began.

He’ll then travel to Italy, where I’ll rendezvous with him in April.

Andy was diligent in getting all his tests, papers, and tickets together for his journey.

Then, as usual, the UK bureaucrats – henceforth known as “bureau rats” – manage to screw everything up.

Strap yourself in for some hilarity at Andy’s expense.

By The Book

As Andy is a UK citizen, he doesn’t require vaccination to re-enter the country.

But he does require a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before his flight.  Or did, before that rule was changed at the last minute.

Andy also had to jump through the Philippine Government’s hoops to get an exit visa.  Yes, an exit visa, just like they had to in Casablanca.

I drove Andy to the hospital on Sunday so he could get his PCR test done with plenty of time to spare.

I had no doubt he’d be fine.  (He was on that fateful trip to Boracay in 2020, when we all got ill from the ‘Rona.)

He was petrified something would go wrong, as all good computer programmers are.

Of course, he passed with flying colors, and that was that.  He was ready to go… Or so we thought.

Nobody Panics Like the UK Government Panics

And then, omicron.

No, omicron isn’t a new Transformer.  It’s a new variant of Covid that’s weaker in strength, but is more contagious.

Like every other virus in human history, Covid is getting weaker over time.  But to survive, which is what viruses want to do despite our wishes, it must get more contagious.

South Africa was the first country to report the variant, though it was found in Botswana first.

The South African government very nicely told the world all it needed to know about omicron.  It was contagious, but as far as tell can tell, a weaker version of the virus.

That’s where the story should end, but hey, bureau rats have to justify their paychecks.

From the BBChé:

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the tightened requirements would come into force from 04:00 GMT on Tuesday.

Everyone aged 12 and over will be required to take a pre-departure test a maximum of 48 hours before leaving.

Yes, they changed the rules and gave about 48 hours’ notice.

Score one for quick government.  Subtract 10 for panicking over what probably is nothing.  

And since Andy had his test 55 hours before today’s flight, he needed to drive again to the hospital, pay for another test, and pray he didn’t catch anything in the meantime.

Yes, I had a good laugh at his expense.

But some countries are rightfully upset over this nonsense.

Here’s the UK’s current red list:

(BTW, Eswatini is the new name of Swaziland.  The name was officially changed in 2018.)

Imagine, if you will, the uproar if Donald Trump did this.

Travel Apartheid: Nigeria Isn’t Having It

Again, from the Beeb:

Nigeria has criticised the UK’s travel restrictions after it was placed on the red list amid fears over the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

“What is expected is a global approach, not selective,” Sarafa Tunji Isola, Nigeria’s high commissioner to the UK, told the BBC on Monday.

He also echoed comments made by the UN’s chief, who described restrictions imposed on some southern African countries as “travel apartheid”.

New rules came into force at 04:00 GMT.

It means travellers arriving from Nigeria will be required to enter hotel quarantine – at their own expense – and isolate for 10 days.

“The travel ban is apartheid in the sense that we are not dealing with an endemic,” Mr Isola told the Today programme. “We are dealing with a pandemic. Whenever we have a challenge there must be collaboration.”

UK government minister Kit Malthouse, meanwhile, said the wording “travel apartheid” was “very unfortunate language”.

Since the BBC is state-sponsored – actually, completely state-funded – media, it’s nice to see some opposition to these moves on its website.

Then again, the Beeb never had a problem sticking its thumb in the eye of a Conservative government, no matter how leftist Boris Johnson’s policies are.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres used the term “travel apartheid” on Wednesday, telling reporters in New York that bans “are not only deeply unfair and punitive, they are ineffective.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) says blanket travel bans will not stop the spread of variants, and can potentially discourage countries from reporting and sharing important data.

It’s incredible to me how these socialists assume that man is so wicked we need to be governed by honest technocrats.

And yet, the WHO is worried these same technocrats may not share data for fear of a future travel ban.

What new devilry is this?

Is that an admission that bureau rats, wherever they are in the world, do what’s best for their countries (read: their careers) and not this nebulous concept called “the world?”

At What Cost?

In his bestselling book, The New Great Depression, my erstwhile colleague Jim Rickards wrote how $4 trillion in asset value and $2 trillion in economic output was lost during the lockdowns.

Travel bans aren’t lockdowns, but are we really willing to put our entire travel industry at risk again?

And what about all those businesses that depend on tourists and international business people?

It’s no trivial matter, yet doctors and scientists never bother to ask the simple question: “What are the costs of the plans I propose, and do they outweigh the benefits?”

It’s not just the “seen” costs, but what about the “unseen” costs?

One need only revisit Bastiat’s broken window parable to understand:

It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way which this accident has prevented.

Let us take a view of industry in general, as affected by this circumstance. The window being broken, the glazier’s trade is encouraged to the amount of six francs: this is that which is seen.

Politicians, doctors, and scientists depend on you to ignore their policies’ “unseen” effects while applauding the “seen” effects.

It’s high time the populous think a little deeper before blindly following their technocrats.

And now, it’s time to drive Andy to the airport.

May his long trip be more peaceful than its prologue.

All the best,

Sean

You May Also Be Interested In:

The Man Who Predicted Bitcoin

Dear Reader,  Born in 1895, R. Buckminster Fuller was an inventor, architect, engineer, systems thinker, futurist, and self-proclaimed “comprehensive anticipatory design scientist” who worked tirelessly over the course of his career to build the systems necessary to relieve human suffering and provide for the basic survival needs of everyone in the world. Wicked problems, indeed....

Sean Ring

Around the World in 22 Years with Sean Ring

Okay, let's take it from the top.

Joisey!

For something I did in a past life, I was born in New Jersey. I haven’t figured out what that was yet. Joking aside, I loved growing up in Hasbrouck Heights. It was a fun town.

I was...

View More By Sean Ring