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At What Cost?

Transcript of the above video:

The title of this video is probably not very useful in terms of describing what is the content of this video. Long story short, this video is discussing the cost benefit analysis associated with these recent policy changes pertaining to the response to COVID-19 or the spread thereof which is apparently the reason for all of these restrictions recently imposed here in Thailand. For those who are unaware, and there are a ton of news stories out there covering this. At the beginning of the Thai New Year holiday, they came down and basically closed all the entertainment establishments, pubs and bars and just shut those down summarily. Now we are week in and they are saying okay now we are going to dramatically reduce opening hours, school closures and restriction of alcohol sales in restaurants and we have made other videos contemporaneously with this one where it is really hard to not call this a lockdown notwithstanding the fact that the Government has essentially made it a point of saying "this isn't a lockdown" repeatedly. It has been noted in many, many media outlets; there is another video coming out on this channel contemporaneously with this video where we are discussing this. 

The purpose of this video is more just an overall discussion of the cost of all of this policy. We are now a year on. We are over a year on in April of 2021 with respect to the Emergency Decree, of not letting anybody into the country and then all of the lockdowns that preceded therefrom. I mean the main lockdown as I recall was in May of 2020 so we are a little shy of a year of that but I mean it is close enough. It has basically been a year of dealing with these policies and a big question is, “Is it worth the cost to the economy?” When I say the cost to the economy, I can genuinely say just from my personal observation, just at a street level observation, driving around Bangkok; driving around Chonburi; driving around Pattaya; Jomtien, places in the suburbs of Bangkok, Hua Hin some in the past months, I haven't got much wider farther afield than that within Thailand to see what is going on for example up in Chiang Mai but I have seen photos of Samui and Phuket but I don't think it is an over exaggeration to say that we can come off of this third round of restrictions, this non lockdown whatever you want to call it, we can come off of this and truly see at least the SME street level economy decimated, I mean literally decimated where there is only a tenth of that economy left after this is all said and done and for what purpose? To what end is the purpose of this video.

So, a recent article from the Bangkok Post print edition, and this is from Sunday April 18th, 2021, the article is: Familiar Places Gone but not Forgotten. This is by Roger Crutchley in Bangkok Post print edition, post script by Roger Crutchley. I just wanted to quote this: "I decided to drop in on my long-term travel agent nearby who I hadn't seen in a while just to say hello. The lady in charge has an appealing personality and always cheers me up. Approaching the shop house, I noticed several women in shorts standing outside the door. I entered to discover even more women in shorts sitting inside. "You want massage" they asked in a friendly chorus. I explained I was looking for the travel agent. "Closed down. COVID" came the reply. I was quite sad in knowing the travel agency was a family business and they had always been so helpful." I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me over the past year and it seems to have happened more in earnest over the past 3 months. I do not look forward to this in the coming weeks and months seeing more of this and again it has gotten to the point where to call it anecdotal evidence of all of this economic fallout would be an understatement. This is self-evident at this point, the economic toll that this is having here in Thailand. To follow up with that, in a recent article from the Bangkok Post,, the article is titled: Two COVID Deaths, 1,547 New Cases, this was published April 17th at 12:59 so this is right before the 18th of April. Quoting directly: "2 more deaths and 1,547 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Saturday bringing the totals to 99 fatalities and 40,585 cases."  Let's put cases aside for a moment. Let's just look at fatalities from this. 99 fatalities and those are certainly all terribly sad. There is no doubt about that. 99 people have died as a result of COVID-19 here in Thailand and my heart goes out to the families of those folks. It is terrible, it is not good. But then at the same time, again the purpose of this video is a cost-benefit analysis. This is not, any time I get into this discussion it is sort of a general context, well all life is more important than money; that is not my point. If you destroy or inadvertently damage an economy, there are practical real world implications for that that can affect people's lives. It can kill people if they starve to death, if they are not eating, if they are not working. I mean a year ago when we saw these major lockdowns occur, we didn't really get into this on this channel because the news outlets were covering it and not to get too deep into it here but a number of people committed suicide when the lockdowns started occurring. They just had no way to move forward. They didn't really know how to survive. Literally their livelihoods were eviscerated; they were removed and they were left with very few options economically. 

To me this puts things into perspective greatly. A recent article from the Pattaya News, that's the, the article is titled: Thailand's Ministry of interior gives total accident roundup for Songkran's Road Safety Campaign. Quoting directly: "Accumulatively, a total of 277 deaths, 2,357 injuries and 2,365 accidents were recorded during the 7-day Songkran period. Under The Campaign "Happy Songkran, safe driving, stay safe from COVID-19". Let me just restate these numbers here real quick. A total of 277 deaths during the 7-Day Songkran period. This is 2021. Again going back to the Bangkok Post article,, 2 COVID deaths, 1,547 new cases. 2 more deaths and 1,547 new COVID cases were reported on Saturday bringing the totals to 99 fatalities." 99 fatalities and that is presumptively over the course of since this pandemic began some one year ago. Again I am not a medical doctor by any stretch nor a medical professional. That is not the purpose of this video. The purpose of this video is just to maybe cause a little bit of general discussion on keeping all of this in perspective and looking at the human cost. I mean I have had people in the past 3 or 4 days alone, people that I had seen in various sectors and various places here in Bangkok, various areas of the city that are on heavy lockdown. They are essentially zones, tourist related areas things like this. People that were working a year ago and were perfect doing perfectly fine that have come up and asked me for money or they have told me that they are at the point of which they don't know what they are going to do they do. In this case these are folks that generally are from Bangkok all the surrounding areas. There is no up country. They are not going to move somewhere, you know return back to the village. This has really taken a serious toll. 

The purpose of this video, again I am not really making this to be critical of the government. I think people should understand that straight away. That is not my purpose here. I think everybody concerned is operating in good faith. I think everybody is trying as hard as they can to do the best that they can but there is a certain point where we have to not just look at numbers of people that get this or numbers of people that have passed away. It needs to be looked at relative to the bigger picture of the economy, the people that are having true, not just economic fallout, but it is killing people. Lack of economic activity can kill people just as much as a virus can and when you put it in the context of just 7 days in Thailand and over 200 deaths from road fatalities and we don't we don't have any grand campaign to lock down highways and I am not trying to be facetious here. I am not trying to be snarky and say "oh why don't we lock down the highways". No, it is apples and bowling balls. That is not the point. What I am trying to say is I do think there is a broader approach to the analysis of the policy behind this that doesn't utterly destroy the underlying economy and tries to somehow maintain a balance moving forward that allows us to at least try to get things moving, try to move the economy forward so that we can hopefully see some light at the end of this tunnel and we can all move on with our lives.