Social arithmetic

Social arithmetic

Numbers, they say, are unforgiving. If anyone follows our political leaders, it will become evident that every party has its own “numbers” and makes its own calculations. The prime minister, in yesterday’s parliamentary debate, stated that “according to the European Health Organization, Greece is 23rd in the rate of deaths per one million citizens.”

The leader of the largest opposition party shared that in the last week there has been a slide of 20 spots on the monthly indicator of Covid-19 resilience and that Greece now ranks 40th among 53 countries. “We are the country with the highest rate of mortality in Europe,” he added.

No one doubts, even empirically, that we are living through a fierce wave of the pandemic, but equally, 8,200 deaths as a factor of the population size do not, as of yet, place Greece in the countries with the most deaths. In fact, the opposite holds. Macabre statistics.

Social arithmetic however does not stop here. It applies to vaccinations, what our ranking is with one or two doses, how many intensive care units exist, how many doctors have been hired, how many billions have been granted, how many will be added or how many are necessary (according to the opposition) to deal with the big financial crisis caused by the pandemic. The graphs and charts have no end.

The prime minister spoke of maximalism, nihilism, populism, negativity and surrealism when describing the proposals by the leaders of the five political parties in Parliament. The numbers trace a similar path. The only realism is every person’s living condition during the pandemic. This time last year, we knew that a severe lockdown had results, whether these could be recorded in statistics or not.

This year, whether we rank fifth in Europe in vaccinations per available vaccines or not is almost unimportant; because this does not depend on the – widely acknowledged – exemplary organization of the vaccination drive but rather on the “available vaccines.”

Why then are we at each other’s throats and continuing to calculate rates and positions? The pandemic has proved that it follows its own arithmetic.

The most accurate summary of the condition was that “self-control from fear in 2020 is turning into a lack of discipline and a coexistence with fear in 2021.” That was said by the prime minister, and he did not need to submit any numbers to the parliamentary minutes to prove it.

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