(The more things change, the more they stay the same)
Every day a page of Samuel Pepys’ diary appears in my email inbox, to be read with delight at how acutely he observes human behaviour, and how his writings of 400 years ago continue to resonate so strongly now. I have just followed him day by day through the months of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London, so what he writes about how people are profiting from these disasters will be echoed by what I fear will soon be happening over here now, or maybe is already happening, as we deal with the repercussions of this terrible Covid19 virus.
From Samuel Pepys’ diary: Sunday 5 May 1667“Among other things (I) tell him what I hear of people being forced to sell their bills before September for 35 and 40 per cent. loss, and what is worst, that there are some courtiers that have made a knot to buy them, in hopes of some ways to get money of the King to pay them, which Sir W. Coventry is amazed at, and says we are a people made up for destruction, and will do what he can to prevent all this by getting the King to provide wherewith to pay them.”
Substitute “the Government” for the King, and you have all the people now licking their lips at the thought of buying up the thousands of failed businesses and the thousands of rented homes of those left penniless by this disaster . After all, didn’t many of often the richest people, particularly the banks, get even richer on the ruins of the 2008 financial collapse?
Let us hope that the Government (“the King”!) will “provide wherewith to pay” all those who will be left destitute in the months and years to come.