Australian Notes

Australian notes

3 July 2021

9:00 AM

3 July 2021

9:00 AM

A Guide to Understanding this Pandemic

We are all living through the worst inroads on our freedoms and civil liberties in the last three hundred years. That’s true here in Australia, but also in Britain, in New Zealand, in Canada, in much of the United States (though not at all true in South Dakota and only very briefly so in Florida, Texas and a few other southern states) – and that’s just the main English-speaking democracies. Here in Australia citizens cannot leave the country without first begging to some unnamed coterie of bureaucrats who far more often than not say ‘no’. We are living in a modern version of 17th-century Japan, where the rulers cut off all their subjects (I use that term deliberately) from the rest of the world. And as the often-incoherent lockdown rules are being administered by Commonwealth and state bureaucracies, that administration – the police included – has been pitiless and deaf to most all compassion-based pleas.

I said back at the time that Mr Morrison’s government’s refusal to join Mr Palmer’s High Court s.92 challenge to the state border closures was a big mistake. Back then, of course, quite a few Australians seemed to like the idea of keeping those supposedly plague-riddled people from other states out of their own. But no top court was ever going to uphold a challenge against internal borders if the central government could not be bothered to take the case. Doesn’t look so clever now as Australia struggles mightily to find any way out of this mess. Let’s all say it together: virtually no one is dying of Covid in this country. In pre-pandemic years thousands died of the flu. Why are we focussed on Covid cases? There are now dozens and dozens of peer-reviewed studies looking at actual data – not models and modelling based on assumptions – and these show that there is no obvious benefit to lockdowns. Yet here we are after a year and a half still endlessly recycling a method copied from one of the world’s most authoritarian and brutal regimes and a method that, by definition because we’re still doing it, has failed for a year and a half. The original goal of ‘flattening the curve’ has morphed into pie-in-the-sky suppression and eradication.

And why? We now know that the average age of Covid deaths in the West is higher than people’s life expectancy. If you found 50,000 people under 50 all with Covid, only one would die. The overall survival rate is 99.7 per cent, though of course it drops down to the mid-90s if you look at the very elderly. Yes, really fat people are at much more risk than the thin. But look how we’ve responded. We’ve made ‘deaths due to Covid’ the only metric that matters, as though life locked in a room was all that mattered. So we’ve ignored and downplayed all other causes of death including those caused by lockdowns themselves. Think cancer deaths from missed appointments. Think teen suicides due to the tsunami of mental health problems brought on by lockdowns. Think deaths from being afraid to go to the hospital. Nor have we put any weight on other metrics that used to matter. Freedom and individual choice and responsibility have gone out the window. Our political class didn’t trust us and to be blunt many of us now don’t trust them. We have all but ignored the interests of the young, who have been screwed over by democratic governments’ brutal responses to Covid. Missed school terms that for many will never fully be recovered. Massive, massive debt that the young will pay back, not us oldies. Ruined life highlights for young ones – a near-on worthless university experience being near the top of this list because the Zoom classes stink, because assessment has turned into a big group project where the pressure to give high marks to compensate for the awful experience is tangible, and because all the fun side of university you only get one chance at has gone.

And it is not just that the lockdownista Covid response has come at the expense of the young, though it has and is one of its worst features. It has also created an ‘us versus them’ reality. The political and bureaucratic classes, the ones who have made and enforced these often despotic rules, have paid none of the costs. Not a politician anywhere that I know of has taken a pay cut, despite ruining myriad small businesses and driving many into bankruptcy. The bureaucrats have gotten pay rises. Having no skin in the game makes imposing all these despotic lockdowns very easy, dear readers. And did you know that the gap between rich and poor has grown far faster during the pandemic than before? Being pro-lockdown is what Toby Young calls ‘a luxury belief’. It confers status on the rich and smug bureaucratic and big business classes at no cost to themselves while hammering the poor, the young and the small business classes. Those who have lovely homes with big offices pay little to no cost in working from home, especially if they are part of the ‘laptop class’ of workers. Others, like the young, who are huddled in small flats are less attracted to it.

Nor do the rules designed by the political class seem to apply to them. They’re above such trifles. Where would you rather quarantine? A hotel or at the Prime Minister’s Lodge? I’ve done the former and I go out on a ledge to say Mr Morrison is having an easier time of it than I did. He’ll be getting exercise and having open windows. Or look at the shocking hypocrisy of Britain’s (now ex-) Health Minister Matt Hancock. ‘Rules are for you poor schlebs, not me’, is his motto, although at least he has now paid the price. But this ‘one rule for them, another for us’ is exactly what George Orwell predicted, though God knows I never thought it would be true in the democratic anglosphere. But it is.

Plus we have a fear porn press.  Query: As part of that fear porn press which of the following two equivalent claims will you report? a) This variant has a 30 per cent higher chance of death. Or b) This variant drops your chances of living from 99.7 per cent to 99.6 per cent. We have a political class that has fallen in love with its newfound despotic power. We have a public health cadre that cares for nothing, that has no other metrics of concern, save ‘deaths from Covid’ (here make that ‘Covid cases’). And worst of all, we have a voting population cowed and bludgeoned into accepting this tyrannical state of affairs. Heck, it’s been a vote winner for our useless state governments. So in the end the problem is the voters, all those liberty-discarding, quaking sheep. You only live once. And there’s more to life than this.

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