Because of a few songs wherein I spoke of their mystery, women have been exceptionally kind to my old age. Leonard Cohen.
That quote has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post, I just like it and it commences with “because”.
Conspiracy theorists always look for the “because”. It’s human nature to try to make sense of situations, particularly if they are causing you pain, suffering and anxiety.
It’s a fool’s errand though. The chances of someone affected by an externality to correctly guess the sequence of events leading to it are extremely unlikely.
What probably matters more is correctly observing all the pertinent facts about the present and drawing reasonable conclusions about how they might change in the future.
Some observable facts, then.
Using public health as the justification, despite 18 months of data showing it was, at a population level, a mid-severity flu and is now (with vaccines, regardless of what you may think about their safety), a very mild flu, the following changes have occurred:
- International and domestic border closures,
- Legislation and heavy-handed policing restricting freedom of movement, freedom of trade, freedom of association,
- Curfews and military presence in suburban areas,
- Legislation mandating quarantine of healthy individuals on the suspicion of infection,
- Legislation mandating vaccinations for certain professions,
- Closures of schools, replaced by very sub-optimal online lessons,
- Vaccination of children against a virus that poses little threat to them,
- Restriction of travel on several major airlines to those with proof of vaccination,
- International airfares, for those allowed to travel, outside the budget of most people,
- Unprecedented (there’s a word for our time!) government borrowing and economic stimulus, in the form of direct payments to business and individuals. In many cases, the government cheque is greater than the wage it replaced,
- In those countries that have lifted some of the legislated restrictions above, the powers to re-impose them have been retained (the UK, for example).
That’s Australia today.
How might these situations change, do we think?
Borders will reopen and flights resume, but not for the plebeians for a very long time. The competition in international air travel drove prices down to a level where a middle class family could leave Australia once every second or third year. That’s not going to happen again for perhaps a decade. You’ll need a vaccination passport too.
Legislation restricting freedom of movement, trade and association will remain on the books, the powers to arbitrarily invoke the laws will be retained and used based on “cases” or new variants. Look at the decades old laws against terrorism for precedent.
Governments will not be tempted in the slightest to turn off the stimulus fire hoses. The creative destruction of free markets will be seen as a sign of policy failure. Universal Basic Income by another name will be here to stay.
Schools will re-open and close again several times based on “cases”. Masks for school kids, perhaps mandatory vaccinations too. Teachers’ unions will make demands for “safety” usually resulting in pay rises. The quality of the outcomes for pupils will be a distant footnote printed in tiny font.
Court cases will be brought by employees fired over vaccinations. They might win, they might not.
Don’t look for the because. You’ll drive yourself mad.
On the news every night, some idiot financial journalist will tell you “markets rose 17 points today because of new employment data”, or “fell because of new inflation data”.
Unprovable. All we can prove is markets rose or fell.
Similarly, we can’t be certain about the because of the situation we are living in now.
We can make reasonable extrapolations such as those I’ve offered above, though.
What to do then?
Here’s some suggestions:
- Find a doctor who will give you a vaccine exemption. It might be accepted by employers, airlines, restaurants and governments for a while,
- If you are eligible for a passport from another country, apply. Having options is wise. Ask any American male with a Canadian passport during the Vietnam draft era.
- Consider alternative education models for your children. Take control of their curriculum and hire tutors. If you stay within the current system, focus them on what matters only. STEM.
- Spread your assets across jurisdictions. Be nimble.
- Perhaps move away from major population centres, if these are where all the police and army presence is focused.
- Learn to sail. If you one day find it necessary to steal a yacht from the harbour and sail away, having the skills learned in the Day Skipper qualification would be important.
It’s all a bit tin foil hat, isn’t it?
But then, imagine a conversation between your 2019 self and your present day self.
Of course, once we’ve moved to Central Bank Digital Currencies, there will be nowhere left to hide anyway.
So enjoy your current freedoms.