Jenna Hates…. women leaders

We’ve not had one of these for a while. Jenna Hates has penned another masterpiece. This time it’s on the Liberal Party’s problem with women leaders.

For those outside the bubble of mediocrity that is Australian politics, the “Liberal” party is nominally the right of centre party here. Of course, like all political parties claiming to be champions of the free market, they are no such thing. They’re as bad as the left but the cronyism and corruption has a different face and flavour.

Anyway, Jenna Hates is deeply concerned about the electability of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. Deeply concerned as, under normal circumstances, she’d be a natural voter for them, you understand.

She’s particularly disappointed about Gladys, as she’d definitely have voted for her this election.

Not one single woman’s name has been mentioned as a possible successor in the aftermath of Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation. Not the premier, not the deputy, not the treasurer. Instead, it’s blokes akimbo: Dominic Perrottet, Rob Stokes, Stuart Ayres, Matt Kean. In 2021, how is that possible?

Well, given the current themes this month about “people who are pregnant” and “bodies with a cervix”, maybe the Liberal Party didn’t think it mattered so much? I dunno.

The Liberals resist quotas with the force of a thousand kelvins. The market will make women if that’s what the market needs. Women, they would say, don’t need a hand out, but the Labor experience shows quotas work.

Kristina Keneally was the only Premier the Labor (sic) Party produced and she was an unmitigated disaster. She came to power in a backroom coup and left after a massive loss at the polling booth.

Without quotas, the remaining solution is the sisterhood, for women to pull other women up behind them.

Without quotas, the only solution is female solidarity and (therefore) favouritism?

Imagine being so convinced men hate women so much they are all actively conspiring against their success and the response is for women to actively conspire to do the opposite.

In Berejiklian’s time, that never happened. There never was a hand up. It is true she invested time as patron of the Women’s Council and there are indeed lovely photos of her, girlboss moments, surrounded by women aspiring to get elected.

Girlboss. Really?

Faced with another all-male revue, NSW Liberal women are not pleased. For the past three days, phones have run hot – how to get more women members, how to get more women in the ministry, how to get more women in cabinet. They are lobbying furiously, but it’s a pipeline problem, a timeline problem. They’ve been working away, some for years, and this latest upheaval has come earlier than anyone expected.

How likely is it this paragraph is factually correct, do we think? Compared to, say, party members ringing round trying to promote candidates for office who most closely reflect their views on the economy, the response to the Kung Flu, transport, education, the environment?

Last year, the NSW Liberal Party’s state executive decided to bite the bullet, believe in women. After all, NSW had a female premier and the party had survived, even thrived. Until last Friday, the sky had not fallen in. In a surprise move for the Liberals, the NSW state executive then confirmed gender targets for the upcoming local government elections and reaffirmed those targets in 2021 – 40 per cent women for winnable positions on council and 40 per cent in unwinnable positions, which at least gives those women some experience at running as candidates.

Hang on, you just said Berejiklian did nothing for women candidates? Do you even read this stuff before pressing “send”?

In the Liberal Party, men don’t respond to boundaries, particularly when it comes to improving gender equality, carrots not sticks, more a process of “negotiation and persuasion”, says Mary-Lou Jarvis, the female vice-president of NSW state executive. Jarvis genuinely believes the men in the party are finally on board.

Men don’t respond to boundaries”? What, like rapists?

It was helpful of Jenna Hates to let us know Mary-Lou was female too, otherwise we’d be left awkwardly guessing her pronouns. Who knows what offence may have been taken.

Isn’t it terrible that we require women to fix the man problem? Sure – but what are the options when the organisation itself is teeming with men who believe merit exists objectively?

Perhaps, unwittingly, Jenna Hates has hit upon the real problem in that last sentence.

Bill’s Opinion

Despite what Jenna Hates might believe or wish for, competence in politics is highly rewarded, regardless of sex, sexuality, religion or ethnicity.

The nuance is, the competence that’s rewarded is the skill to navigate one’s way up the greasy pole within the political party, not the ability to deliver good outcomes for the voters.

Presumably Jenna Hates is comforted that Gladys had to resign due to a corruption investigation, thus slightly redressing the gender balance of that particular category of Premier?

Anyway, what a trivial and pathetic thing to be concerned about at this time.

Farewell vaccine passports – thank you CDC

Australian politicians and media (for they are in agreement on all things) have engaged the Nudge Department to convince us to get vaccinated.

One of the pieces of rhetoric is a future where so-called vaccine passports will enable a bio-security state of Apartheid. “Get doubled jabbed and you can go to the pub, otherwise it’s drinking alone with home delivery beer for you people on the naughty step”.

It’s highly likely this will be challenged through the courts soon. What might the government defence be, do we think?

There’s possibly two lines of defence here:

Firstly, that the unvaccinated are risking others’ health by spreading the virus.

Secondly, that the unvaccinated are at too great a risk of the virus so must be excluded for their own health.

I can’t think of a third defence, but if you can, please add it in the comments.

Point two is the weaker reason, protecting people who are personally at risk of injury by a virus has no legal precedent, otherwise we would have laws banning dangerous sports, excessive drinking, consuming sugar, or preventing people with heart conditions from jogging. People take their own risks in life, or at least that’s how it worked in 2019.

The first defence seems to be the key reason for the segregation by vaccine status. How might our plaintiff counter this?

Perhaps by printing a copy of this CDC report from August 26th (highlight, mine):

Fully vaccinated people with Delta variant breakthrough infections can spread the virus to others. However, vaccinated people appear to spread the virus for a shorter time: For prior variants, lower amounts of viral genetic material were found in samples taken from fully vaccinated people who had breakthrough infections than from unvaccinated people with COVID-19. For people infected with the Delta variant, similar amounts of viral genetic material have been found among both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people. However, like prior variants, the amount of viral genetic material may go down faster in fully vaccinated people when compared to unvaccinated people. This means fully vaccinated people will likely spread the virus for less time than unvaccinated people.

In plain English; Vaccinated people are as likely to transmit the Delta variant as unvaccinated people.

What about the suggestion they remain infectious for longer? The report has several sources linked at the bottom of the article. I challenge you to find any information in those studies supporting the that statement. I couldn’t.

Bill’s Opinion

I’m certain the minor talents and over promoted bureaucrats who are State Premiers and Chief Health Officers will push ahead with the next upgrade of the phone app to include vaccine status. The sunk cost fallacy applies in both money and political capital expenditure.

There will also be several legal challenges as soon as it is launched.

The case should be straightforward to decide; does not having the vaccine offer the general public any greater risk of transmission? The CDC says no.

Of course, in this “late stage democracy” world, trust in institutions has collapsed. We know we can’t trust politicians, we know we can’t trust the media, we will soon learn whether we should still trust the legal system.

Enough. Really, enough now

The modellers have been modelling.

Some idiot gave a laptop with Microsoft Excel installed to researchers at the University of Melbourne with, sadly, the predictable result that we now have yet another bunch of unprovable predictions and what/if scenarios to scare our politicians with.

They even got a WordPress website registered and set up, bless ‘em.

The website allows one to plug in whatever assumptions you’d like and spits out a result demanding MOAR lockdowns, masks and mandatory 17th booster shots of whatever vaccine the government procurement department managed to buy on eBay this week.

The Melbourne University report addresses some of the gaps in the Doherty modelling but it also points out the uncertainty around several factors that could make a big difference to results.

Here we go again. Repeat after me, children; multi-variable situations are almost impossible to predict. It’s an incredibly idiotic mental feat to convince yourself otherwise. Some of our worst human decisions are made as a consequence of thinking we can calculate complex probabilities.

This includes the proportion of people who get Delta that are asymptomatic and can spread the disease without knowing, and how effective the vaccines are at stopping vaccinated people from spreading the virus.

Oh, do continue…..

For example, the Doherty report assumed vaccination reduces the infection rate by 65 per cent but Melbourne University researchers believes this is too “optimistic” and they used a figure of 25 per cent on average.

And that’s it, right there. It’s over, folks. Go back to the office, open the schools, book your overseas holidays; the vaccines only reduce transmission by one quarter.

We are stuck with this thing forever. Get vaccinated if you want, take your chances if you don’t, but stop pretending this virus is not going to be around if only we could convince everyone on the planet to get the jab.

As for the fucking modellers:

“It is best practice for Governments and decision-makers to take a ‘many models’ approach to decision-making support,” the report says.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they. Remind me again, how do they get paid?

Bill’s Opinion

This is a mind virus now. Perhaps it always has been.

As commentator Liberator pointed out, Charles Mackay’s book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds has the perfect quotation for where we are, “Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.

Happily, some of my friends are slowly recovering their senses. I suspect we will never speak openly of what happened to them.

Because

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.

Bill’s Opinion

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.

I don’t want to give them any more ideas, but….

Imagine you were the supreme leader of a dictatorial superpower country, currently engaged in a de facto but undeclared cold, sometimes warm, war with another superpower and its allies.

One day, a trusted deputy brings you a plan which would result in massive disruption to the society of your enemy, dividing its population, driving a wedge between friends and families, weakening societal trust and inducing huge levels of fear in day to day interactions.

An added bonus of this fiendish plan is it would utterly ruin their economy, sending them into a series of recessions and economic slowdowns.

One assumes, as it’s highly unlikely a moral actor would have ever made it to the top job in a dictatorship, you are a sociopath or at least have sociopathic tendencies. Therefore, this awful plan would be given some consideration, you’d want to hear more about it, you may be very tempted by it.

Completely unrelated to this hypothetical scenario:

Last year, in the early days of the pandemic, pictures and video footage were broadcast around the world, showing people dropping dead in the streets of Wuhan. This one for example:

Footage emerged of authorities welding people inside their houses and of massive amounts of bleach sprayed around the streets of the city.

New hospitals were built in days, to both the shock and awe of international observers.

Stories emerged of mass cremations, perhaps up to 50,000 dead within the first two months of the outbreak.

The rest of the world took notice and, understandably, geared up for something similar to happen in their countries. Emergency field hospitals were built, temporary morgues were set up.

They were never needed. The UK’s “Nightingale” hospitals treated just 54 patients before being closed down and converted into vaccination hubs.

What if there was an element of deliberate misdirection and mendacity in the initial reports coming out of China in early 2020?

With the luxury of hindsight, many of those photos and videos seem a lot less believable than they did when we were all shitting our pants in fear in February last year. Several of those “man falls down dead in Wuhan” stories and footage look somewhat suspicious today. Do an internet search and have a look for yourself, ask yourself how credible they look now?

We have also since learned this was not a naturally-mutated virus, but likely to have had its evolution helped along in a laboratory in Wuhan.

So, what just happened?

What happened to us, what did we just put ourselves through to protect ourselves from a disease we now know has a infection fatality rate well below 1%, making it less deadly than several recent iterations of the seasonal influenza?

Bill’s Opinion

My nascent hypothesis is this; once the Chinese authorities realised they had a leak from the Wuhan laboratory, they made a decision to not let a good crisis go to waste.

It didn’t require the virus to be deliberately created or leaked but, once it was out there, a little elaborate kayfabe was all that was required to send their enemies into a hugely damaging state of national panic.

Of course, this is just another conspiracy theory written on a minuscule blog in a brackish internet backwater.

However, even if there’s not a shred of truth in this theory, everyone in the world, good faith actors and bad, have just learned it is possible in the future. A bad virus, correctly publicised, will result in most nations’ governments destroying economies and freedoms previously thought to be ancient and sacrosanct.

With that fact now known, what can we in what we still laughingly call the free world do to prevent this provoked self-harm happening again in the future?

Some possible solutions I can think of are listed below, perhaps you can think of others:

  • When a new deadly virus emerges, call a referendum to put the solution to the populace, “do you want an enforced lockdown or would you prefer support to take your own personal risk mitigation?
  • Call a general election, assuming there’s a difference of policy between the major parties (sadly, generally there wasn’t; we have unaparties in most countries).
  • In advance, publish a national policy based on differing infection fatality rates. For example, “we will never close our borders and prevent people going about their lives for a disease that kills no more than, say, 0.5% of those it infects and certainly not if the average age of fatality from the disease is greater than the average age of death in a normal year”.
  • Stop electing career politicians with no courage, imagination or real world experience.
  • Pass legislation requiring all journalists to have achieved a high school level of competency in mathematics and statistical analysis.

Regardless, well played President Xi. Well played sir.

(Hat tip, Ezra Levant’s recent podcast on “feelings”)

“Who Do You Wish You Were?” New TV show on SBS

Apparently, Australians will soon have a new series on their TV screens, a remake of the long-running popular genealogy and ancestry show, Who Do You Think You Are?.

As we’ve seen with Bruce Pascoe, incentives matter. If there’s a benefit to be had by claiming a particular ancestry, regardless of whether or not it’s true, a minority of people will claim it.

The new Australian version has a subtle twist, however. It’s been “Pascoed”, instead of looking for one’s real relatives, the show will invent a family tree based on whatever the relevant incentives reward.

In Bruce’s delightfully entertaining episode, he learns he has 3 Aboriginal parents and 7 Aboriginal grandparents. The researcher even helpfully “discovered” Maori and Aztec great grandparents, thus expanding Bruce’s lucrative future career options.

Completely unrelated (literally and figuratively), last year Australians across the country celebrated the arrival of their first Indigenous neurologist. Despite the pandemic, street parties were held, speeches were given.

Let us hear her story:

Dr Dos Santos grew up in Nambucca Heads on the NSW mid-north coast, also known as Gumbaynggirr country, and her Indigenous heritage stretches back to her great-grandfather.

It must have been tough, growing up in the racist environment that is Australia. We can only imagine the systemic disadvantages she encountered and overcame in her school and subsequent journey to qualifying as a neurologist.

Dr Dos Santos said she lost touch with Indigenous culture after a series of family splits, and because she attended a Christian high school and did not encounter any other students of Aboriginal descent.

Wait, what?

“When I was at university I realised that I’m an Aboriginal person and I should be really trying to reconnect with that,” she says.

I know what you’re thinking, and it makes you a bigot. Of COURSE one doesn’t need to know what race you are to suffer systemic and ongoing racism because something something lived experience, my truth, etc.

For example, whilst being unable to give a single example of being personally discriminated against (otherwise one would assume she’d say so in an interview specifically about the subject), she did witness lots of subtle digs about other people. Which I think we can agree, is analogous to Apartheid and lynchings:

It’s the casual racism and subtle digs that Dr Dos Santos picks up on, often coming from people who don’t know about her Indigenous connections.

“Sure, my skin colour is not the stereotypical Aboriginal skin colour,” she says matter-of-factly.

“So I would hear racial slurs that would be said to me, but not about me. They wouldn’t have said it if they knew that I was Aboriginal.”

Dr. Angela Dos Santos, a proud Gumbaynggirr woman.

Bill’s Opinion

Incentives really do matter, don’t they?

If government largesse, media profiles and employment quotas are distributed on the basis of a concept so poorly-defined as “race”, there will be an increase in the identification of people as that race, regardless of where they sit on the Pascoe Scale.

The problem legislators and the well-meaning have failed to anticipate or grapple with is, at what fraction of ancestry does the negative impacts of systemic racism cease to be measurable?

Bigots might say it’s like a racist version of the sub-prime crisis of 2008, labelling people as 100% Aboriginal despite having only one Aboriginal ancestor 3 generations ago. If your DNA is no greater than 1/8th (perhaps even less if the great grandparent was mixed race), are you Aboriginal like the people living in squalor in Alice Springs or are you, in fact, a CDO bundle of sub-prime claiming to be Triple A?

As Steve Sailer points out:

Since the Bolt decision of 2011, it’s been more or less illegal to joke in the Australian press about all the white people claiming the privileges of diversity.

So, that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m just asking questions.

Aspirations? A distant memory for many

Apparently, the previously unannounced “zero covid” strategy is only an aspiration now.

Aspiration is such an ironic word to use, given the utter destruction of the aspirations of so many people by the pursuit of this secret policy.

Some examples leap to mind from personal experience:

The aspirations of school age children to learn and achieve similar or better educational standards of those who preceded them. Any parent who has witnessed the standard of remote teaching delivered by the New South Wales high schools can confirm kids are currently in a bizarre day care on Zoom holding pattern. Any pretence they are learning the curriculum disappeared long ago.

The aspirations of small business owners, particularly those reliant on footfall or seasonal business. They’ve learned a brutal lesson that the government can destroy their livelihoods at the stroke of a pen and an 11am press conference.

The aspirations of people to visit family overseas, for happy or sad reasons. The university graduation ceremony for a child or to attend the funeral of a parent are two personal examples.

Aspirations are hard to measure but you damn well know when they’ve gone.

Let’s remind ourselves of the reason why this juggernaut of destruction has been driven through our aspirations (source):

Bill’s Opinion

As with the financial crisis of 2008, Grandad and Granny have been bailed out by their grandkids. Again.

Nobody was asked, nobody was consulted.

But far worse than that, not a single Opposition MP or “Independent. Always” journalist is asking questions about this ongoing transfer of aspirations from the young to the old at the 11am press conferences.

Speaking truth to power. That may have been a thing once, I recall.

A very mean reversion

A virtual Grand Tour around the various right of centre, libertarian and free market media sites and commentators over the last few years may have resulted in the, not unreasonable, conclusion there is a kind of Anglospheric Exceptionalism. From Roger Scruton, through Douglas Murray, Matt Ridley, Ben Shapiro, Jonathan Haight, Lionel Shriver, and many other voices who pop up regularly in each other’s podcasts and on the pages of The Spectator.

The unique Anglo cultural phenomenon is hard to define but likely to include elements of the following (in no particular order); individuality, free speech, free trade, freedom of movement, property rights, rule of law, meritocracy, religious and sexual tolerance, morality, and fairness.

Different versions of this are shown to perhaps apply variously across countries.

Australia, for example, has almost an entire national identity built on the shifting sands foundation of a concept of “fairness”. Everyone who has travelled around the Aussie media, legislation and government services will have encountered the word “fair”, without it ever really being defined. Australian fairness is defined as, to recycle the words of US Justice Potter Stewart, “I know it when I see it”.

The USA’s proud boast is based more on free speech, individual responsibility and the creative destruction of free markets.

The UK spends much of its currency of national conversation on expensive angst about how racist and intolerant it is whilst simultaneously being the destination of choice for immigration from almost every ethnicity and religion. UK tolerance is clearly a national trait, as witnessed by the inability of most of its citizens to complain about customer service.

The Canadian, New Zealand and Irish flavours of Anglospheric Exceptionalism are harder to define. They’re three irrelevances on the world cultural stage, taking their cues heavily from their larger neighbours and generally piggybacking on the good stuff whilst pointing at the negatives as if they were a problem of some other.

There’s clearly a place for the theory of Anglospheric Exceptionalism, otherwise so many of the products of these countries, both tangible and philosophical, from iPhones to fundamental legal concepts, wouldn’t be adopted and/or envied by other less happy lands.

Culture must be a factor too, otherwise the success of the USA might perhaps have been replicated to some degree on the west coast of Africa when the newly formed country of Liberia adopted a CTRL C/V version of the USA Constitution. Last time we checked, Liberia wasn’t at the top of the list of countries people were battling to emigrate to.

Some amazing outcomes have been achieved from the children of the anglosphere. As a proxy measure, Cambridge University has produced double the number of Nobel Laureates than the entire country of France. Interestingly, France has produced four times the number of Nobel Laureates than the entire continent of Africa (including the Africans of European ancestry).

Clearly, cultural relativism is a bollocks concept. Not all cultures are equal, as anyone trying to get to the grocery store and home again unharmed in Johannesburg or Durban could tell you right now.

It’s easy to fall into the fantasy that we’ve found some magic civilising incantation, a secret formula to civilise the world and ensure the direction of travel is forward.

Worse, if you’re tempted down the roads of patriotism, ethnic pride and supremacy-thinking, you might believe this has something to do with genetics or another hard to define concept, “race”.

What if we’re wrong? What is history telling us?

It’s easy to ignore the inconvenience of history. Until really very recently, say, until the second quarter of the 20th century, life for everyone was uncertain in duration, brutish and tough.

Freedom of speech, for example, would have been quite a distant thought for most people in the anglosphere when faced with the prospect of having to bury a child every year or two. Freedom of movement and property rights were theoretical for the vast majority, who had only the option to emigrate vast distances with little to no possessions, often to escape religious intolerance, indentured labour and restrictions to their ability to trade freely.

If we’re really being honest with ourselves, these modern miracles about which years’ worth of podcast content and self-congratulatory books have been produced, are a specifically modern phenomenon probably not yet even 100 years old.

The normal scenario was benign rule by king or emperor if we were lucky, but brutal authoritarianism mostly. After all, Marcus Aurelius was only one man in an empire lasting more than a millennium.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps we’ve been living in a dream? Perhaps we’d convinced ourselves the circumstances all but our last four generations found themselves in had been prevented from recurring.

Our ability to choose and find work, travel freely in and out of countries, speak freely in public, make our own health decisions, manage personal risk, protect our wealth and family and to take individual responsibility no longer exists.

Perhaps it never really did. Certainly, the swiftness with which these “rights” were removed indicates the fragile grasp by which we held them.

Le plus ça change, le plus c’est la meme chose, as your great great grandparents probably couldn’t pronounce but understood implicitly.

The reversion to the mean, is indeed very mean.

Are you an artist?

An artist is someone who can hold two opposing viewpoints and still remain fully functional.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some examples:

The threat of mental health impacts.

Position A: we must agree, without question, with children who say they are transgender because otherwise their inevitable negative mental health outcome and possible suicide will be our fault.

Position B: we must keep children off school and away from group sports for months to protect the elderly and chronically unwell. The mental health impacts of this are insignificant.

Climate change

Position A: climate change is the biggest existential threat to humanity, all necessary resources and national finances should be applied to solve it. We must think the unthinkable.

Position B: nuclear energy is too big a danger to use to generate our power.

Election fraud

Position A: Russia hacked the 2016 election resulting in the illegitimate Trump presidency.

Position B: there were no irregularities in the 2020 election. Anyone who suggests otherwise is a conspiracy theorist.

The World Health Organisation

Position A: it’s unfortunate the WHO made several significant mistakes over the efficacy of masks and the possibility the Kung Flu came from the Wuhan lab.

Position B: the WHO is correct that the vaccines are safer for all age and health cohorts than catching the virus.

Prophylaxis

Position A: there is no evidence from randomised double blind longitudinal studies of the effectiveness of existing generic pharmaceutical treatments for Kung Flu and anyone suggesting these should be further investigated is a conspiracy theorist.

Position B: a vaccine first produced less than a year ago is completely safe in both the short and long term for all age and health cohorts.

Freedom of speech

Position A: one of the greatest benefits of living in a western democracy is the freedom to criticise government policy without sanction.

Position B: there is no problem with private companies, some of whom have revenue greater than the GDP of many countries, to censor people who spread misinformation as these people are dangerous conspiracy theorists.

Bill’s Opinion

Perhaps there’s a bit of artistry in us all. It’s not those who have inconsistency who scare me most, but those with certainty.

Take it away boys:

Who is paying for this?

New South Wales is entering its third week of lockdown, 18 months after the virus first arrived and was almost eradicated.

For those who believe the vaccinations are a risk worth taking, the vaccination rates are pitifully distant from a level we might consider useful or, sotto voce, herd immunity.

So, back under the duvet for the residents of the biggest economy in the country, because, to paraphrase the head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, “the only alternative to lockdown is more lockdown”.

You may be wondering whether it’s possible to seek a second opinion on that diagnosis and prescription.

The idea of giving up on the tacit “zero covid” strategy was floated in anonymous briefings to the press last week, only to be met with ridicule and accusations of inhumanity but no tangible or executable answer to the question, “the current strategy has clearly failed, so what do we do now?”.

The school holidays finish on Tuesday and thousands of children will be banished to their bedrooms to attend dysfunctional zoom calls with their teachers whilst using the Alt/Tab function to switch back and forth between “class” and Minecraft.

Of course, that describes the kids whose parents are paying attention and haven’t already given up on them. There’s another group, for whom school was probably their last chance of being socialised and staying out of trouble.

Their parents won’t be checking their attendance at virtual class, their internet access and smartphone use will be unrestricted and it’s unlikely they will be prevented from leaving the house during the school day to smoke vapes at the local skate park.

Our local high school suspended more pupils in the term following the last lockdown than they did in the several years prior, combined. The Principal’s hypothesis was that those kids had little to no adult supervision during the lockdown schooling and brought that freedom to misbehave back into the classroom when school returned.

Eventually, and despite the ridiculous Education Department policies aimed at preventing any semblance of consequences for anti-social behaviour, the school sent these kids home either for short term suspensions or, in the extreme cases, they were “invited” to seek an alternate venue for their education.

The impact of this is going to have dire social consequences. Kids who missed significant portions of school life are not only disadvantaged educationally, but have also missed the last safety net between being a normal member of society or living on its periphery, spending increasing amounts of their lives in and out of the criminal justice system.

Bill’s Opinion

You may think these forever lockdowns are the correct response to outbreaks and that we can see the tangible benefit to them in terms of reducing the deaths and hospitalisation of the infected.

Consider the possibility you are only seeing one side of the balance sheet.

In the UK, for example, it is estimated 7 million people avoided non-covid health appointments since the virus arrived. What percentage of those will result in a later terminal diagnosis that might have been avoided if caught earlier?

5%? 10%?

The official death toll from covid (without questioning the difference between “of” and “with”) is 129,000. If 5% of missed appointments lead to an avoidable death, the covid death count will be less than half of the human cost of “saving the NHS”.

Similarly, the feral kids running around the local area while the middle class kids sit at home in class will become a more visible cost over time. Just because we don’t see the impact now, doesn’t mean you aren’t paying. Remember this in five years time when you have a barbecue discussion about the rise of burglaries, car theft, muggings, drug use, etc.

One can avoid reality but one cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.