QED

The Unelected Can’t Wash Their Hands

As the back-slapping of state and commonwealth public health authorities and their politician overlords echoes through the mainstream media the real costs of their misguided approach to managing COVID-19 are starting to emerge. While our politicians and CMO’s daily pronounce their efforts in “flattening the curve” and “saving lives”, they focus as the measure of their self-determined success on two numbers alone — confirmed cases of COVID-19 and associated deaths as the only measures of their success.

The World Health Organisation now concedes the virus is likely to become yet another endemic coronavirus that is here to stay. Antibody prevalence studies from Spain to New York indicate that prevalence of the virus is ten- to twentyfold greater than officially confirmed cases. In Spain this means there are 2.5 million cases, rather than 220,000. To add to the implausibility of containment as a strategy, a whopping 26 per cent of Spanish cases were entirely asymptomatic. The containment strategies have failed and the horse has bolted. Extrapolated globally, this would indicate 50–100 million cases, and that is probably wildly conservative as the virus runs unchecked in many Third World nations. Yet the impact on lives, health and wellbeing through the asphyxiation of the real economy has rippled throughout the whole of Australian society, resulting in an outcome that is profoundly and incalculably negative. The obsession with infections and deaths in assessing the impact of this response is as scientifically absurd as the models that informed it.

As a starting point in surveying the copllateral damage, take the qualified projections of Professor Ian Hickie’s Brain and Mind Centre, whose best-case scenario posits over the ensuing five years an additional 750 deaths per annum due to suicide alone, the projected result of federal and state governments heavy-handed lockdown approach. Hickie’s worse-case scenario would see an additional 1500 deaths per annum, disproportionately claiming younger Australians extinguished by their own hands. It would be remiss to overlook that those future casualties’ self-destruction will have been greatly assisted by the heavy hand of public-health officials and governments pulling out from under them the rugs of economic security and social networks. Not surprisingly, drug and alcohol abuse has soared, as have relationship breakdowns and associated domestic violence.

To date, less than 100 Australians have perished either with or due to COVID-19, the vast bulk of those victims were in the twilight years of their lives with life shortening co-morbidities well established. As if to cling desperately to a campaign of fear justifying the impacts of measures taken thus far, we have the unedifying addition of the most recent deaths of two very elderly residents at Newmarch House being added to the national mortality statistics even though it is on the public record that neither died directly from this novel coronavirus, rather from serious terminal co-morbidities.

The Treasurer’s update to the parliament is just the start of the assessment of the costs of the government response in Australia. The Treasury informs us that the economy is losing $4 billion per week as the lockdown drags on. Estimates of unemployment directly due to government and public health intervention range from 1 million to 1.6 million out of work and that is before years end. Government has racked up over $350 billion in debt with requisite welfare measures that will burden a whole generation to come. Superannuants saw a third of their retirement wealth disappear overnight. Businesses are folding like kites in a gale, many never to reopen, their hapless proprietors saddled with unserviceable debt and no meaningful income. Australians in their thousands with crippling illness have been kicked off elective surgery queues while staff in ICU units sit and wait for those elusive COVID-19 patients to be wheeled through their doors. Fortunately, and against all the predictions of the “experts”, most of those infected recover at home for a week or two from a mild upper-respiratory tract illness less debilitating in most cases than the flu.

The ledger of losses detailed above is but an abbreviated inventory of the true costs of the response thus far.  Add to this the very serious erosion of civil liberties under the guise of a public health response, reducing the value of life exclusively to the corporeal at the expense of all other realms of existence, and you have a reshaping of society that verges on the Orwellian in its scope. To suggest such consequences are anything other than the reverse side of the same public-health-minted coin that has informed the response is disingenuous at best.

In aggregate, the effect of over-zealous, status-craving public health officials having been given their head by governments too cowardly to perform their role of making the hard decisions has been a derailing of the economy for years, if not a decade or more, to come. Add to this the increase in suicides and self-harm to levels far beyond the toll of the virus itself, the asphyxiation of sectors of the economy such as tourism and hospitality while crippling all other sectors of the service economy, the rapid erosion of decades worth of superannuation savings, the creation of intergenerational debt, the likely increase in deaths from untreated chronic illness, the foreclosure of thousands of small businesses, the erosion of property values and associated equity and wealth. And finally, a generation of school children falling ever further behind in what was already a sub-standard education system.

On this last point, anyone who thinks reopening all the sectors of the economy and service sectors is a straightforward task will need to think again. Even getting school teachers back to work, a profession one might reasonably regard as essential, has been an ongoing battle.  Just wait until the government tries to remove JobSeeker and JobKeeper subsidies!

Lockdown was always the easy option, freeing public health officials too lazy or incompetent to structure targeted isolation measures to set to work with a sledgehammer instead of the surgical scalpel required to prevent, or at least minimise, all the many varieties of damage thus far inflicted.

It may be that CMO’s, public health acolytes and all the political class and mainstream media who bowed before them seek to be assessed only on COVID-19 transmission and mortality outcomes. Even this has a long way to play out as the virus likely simmers below the surface for a period before potentially re-emerging, irrespective of all the lockdown measures. However, I suspect the people of Australia will take a far broader view that won’t be restricted to COVID-19 cases. We mourn as much for those who die by their own hand or due to poverty and hardship as we do those taken by a predominantly mild infection that, yes, does hit already infirm aged more heavily. The same cannot be said for our public health bureaucrats, for whom, clearly the only means of death of any concern is a death visited upon an unfortunate recipient by the Wuhan Flu.

Those who insist there was no other option but a strict and blanket lockdown create a false dichotomy, as if these were the only two possibilities. Sweden has demonstrated that there is indeed a middle road. Authorities there rejected the alarmist models, leaving the government to take control with pragmatic and targeted measures. Contrast this with the lockdown brigades’ early champion, Singapore, which is now set to surpass Sweden in cases within a week from now.

The true measure of all that has been inflicted upon the Australian people will emanate from the above narrow infections/death parameters well after the hysteria around this virus has dissipated. Australians thrown on the scrap heap will not forget. There will be constant reminders of the damage that has been wrought and the misery inflicted, and continuing to be inflicted, upon millions. Public health authorities will not be able to hide behind their corrupted models and their ‘saving lives’ mantras when exactly the opposite is both true and obvious. The attempts now by Australian public health authorities to decouple the ruinous effects of their heavy-handed response from the social and economic fallout will not go unchallenged.

27 comments
  • ianl

    Yes, but I really do wish that articles such as this firstly examined and referred to the C-19 history in Taiwan.

    It’s been pointed out before: Taiwan has a population size almost that of Australia (23 million to 25 million); a population density many times that of Australia because those 23m are packed into a much smaller geographical area; *NO* lockdown, but efficient tracking and tracing; a death rate per million (as pandemics are measured) just 1/13th of Australia.

    No recognition of these indisputable facts here. The MSM now cannot spell Taiwan – because these facts are extremely uncomfortable for the bureaucratic Nanny State (which the frontline doctors, nurses and their assistants do not belong to) and its’ meeja cheer squads.

    Instead of examining how Taiwan managed, we have the equivalent of the UK clapping their NHS from their front doors. We are (or were) The Lucky Country in exactly the ironic fashion that Donald Horne meant. Aus has world-class agriculture and mining but the ALP/Greens are now back again at dismantling these, using the C-19 chaos as a template.

    The Aus population, however, are so grateful for being told to hide at home that internal destruction will continue.

  • Stephen Due

    Thank you Jack. Sanity is alive and well at Quadrant. The Australian newspaper informs me that today 72% of the Australian workforce is in the pay of the government. How long is it expected that can be tolerated? Throughout this fiasco there has been no attempt by government to provide a cost-benefit analysis of its policies or even a timeline for the restoration of normal economic activity. This is madness. Who is going to account for the businesses destroyed, the careers ruined, the prospects for the future erased in the lives of families and individuals? Who is going to pay for the vast debt that is being incurred? And the PM says it is time to “come out from under the doona”. Contact with reality has been lost.

  • Warty

    A hard-hitting article, and one that most conservatives would surely agree with. But think of it we were a society addicted to Dettol and Pine O Clean long before Covid 19 appeared on the scene, even before we banished the footy ‘biff’. We are likewise addicted to protecting our children from a host of largely imaginary threats, and when they are genuinely likely to be abused it is deemed racist to point it out.
    With advertising and the feminisation of society, the ‘men’, in their reverse stereotypical roles, generally seem to be apron-wearing milksops, hardly men. So I was wondering, is it little wonder we have submitted to universal lockdown without so much as a whimper?
    If you doubt what we say then look at pre WWII archived photographs of our parents and grandparents

  • Peter Smith

    Getting a takeaway coffee earlier this week I spoke to a lady as we were waiting. The virus mutates she told me as though this was a sinister revelation; and six children died (of the virus) in New York yesterday, she added. What to do about this? She looked sensible and she can vote. But her head is filled with nonsense. Where did it come from? I don’t know. Not even the ABC would make up the fictitious deaths of six children. She clearly doesn’t know that all viruses mutate but attributes this frightening development only to the current infection. I suspect she is broadly representative of large sections of the population. Time to despair.

  • Rob Brighton

    The key point with Taiwan is their population is amenable to instruction.

  • March

    Rob, based on the unquestioned acceptance of lockdown measures it seems the majority of Australians are also “amenable to instruction” . The only mavericks left grace these pages.

  • Michael

    “Lockdown was always the easy option, freeing public health officials too lazy or incompetent to structure targeted isolation measures to set to work with a sledgehammer instead of the surgical scalpel required…”

    Elizabeth Beare, Michael’s wife.

    All very well said, Jack Weatherall. We can only hope that some lessons have been learned.

    Targeted isolation was, and still is, essential for this virus; and nothing more, apart from general advice concerning hand-washing (never a bad idea) and some level of distancing for those concerned for their own welfare due to age. Targets for a 14 day isolation should have included incoming passengers by air and sea during the period of epidemic rise or concern, with home isolation preferred on cost and humanitarian grounds but with alternatives available if required by individuals. This home isolation policy should have been far more properly organised and monitored (various systems possible), with ‘care packages’ for the first few days at home being automatically provided on arrival to all incomers, along with complete PRINTED information (not just a website reference) about how to properly and comfortably isolate ‘at home’. Allowing people to arrive in from say a 15 hour-flight to a ‘self-isolation’ without any emergency provisions at all nor any PPE for shared situations was simply asking for trouble.
    Rigorous infection control measures, including staff training on cleaning and barrier nursing, with adequate immediate PPE for all staff and visitors should have been made available to institutional care situations where older people resided, including immediate transfer to hospital for all infected residents.
    All of this is not rocket science but seems to have been beyond the thought processes of highly paid public health professionals.

  • Peter Sandery

    The key point in my opinion, Rob Brighton is that the Taiwanese have been closer to authoritarian dictatorships then most Australians have been and therefore know the pitfalls of such regimes.

  • Michael

    Elizabeth Beare, Michael’s wife

    We should not forget that sunlight is an excellent viral disinfectant and Australia is blessed with plentiful supplies of it. Masks left in open sunlight for a few days and turned regularly to disinfect both sides can be usefully reused by the same individuals. Human Vitamin D3 levels are also topped up by sunlight. We should all get out there in sun-warmed fresh air as much as possible, contrary to the huddle at home mentality. A blissful sunlit rest on a beach or park bench cheers the spirit and the brisk walk to get there sparks the endorphins along quite well too.

    One good thing to emerge from this lockdown (let’s look on the bright side) is that more people have discovered the joys of simply getting out of the house for a walk.

  • rod.stuart

    There is folly in comparing this country to others such as Italy and the UK. That is apples and oranges comparison. Italy has 20,000 Chinese in its Northern region who all went home to Wuhan for Chinese New Year, and then gleefully returned to Italy. The Uk with its lockdown gleefully ignored an influx of 10,000 airline passengers per day, and neglected to screen any of them.
    OTOH, compare Minnesota with full lockdown to its neighbour South Dakota with next door and no lockdown. Or how about Viet Nam with 90 million people, 250 cases and no deaths?

  • Guido Negraszus

    It’s the dream come true period for our politicians. Clueless citizens, desperately waiting for more news from our leaders, blindly following and accepting what is sold to us as expert advise. But what sends a chill down my spine is the media, that sings in perfect harmony, not a single wrong note, The government, the opposition, and the media are all agreeing with each other. No doubt in my mind: we are in the final “march through the institution” quarter. Get ready.

  • Occidental

    Everyone knows the cause of the government(s) response and the publics acceptance – fear. Everyone has known since Adam was a boy that you can get the public to do or accept anything once they are frightened. The real question is how do you stop people being frightened of shadows. Is it education, do you teach them virology, obviously not, because the next public health scare will be acid rain, or radioactive isotopes. Do you teach individuals how to think rationally? Can you teach people how to think rationally? I suspect that once people are frightened they stop thinking rationally anyway. The best example is terrorism legislation. What the public have given executive government in this country in the way of powers, over themselves, in the name of preventing terrorism is incomprehensible. Yet the only voices in opposition come from interest groups such as the media, or ISP’s that can see the economic burden placed on them. The general public only care about being safe, safe from the shadows that they can not comprehend.

  • Lo

    CMO’s ? CMO’s what?

  • Lo

    Sorry, that was petty, particularly given the truths in this article. It is such a relief to find information and opinion that is reasoned and rational.

  • ianl

    There is also a vaguely acknowledged push from large sections of the politicians, bureaucrats, unions and the MSM to use this C-19 opportunity for depressing the incidence of small enterprises. Irrespective of crocodile tears from these sectors for the losses of small business capital and effort, the push has been and is to compensate employees for a period, not the owners for loss of capital and prospects. (I don’t think that should happen anyway, but there will be no reduction in red/green-tape governance to help recovery).
    Small business is regarded in these sectors as a nuisance, as difficult as mercury to control, quicksilver … many will think (not say): Good Riddance. Destruction achieved while hiding behind “Keeping You Safe”. I hope I’m wrong.

  • pgang

    Peter Smith, yes it is seen absolutely everywhere. It’s mind-boggling.
    We Christians are once again doubly blessed. Not only do with have the foundation of all truth and logic to guide us through this quagmire of misinformation, but it is impossible for us to ever despair.

  • Biggles

    You are correct. ianl. Small business enterprises are the engine of a free-enterprise economy. The large government-paid sector of the population is ignorant of that fact; hence its unsupportive attitude. The left wants government control of ALL business. Those who don’t understand that should read Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

  • Peter C Arnold

    Oh dear!
    Don’t any of the above, or Jack Weatherall, umderstand that there is one, and only one, truth about this pandemic? I know that it is uncomfortable, but our parents or grandparents lived through similar uncertainty on September 3, 1939.
    That simple truth is that nobody KNOWS what is going to happen. Nobody KNOWS how this pandemic started. Nobody KNOWS how it will run.. Nobody KNOWS how best to combat it. All is opinion, even from the experts.
    There is no KNOWLEDGE. Ask our experts in six months’ time, and they might KNOW something.
    Stop the blame game. None of us KNOWS anything.
    Dr Peter Arnold, former GP. (No expert, but with some experience of human behaviour.)
    (Editor: Why do you allow anonymous comments?)

  • talldad

    Even this has a long way to play out as the virus likely simmers below the surface for a period before potentially re-emerging, irrespective of all the lockdown measures.

    As Dr Peter says, nobody knows anything about a second wave. I suspect that this is yet another fear-inducing bogeyman being used by our ckntrol-happy “leaders” to continue their enjoyment of power over the people

    It’s time to remind them that they are our servants not our (slave)masters.

  • pgang

    Peter Arnold, the people writing articles on this issue in Quadrant, and those of us readers who add our own perspectives, aren’t interested in burying our heads in the sand and simply wondering what will happen. Most of what has been written has been based on evidence. I find it astonishing that, as a doctor, you don’t acknowledge this.
    It is an absolute certainty that everyone here is familiar with the loss of loved ones due to illness, yet those writing here have not been cowed. The writers are to be commended for their willingness to test and question the unprecedented use of authority that we are currently experiencing, whether they are afraid of the virus or not. Try to find that anywhere else in Australia: good luck.
    There is much to blame our grossly irresponsible authorities and the media for. You referred to history yourself: what did the world do during the recent pandemic of 2010 and how did we deal with it?
    We do KNOW of the destruction of people’s livelihoods and the enormous damage the blunt, draconian decisions have caused to the economy, public morale and our social fabric. We KNOW the path of destruction the virus has caused, much of it due to irresponsible decision making. We also KNOW that there has been a significant rise in the average non-COVID death rate, at least in England, because people have been scared away from receiving medical treatment lest they catch or spread the virus.
    There are still many ‘un-knowns’. The virus probably has a long game to play out yet – possibly for many years to come. It has joined a long list of natural causes for every-day human misery. But the big questions looming dark in the future are of a social nature, not epidemiological. How much freedom have we given away cheaply, and what price are we yet to pay for our cowardice?
    In 1939 people KNEW the path of misery that they were about to embark upon, but they also KNEW that it was necessary to contain a far greater evil. That is a complete inversion of what’s happening today, as we bring evil to life to vainly attempt to avoid a much lesser problem.
    As a retired GP, possibly the economic and social fallout has been negligible in your life, as has been the case for me. In many ways my material quality of life has actually improved. That is not the case for millions of our fellow countrymen, or for those young Australians who are about to enter into participation in society; or for those of us who now realise that ‘religious freedom’ is a matter of convenience, and that the church as a political entity is a pathetic joke.
    As for anonymity you must realise that the internet can be a dangerous and libellous place. I’m sure most of us would prefer to be open about our identities, but have decided that it carries too much personal risk. In the early days of ‘blogging’ I was writing for a well-known pioneering blog site in Australia under my own identity, but it quickly became evident that it was a bad idea given that I didn’t have the protection of a corporation or legislation behind me, as journalists have. Our identities are, however, effectively registered with Quadrant.

  • lloveday

    Paul Brians PhD, Professor of English at Washington State University wrote:
    .
    “One unusual use of the apostrophe is in plural acronyms, like “ICBM’s” “NGO’s” and “CD’s”. Since this pattern violates the rule that apostrophes are not used before an S indicating a plural, many people object to it. It is also perfectly legitimate to write “CDs,” etc. See also “50’s.” But the use of apostrophes with initialisms like “learn your ABC’s and “mind your P’s and Q’s” is now so universal as to be acceptable in almost any context”.
    .
    Note that these days, many refer to his examples ICBM, NGO and CD (and CMO) as initialisms, restricting acronyms to such as NATO and AIDS.
    *******
    In another forum, a participant wrote:
    .
    “When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and “s”. Like I would have written this sentence, “… back in the 1970’s …” I would write “one CD, two CD’s”. Etc. I followed this rule faithfully for years until a co-worker told me it was wrong”.
    .
    I was taught likewise at high school, and the fact that contemporary common usage may be otherwise would allow the usage of the newer form to be affirmed as correct, but does not invalidate the continuing usage of the previous common form.

  • Bernie Masters

    Another lazy, disappointing and opportunistic article. If the author is so upset with the way that Australia reacted to the Covid 19 virus threat, what would he have done instead? Follow the Swedish example and accept without complaint their 3400 deaths compared to Australia’s 100?

  • pgang

    Bernie Masters, don’t ask the question if you’re going to ignore the answer.

  • lloveday

    pgang,
    .
    Re-visited “The National Forelock, There for the Tugging” comments recently?

  • pgang

    Roger that, thanks for the update lloveday.

  • Citizen Kane

    Just as you do Bernie with every means of death other than this virus, when you and the rest of our society barely skips a beat for the say 13000 people who perish each year in Australia due to diabetes. You seem very selective in your need to destroy other peoples prospects and livelihood, since you have somehow only now reckoned with mortality.

  • Biggles

    As Stalin said, ‘Death of an individual is a tragedy; death of a million just a statistic’.

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