QED

I Didn’t Vote for Tyranny. Did You?

I spent the whole of last year overseas on sabbatical with my wife.  (Good timing, I hear some of you mutter, correctly.)  The first half of the year we spent in London and I recall lining up at Australia House to vote in the federal election.  Now I’ve never been convinced that Mr. Morrison had strong convictions as regards freedom of the individual (witness his dismissal of the need to deal with our hate speech laws) or the need to deregulate the economy (think insane renewables and our labour laws) or the attractions of comparatively small government (name one ‘small government’ reform).  But, unlike his unlamented Coalition predecessor, I could hold my nose and vote for Team Morrison in the light of the alternative.  And I did.

But never in my wildest dreams did I think that I was voting for what amounts to the most socialist (as in big government, big spending, public sector thrives while private sector withers) government in Australia’s history.  Nor did it cross my mind that this government would make more inroads into Australians’ civil liberties and freedoms than even the wartime governments of the last century. What has happened is astounding and it has happened because the preponderance of people have been terrified into meekly giving up the basic freedoms that come with living in a democratic society.  And ‘by terrified’ I mean that much of the press has turned itself into an unquestioning arm of the fear porn industry – breathlessly reporting each new case (rather than the death rate), never giving context (as in more people died of the flu and car accidents in most past years, and by  massive margins), indulging in the report-your-neighbour thinking of the sort that flourished in the former Soviet Union.

Or perhaps you think I’m overstating things?  Well, to make that case you’d need to show that what we’re facing in this corona virus is something very, very dangerous to all and sundry – if not the Black Death of the Middle Ages that killed over a third of the total population then at least the Spanish Flu of a century ago (that killed some 50 million worldwide an 15,000 in Australia at a time when the earth’s population was much smaller than now).  But here’s the truth of the matter.  It’s now beyond doubt that this Wuhan/corona virus is nothing like as lethal as the Spanish Flu and not in the same galaxy of dangerousness as the Black Death.  Think of it this way. In Sweden they did not lock down – I repeat not – instead simply advising citizens to be careful.  No forced business closings.  No disgraceful curfews.  No heavy-handed bureaucratic decisions about whose business (and hence lifestyle, if not life) is deemed to be ‘essential’.  None of that.  And yet fewer than 6,000 Swedes have died of the virus.  Put differently, 99.95 percent of all Swedes in a non-lockdown state of affairs survived this virus.  For Swedes under 60 years of age then 99.998 percent survived.  And those totals come with a caveat – you see most Swedish deaths related to aged-care facilities which the man in charge of the Swedish response concedes they handled poorly. Oh, and it looks more and more likely that they’ve achieved herd immunity.  Life is back to normal there, or pretty damn close.

Or there’s Taiwan, another ‘no lockdown’ jurisdiction.  It has about the same population as we do.  It didn’t lock down, didn’t impose curfews, didn’t have daily press conferences by puffed up politicians scolding all of us, didn’t turn the police into an arm of the nanny state, and has had a grand total of 7 (yes, seven) deaths from the Wuhan flu.  Explain that, you lockdown zealots!

Or look at the individual US states.  Those with Republican governors were far, far less heavy-handed and intrusive than those with a Democratic Governor.  What have these looser lockdowns by Republican governors delivered – in South Dakota absolutely no new laws at all, not even Sweden’s ban on large gatherings?  Well, fewer deaths.  You see deaths are 67 percent higher in Democrat States than in Republican ones, and the deaths per million of population are 41 percent higher in Democrat States.

Or compare the very light and soon ended lockdown in the State of Florida with the Dan Andrews-like State of New York under Governor Cuomo.  Florida has had more cases but under one-third the deaths. Got that?

   At this point you might be thinking, ‘hey, maybe heavy-handed lockdowns don’t do anything at all as far as dealing with this virus?’.  Well, if you were of that point of view you’d be in good company.  One fairly recently published study in the famous Lancet medical journal concluded ‘Rapid border closures, full lockdowns, and wide-spread testing were not associated with COVID-19 mortality per million people’.  That’s jargonese for ‘lockdowns don’t seem to do anything’.

And yet back in late March and early April politicians around the world (or at least most of them, we must always salute the brave exceptions in Sweden and few other places) basically panicked.  They went for a supposed solution, the lockdown, that as late as the end of 2019 the WHO recommended against in all situations.  Once they started down that road they couldn’t turn back.  If, as many think, the virus can never be eradicated then it’s either (a) ‘learn to live with it’ or (b) ‘pray for a vaccine even though the honest odds are against ever finding a highly effective one’.  Yet all the incentives on politicians push them towards (b).  To opt for (a) now, after all the economic carnage, would be to admit that they made a massive error, which could be electoral suicide.  Let me put that differently.  Even if some of our politicians privately now think they goofed, they can’t really admit it. They have to stay the course – lockdowns, maybe upgraded to curfews, fear porn press encouraged to terrify the public, daily press conferences announcing new cases (as if that matters one whit, we don’t care about flu cases, we care about deaths).  This amounts to betting the mortgage on a vaccine.  It’s the same attitude as Charles Dickens’ Micawber – ‘something will turn up’.  Or maybe not.

Meantime I want to barf every time I heard the Prime Minister say ‘we’re all in this together’.  No We Are Not.  The politicians haven’t even had the good graces to take a pay cut.  Those in the public service might, just might, be looking at a pay freeze but no one thinks that will last long.  Meanwhile all sorts of people in the private sector, people who had successful small business secured by loans against the family home, have been destroyed.  Many in their 50s, men especially, will never work again.

The extent of the carnage will become clear when this unprecedented government spending has to be wound down.  Zombie businesses will go bust.  The trite, cliché-sounding ‘we’re all in this together’ will ring as false as, well, it is.

Then there’s the awful way in which politicians not just here but around most of the democratic world abdicated key decision-making to a bunch of doctors or Chief Medical Officers.  This was done in the name of ‘expertise’.  But that claim to their expertise is mostly untrue.  In terms of whether lockdowns and heavy-handed responses are called for, or not, a medical degree is not better than my first degree in mathematics.  Maybe it’s less good.  We want experts in statistics; experts in probability; people who take everything into account; economists at least as much as doctors. (Digression:  I’ve spent my whole academic career warning against rule by unelected lawyers.  But if I had to pick between lawyers and doctors, I’d take the former.  That’s how bad rule by unelected doctors is.)

Worse, the medical side of this situation is only one of many factors.  Weighing them all up is the job of the elected politicians, not some bureaucrat doctor.  Doctors supply medical data.  They are not in the business of balancing epidemiological interests against other interests, such as the desire of widows to attend church, or of one million restaurant workers to enjoy a job, or of parents to see children overseas or of small business owners to keep the product of decades of their labour going.  I thought that is what politicians were elected to do.  And correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Liberal Party supposed to be committed to individual freedom, meaning that in cases of doubt they would err on the side of trusting the individual?

Mr. Morrison and his government have shamefully let all of us who voted for him down on that front.  If a Social Democrat Swedish Prime Minister – I’ll say that again, a left-leaning Social Democrat – can stand up for the individual and against the over-reaching, heavy-handed reach of Big Government’s nanny state, then why can’t the Liberal Party in this country?  Did any of you last year vote for this sort of response, the most socialist, freedom-enervating government in the country’s history?  I didn’t.  I confess that more and more they sicken me, these jumped-up, enthralled-with-their-own power politicians.  Yes, that sounds harsh.  But how would you put it?  This government won’t even allow Australian citizens to leave the country without first seeking permission from some two-bit bureaucrat – permission that is more often than not denied.  These are the actions of an East Germany, not an Australia.  Anyone who wants to do so ought to be free to leave.  After all, these people will have to pay their own quarantine costs when they come back.  All that’s missing is the East German border guards (and I don’t say that too loudly or Mr. Morrison will get even more bad ideas).

Let me finish by doubling back to an earlier theme.  Earlier this year the British Office of National Statistics (‘ONS’) published a study that showed that the stringency of the lockdown policy correlated to a bigger GDP downturn.  In other words, the more heavy-handed the lockdown the poorer we will all be later on.  This is in a world where for those under 45 the corona virus is less dangerous than the flu (another instance of ‘we are not all in this together’); where for those under 60 it still doesn’t break into the top 15 causes of death; where the young are having their futures destroyed, job prospects detonated, and university and school experiences turned into sterile, near-worthless ‘Zoom time’; where millions will die in the Third World from the coming poverty there. The list goes on.

What has happened to all the many, many advocates for ‘human rights’ and for ‘bills of rights’?  Where are the cries from those who – when it comes to, say, supposed refugees piled into boats trying to sneak in illegally or in regard to anything to do with sexual freedom – like to paint themselves as champions of the individual and of choice and of rights and of freedom?  Where are they now?  Because most of them seem pretty silent to me, if not cheerleading the heavy-handedness.  Where are the supposed libertarians in the Liberal party room, the Tim Wilsons and James Patersons?  I don’t hear them speaking up for the Swedish approach, do you?  Meanwhile lots of right on, lefty virtue-signallers seem more than content to jump on the ‘freedom ignoring, citizen distrusting, top-down dictating, Big Gvernment’ express train.  The retired British Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption says we are right now living through what is, without doubt, the greatest, most extensive government attacks on our civil liberties and freedoms of any time in the democratic history of our countries.  He’s right.

And this when, if the politicians had refrained from indulging in their pale imitation of East Germany, then 99.95 percent of us would have survived the virus. (That’s what the data from Sweden tells us, full stop.)  More, in fact, would have survived if our government had just focused on the frail and those in aged-care and left everyone else to their own devices.  Trusted them.  You know, the way a democracy is supposed to work.

As you may have inferred by now I’ve reached the stage of total disgust with our politicians.  Indeed I have much the same attitude to the many Australians who are content to be ordered around, locked up, shut in, told what to do, and afraid of their own shadows.

In a democracy you get what you deserve.  Next election we will all have a chance to pass judgement on this fiasco.  I, for one, can’t wait.

21 comments
  • RB

    So when you are faced with Mr Morrison on one hand and Mr Albanese on the other which one do you vote for?

    Morrison won by not being Shorten, he ought to win again, not because he covered himself in laurels in his handling of COVID but because Albanese will beclown himself just like the Victorian apprentice dictator. The only thing missing is the red nose and water spraying flower.

  • pgang

    What do you mean, ‘next election’? There are only two parties to vote for, with almost nothing to discriminate between them. Voting is a joke because parliamentary democracy has become a joke. Who are you going to vote for – an apparition?
    Even the much adulated Tony Abbott has just taken on a sinecure working against Australia’s interests for the UK, and he was the best we had to show! They are all of them a joke. Their lives are completely separated from the reality of life in their fiefdoms.
    Why do people still believe that secular government will somehow miraculously turn around in its determined path towards totalitarianism? We are the the living remnants of the great humanist experiment, which has been an utter failure. Voting isn’t going to fix it – at best it will delay the inevitable.
    Our people no longer believe that above our earthly rulers resides a higher authority. (How many conservatives and so-called Christians have twisted Jesus’ riposte about ‘rendering unto Caesar’, abusing it to support secularism, while ignoring that in the next breath He demanded obeisance to God and lambasted Caesar’s evil kingdom)?
    We should be disgusted, most especially with the cowardice and carelessness of Australians and Westerners in general. Rulers are opportunists who will reflect the nature of the people whilst manipulating them at the same time, and our people just don’t care about about being manipulated as long as they are comfortable. There is no recognition of consequences anymore.

  • Stephen Due

    The most important election in Australian history is the one about to take place in America. If and when Trump wins we have some hope of getting Australian politicians who will take a chance on standing up for Liberty and Reason. If Trump loses the game is over in Australia. We will then descend further into the swamp of socialism and policy driven by mass emotion.
    The next PM to be elected in Australia on a platform of defunding the ABC and privatising education will be the one who secures our democracy for the future. The roots of the Daniel Andrews brand of totalitarianism do not really lie in his love affair with the Chinese and cultural Marxism, or his union power base, or his manifest intellectual and moral emptiness. Rather its roots lie in the mass indoctrination mechanisms provided by the ABC and the State school system.

  • RB

    Living under your gods laws isn’t totalitarian at all eh.

  • pgang

    RB If your understanding of God is so poor then your own efforts at understanding our life and culture are pitiable.

  • Guido Negraszus

    Great article. 100% agree. The dilemma is of course that there only two parties. It doesn’t actually matter anymore who to vote for. What Morisson did to this country is what I would have expected from Shorten: big spending, destruction of our freedoms, Green policies, poor public appointments (like ABC’s Ita) and the list goes on. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think that Turnbull would have handled this crisis better.

  • pgang

    Stephen Due, whilst it is an important election for our time, the future belongs to the Marxist and Leninist totalitarians because they are the purist descendants of humanism. Welcome to Babylon.

  • ianl

    > ” … This government won’t even allow Australian citizens to leave the country without first seeking permission from some two-bit bureaucrat …”

    It has *not* escaped notice that people seeking to leave the country to visit dying relatives overseas, or attend a funeral, are bluntly told to take a hike, but journos seeking to leave the country to cover the US political scene with its’ growing tensions, are happily seen on our TV sets broadcasting from the US night after night, burbling with smug lefty self-righteousness – when only a few weeks ago these same babblers were on the TV using the internet from their room in Australia.
    In short, covering Donald Trump’s hoped-for downfall is more important than demonstrable family tragedy.
    For those nauseating MSM denizens who read here surreptitiously, we have noticed your disgusting hypocrisy, from Foxtel to the ABC.

  • lloveday

    ” If Trump loses the game is over in Australia. We will then descend further into the swamp of socialism and policy driven by mass emotion.”
    .
    Maybe even be annexed by China, with their UN Ambassador announcing that Australia is wasting its natural resources and in consequence China is taking over. Who but Trump would, could oppose China?
    .
    In China there are 10’s of millions of men of military age who have little prospect of being married, having a family, or even sex, and that situation is ongoing. The taming of men that is achieved by marriage is replaced by the aggressive effects of men’s testosterone, and if anyone is in doubt about how China may use that “toxic masculinity”, watch the China Armed Forces recruitment video proclaiming “Peace behind me, war in front of me” and “Fighting the battlefield; the character of the man”, not a female soldier in sight and compare it to Australia – they are more concerned ensuring they recruit “appropriate” numbers of females, transgenders, homosexuals, Muslims, females, dwarfs, handicapped… you name it (other than big, strong, brave men, especially white men).
    .
    Then there is THE bomb – 44 years ago China tested a bomb with 250x the yield of Little Boy; who knows what they have now. Certainly enough to say “Surrender or we’ll reduce Canberra to rubble; we will brook no delay”. Or Sydney for that matter, but Canberra would be much less useful for them than Canberra.

  • Stuart J. Burrows

    Excellent article. Agreed on all points. Those statistics from Sweden and Taiwan make fools of our politicians, and they know it. They’re hanging on for dear life to the only remaining potential upside — that our deaths per population figure will be lower at the end — and for the sake of that possibility, they’re evidently prepared to attach a ball and chain to our legs.
    I mostly lost interest in what Tim Wilson and James Paterson had to say when they voted for gay marriage. A hundred years from now, people will marvel at the self-styled conservatives who spent their political lives swinging at stately old statues with crowbars proffered to them from the left.

  • STJOHNOFGRAFTON

    On the infamous, patronising and sanctimonious comment “we’re all in this together” I think this response from blogger Illini Marine on another website: ‘Front Page Magazine’ says it well:

    “If our “betters” in the government lost their paychecks just like those in the private sector did, we would have been out of “lockdown” in April”.

  • terence.dwyer

    Australia’s sons, let us bewail
    For we are tired and slaves
    We’ve golden soil and wealth to spoil;
    Our home is gone to seed;
    Our land abounds in Man’s mad deeds
    Of tyranny to spare;
    In history’s page, let every sage
    Bewail Australia Fair.
    In mournful strains then let us sing,
    Bewail Australia Fair.

  • jamie

    You right wing fanatics are just as odious as the left wing fanatics. I want to knock your heads together; and as for pgang who has just arrived here in a time machine from the Dark Ages; mate, the year is 2020, we don’t do God anymore.

    • Roger Franklin

      Jamie, the temperance preachers of old would bring out a shambling drunk to illustrate the sad consequences of forming a deep and personal relationship with Demon Rum. You’re welcome to fulfil a similar role here. Just keep it polite and try to avoid being too stupid, which I suspect you might find rather difficult.

  • Jensen

    Roger, wouldn’t trying to avoid being too stupid be at odds with fulfilling the role of the shambling drunk? I think we might need to examine which one of us is being stupid here.

    As for politeness, I’ll admit my comment was a little harsh and I do apologise for that – it’s just that I’ve been fed up with all the mud-slinging between people on different sides of the political spectrum who are more concerned with towing the party line and launching attacks on each other rather than thinking independently, critically, constructively and God forbid, cooperatively, judging each case on its merits with the joint aim of making this world a better place. I guess I didn’t set a very good example by slinging mud myself, but at least it was at both sides, so you can’t accuse me of being biased!

  • Jensen

    BTW, just to clear up any confusion over names, “Jensen” is my updated “display name”. Jensen = Jamie. Going forward to avoid confusion in the future, I think it will be easier to just use my display name (Jensen). Apologies for the confusion.

  • Vicky

    Jensen: I think the term “fanatics” is a little exaggerated. People are fed up of arbitrary, ineffective, hysterical lockdown laws which are reducing our fine country to her knees. This is a time more poverty stricken, oppressive, ignorant and stagnant than the so called “Dark Ages”. The “Dark Ages” fallacy is prooganda peddled to the masses that tries to suppress any idea of the innovation, prosperity and accomplishments that marked this period and set the foundation for the period immediately following. Something any informed history reader knows. Perhaps this period’s major problem is that “We don’t do God anymore”. Bravo, you hit the nail on the head.

  • ejp

    I am a new Quadrant reader – on of the new guard, as it may be termed.

    Thank you for your enlivening discussion. At 27 I’m still my political and worldly roots. And I can’t agree with you all more, squabbling aside. I have gone through the last 5 years of my life since uni thinking what an absolute mess we appear to be in regarding what is considered ‘right’ and the ‘proper way to think’.

    It is with immense satisfaction that I see the current fashion regarding political thought is absolute rubbish.

    I believe in God, not in a crazy way; however recognise this is a vital part of the road map followed to reach the peak of Western thought that has delivered us the incredibly brilliant society we live in. It’s not a privilege, we’ve worked hard for this status quo.

    I am recommending my mates become readers of the mag.

    Thanks again for pushing some fresh air through the matrix of stale thought. I am impressed with all of your contributions.

    Erik, Sydney.

  • DG

    I look forward to the next election..but not much. There’s no one worth voting for. Except Mark Latham? He seems to be the only sensible one in any parliament anywhere in the country.

  • Jensen

    Vicky my reference to “The Dark Ages” was concerning religion, which was alive and well back then. What I was alluding to was that religion has no place in politics. Differences in religious beliefs has been the root cause of many major conflicts throughout history, and given we live in a multicultural society, religious beliefs are best kept personal and left out of politics. And as for these lockdowns, I don’t love them either, but they have been imposed with the best of intentions – to save lives, and they are only temporary measures which will be lifted as soon as the situation is under control.

  • Robyn

    The best of intention defence is meaningless. What matters is results. The results we have are from incompetent management. And define control.

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