Welcome to the War on COVID
The War on Terror in Afghanistan may well be over. But the War on COVID has only just begun.
The irony that they share is the combination of futility and persistence. After 20 years, Afghanistan is returning to the Taliban, only in a worse state.
After numerous lockdowns, quarantines, trackings and tracings, and vaccinations, COVID is still running rampant.
I believe the underlying flaw between the War on Terror and the War on COVID is the same.
It may well be that lockdowns are a good idea, nations should theoretically open up after reaching some vaccine threshold, track and trace will prevent outbreaks according to modelling, JobSaver may well prevent unemployment according to economists, and whatever other government policies you favour to fight the pandemic are a good idea too.
But there’s just one problem. You’re assuming the government can actually impellent those policies successfully. Which is completely laughable.
When Ronald Reagan explained that ‘The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help,’ he wasn’t kidding. He tried to fix the US government’s fiscal deficit, and look what happened! The government can’t even fix itself…
Whatever the problem, whatever the theoretical solution to it, the government will find a way to make things worse in practice.
This includes privatisation too, by the way. That’s just another government policy, which the government will manage to make a mess of, somehow. You never end up with a remotely free-market solution when the government goes through the process of privatising something. You get cronies, regulatory capture, political appointments, and corruption.
But let’s go with some more relevant examples…
Australia’s quarantine measures were supposed to prevent outbreaks. They haven’t.
Australia’s lockdowns were supposed to prevent outbreaks from getting worse. They haven’t.
Australia’s internal borders were supposed to stop the spread between and within states. They haven’t.
And yet, plenty of those policies are still in place…
Aussie journalists in the UK have gone from pining for their COVID-free home to ridiculing the hermit nation from the safety of a UK music festival.
Track and trace may well have been a good idea. But in the UK, it led to the Pingdemic. 600,000 people received a ping from their government app, notifying them to isolate for 10 days, in a single week.
Vaccine passports may well be popular with some of us. But believers are getting what they deserve, if you ask me. The UK’s Telegraph reports ‘Up to 700,000 vaccine passports hit by NHS blunders as officials record wrong data’, and ‘Hundreds of thousands of jab records contain errors, leaving some double-jabbed people without proof they need to travel.’
Imagine the humiliation these poor people experience as their fellow vaccinated deride them for lying and putting people at risk!
But does it surprise anyone that, if you need government permission to travel, it will often prevent you from travelling?
My mother was once stranded in a foreign country when a border officer broke her passport while trying to scan it. He tried to blame her. It didn’t go well for him.
Back to government pandemic policies gone awry…
The UK’s Nightingale hospitals were the pride of…well, journalists. But were they used? Were they even useable?
‘But they were never used on a large scale, because the NHS did not have enough trained staff to fill the Nightingales as well as the permanent hospitals.’
In Israel and Seychelles, vaccines were supposed to mean an end to pandemic restrictions. They weren’t.
Next, the vaccines were supposed to avoid hospitalisations. They didn’t.
But at least very few people in vaccine-leader Israel are dying, right?
In Israel, the government is undaunted by the failure of past policies. If at first you don’t succeed, jab, jab, and jab again. The vaccines are now looking like lockdowns — how many will it take?
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Meanwhile, other lockdown-style restrictions are in place in Israel too. But still, cases rise to new records, and deaths are running well ahead of the first few waves of COVID…
And cue panic in Australia as a result of Israel’s experience. Australia managed to announce it’ll reopen once certain vaccine thresholds are met, just when Israel disproved the theory behind the assumptions.
Two state premiers have already bailed on the promise to open up. But, instead of pointing to Israel as proof that vaccines aren’t an escape route from lockdowns, the politicians are arguing about the modelling. As though modelling were accurate!
This is making people in the UK laugh even more at Australia. First, it was ‘200,000 cases a day’ that was ‘almost inevitable’ before cases plunged. And then the models said the pandemic might be over by October, just when cases began to turn back up! The modellers get it wrong on the way up and on the way down too.
According to one expert who appeared on the news-ish TV show The Project, the modelling, which calculates which threshold of vaccinations needed before the nation can open up, assumes a low level of cases. News.com.au summed up the claims:
‘Lockdown-weary NSW residents have been told for weeks now the embattled state will begin to reopen once the vaccination target of 70 to 80 per cent is met.
‘That’s been the key message from not only Premier Gladys Berejiklian, but also from the Doherty Insitute, which has produced modelling to back up that goal.
‘But in a sobering interview on The Project on Monday night, Professor Nancy Baxter, clinical epidemiologist and head of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, said it would not be possible while NSW case numbers continue to explode.
‘Prof Baxter explained that while opening up was reasonable in places with 70 per cent vaccination and low case numbers, NSW did not meet that criteria.’
What, vaccinations only work when there isn’t much COVID!? No wonder Israel is back in lockdown…
In Germany, Die Bild Zeitung describes the German statistics on vaccination rates as a ‘Numbersalad’. The headline reads: ‘Health Ministry defends Numbersalad’. It turns out nobody knows how reliable the numbers really are…
Here in Japan, the strangest COVID conspiracy theory of the lot — that vaccines make magnets stick to you — has had a very odd sort of revival. The Japanese government withdrew Moderna vaccines after discovering contaminants that reacted to, you guessed it, magnets and are therefore thought to be metal.
But that was only in Okinawa, right? And only one lot of the vaccines, right?
Oh, Gunma too? Two more lots? Two deaths?
Putting your trust in a new vaccine dished out by the government is a good example of extreme faith. And people are discovering they’ve been disappointed by the promises which were never included in the vaccines’ fine print.
The UK Telegraph’s Annabel Fenwick Elliott, for example, had hoped that taking the vaccine would mean an end to dreaded COVID tests. Her article describes her disappointment:
‘I didn’t want the Covid-19 vaccine, but I got it anyway, for three key reasons. One, because I was assured it would be selfish not to. Two, because I wanted to be able to travel freely. And three, because I utterly despise PCR tests.
‘Alas, in recent weeks, there has been increasing evidence to suggest that thanks to one very important development — the jabs failing to prevent transmission of the delta variant — all three of those incentives have withered.’
And yet, Australia’s pandemic policy still rests on them.
What surprises me is that the disappointment comes as a surprise to people like Annabel each time. I mean, after all the government has done over the last 18 months, how can anyone believe the latest promises?
Of course, it’s not just COVID that governments have made a mess of recently.
Invading Afghanistan to get at Al-Qaeda may well have been a good idea, theoretically. But, realistically, we were always going to find a way to make a disaster of it. Why anyone thought otherwise is a mystery to me…
My question to you is this: The next time someone comes up with a perfectly reasonable government policy to help solve a problem, how do you explain that it will inherently descend into disaster?
After all, it’s often tough to predict where exactly the error will be. But, even when you know precisely what’ll go wrong, no amount of historical evidence seems to dampen the enthusiasm that a government program will work as intended. It is simply presumed.
So how do you explain that the nine most terrifying words in the English language really are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help?
Editor, The Daily Reckoning
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