We’ve been sold a bill of goods by global agencies and national and state governments, aided by a media ever salivating for sensation. We’ve been compliant little citizens, setting aside our cultural scepticism of authority and replacing our freedom and ability to think for ourselves with government “experts”.
Social freedoms have been hard-won in world history through violent revolutions shaking off the shackles of tyranny. When our founding fathers surveyed the best political systems in the world they enshrined ideals which were strong enough to survive the ravages of global pandemics, wars and financial crises and upon which to build a society, successfully limiting the powers of governments and balancing the greater good with the God-given liberty to govern oneself.
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklin
In a global community of very old nations, Australia is relatively very young, and yet our Constitution is so ingeniously conceived that it is one of the oldest functioning national constitutions in the world. But for decades we have been drifting further away from our founders’ intentions for a cooperative federation of sovereign states through a series of novel reinterpretations by the High Court and complicit transfers of power by premiers.
Indeed, ask the average voter which level of government could be done away with and most would offer to dissolve the essential building blocks of federalism: the states. Ignorant of the lessons taught by world history and the superlative death toll of centralised governments in the 20th Century through tyranny and incompetence, our magnificent Constitution is sneered at by anti-Monarchists who have no agreement amongst themselves as to what precise model would work better. They tend toward another powerless head of state who theoretically might hold a Prime Minister to account but dismissable at the whim of the same Prime Minister. What could go wrong?
“What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly.” Thomas Paine
At a time of mass ignorance of the beauty and importance of our Constitution as well as the dear cost most countries have paid for such freedom, we have given away the rights and freedoms of assembly, movement, religion, private property and of trade and commerce with startling speed since the world finally realised China lied about their new virus just a few months ago.
On the holiest day of the year in a traditionally and still predominantly Christian culture, faith communities were forbidden to celebrate their religion together as their religion demands, and families were forbidden to travel to share a meal together or even deliver gifts without embracing.
Is there even the possibility of a reason sufficient to give away such personal freedom at great cost to us all? I say no, there is no such reason. Disturbingly, many Australians have removed their own brain completely and replaced it with a government expert.
Even more disturbingly, many Australians are not only surrendering their natural rights and freedoms with enthusiastic head nodding, but they have rapidly descended into communities where one neighbour will report another to the police for crimes such as a game of backyard cricket. Prior to Easter, over 7,000 people had called a Victorian hotline for dobbing in your neighbours. Such vicious behaviour and division was the norm under Stalin, with even children reporting their parents to authorities. Is this now Australia?
Police are handing out crippling fines in excess of $1,000 for eating a kebab alone on a park bench, fishing or boating, posting photos of last year’s holiday, washing cars, sitting in cars, teaching your daughter to drive a car, and driving around without somewhere to go deemed “essential” by government experts.
Governments, government “experts” and police have gone far too far and enough is enough. It’s time to end this madness now.
Let us remember how the hyperventilating media and politicians (now enjoying sustained boosts to their popularity) sold us the need to become prisoners in our homes, ban all church services, and force tens of thousands of people into unemployment. What valid reasons persuaded us to agree to increase our national debt by so much that even our children won’t be able to pay back the cost of this year’s comfort, and to deploy military forces against our own returning citizens to detain them for 14 days despite having committed no crime nor presented with any sickness?
We were told by the 24/7 disaster-porn industry (mainstream media) it was to save lives, and to prevent our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. Despite the hyperbole, those are good reasons – if they hold water.
Let’s understand this about government experts and bureaucrats in general. They have absolutely nothing to lose if they are wrong about being too cautious, and nothing to gain at all from being optimistic or even realistic. The safest career move for a government expert is to advise every decision as if the worst-case scenario might happen. Each may be able to give better advice, but that is the context pressuring their advice.
We normally understand complete risk aversion is crippling to communities and individuals, which is why we’re content to cross the road after looking both ways, else we would never cross the road. The national road toll averages 5 deaths per 100,000 persons every year – a higher mortality rate than coronavirus. If saving lives at any cost is a consistent policy goal we must agree to reduce the speed limit everywhere to 20kph, which would have less impact on the economy than shutting it down for weeks and months.
The government and media are not upfront about the important numbers, potential numbers which they said justified deprivation of social liberty. I had to dig quite a bit to find the data I was looking for in a PDF. They’re obsessive about the numbers which sound big, numbers which are about irrelevant and actually unreliable statistics. How many cases of coronavirus are there – six thousand! (Make sure you emphasise “thousand” in your head.)
If the number of deaths is all that’s important we can go back to shaking hands and life as normal tomorrow. Many, many hundreds of people are killed every year by influenza – tragic deaths which could be greatly reduced and prevented by the same kind of nation-butchering restrictions we’re now gladly agreeing to for that reason. It’s not even a typically-fatal virus. Most deaths, of course not all, but most are among people of well advanced years who already had other serious conditions, especially respiratory conditions. The age group most likely to get coronavirus are under 30, yet the survival rate for someone under 55 years of age in Australia is 100%. The median age of people who have died is 81.
Australia faced an infectious influenza disaster just three years ago. 1,255 people died, which was a death rate of 3.9 per 100,000 persons – about the same as coronavirus. Just like coronavirus, the typical patient was elderly and had multiple comorbidities (underlying conditions).
The coronavirus curve has flattened, and only 61 people have died so far – every one still a tragedy. The risk of extraordinary numbers of deaths has clearly passed. The emergency is over. The number of deaths is well under control and contained – not by burning our freedom and economy – but by reporting, testing, contact tracing and quarantining.
The other reason we were given to surrender our constitutional rights was to protect our healthcare system. We are told Australia’s socialised healthcare system is infinitely better than America’s. New York was the American city which government experts seemed certain would be overwhelmed. Yet as their number of cases peaked a week ago, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo boasted, “Our healthcare system is operating. I don’t believe we’ve lost a single person because we couldn’t provide care.”
Australia has just over 2,200 intensive care (ICU) beds and twice as many ventilators already. We were told by government experts these would be inundated and coronavirus cases would overwhelm them. The predicted date of this impending disaster passed more than a week ago, and there was no tragedy. In fact, the reason you didn’t hear about these numbers is because they’re really boring and underwhelming. There are currently only 80 cases of coronavirus in ICU.
80 out of 2,200. That’s all.
There is clearly no risk of unacceptable numbers of deaths, and no risk of overwhelming our healthcare system. If there once was and caution was prudent then, there certainly isn’t now and the ongoing vandalism of our constitutional freedoms and economy (a critical ingredient for functioning public and private healthcare systems) is reckless, bureaucratic risk-aversion.
“Nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program.” Ronald Reagan
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated he thinks the temporary “national cabinet” should manage the federation permanently. How many of the natural freedoms we’ve willingly surrendered on the recommendations of government experts and powers assumed by our governments will also be permanent?
The question needs to be asked, what is the plan for the second wave of coronavirus cases, when the curve climbs again? Will we do this all over again? Is this extreme risk-aversion strategy repeatable, let alone sustainable? What excuse will our governments need to take our freedoms again and shut down the parliaments designed to hold them accountable now they have this precedent?
We need to take the government experts out of our head, keep them as one voice of counsel among others in our ears and think for ourselves. The only health risk remaining which needs mitigating is the risk of transmission. So how would a sensible population minimise transmission in such a way that avoids significantly more deaths than a terrible flu’ season or overwhelming the number of ICU beds and ventilators available – without enormous cost to freedom and economy?
We cannot quickly go back to life as it was, and I am not suggesting we should. What we must do immediately is restore natural freedoms to move, to assemble, to trade etc with sensibly aggressive hygiene and physical distancing recommendations.
The first measure must be to quarantine only those who are infected or who have been in contact with someone who is. Australians readily agreed to military enforcement of quarantine for travellers without coronavirus, so quarantining actually sick people won’t cause a single eye to blink. Fining or forcibly detaining in hotels those people who refuse to self-isolate is reasonable, unlike treating as criminals people leaving their home for reasons deemed non-”essential” by government experts.
Let cafes and other businesses deemed “non-essential” reopen and observe requirements of physical distancing, limited people per square metre, hand sanitising upon entry and exit, and even compulsory temperature checking if we must. It’s certainly better than being closed for weeks and months.
New Zealand has far more restrictions on movement than we and yet a similar health outcome, suggesting government restrictions have far less to do with outcomes then the experts insisted, consistent with the inaccuracy of their modelling. Sweden is also not facing a health crisis and yet all their restrictions are mere suggestions, other than quarantining actually sick people.
Australians may not yet be ready for such liberty, preferring the comforting grip of government on our individual leashes based only on experts’ always wrong models and predictions. Remember when the government experts at the Bureau of Meteorology grimly warned the Eastern states would get no rain until May, only to see the heaviest rainfall for decades in February.
The experts and leaders are not talking about ending this soon enough. There is some talk about possibly easing some things gradually maybe in 4 weeks towards the end of May.
Life must get back to normal as soon as possible and the economy restarted urgently with the sensible exceptions of applying current restrictions only to people who are actually sick or had extended exposure to someone with coronavirus. We can even do well enough lifting restrictions generally except for folks over 70, or even 80. They are the high-risk group. Locking down the nation to protect them doesn’t make any sense when all we have to do is quarantine them. Most of the workforce will be entirely unaffected by such restrictions, and the important healthcare system can continue to be funded.
Our interstate borders should be opened immediately as should our beaches and churches – with sensible physical distancing and hygiene requirements. Closing them any longer is unjustified. International travellers who are from low-risk regions, cleared of coronavirus and deemed “fit to fly” should be welcomed back. Exclude those who haven’t been tested and everyone seeking to travel here from transmission hot spots.
Be capable of nuance. Holding our politicians and experts in respect doesn’t require brainless deference. Democracy means the rule of the people, not the rule of the experts or elites. With Parliaments around the nation refusing to do their job and open for debate, there is no one holding them accountable: not the Opposition, and certainly not the media who feed like piranha whenever there is death and disaster. “If it bleeds it leads!”
No, we don’t have to throw the expert out with the bathwater, but we do have a responsibility to the greater good to engage in critical thinking, further reading and research, questioning motives and debating our differences. I’m sorry if that sounds like hard work, but you expect the right to vote. Now you have an obligation to steward it.
Vigilance is a fine watchword, but we’ve gone well beyond that if these disproportionate measures continue another day. The only reason benevolent deprivation of liberty and vandalism of the economy continues any longer is because of incumbent politicians aren’t yet losing votes. They get away with passing the buck by pointing to government experts, which lazy people permit without thinking.
In a crisis creating fear works. So media and government experts cooperate to call it a crisis based on speculative models, urging anticipation of the worst-case scenario and refusing to allow anyone any degree of relaxation when hard data proves there is no crisis. They wait and see if the trusting population buys it, and when it does, they keep calling it a crisis long after the crisis has passed, and as long as voters continue to believe in the crisis.
It’s time to make our voices heard and demand they give back our freedoms of trade and commerce, religion, movement and assembly. It’s time to reject the now certainly flimsy excuses offered for continuing restrictions on healthy people without insanely Orwellian conditions like the government tracking our movements and associations or mandatory vaccinations. It’s time to end this madness.