The NYT likes Australia’s approach to the CV

Australia made it to the New York Times: Did the Coronavirus Kill Ideology in Australia?. The sub-head: “How a government both sectarian and divisive learned (briefly) to become inclusive”. It’s by Richard Flanagan, about how the federal government melded with the state governments to find a unified approach, which is their version of saying what I think, that by doing everything sought by Daniel Andrews, we ended up with a single agreed approach. I’ll just highlight this:

Could it be that Australia’s record somehow embarrasses commentators of both the left and the right? The left, because the Australian government is in every other respect Trumpian in its male-led, climate-denying, nationalist tub-thumping and authoritarian sentiments; the right because a conservative government has succeeded only by very publicly abandoning ideology. And if ideology, and the culture wars, are nothing when everything is at stake, the inevitable question arises: Did they ever mean anything at all?

Which is followed by this:

Now, with the beginning of a return to normalcy, the strange miracle of this Australian consensus already is starting to vanish, with old habits renascent.

That is, as the pressure to end the lockdown grows, Daniel Andrews and others of his kind, are resisting all efforts to return to a market-based economic structure, rather than the public-sector driven quasi-command-economy of the moment. And this is even more revealing of the mentality of the author as well as the NYT:

Presented with growing doubts about democracy’s ability to deal with the pandemic on the one hand, and the seeming ability of a totalitarian China to address the crisis on the other, Australia unexpectedly, if only briefly, returned to its best traditions of communality and fairness.

So there we are, a paragon of pandemic virtue at the NYT. And then there was also this I found mentioned, which perhaps everyone already knows: Trump says he takes hydroxychloroquine to prevent coronavirus infection even though it’s an unproven treatment.

“I happen to be taking it,” Trump said during a roundtable event at the White House. “A lot of good things have come out. You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the front-line workers. Before you catch it. The front-line workers, many, many are taking it.”

He added: “I’m taking it, hydroxychloroquine. Right now, yeah. Couple of weeks ago, I started taking it. Cause I think it’s good, I’ve heard a lot of good stories.”

Naturally the entire story is about how reckless the President has been because of its side-effects and because it has not been approved by any medical experts. Contrast their attitude with this: Hydroxychloroquine.

If you’ve watched the news lately, you might be under the impression that a medicine President Trump touted as a possible game changer against coronavirus — has been debunked and discredited. Two divergent views of the drug, hydroxychloroquine, have emerged: the negative one widely reported in the press and another side you’ve probably heard less about. Never has a discussion about choices of medicine been so laced with political overtones. Today, how politics, money and medicine intersect with coronavirus.

Here’s some of the positive story.

Dr. O’Neill is now leading a study to find out if hydroxychloroquine can serve a critical role as a medicine to prevent coronavirus. But he says the bad press is making it difficult.

Dr. O’Neill: Now people are scared to use the drug without any scientifically valid concern. We’ve talked with our colleagues at the University of Minnesota who are doing a similar study, and at the University of Washington. We’ve treated 400 patients and haven’t seen a single adverse event. And what’s happening is because of this fake news and fake science, the true scientific efforts are being harmed because people now are so worried that they don’t want to enroll in the trials.

The one certainty in the media is that if Donald Trump is for it, they are against it, truth and evidence be damned.

Socialist distancing

Part of a note to members from John Roskam discussing a video the IPA has just been released.

We Want To Work is a four-minute video we’ve released at the same time to both IPA Members and the public. It puts a human face to the jobs tragedy befalling Australia. Four Australians – Nathan from Central Coast in New South Wales, Phil from Townsville, and Richard and Julia from Melbourne explain what’s happened to them because of the lockdown and why they want to work.

Nathan and Richard each own and operate a small business, while Julia worked in a small business, and Phil was a pilot working for an airline. Small business has borne the brunt of the COVID-19 lockdown. Because so many politicians and journalists are now so removed from the real economy, this video is a feature of what is happening and what is only now starting to get the attention it deserves. It is noteworthy that on the executive board of the Prime Minister’s advisory panel to help business recover from the lockdown there are four people from big business, three public servants, and one former trade unionist. If ever there was a demonstration of how far the Liberal Party has moved from its base that’s it.

There’s no-one from small business. No-one. Literally no-one. Out of a committee of eight people.

Yet according to the PM “the creation of a new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission…will coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.” In Australia, small business is 35% of the economy and employs 44% of the workforce.

The importance of small business to the economy and the community rests on many factors including the fact that small business is what drives employment growth in a way that big business doesn’t, small business is what gives the vast majority of people their first experience of the dignity of work, and small businesses and their owners and employees have a stake in society that big business doesn’t have.

I’ve mentioned to you before the work of an American author and demographer, Joel Kotkin. He’s a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University in California, and two weeks ago he wrote a brilliant piece entitled ‘The Death of Small Business is a Tragedy for Jewish community and democracy’. What he said about America applies equally to Australia.

This is some of what Kotkin said about the impact of the lockdown on small business:

“Small-scale commercial production is, every moment of every day, giving birth spontaneously to capitalism and the bourgeoisie…wherever there is small business and freedom of trade, capitalism appears.”— V.I. Lenin

A great connoisseur as well as sworn enemy of the free market, Vladimir Lenin might smile a bit if he witnessed what is now happening to small businesses in the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The longer the shutdown continues, the tougher things could become for many of the estimated 30 million small businesses that employ roughly half of all Americans. The prospects are particularly bleak for restaurants, small retail establishments and “personal service” establishments like salons and gyms whose primary selling point against larger firms has been their scale and familiarity with customers. According to the JP Morgan Institute, 50% small businesses have a mere 15 days of cash buffer or less.

If the shutdown lasts much longer, as many as three-quarters of independent restaurants simply won’t make it. In the end, once the fog of the pandemic dies down, we are likely to see a great deal more empty storefronts and many of our beloved local businesses abandoned….

If you get the chance read the whole piece. The significance of what Kotkin talks about is that it reveals that in the discussion about reopening the economy we’re talking about something much bigger than ‘the economy’ – we’re talking about the future of our democracy. Which is the reason why the IPA made We Want To Work.

They’re all socialists now.

Daniel Andrew’s defining moment

Whatever Daniel Andrews may do for the rest of his life, closing down Mother’s Day one day in advance of allowing social visits of five or more to each others’ homes will be what he is remembered for best.

Andrews has become the very essence of a political buffoon, recognised that way across the entire country, not just in Victoria. I can see he is beginning to understand the ridicule everyone else is offering on his moronic leadership. A complete clown, but the man with the power to enforce all kinds of idiotic outcomes which he did.

I went looking for Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, which he did not actually live through so it is complete fiction. But in looking it up, found this quote which fits many a leader, and not just Andrews.

Nature has left this tincture in the blood, That all men would be tyrants if they could.

Whether it is “all” or not may be questioned, but it seems to be mostly true for anyone who seeks political leadership. The only people who can be trusted with power are those who do not want it. The next best thing is to put as many barriers in their way as possible.

I know how she feels

Image

And then there’s that woman in New South Wales.

Which for some reason calls to mind Max Weber:

‘Every state is founded on force,’ said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of ‘state’ would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as ‘anarchy,’ in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state – nobody says that – but force is a means specific to the state.

Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.

Note that ‘territory’ is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the ‘right’ to use violence.

 

It wasn’t the flu, it was YOU

From The Australian: Morrison brings Ardern into national cabinet in trans-Tasman solidarity:

Ms Ardern will take a seat alongside Mr Morrison and the state and territory leaders at Tuesday’s meeting to discuss ways to allow a quick return to travel between the two countries and to kickstart businesses in the region that have been devastated by COVID-19.

We have not been devastated by COVID-19. We have been devastated by a stupid, panicky government without a brain in its head or any obvious sense and judgement. We could have taken the same road as Sweden. We could have done whatever it takes to protect those most at risk while leaving the rest of us out of lockup.

Whatever it was, it has come and virtually gone. It is time, without delay, to open things up. But no. YOU decided to go the whole way at a cost of $4billion per day and are still mulling it over. You are the ones responsible. If you are going to play around with this Invasion-of-Privacy App of yours, and delay the recovery, it will be YOU and no one else who is responsible. Since you can take off these restraints any time you like, it is YOU, the Liberal-National Party Coalition that is primarily responsible for the enormous harm that has been done to our lives and the economy.

And since nothing you can do, nothing you can do at all, will prevent whatever it was coming back, if you are still going to threaten us with going back into lockup, the economy will never really start up again, only those bits that can easily open and shut since no one can now trust your judgement.

In the hands of idiots

It seems to me that every political leader wants to be remembered as the Winston Churchill of their times, when the reality is that there is no greater truth than rooster today, feather duster tomorrow. It is incredible what a bunch of fools this country is led by, state and federal.

We here in Victoria are blessed with the Laurel and Hardy duo of Dopey Dan and Slo Mo. Possibly the stupidest statement to come out of our present situation is from Paul Kelly in relation to the PM: “Political capital built during the virus crisis must be spent wisely on reform”. The only form of capital that occurs to me is capital punishment. We are led by such power-driven idiots that it is hard to have imagined this outcome. If any kind of reform is needed it is to find ways to limit the power we seem inadvertently to have put into the hands of our political leaders. Let me therefore take you to this from Adam Creighton – Coronavirus: We’re paying a high price for saving not many lives – who shows a great deal of what is now missing everywhere, common sense.

He discusses the absurd numbers flowing from the Victorian government. Whoever wrote the document he refers to should resign in disgrace:

The most absurd document published by an Australian government in recent times must be from Victoria’s Health and Human Services Department, which claimed 36,000 Victorians would have died from COVID-19 without the tough lockdowns brought in by Premier Daniel Andrews.

Adam Creighton also puts a number of what this is costing:

The cost [per life saved] is looking enormous and far more than we typically spend to save lives. If we’d followed the Swedish trajectory we might, crudely, have an extra 4500 fatalities by now (our population is 2½ times the size).

For the federal government alone, that works out at $48m per life saved, given the $214bn in budgeted federal assistance.

That is only the additional tally for federal money spent, leaving out the states. I did another similar estimate based on lost GDP which came to $300b per life saved. But let’s work with merely the $48m per individual life saved.

We are in the hands of idiots of such colossal proportions that no one will ever again be able to look back at the Salem Witch Trials and laugh at the people of their time since we are among people so far in advance with their own superstitions that believing in witches will eventually seem rational compared with the dolts we are in the hands of today.

The app to automate contact tracing

Better than Malcolm is about the best I can say about him. From here.

Scott Morrison has said new guidelines are coming on a range of restrictions in place, and Australians can expect the COVID-19 contact tracing app soon.

Mr Morrison said the app to automate contact tracing was now in the final stages of development, and that rapid response measures were being bolstered to handle outbreaks.

The Australian Government’s controversial app will store users’ personal information in a central database hosted by US tech giant Amazon, it was confirmed today.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the database would be hosted on servers within Australia and it would be “illegal” for the multibillion-dollar company to use the information for any other purpose than for what it was originally intended.

It’s not that words fail, but I am not quite yet ready to say them.

Who is the Prime Minister to order the banks to do anything?

PM roasts banks over Covid fail.

Australia’s biggest banks have been stymieing business attempts to gain bridging finance for wages before the $130bn JobKeeper payments begin next month, prompting Scott Morrison to order them to be read the riot act.

What does “stymieing” mean? Shall we go to the dictionary.

Stymie. The verb stymie means to obstruct or hinder.

Is this what has been happening?

Australia’s biggest banks have been obstructing business attempts to gain bridging finance for wages.

Seriously? Why would they do that? This sounds more like what has been happening.

NAB chief executive Ross McEwan on Thursday night acknowledged the government’s frustrations and said his bank was “working overtime” to provide assistance. “We’ll (today) launch a dedicated hotline for customers needing support with JobKeeper bridging finance and we’ll also expedite any requests we’ve already received from customers so far,” Mr McEwan said.

“We recognise this funding is critical to keeping businesses afloat, people in jobs, and food on the table for the many people who are doing it tough right now.

“We’re working as quickly as we can, with more than 350 people retrained to support customer facing roles so far, so we can support as many customers as we can over this hurdle.”…

The ABA conceded that while the banks had worked “tirelessly to process applications as quickly as possible”, more needed to be done to keep businesses afloat until they could access the $1500 JobKeeper payments.

I find this unbelievable.

A furious Prime Minister vented his anger about the big four during a phone hook-up with tax commissioner Chris Jordan and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg early on Thursday….

Mr Jordan is believed to have delivered Mr Morrison’s blunt message to the chief executives of ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and NAB in a later phone conference that included Mr Frydenberg and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar….

One chief executive is believed to have tried to make excuses for the delays on getting cash through to businesses, earning a rebuke from Mr Jordan, who said the banks would have a hard time convincing the Prime Minister of that.

Let me see. Out of nowhere the banks have been landed with a massive increase in responsibility that has come from out of the blue and are struggling to fulfil the obligations that have been placed on them. And I will just add this from the end of the story.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive Wes Lambert said many of the association’s members had been asked to prove their acceptance under the JobKeeper program before receiving their bridging finance. That had not been possible because formal applications for JobKeeper only opened this week.

The one thing I could not find out is how much the government is paying the banks to undertake all of this additional effort.

Frauds and conmen

We are dealing with totalitarian mentalities which must always lurk behind everyone who runs for political office. They want not just to manage our affairs, but to run our lives. There is no longer anything to worry about, and the data are even more stark by the day. But was in an argument this afternoon – online of course – over the data. In the end, I went looking for the numbers, and this is what I found.

This was published by the ABC in Feb 2020 so “last year” in the story refers to 2019. Flu season which struck down 310,000 Australians ‘worst on record’ due to early outbreaks. The final lines:

“While 2019 saw the highest number of influenza cases across the country, 2017 still holds the record for the highest number of flu-related deaths, with over 1,100 cases.”

Last year there were over 900 influenza linked deaths in Australia.

And then there was this from the ABS, not the ABC this time.

Australia’s leading causes of death, 2018

Influenza and pneumonia (J09-J18)

Number: 3102
Median age: 89.3

The number of deaths from the Corona Virus will possibly never reach 100 and will certainly never reach 1000.

We are in the midst of a gigantic fraud and a burst of the most disgusting hysteria. We are not led by leaders but by hysterics and conmen who love power and love to tell everyone else what to do. They have no business being leaders in a free society. First they do everything they can to scare as many people as possible and then invent a near-on-totalitarian system to protect virtually all of us from virtually nothing at all.