Australia Politics

Reeling in the year


no NO MAN IS AN ISLAND: Without harping on the bushfires at the start of the year, 2020 definitely needs someone to pull its plug, wait ten seconds then plug it back in, as a person on Twitter said recently.

After our place burned to the ground on NYE, I went back to work and that SAME day, a flash hailstorm wrote off my car that was sitting harmlessly outside in the car park as it had daily for years. I’m supposed to hand it back soon so I can be paid out for the total loss but it’s roadworthy (if not pretty) plus there’s a lot on. For example, a not that much later our real estate agent told us the owner was selling so we had to move – again, after some years.

It has been testing of late to have had 9 years of effort become cinders on a hill, while wondering where to live just as my 4WD sits ‘dimpled’ in the driveway like a big golf ball. Fortunately, as of last week we had two great housing options and have sorted that issue out until at least the end of 2020.

LOCAL UPDATE. But since 2020 isn’t finished with us yet, Australia is now also hunkering down for the waves of Flu Manchu allegedly headed for us all over the next few weeks.

The sun is shining, it’s a beautiful afternoon about 21C. The streets are quiet with few cars and fewer people out for a stroll. For a moment I have time to sit down and write. I see the local council is doing something smart, it seems to be using the opportunity of less traffic to get cracking on necessary roadworks.

Still it’s a Ghost Town and we’re all wondering now.  While my partner is still working, I’m self-isolating with a nice cup of covfefe, reading The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton and overseeing the teenager who is completing his HSC. He’s using Zoom for school, which he says doesn’t cope with large groups sometimes but so far so good. (This is the platform that let Biden down so dramatically recently – apparently). Update: Is Zoom malware? (h/t as always, Insty)

Australia is very concerned, like other countries, that a coming peak of contagion may overwhelm our medical system so we have to manage a (possible/likely?) demand shock in medical equipment (respirators, ventilators, pharmaceuticals, PPE etc.) and intensive care beds. So we’re responding nationally by self-isolating where possible and where necessary. There are plenty of useful links provided at Catallaxy. To date, I haven’t seen any panic on the streets despite a run on TP (run on.. 😊).

The virus gets an R2-R4 on what is apparently called the R naught scale and in practical terms that means it may, in full contagious flight, force stacks of home stays if hospitals can’t cope, and many avoidable deaths. As with our summer bushfires, this is forcing three tiers of government in Australia to cooperate and take to their constitutional lanes (paid for by taxpayers) more assiduously, which is encouraging.

On a related theme, I heard VP Pence at a recent daily presidential briefing describe the operation of US federalism in the time of virus as constituting “local execution, state management and federal support “, which neatly sums the preferred democratic balance by aiming decision-making and action as close to and in proportion with the source of the problem or issue as possible.

Here’s a scattering of happenings of late in our bizarro world (with some updates). Latest news abroad suggests Italy’s stats (notably hospitalisation rate) may be stabilising and perhaps Britain’s too, but it’s early days.

Maslow's hierarchy has TP

REFUSING TO PANIC IN WARTIME – THAT’S OUR DUTY. Brendan O’Neill’s brilliant timely article in Spiked tells it like it is. Meanwhile local ‘thought leaders’, Hollywood celebs and the foolish, pitiful mainstream media keep ranting and raving but nobody’s listening.

It’s amazing how quickly the Left devolves to militarism. Any hitherto declared democratic faith in ‘the people’ goes straight out of the window. Bring in the military! Pass laws to force people to do stuff! Nationalise the means of production now!

For example, lately that well-known admirer of dictators, Sean Penn demanded he US military take over managing the sino virus, which I guess meant somebody should go in and shoot it rather than start a war with a nuclear-armed communist competitor.  

The ‘US military’ certainly has a national security role to play over there, (e.g. providing the 1000-bed hospital ship, Comfort, sitting off NYC right now, testing the proposed antibody approach against vaccine development, or verifying Chinese/foreign data) but we the people whether in Oz, US or UK do not elect the armed forces to govern us. We the people have temporarily allowed an ENORMOUS usurpation of our rights, For example, it’s quite astonishing but Aussies are not currently allowed to:

  1. Go to the pub
  2. Go to the beach
  3. Go to the football
  4. Go fishing

This horrifying situation will not last however because it can’t. At a certain point – I don’t know when – Aussies will not allow and will no longer obey the unfreedoms  placed on us currently for good reason. Aussie culture is based outside in the sunlight, and we remain principally sceptical, free individuals who distrust authority. We simply will not permit this arrangement for very long, no matter how well it suits a certain end of the political spectrum.

In fact, authoritarian impulses, or socialism’s resort to force, is one of myriad reasons that I’m a classical liberal (other reasons given in previous posts), conservative and no lefty. As if the average Aussie wouldn’t give this strange yet necessary experiment in isolation a good go without needing to be coerced? And to the best of our ability too in times like this? Of course they would. Of course we are.

Yet this is surely the first time ever that Aussies are being asked to contribute to the ‘war effort’ by staying home and doing nothing at all. Unfortunately, unlike India etc., we are facing winter not summer and therefore none of the humid, warm weather that helps protect life during wartime.


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DENNIS PRAGER reminded us recently of King Solomon. He wrote, “the story goes, he asked his wise men (in the ancient world, they emphasized wisdom; people today emphasize knowledge) to make him a magic ring. This ring would lift up his spirits if he got depressed and bring him back down to earth if he got euphoric. The wise men returned with a ring in which the Hebrew words gam zu ya’avor were inscribed: “This, too, shall pass.” Keep in mind that this awful period will pass. The human psyche is programmed to think that whatever is happening now — happy or sad — will go on indefinitely.”

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THE IGNOMINY OF SLOW EXPECTATIONS: Speaking of things going on indefinitely, Joe Biden’s political campaign has been lurching from one gaffe to another with no signs of ceasing as it should. Sanders is still doing townhalls but no one cares anymore so he will probably fizzle out while no one’s looking. Meanwhile in a reverse Handmaid’s Tale, Jill Biden is propping up her husband in a cruel version of Weekend at Bernie’s, but with a man who is still alive – just. (What can’t go on, won’t go on so we can already see Andrew Cuomo’s nose poking into the tent like the proverbial camel looking to get all the way in).

PORK AND BACON: The US House Speaker, who some say want censured (for all intents and purposes, impeached), has been stuffing Congress’s $2 trillion legislative response to the Wuhan virus with pork unrelated to that CCP virus while the US President has been bringing home the bacon. The US Fed also threw in $4 TRILLION for more liquidity. Wow, that’s a lot of liquid.

AYE, PENCIL: The US private sector has also been stepping up to the plate since February and now more and more cooperative and novel responses are emerging in this transformational time.

  • Truckers are saying “fuck the log rules, I’m hauling” and they’re getting supplies to the stores. People are stocking the shelves all night and letting old people shop first. Folks are buying meals for truckers, who (obviously) can’t go through the drive-ups. Asking ’em what they want, then buying it for them.
  • Carnival Cruise Line has told Trump “We can match those big Navy Hospital ships with some fully staffed cruise ships”.
  • GM and Ford have said “hold our cars and watch this — we can make ventilators where we were just making car parts, starting next week” — by re-engineering seat ventilators which their engineers hacked together for a new purpose. In under a week.
  • In a project with which I’m loosely associated, a very-effective agricultural disease-control agent was re-purposed and re-labeled specifically for Corona-virus control by the FDA and EPA in under ten days, from initial request to distribution.
  • Restaurants and schools have said, “we’ve got kitchens and staff; we can feed the poor kids who used have school lunch.”
  • NBA basketball players have said, “Hold our basketballs while we write checks to pay the arena staff.”
  • Construction companies are saying, “Here are some high-end masks for medical staff and doctors”.
  • Distilleries are making sanitizer out of distilling “heads and tails” which are normally discarded. Nasty shit to drink, but effective sanitizer.
  • People are tipping grocery check-out clerks and thanking them for taking the risk. (h/t excerpt from ‘commenter Bart’ on Instapundit)

I hope we can say the same here. The heart of countries like ours and theirs is small business activity and our national health and welfare is not secured by breaking the economy.  Our health, welfare and economy are not secured by nationalising the means of production over a disease, albeit a highly infectious, deadly new disease that we know little about.

Business must adapt quickly until the ‘normal times’ arrive again. And they will. There may even be immense pent up demand unleashed later on if the lockdown period is not too long and destructive. Meanwhile government could cut taxes, fees and charges exacted on us by 90% – except income tax – creating liquidity and unleashing consumer choice – that could be a good start. In turn, we consumers should spend locally (rather than being TP tourists) supporting who and what we have, and wish to keep, by ringing up for things or ordering online or whatever it takes as we endure. There’s an old record-player I’ve meant forever to get repaired at a nearby store, plus my Harley needs a voltage regulator and new battery so I’ll be ordering them soon. I’ve booked the golf ball in to return to the insurer but thanks to the Wu Flu they’re now picking up written off cars from the owners rather than making us drop them off. Cool. Also, since we are pretty well-catered for at home, I’ve begun to minimise our grocery shopping to help in a tiny way to drag the demand curve back to normal, even for TP.

WESTERN WOMEN IN VEILS: On other things, ICYMI, more creepy Handmaid’s Tale quarantine theme, this time in Slovakia. It’s certainly a strange year.

EARLY RELEASE AND OTHER #LEFT WING SLEIGHTS OF HAND. I think what is being proposed for some prisoners here in Oz, and unexpectedly in all western countries right now (i.e. in another move from the global political playbook), is bullshit. Surely at least there is a duty of care towards prisoners that would see them kept inside during any LOCKDOWN period? After all, they are already effectively social distancing, in quarantine, in isolation, so why release them? Whose purpose/s does this serve? I can’t even be bothered to link to the articles in our local rags due to disgust.

SPEAKING OF DISGUST, CCP IS ASSHO  I know, I know, this quick clip is played on the webs a lot but hey, good luck HK!

[Obviously nothing but CoVID-19 is going on in the world but it’s worth remembering that when a crisis or otherwise distracting event is afoot, in foreign policy terms for example, it’s important to watch what is else going on in the landscape.]

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