Has the world finally, conclusively gone mad? What on earth has happened to “perspective”? Why have we the people allowed the Deep State to just get a whole lot deeper, and broader? Now the State controls the elderly, churches, clubs, small businesses, large businesses, community groups. In short, it totally controls us all.
The word of the moment is “unprecedented”.
And we simply accept all this because there is a “crisis”. Except there isn’t a crisis. Other than the one manufactured by elites and by the State – the Establishment, in other words – in their own interests. Anyone who has seen the film Wag the Dog will know the tricks that can be pulled. In this film, an American president facing a very difficult re-election campaign decided to create a pretend war, in which he hired a film director to film a “war” in order to rally the people behind the existing regime.
There is a crisis, though. The economist Adam Creighton predicts a worse economic crisis than anything since the Great Depression. Even the incurable optimist Matt Ridley has argued:
"The hardships ahead will be like nothing we have ever known …"
According to Terence Corcoran, writing in the Financial Post:
"The global economic experiment in pandemic control continues to expand, nation by nation, economic sector by economic sector, worker by worker. Governments are getting the headlines: In Japan there is talk of US$260 billion in government action. The U.S. is said to be aiming for US$1 trillion in new spending. Canada announced $82 billion in direct and indirect spending. France $550 billion. Spain $150 billion."
And so it goes around the globe, and where it will end, nobody knows.
The Wall Street Journal has suggested:
"Even cash-rich businesses operate on a thin margin and can bleed through reserves in a month. First they will lay off employees and then out of necessity they will shut down. Another month like this week and the layoffs will be measured in millions of people."
The deadweight loss in production will be profound and take years to rebuild. In a normal recession, the U.S. loses about 5% of national output over the course of a year or so. In this case we may lose that much, or twice as much, in a month.
Yes, this IS a crisis. But this crisis is not the one we might think we have. The crisis is one of the making of the world’s governments and the attendant mainstream media. They are trying to convince us that there is a crisis. The crisis is, in fact, an economic and social one. And indeed a spiritual one, if the churches keep on closing. Not a health one. The success of government and media attempts to convince the world there is a plague afoot is already apparent – whole industries shutting down, tourism tanking, airlines on a path to bankruptcy, stock market collapse, people’s retirement savings decimated, talk of nationalising industries, the likelihood of mass unemployment, cities and towns being deserted, panic buying, ruthless public behaviour, and Catholic people being denied the Mass. Not to mention the mental health scars already worn by those prone to hysteria.
Many of the actions taken by governments and other organisations are literally insane, totally irrational. And we are only at the start of the process.
I am not alone in my scepticism. There aren’t many of us, though. At Catholic Culture, Jeff Mirus has dared to ask a few questions about the level of panic we are witnessing and the degree of overweening government interventions.
"Economies are being destroyed around the world, including in the United States. This is happening not because of the devastation of the Coronavirus but because of the governmental fear that the virus might be devastating if extreme anti-plague measures are not adopted. As the prevention measures become more and more stringent, most of the public assumes they are more and more necessary—that COVID-19 must really be a very serious threat. After all, even if it isn’t so bad right now, it might mutate into something worse.
"And so huge numbers of people around the world are faced with economic ruin.
"Almost anyone who looks at the hard data realizes, to put it in terms used this week by two very intelligent, well-informed, and seriously Catholic personal friends, that “the body count just doesn’t add up.” A relatively small number (as epidemics go) have caught the virus, and an extraordinarily small number of people have had severe symptoms from the virus. Moreover, even those very few who have died of it have almost universally been not only elderly but already seriously weakened by some other condition."
Here is the money question, the pub test question, as Mirus notes:
"The problem with the response to the Coronavirus, therefore, is that it is architected essentially from a desire to avoid future possibilities which we do not know will arise. Under such circumstances, well-informed people who are not afraid of being counter-cultural are beginning to combine publicly-available statistics with the non-statistical reality that they know nobody who knows anybody who has the virus. And so they begin to wonder. To put it bluntly, they wonder if the prevention is worse than the disease."
The American political science scholar Angelo Codevilla is also asking some questions:
"Our 21st-century “developed” world, which so touts its own rationality, is now engaged in the historically unprecedented attempt to shut down most social and economic intercourse for the sake of mitigating the effects of a virus the lethality of which is far more like recent strands of the flu than that of the plague. "
"The establishment’s pundits and politicians who cheer for higher death tolls from the virus and for more straitened circumstances must imagine that enough people in their audience are fearful enough to have abandoned all critical faculties—fearful enough to follow the fear-mongers."
One of the relatively unasked questions concerns the incidence of “normal flu”, and its toll on our communities each and every flu season. Here are some (February 2020) figures from the USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) …. About “normal” flu, at the high point of the Northern Hemisphere’s flu season. This put things in context, and perspective, to say the least.
While everyone is in a panic about the coronavirus (officially renamed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization), there's an even deadlier virus many people are forgetting about: the flu.
Flu season is hitting its stride right now in the US. So far, the CDC has estimated (based on weekly influenza surveillance data) that at least 12,000 people have died from influenza between Oct. 1, 2019 through Feb. 1, 2020, and the number of deaths may be as high as 30,000.
The CDC also estimates that up to 31 million Americans have caught the flu this season, with 210,000 to 370,000 flu sufferers hospitalized because of the virus.
Let this sink in. 31 million Americans have had the flu. Thousands have died. This season. In a well vaccinated environment, relative to coronavirus. And in a not especially bad American flu season.
The CDC again:
So far, it looks like the 2019-2020 death toll won’t be as high as it was in the 2017-2018 season, when 61,000 deaths were linked to the virus. However, it could equal or surpass the 2018-2019 season's 34,200 flu-related deaths.
This is only in America. What about how many deaths that normal flu causes across the world?
"Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year."
Now THAT is a health crisis.
Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute has noted in relation to the normal flu:
"We did not shut down public events and institutions to try to slow the spread of the flu. Yet we have already destroyed $5 trillion in stock market wealth over the last few weeks in the growing coronavirus panic."
She asks, quite pertinently – “compared to what?”
As of 13 March 2020:
"So far, the United States has seen forty-one deaths from the infection. Twenty-two of those deaths occurred in one poorly run nursing home outside of Seattle, the Life Care Center. Another nine deaths occurred in the rest of Washington state, leaving ten deaths (four in California, two in Florida, and one in each of Georgia, Kansas, New Jersey, and South Dakota) spread throughout the rest of the approximately 329 million residents of the United States. This represents roughly .000012 percent of the U.S. population."
The American conservative pundit and Editor of The New Criterion Roger Kimball believes that all the government induced panic is both exaggerated and irresponsible:
"I believe that panic-stricken scenarios are not only wildly exaggerated but also irresponsible. Many commentators, including me, have noted that the common flu is 1) more contagious, 2) infects millions every years, and 3) kills many more people, especially young and otherwise healthy people than this latest Chinese import."
In Australia and in other Western countries, governments have set in train embedded panic and have instituted measure way out of proportion to the real nature of the threat. Many people are simply scared witless, even though their chances of getting ill are, objectively, miniscule.
Part of the political syndrome in play here is the “tyranny of the announcable”. Politicians are addicted to announcing things that show them in a good light. And once you start announcing things, you have to keep announcing things. New things. To remind everyone that there is a crisis and that you are in charge. They like to be seen to be leaders, statesmen, problem solvers. Solid in a crisis. And they will lie in order to do this. In order to be seen as statesmanlike in a crisis, well, you need a crisis.
And politicians have their strongest allies in the media who, as we know, love nothing more than a crisis. And Coronavirus is the gift that keeps on giving, with endless announcements, press conferences, rising death tolls, endless new actions to report on, and the seedy, virus porn activity of uncovering celebrities who have the illness. Then the same celebs start tweeting and posting on social media how they are “coping”. It is all very, very seedy.
Roger Kimball has noted perceptively that governments wanting more power over our everyday lives love a crisis precisely BECAUSE it gives them more control over us:
"No, the Wuhan Panic is a textbook case of the Rahm Emanuel principle that you never want a good crisis to go to waste. Emanuel helped Barack Obama weaponize the government against freedom in the aftermath of the financial meltdown of 2008. The Dems and their megaphones in the media are trying to do the same thing now in the face of the spread of the Wuhan Virus. In about three weeks, maybe four, it will all be over and many people will feel sheepish about their overreaction.
Many of the social institutions that have simply obeyed the State’s imposed panic are no doubt motivated by two things – the fear of legal action and a desire to virtue signal. Many such institutions are merely useful idiots in the State’s lunge towards greater control over our private lives. And their alarmed and alarming actions, along with those of the State and its agencies, have the disastrous effect of merely egging on other institutions to match, even exceed, their own hysterical activities."
And what of the Church? A number of Catholics of a traditionalist bent in Australasia have lamented the insistence by many dioceses that Holy Communion be only given in the hand, in order to avoid health risks at this time. Some of these folks suspect that the virus might be used as an excuse to make this apparently temporary imposition more permanent, for ideological reasons. Progressives in the Church are widely known to be hostile to all things traditional in both liturgy and doctrine.
Whatever the arguments pro and con on the relative safety of Communion on the tongue or the hand, far worse things are now being visited on the faithful. Many dioceses have simply rolled over and cancelled Mass in the face of real or felt pressure from the State.
Those prone to conspiracy theories might well think that China has engineered this, diabolically, to destroy Christianity in the West and that Western, progressive secular governments that we already know are out to get Christians out of the public square are only too ready to join in the effort. You might well think that. I make no comment.
Mercifully there is resistance by some solid prelates. According to Cardinal Krajewski of Rome, who ignored directives from above to close Roman churches:
“It did not happen under Fascism, it did not happen under the Russian or Soviet rule in Poland — the churches were not closed,” he said. “This is an act that should bring courage to other priests,” he added.
And, at this point, Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney, while instituting many rules and caveats, has kept the Masses going. In the face of what has been termed “the virus of Mass destruction” in “the Church of abandonment”. This is the much-needed spirit of St Damien of Molokai.
The US observer Josef Joffe has termed the current lurch to authoritarianism in response to a fairly routine health scare “the totalitarian temptation”. This is a very apt phrase and a real concern. As pointed out above, dire State powers, once adopted, seldom are relinquished. The precedent has been set. The deep State is very deep already. Heaven knows what evil and/or power hungry men will do with new powers like these. There is something quite sinister even about the very phrase “lock down”. It is quite Orwellian. It is repression. All of us who prize freedom should be seriously worried.
As Joffe notes:
"State control of information is a bridge to oppression democracies must never cross. Freedom of expression is among the holiest of holies in a liberal polity."
Indeed, a young man has already been arrested in the UK on suspicion of failure to comply with COVID 19 measures. Really? In Sydney, the beach police are out and about, as the wired fences also go up.
And much of the panic has been data-free, driven by emotion and irrational fear bordering on the insane. According to Julie Kelly of American Greatness:
"If this is the new normal, where incomplete data and media-fueled panic rule the day, that is an even more frightening prospect than what’s happening right now."
The delicious irony here is that all of these “unprecedented” interventions by governments are needed precisely because these same governments engineered a global panic.
False scares are nothing new. It was as long ago as 1840 that Charles McKay wrote Extraordinary Population Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. We all remember Y2K. And climate change, which costs human trillions of hard currency every single year despite the patent absurdities of the climate scam. In fact, it is, more than anything else, the parlous state of our State finances that is the direct result of climate policy madness, that makes our parlous, virus-infected current economy such a dire concern. As a result of the State’s capitulation to climate alarmism, we are in no shape whatsoever to counter the emerging economic catastrophe that government virus alarmism is now visiting on us.
Meanwhile, there is evidence of genuine cynicism out there in the electorate. And much gallows humour. Both are immensely reassuring in these times of Hanrahan. No, we won’t all be “rooned”. More will certainly die from this virus, an awful thing indeed, especially for the frail, the elderly and those affected by existing health conditions and extra prone to the flu. Many people will get mildly to moderately sick. Most will fully recover. Life will go on. Governments will no doubt, Y2K like, claim the credit for ensuring things didn’t get even worse than they are. Their measures will, accordingly, be justified. We only survived because of our policy prudence. Re-elected me.
But the economic, social and spiritual costs will have been extraordinary.
And we all will ask – was it worth all the fuss?
This all has the feel of an establishment induced crisis. Perspective is needed, and badly. After all, one hundred people in the USA dies each day from automobile accidents.
One writer has opined that “Americans love living in a disaster movie”. Outbreak and The Walking Dead again are popular.
Whether non-Americans equally love living in a disaster movie is a good question. And will the excitement of it all last long? The hangover will, indeed, be considerable.
In the meantime, it is only a matter of time before those calling for calm, perspective, proportionality and rationality will be termed “COVID deniers”. I will take my chances. After all, I am just returned from Italy. Fighting fit, incidentally.