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Friday, 16 July 2021 06:51

Scotty's Jab

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Is Australia the champion of Covid management, or did we - despite the current furore - just get lucky with a low number of deaths from the not-so-killer virus?  Explaining Australia's performance is important for many reasons, not least because what has been achieved has come at a great cost.  And on close inspection, our performance is nothing about which to write home.

Is Australia the champion of Covid management, or did we - despite the current furore - just get lucky with a low number of deaths from the not-so-killer virus?  Explaining Australia's performance is important for many reasons, not least because what has been achieved has come at a great cost.  And on close inspection, our performance is nothing about which to write home.

 

Australia’s Prime Minister is sometimes unkindly labelled “Scotty from Marketing” in reference to both his deep mediocrity and to his earlier career.  Both his and Australia’s international reputation for excellence in Covid management have suddenly taken a dive.  Mind you, Australia’s acquisition of this global reputation for its “pandemic management” has always been somewhat of a mystery to us here, since as Tom Woods in the USA and Ivor Cummins in Ireland have compellingly pointed out over and over, non-medical interventions by government have no discernible impact on Covid outcomes.  To think otherwise is merely to fall for the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Scott Morrison has done four main things since the outbreak of Covid. 

The first was to shut the borders – too late to have prevented the virus from entering the country, as it happens – thus consigning Australia to joining the likes of North Korea and Cuba in its depriving its citizens of their fundamental right to leave the country, except with the permission of bureaucrat/tsars.  For a country whose economy is largely a Ponzi scheme propped up by large scale immigration, selling degrees to foreigners and international tourism, this “Fortress Australia” approach is economic madness bordering on suicide.

The Government’s second move was to create, overnight, a new form of pandemic governance, called with unwarranted hubris “National Cabinet”.   (The fight against a middling virus from which over ninety-nine per cent of sufferers recover completely is nothing remotely like fighting a war).  This awful move immediately gave Australia’s State Premiers, a mixture of the barely passable and the clinically insane, a national stage upon which to strut.  And how they have strutted.  All of them have been acting way above their station; the actions of one in particular – readers will, most likely, guess which one – have resembled the default methods of a third world dictator.  All of them have closed internal borders on a whim.  Mask mandates, internal quarantines, the cancelation of major events and localised lockdowns come and go, and restrictions and bureaucracy now routinely define all public interactions.  All these things are the remit of state premiers.  The creation of National Cabinet has also had the effect of creating an endearing yet false policy camaraderie, a “we are all in this together” mindset, and of stifling one channel of opposition to the direction of travel.  And National Cabinet has facilitated the never-announced slide in Covid policy objectives from “live-with-it” to “Zero Covid’.  No one ever gave the political class the permission to do this.

British readers will, sadly, be quite familiar with all these restrictions on freedom.  The difference is, in Australia a mere 910 people have died “from Covid”, out of our nearly 26 million population.  By contrast, the United Kingdom has lost around 128,000 to the virus.

And most of the Australian deaths have been in one state.  (Yes, it is Victoria).  There has been only one death in 2021, and a grand total of two since the beginning of our summer.  Yes, that would be two deaths since 1 December 2020.  More people have died as a result of the vaccine this year than from Covid.  The most recent death was an 80-year-old who had been living in the Philippines, got infected in the Philippines, came back to Australia, then died.  This was in April.  The previous death, in late December 2020, occurred as a result of pneumonia months after a positive Covid test. 

Mind you, it is very, very hard to find out anything about the number and nature of Covid deaths.  It is almost as if they don’t want you to know just how few deaths there have been.  So, the authorities endlessly bang on about “cases” just like they have done all over the world since the hysteria began. 

One might reasonably wonder why, if you lock international borders, you also need to do all the other Covid theatre and ruin everybody’s lives.  Even if you accept, against much evidence, that the various NMIs affect Covid outcomes, at least Australians can understand why the Brits have been so exercised by the virus.  Having decided to shut up shop and exclude the world, there is simply no reason here in Australia to be doing anything much at all, apart from treating the (very few) sick with relevant medicines.  It is the total lack of proportionality in Australian Covid decision-making that galls the most.

The third move by the Morrison Government was, like Britain, to pay just about everybody not to work, and to encourage the view among public sector agencies and corporates that those still with jobs should be able to work from home.  The effect of these two measures has been to make those not already scared to death by government hyperbole simply grateful for a caring government that is looking after the newly supine.  Keeping them “Covid safe”.  This makes dictators look benign and has eliminated resentment and anger. It has kept people off the streets.

The fourth move by the Morrison Government was to place all the chips on “the jab”.  This was to be the silver bullet, the get-out-of-gaol-free card for governments which had decimated the economy and shrivelled our freedoms almost to ought.  The vaccine would give us back our freedoms.  But wait.  Then we had the dreaded variants, not entirely unexpected for anyone with even the slimmest familiarity with seasonal coronaviruses.  Not to mention the fact that the vaccine isn’t really a vaccine, and does not guarantee anything close to total immunity.  Not quite the silver political bullet, then, nor an easy pathway to restored freedoms and the old normal.  It is the latter that has been driving much of the utilitarian vaccine compliance behaviour here as elsewhere.  As the scales fall away from the eyes of the punters, the utilitarian motive will weaken and is likely to feed yet more “vaccine hesitancy”.  If the vaccine doesn’t work and doesn’t guarantee returned freedoms, why would anyone bother joining the jab queues?

Far from being placed on a Covid policy pedestal, however wobbly and ill-deserved, Australia is now coming a lowly 84th globally in terms of vaccine rollout according to Johns Hopkins University, which keeps a running commentary on these things.  A mere 3.16 per cent of Australians have been fully (that is, twice) vaccinated at the time of writing.  Following another recent death from a Covid vaccine, there have now been more deaths in 2021 from the cure than from the disease.  Over a quarter of Australians say they won’t be taking Scotty’s jab, according to one poll.  The incredibly slow rollout – whatever the possibly valid reasons for it – will only reinforce the view of the people that this whole thing is a con job.  This is where reportage of further outbreaks, however, miniscule, and new variants, come in so handy for the pollies.  When “cases” spike, so does demand for the jab.  The narrative must be maintained.

Just as farcically, the Government and the usual suspects in the media have rushed to denigrate the claim going around that 210 Australians have died from the jab.  They insist that these deaths “followed” the jab” and cannot be proven to have been “caused by” the jab.  Err, isn’t there a bit of a counting consistency problem here?  What about all those Covid deaths that “followed” a positive test result?  You know, the ones where someone hit by a bus following a positive Covid test became a Covid death.  The usual suspects have also jumped all over the recent rumour that the airlines were considering stopping vaccinated people getting on their planes because of the increased risk of blood clots!  This NEVER happened, the fact checkers opined.  (If it didn’t, perhaps it should have).

There IS one sector, of course, that has actually benefited from the vaccine fiasco, and benefited bigtime.  The charmed life of the vaccine manufacturers is something to be held in awe, and calls to mind the famous dictum of Adam Smith that whenever businessmen meet together, they inevitably get involved in a “conspiracy” – Smith’s term – to defraud the public.  His exact words:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Preferably with the help of the state, one might add. 

Here is the vaccine manufacturers’ playbook.  First, create a virus that quickly achieves the status of granny killer and pandemic.  Then convince governments to scare the living daylights out of their populations over the virus.  Then produce vaccines that aren’t really vaccines as we normally know them, and convince these same governments to exempt them from any prosecutions in the event that people who take the vaccine suffer harmful effects.  Oh, and get drugs administrations to waive the normal rules about the testing of the vaccines, approving them for use and leaving the drug companies accountable for any deaths or non-performance.  Then get all the governments to all-but-coerce people into getting the jabs – two jabs, to be precise, no doubt to be followed by more later when the new “scariants” inevitably emerge – by denying them the ability to travel overseas, work in certain jobs, attend large events, and so on.  Then get governments to keep changing the rules about which age cohorts can and should get which vaccines, now (in Australia) almost on a weekly basis.  Finally, label all those who call out this shemozzle for what it is “conspiracy theorists” and have your Surveillance Valley mates stop them from calling this out.  Or worse, call the “vaccine hesitant” pariahs and granny killers.  Not a bad commercial wicket for the ever-growing number of vaccine billionaires.

The rollout of the vaccine(s) in Australia, such as it is, has taken on absurd proportions.  We had this announcement only this week past:

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine (Comirnaty) as the preferred vaccine for those aged 16 to under 60 years. This updates the previous preferential recommendation for Comirnaty over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in those aged 16 to under 50 years.  The recommendation is revised due to a higher risk and observed severity of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) related to the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine observed in Australia in the 50-59 year old age group than reported internationally and initially estimated in Australia.

So, there is something to see here, after all. 

The recent cases of TTS occurred in people in their fifties.  So, we had better change the rules.  An oops moment?  No, we just continue to blunder along, never pausing to apologise or explain.  Or to take the public into our confidence.    Policy on the hoof.  Policy that affects people’s lives.  People who had been scared half to death over a virus now are being utterly confused and scared about the vaccines.  Who can you trust when the people supposed to be in charge don’t seem to know what they are talking about, tell porkies and keep changing their story?  This has been a disgrace perpetrated by the unelected and unaccountable. 

Scotty’s Jab looks now more like a grenade stuck in the hand rather than the silver bullet that panicked, clueless lockdowner politicians had hoped for.  Since most people get over Covid anyway, the jab was never going to be anything more than a political placebo.  The three per cent rollout number does look awful for Australia. Yet getting a far larger proportion of the population vaccinated than Australia has not remotely led to a return to freedom in the Mother Country, nor does anyone much think it ever will.  A jab that doesn’t even try to guarantee immunity from any version of the virus and which, for most of the population, is not remotely needed, cannot be taken seriously as a let-out clause for politicians witnessing the destruction of their economies and of civil society.

Read 159 times Last modified on Friday, 16 July 2021 06:59
Paul Collits

Paul Collits is a freelance writer and independent researcher who lives in Lismore New South Wales.  
 
He has worked in government, industry and the university sector, and has taught at tertiary level in three different disciplines - politics, geography and planning and business studies.  He spent over 25 years working in economic development and has published widely in Australian and international peer reviewed and other journals.  He has been a keynote speaker internationally on topics such as rural development, regional policy, entrepreneurship and innovation.  Much of his academic writing is available at https://independent.academia.edu/PaulCollits
 
His recent writings on ideology, conservatism, politics, religion, culture, education and police corruption have been published in such journals as Quadrant, News Weekly and The Spectator Australia.
 
He has BA Hons and MA degrees in political science from the Australian National University and a PhD in geography and planning from the University of New England.  He currently has an adjunct Associate Professor position at a New Zealand Polytechnic.