The slow unraveling of the COVID narrative.

One of the cynical rules of the academic life is that you should listen to the retired blokes, because they are no longer trying to get grants, or appease their head of department and the registry. They no longer care about consequences, so they can say the truth.

This was in a newspaper that continually alters its pages because of the cash the government is using to prop them up provided they stick to the narrative. So the link is to an archive.

New Zealand was ill-prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic and was caught with its pants down, leading academic Professor Des Gorman has told the Epidemic Response Committee.

New Zealand should have closed its borders in mid-February, not the end of March but it didn’t have the resources to do so.

“We went into this pandemic profoundly under-prepared and when we should have closed the borders hard, we couldn’t.”

Being properly resourced meant being able to call on the army and police to set up motels, and even a tented village.

“I think we were spectacularly complacent,” he said. “Our casualness, born out of ‘that’s a problem over there’ has left us figuratively with our pants down.”

Gorman said returning New Zealanders should have been treated in a “low trust” environment, including having someone checked on the moment they turned off their phone.

“Public health measures have failed all around the world because they keep assuming that humans behave consistently rationally.

“People don’t make rational decisions.

“We squandered our major advantage, which was geography,” said Gorman, a former dean of the Auckland University Medical School who is advising the committee formed to monitor the country’s response to the pandemic.

The trouble is that the Karens and risk averse bureaucrats are setting the policies and they hate taking risks, for enquiries outweigh the need for productivity. Most people are not able to have that luxury.

The business of health & safety has exploded across many industries in the past 20 odd years. It is the core industrial mindset of the 21st century. So much so that the initial and much scorned health & safety managers are now the ones leading the same companies that simply put up with them when they first appeared like bespectacled dorks who had somehow wandered away from the set of an 80s John Hughes film.

All first world countries have been subjected to the health & safety regime, but Australia and Britain in particular have taken to it with a zeal that is disproportionate to any benefit that it might provide. In other words, there comes a point when the health & safety regulations become so burdensome and obtuse that nobody can realistically get any work done. Hence the humorous one liner quoted above.

I sometimes wondered what would happen if this type of nonsense was inflicted on the general population. Well, we don’t have to wonder any longer as the Chinese pox has unleashed these risk averse practices onto the average person in the street. Or now looked down in their homes.

When health & safety as a profession gets to a certain point it becomes less about helping to solve problems and more about covering the bottoms of people in their respective areas of responsibility. It is a buck passing contest and nobody wants to be the one left holding the stick. Thus we see in various industries such as mining the absurd levels of rules and the black and white approach to solve problems that are not problems at all until the health & safety dimwits get hold of them.

Adam Piggott

Political correctness is also a luxury we no longer can afford.

On a cost-benefit basis, the entire shutdown process has already turned out to be economic monstrosityOn a cost-benefit basis, the entire shutdown process has already turned out to be economic monstrosity: such a fantastically high cost – so few benefits (have there actually been any?). But if these same people start using the restarting of our economies as an excuse to add a few more of their favourite “stimulus”-type schemes, the costs will be magnified many times over.

The point of “I, Mechanical Pencil”, as well as its predecessor, “I, Pencil”, was to emphasise governments know nothing about how to direct economic activity or have the slightest idea how to choose projects that raise living standards and hasten economic growth. Seriously, would you want Scott Morrison to start funding his favourite projects? Or any of the state premiers any of theirs? More streetcars, say, or rail projects, perhaps? How about pumping water up hill?

What is most notable to me about “I, Mechanical Pencil” is how difficult the point it makes is to understand, and how easy it is to ignore since most people never get the point. I will just say again, that if anyone actually believes an economy is driven forward by aggregate demand, they are as ignorant as the day is long about what it takes to make an economy grow.

The narrative is being disbelieved. Reality will always trump theory.

If the rules are too onerous, this will be ignored. You cannot enforce change with out consent, and in a shattered, multicultural society, the narratives will slowly unravel. I expect the number of charges will increase in NZ, then stop because the police will give up enforcing the unenforceable.

UPDATE.

It looks like our government is doubling down.

Today is the 13th day in a row that the increase in Covid-19 cases had been in single digits. The death toll stands at 19.

Speaking at the same conference, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said there have been 281 breaches under level 3, an increase of 96 in the past 24 hours. He said the increase in numbers showed police were stepping up enforcement.

Robertson said most New Zealanders were doing the right thing and increases in breaches come from people making reports.

But he did note that there had been an increase in reports about parties in residential houses, and Robertson warned those making plans for the weekend to cancel them now, as the virus had proven it will spread easily at events like these.

He said police would have a “dim view” on this kind of activity.

“Don’t be an idiot, stick to your bubble and everyone will be better off.”

Radio NZ News