‘Government Responsibility’ is needed, not just ‘Personal Responsibility’.
22 December 2021
The huge, systemic and ongoing cop-out approach of the Federal and now the NSW State governments seems to be based on the hubristic belief that governments can set the agenda and influence the media to the extent of creating a perceived reality conducive to their interest. This is often successful, as the news becomes ‘What Mr Morrison did or said today.’
The narrative is changed slightly, so unless you are watching carefully, it always seems OK.
As in Animal Farm, ‘You may not sleep in a bed with sheets’. People did not remember the ‘with sheets’ bit of the slogan, but, hey, you do forget things.
But neoliberalism likes to stress individual responsibility. It allows small government, which advantages bigger players who can move into monopoly positions in an unregulated situation. It allows governments to have the perks and trappings without having to do too much as not much is expected these days.
The Federal public service is actually too small to do much except tell the States what they should do, and even this function is increasingly left to the politicians and their minders, those ambitious political science (or mainly art-law) graduates (with no scientific expertise). Hence the need for the Army when anything actually needs to be done.
But the key aspects of the current policy of getting rid of masks, social distancing restrictions, QR codes, and limits on people numbers in groups is a foolish populism and an assumption that business will do better if commerce returns to normal. This is right out of the IPA playbook. ‘Let ‘er rip and if a few oldies and sickies die off, that is the price of society continuing’.
It also has the advantage that nothing is the government’s fault any more. If the omicron variant gets out of control, that is obviously because it is so infectious and out of the Government’s control. If the population choose not to go out to protect themselves and the businesses go broke, that is not their fault, they opened everything up (and also saved a motza by not having any more pesky jobkeeper or jobseeker payments).
To say that this non-strategy will not work is to understate the situation. We managed to control the situation when there was no vaccine. Now that there is, the governments wants to throw away all public health norms for infectious disease and rely on vaccination alone. This has conspicuously not worked in Europe. Look at the Daily Case histograms (see link below) for Denmark, the UK, France, Spain and Italy. It seems that Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have managed to begin to turn around the latest spike, but I have not researched their latest policy changes. Israel, largely triple-vaxxed is doing better. The US has a rising spike- it will be interesting what happens with their poorly vaccinated population.
But there is no need to look overseas. The Australian graph is already rocketing up with new highs reached every weekday. We are not triple-vaxxed and now there is another vaccine shortage. NSW yesterday was responsible for 3763 of the national total of 5724 (66%) and the percentage is rising. So Perrottet is as bad as Morrison. (Figures from covid19data.com.au).
Individuals cannot protect themselves when the virus is everywhere unless they become hermits, and even then they will have trouble getting fed. It needs mass action. It is a public health problem that needs government action. This is so obvious that it is extraordinary that it should even need to be stated. But our governments have reached such a low level of effectiveness that we are in grave danger. The Lucky Country is about to squander its advantages yet again. We can only hope that the National Cabinet meeting is the platform for a national about face.
Please protect yourselves and try to get the governments to see reason.