The Crisis That Clarifies

The Crisis That Clarifies.

The debate over immigration is over: restriction wins.

The debate over borders is over: they are needed.

The debate over globalization is over: the era of autarky begins.

The debate over Europe is over: it is a geographic expression, not a polity.

The debate over global warming is over: it is irrelevant.

The debate over international institutions is over: only nations matter.

The debate over the People’s Republic of China is over: it is a menace to the community of nations, not a member in good standing.

Crisis is clarity.

UPDATE:

Coronavirus pay cuts: This may make you very, very angry

Coronavirus pay cuts: This may make you very, very angry. By Adam Creighton.

Public sector workers are not suffering nearly to the same extent as those in the private sector, who ultim­ately pay their wages.

The destruction of millions of jobs and businesses that is now well in train will expose the extraordinarily high pay and conditions of the nation’s top public servants, state and federal, that typically leave foreigners and members of the public speechless.

In NSW alone, just one state, more than 3200 senior executives, none of them “frontline” staff, are paid between $200,000 and $500,000 a year. Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’s salary is set to rise by $47,000 to $441,000 in July, while backbenchers’ base salaries are set to rise by almost $20,000 to $182,400.

Not much sharing of the burden there. So far, the jobless are concentrated overwhelmingly among the young and lower-paid, but as household and business spending collapses, soon professionals will face big pay cuts too. Barely a fortnight into the shutdown, law and consulting firms are reducing and announcing lay-offs.

Asked on Thursday whether senior federal public servants and senior MPs might experience a pay cut as a way of sharing the ­burden, the Prime Minister said: “We’ve put the freezes in place.”

Forgoing a 2 per cent July ­increase on already enormous salaries is a scene from a Monty Python skit. The 3240-strong Senior Executive Service, for instance, will be keeping their $238,000-to-$453,000 salaries, not to mention the thousands of officials in federal and state regulators who earn at least as much.

Whatever the merits of the range of the extraordinary impositions on personal freedoms and ­future taxpayers, state and federal public servants, and the politicians who oversee them, should share some of the pain, especially since it’s government that has caused the economic collapse. …

World class pay packets, and then rather a lot more!

Australia’s departmental secretaries and agency heads, for instance, are the highest paid in the developed world, according to a 2015 OECD study, earning roughly double their counterparts in 28 other developed countries. And they’ve increased a lot since then.

The pay of taxpayer-funded political staff, around 1700 strong across states and federal government, is also gobsmacking, where advisers in their late 20s often earn $180,000-plus. …

In economies dominated by public and private bureaucracy, the idea of workers being paid their “marginal product of labour” — the neat concept in economics textbooks — is more and more a fairytale.

The very class of people whose incompetence and complacency allowed this to occur at all — by not closing the borders in time — and who dreamed up and are enforcing society’s draconian response, are not harmed at all by it! Who ever said there was no justice in this world?

Such clever and wise people we have governing us. Pay them more, they deserve it. I think I should pay higher taxes to pay more to these experts, so they can make even better decisions for me on how to run my life. How on earth did society function properly before the existed? So much progress!

hat-tip Stephen Neil

After mocking Trump for promoting hydroxychloroquine, journalists acknowledge it might treat coronavirus

After mocking Trump for promoting hydroxychloroquine, journalists acknowledge it might treat coronavirus, by Gregg Re.

After repeatedly mocking President Trump for suggesting on March 19 that hydroxychloroquine could be an effective treatment for coronavirus, media organizations have begun acknowledging that the drug — now approved for emergency use to treat coronavirus by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — may be useful after all.

Journalists and top Democrats have beaten a similarly hasty retreat from their previous claims that Trump’s ban on travel from China was both xenophobic and ineffective. But media outlets’ misinformation on hydroxychloroquine was unique because it involved not simply policy disagreements but also suggestive medical advice and directives that could have dissuaded some from seeking certain treatments.

Our political class — of journalists, bureaucrats, academics, and politicians — are not suffering job loss or pay cuts as a result of the virus. Their complacency and incompetence meant that the borders were not closed in time (how cheap that would have been, as foreseen here).

They will not admit to making any mistakes, oh no. Instead, they pretend they were right all along. Only now they pretend that a new study or bit of evidence — only just available — means that they now know something even better. Like it wasn’t obvious all along, and they got it totally wrong before. I’m wearing my shocked face. The gulf between reality and what they would have us believe is breathtaking.

Covid-19: four fifths of cases are asymptomatic, China figures indicate

Covid-19: four fifths of cases are asymptomatic, China figures indicate, by Michael Day, in the BMJ medical publisher.

New evidence has emerged from China indicating that the large majority of coronavirus infections do not result in symptoms.

Chinese authorities began publishing daily figures on 1 April on the number of new coronavirus cases that are asymptomatic, with the first day’s figures suggesting that around four in five coronavirus infections caused no illness. Many experts believe that unnoticed, asymptomatic cases of coronavirus infection could be an important source of contagion.

A total of 130 of 166 new infections (78%) identified in the 24 hours to the afternoon of Wednesday 1 April were asymptomatic, said China’s National Health Commission. And most of the 36 cases in which patients showed symptoms involved arrivals from overseas, down from 48 the previous day, the commission said.

Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist and honorary research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said the findings were “very, very important.” He told The BMJ, “The sample is small, and more data will become available. Also, it’s not clear exactly how these cases were identified.”

Apart from the small size of the sample (hundreds of thousands of cases in China, and their sample size is so small?), a major problem is that the sample is from China.

China has been “making mistakes” (such as scaring 5 million people from Wuhan into traveling to all corners of the globe just before lockdown) or lying about this virus (it’s just like the flu, said their sock-puppet at the WHO)  from the get-go. The “mistakes” all have something in common — they help spread the virus to and within the West.

It’s as if China wants the West to get sick, to let down our defenses. And some in the West propagate China’s lies without the proper skepticism.

The Big Brother Purge of Conservative Christians in Australia

The Big Brother Purge of Conservative Christians in Australia, by Bill Muehlenberg.

A doctor with a wife and two young children has been suspended by the MBA [Medical Board of Australia], and has been out of work for nearly eight months now. His crime? Was he caught raping a patient, or stealing medicines, or fiddling with the books?

No, he did something much, much worse in the eyes of the MBA: he dared to post his point of view on his own private Facebook page, and even worse, he actually posted comments on my website, CultureWatch. Yes, several hundred of his comments appeared on my site over the past decade or so.

He said things which we are no longer able to say in Australia it seems, things like: marriage is between a man and a woman; doctors should be saving life, not killing; children have a right to be raised by their own mother and father; and radical political Islam is something we must take seriously.

For saying verboten things like that, the MBA has decided that he is now public enemy No. 1, and he MUST be punished severely. And keep in mind the details of this shocking case. No complaints were ever made by any of his patients or by his colleagues. He was fully professional in his work, and he treated all of his patients with dignity and respect.

But some militant(s) had been trawling both Facebook and my site, and discovered his unforgiveable remarks. This guy (or girl) made a stink, and the MBA immediately started the inquisition. They hired lawyers (and wasted a lot of money to do so) to go through every single one of my articles on my website, coming up with thousands of pages of printed documents with any and all comment he had made. …

The complaints made against him have been all by anonymous complainants. He does not know how many were made, or who made them, or why. They do not seem to be from any of his patients. …

He seems to have been loved and respected by all his patients. However, for nine months the MBA was investigating Dr Kok, without even telling him! When they finally did tell him, they sent him a ‘please explain’ letter.

As mentioned, they simply trawled through his posts on Facebook and on my website, including issues such as the vote ‘no’ campaign on homosexual marriage. For that the MBA has treated him like a pariah, someone who is no longer able to treat patients! …

As a result, since August 19, 2019, he has been without work.

Diversity of opinion and free speech are strongly discouraged on issues that the PC mob take an interest in. Instead, we get propaganda, often funded or led by the state. Not the way to make sensible decisions, but it is the way to implement leftist ideology.

In climate change, I’m on a global blacklist for pointing out that the climate models get the upper troposphere backwards. This is kind of important, because half the heat the planet radiates to space is radiated by the upper troposphere. As the planet warms due to increasing carbon dioxide, the orthodoxy says the upper troposphere emits less heat to space. In fact, the empirical evidence is pretty overwhelming that the opposite occurs. The orthodoxy is entirely based on theoretical reasoning, but I’ve found the error in the orthodox theory. But is anyone interested? Everyone runs a mile. Imagine the millions and attention that would be thrown at that in a perfect world. Here I sit with knowledge worth trillions, and no one is interested because it’s not PC.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

China’s Cartels: Those Who Control the Medicines Control the World

China’s Cartels: Those Who Control the Medicines Control the World. By Rosemary Gibson.

On February 27, 2020, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported the shortage of a drug caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China. The agency didn’t name the drug because it would cause hoarding. Since then, the FDA has gone silent about shortages. Meanwhile, U.S. drug wholesalers are “allocating” critical generic drugs, an industry euphemism for rationing. …

China is the source of 90 percent of the chemical starting materials needed to manufacture common generic drugs that help people recover. They include medicines to increase dangerously low blood pressure such as norepinephrine, the antibiotic azithromycin for bacterial infections, and propofol given when patients are placed on a ventilator to help them breathe.

Generic drugs are 90 percent of the medicines Americans take. Thousands of them are made with chemical starting materials from China.

China’s dominance escalated after the U.S. granted most-favored nation trading status to China. Within three years of the U.S.-China Trade Relations Act in 2000 and China joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), the last aspirin manufacturing plant in the U.S. shut its doors, the last facility making Vitamin C went out of business, and the only remaining penicillin plant announced its closure. Now, the U.S. has virtually no capacity to manufacture antibiotics.

A common view is that production has shifted to China because of lower labor costs and weaker regulations. There’s more to the story.

Western companies cannot compete successfully because the free market doesn’t exist in generic drug and chemical ingredient manufacturing. China’s cartels fueled by government subsidies undercut U.S. and other companies, driving them out of business. Western firms aren’t competing against Chinese companies. They are competing against the Chinese government. …

As China ramps up production of generic drugs for American hospitals, pharmacies and home medicine cabinets, U.S. and other western manufacturing is collapsing. Mylan, a U.S.-based generic company, announced last year that it was merging with Pfizer. Around the same time, Pfizer announced the opening of its global generic headquarters in China. Sandoz, a European company, and Teva, an Israeli company, announced in early 2019 that they will discontinue production of many medicines. …

Long before the coronavirus hit the U.S. homeland in earnest, hundreds of medicines were in short supply or unavailable altogether….

I visited a hospital recently and talked with doctors about the availability of critical drugs. They said they could not obtain a critical antibiotic to treat pneumonia. Many other antibiotics are being rationed. …

Tainted drugs to hurt us:

In July 2019, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission held a hearing on U.S. dependence on China for medicines. During the hearing, a representative from the Department of Defense testified about the risks to the military of medicines made with key ingredients from China.

This testimony triggered a spellbinding account by a commissioner, a retired Army colonel with a distinguished record of military service. He talked about his three different blood pressure medicines whose key ingredients were made in China and contained rocket fuel. If he was getting contaminated drugs, active duty military people were probably getting them too, he opined.

The retired Army colonel was one of millions of Americans whose blood pressure medicines were contaminated with carcinogens. In July 2018, the FDA announced the first of many recalls. While many manufacturers recalled their products, the most troubling was the manufacturer in China whose active ingredient contained more than 200 times the acceptable limit of the rocket fuel carcinogen, per pill. Even worse, the company knew its product did not meet U.S. standards but sold it anyway …

Existential threat:

Make no mistake, the United States faces an existential threat posed by China’s control over the global supply of the ingredients and chemical materials to manufacture critical drugs. In the hands of an adversary, medicines can be weaponized. They can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective.

So we need Chinese drugs to help us fight a virus from China (which probably escaped accidentally from their only capable bioweapons lab, which is in Wuhan). Hmmm.

hat-tip Stephen Neil

In country after country, 12 days after lockdown the rate of new infections falls decisively

In country after country, 12 days after lockdown the rate of new infections falls decisively. By Joanne Nova. Follow the empirical evidence.

Some people don’t seem to realize that the only reason the daily growth of infections is slowing anywhere, is thanks to drastic quarantine measures or changes in human behaviour.

We can see this in graphs from Italy, Spain, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, and China, but not in Sweden or Brazil where there’s not much quarantine and not much slowing of growth curves either.

In all of the former, the big meaningful actions were followed around 12 days later by an obvious slow down.

Australia:

Australia’s infection rate slowed again last night — presumably due to the increased lockdown measures that were taken two weeks ago:

The timeline of quarantine moves was incremental but most Covid cases were related to flights and cruise ships, so the border changes would have been more influential. And flights were banned from Iran on March 1, South Korea on March 5, Italy on March 11. On 13th March all gatherings over 500 were banned. On 15th March all incoming travellers were asked to self isolate for 14 days. On 20th March all borders were closed. On 21st March social distancing rules of 4 m2 per person were introduced. March 23 saw the closure of most cinemas, nightclubs, pubs, casinos. Restaurants ordered to do “Takeaway only”. Schools closed in Victoria from March 24, but parents were withdrawing children across the country even though other schools were technically open.

The peak on March 22 may have related to the reduction in flights from Italy 11 days earlier, though the Ruby Princess Cruise ship adds a lot of noise. I’m not convinced this is an easy peak to tie to any day, but the major action in Australia was in the middle two weeks of March.

South Korea:

On Feb 18th patient #31 went to religious meetings and cases escalated. By Feb 20th the streets of Daegu were empty. South Korean officials tracked and isolated cases at military bases, at the church group, and one hospital. Interviews were done on, wow, 230,000 members of the church at the centre of the outbreak which accounted for 60% of the national cases. The outbreak peaked by March 3rd, 12 days after the streets of Daegu were emptied.

Italy:

Italy started mass lockdown on March 10th. On March 11th all non-essential businesses were shut down.

The growth of new daily cases peaked on March 21, 11 days after the mass lockdown began.

Norway:

Mass lockdowns were announced on March 15: “Norway takes most far-reaching measures ever experienced in peacetime over coronavirus”.

… and new daily cases peaked 12 days later on March 27th

Spain:

The Spanish government imposes a nationwide lockdown on March 14th.  Shops and businesses closed and all residents asked to stay home on March 15th. A State of Alarm was declared. In Spain cases peaked March 26th — 12 days after the lockdown was imposed.

Switzerland:

On the 6th March Switzerland changed strategy to protect older person and vulnerable groups … decisive moves were either to isolate vulnerable people on March 6th or closing schools on March 13. The peak was around March 20.

But Sweden:

In Sweden there’s been no organised quarantine, just partial voluntary withdrawal, and there’s also been no peak yet.

And Brazil:

In Brazil, President Bolsonaro seems to favour doing nothing, but the governors of Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro banned gatherings and closed schools and many are pleading for action.

Hopefully the people still arguing for “flatten the curve” or “herd immunity” will take note of this evidence. Follow option 3 instead: crush the curve.

What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage

What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About the Toilet Paper Shortage, by Will Oremus.

Story after story explains the toilet paper outages as a sort of fluke of consumer irrationality. .. It’s not like people are using the bathroom more often, right? …

There’s another, entirely logical explanation for why stores have run out of toilet paper.

In short, the toilet paper industry is split into two, largely separate markets: commercial and consumer. The pandemic has shifted the lion’s share of demand to the latter. People actually do need to buy significantly more toilet paper during the pandemic — not because they’re making more trips to the bathroom, but because they’re making more of them at home. With some 75% of the U.S. population under stay-at-home orders, Americans are no longer using the restrooms at their workplace, in schools, at restaurants, at hotels, or in airports.

Georgia-Pacific, a leading toilet paper manufacturer based in Atlanta, estimates that the average household will use 40% more toilet paper than usual if all of its members are staying home around the clock. That’s a huge leap in demand for a product whose supply chain is predicated on the assumption that demand is essentially constant. It’s one that won’t fully subside even when people stop hoarding or panic-buying.

Covid-19 and the Question Concerning Technology

Covid-19 and the Question Concerning Technology, by Bruno Macaes.

The main question posed by the coronavirus pandemic may well turn out to be the one concerning technology. The responses adopted by governments around the world seem to fall into two main categories.

  • Those countries able to leverage new and emerging technologies to fight the virus have done better in limiting the number of cases and fatalities, while managing to keep most of their economies and societies operational.
  • The countries unable to use technology had to rely on lockdowns, quarantines, generalized closures, and other physical restrictions—the same methods used to fight the Spanish flu more than a century ago and, in many cases, with the same slow, painful results.

In Singapore and South Korea, individuals are digitally monitored, but life is almost normal. In Spain, they are not monitored — but they cannot leave home. The Spanish situation seems almost medieval.

The question becomes more interesting and more complicated after one realizes that the — allow me the term — Luddite group is predominantly located in Western Europe and North America. The virus outbreak has brought to the surface a fact that many of us have long suspected: the backlash against technology in the West has become the main threat to its security and prosperity, just as other regions are embracing technological progress. …

Speed is of the essence.

You can say that again, about speed being of the essence. Western governments were consistently a step too slow at all times, complacent and not paying attention until too late. For example, if we’d closed the borders earlier it would have been enormously cheaper — as advocated and predicted here in ample time.

While allowing us to fight the epidemic on a much more granular level, technology is also being used to stabilize the levels of social and economic activity. A shift to digital, remote technology helps eliminate contagion risk.

New Law Gives Sweeping Powers To Hungary’s Orban

New Law Gives Sweeping Powers To Hungary’s Orban, by Joanna Kakissis.

The nationalist government in Hungary passed a law Monday granting sweeping emergency powers that Prime Minister Viktor Orban says are necessary to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Those powers include sidelining parliament and giving Orban the power to rule by decree indefinitely. The law would punish those who spread false information about the pandemic with up to five years in prison. …

No end date for this dictatorship:

During Monday’s vote, [Orban] said: “When this emergency ends, we will give back all powers, without exception.”

But critics insist that Orban is using the pandemic to grab power.

History is pretty clear that this model of governance often leads to major problems. It’s hardly world’s best practice, at least not since Ancient Rome.

Let’s All Get Comfortable With Saying Bad Things About China Now

Let’s All Get Comfortable With Saying Bad Things About China Now, by Stephen Kruiser.

The already awful American mainstream media [have] … routinely scolded anyone who accurately refers to the virus as being of Chinese origin, screaming “RACISM!” as if they were getting paid each time they uttered or typed the word.

What has been most insidious has been the parroting of whatever China reports about the virus. Almost everyone in American media has been acting as ChiCom public relations lackeys, taking everything that the Chinese government says and passing it along without questioning any of it.

Victoria wrote yesterday about a new report that confirms what sane people have known all along: the Chinese commies were lying. They were lying about the total number of coronavirus cases and they were lying about the total number of deaths. This obviously would have had an impact on the response of other nations. …

I hope we emerge from all of this with the clear realization that our relationship with China has to change. We can no longer cozy up to them because they play that weird, hybrid capitalist/communist game of theirs.

China is still a totalitarian communist monster and should be viewed as a threat to the United States, not an exotic business partner. The U.S. military has long viewed it as such, it’s time for the rest of us to get on board.

They cheat, lie, and steal technology. Now they’ve made us shut down our economies through their lying and spreading the disease. Cooperative and good world citizens they are not. They spy on us, and interfere in our domestic politics. They treat their own citizens badly, especially meditators, Christians, Muslims, dissidents, etc. — pssst, cheap organs for sale. There just isn’t much that’s good about communism, either for its own citizens or for anyone else.