Monday, 24 August 2020

"Understand that this is an emergency..."

"This is not to say that there are not good reasons to use mitigations as a delay tactic... But mitigations themselves are not saving lives in these scenarios; instead, it is what we do with the time that gives us an opportunity to improve the outcome of the epidemic."
          ~ Maria Chikina and Wesley Pegden on A call to honesty in pandemic modelling'

"The Government wasted the 100 days New Zealand was free of community transmission... officials sat back and basked in New Zealand's relative success during past pandemics, which meant systems and plans were not reviewed to an adequate standard."
          ~ Nick Wilson and Michael Baker from 'Political Botch-Ups: How serious are the Govt's border botch-ups?'

"Public health policy should not be exempt from the 'non-aggression principle.' Force must be prohibited from interpersonal relationships, except when used in self-defence or retaliation.
    "In the case of a highly contagious lethal disease, I believe that screening potential carriers, and containing them via quarantine, represents an act of self-defence.
    "One of the few legitimate functions of the government is to protect people from physical assault. The transmission of a disease with significant lethal potential fits that description.
    "Therefore, it is appropriate to screen people reasonably considered potential carriers. It is completely proper to confine people found to be a threat to the lives of others until that threat no longer exists.
    "That's the easy part. The hard part is the science. Who poses a threat and who does not? How long should the quarantine last?
    "Here, panic and emotion must not cloud rational evaluation of scientific data. It would be a tragedy to curtail liberty through quarantine without a sound, evidence-based rationale. But it is also important to remember that all knowledge is contextual. We know what we know based upon the available evidence. We must be willing to revise our conclusions as more is learned. We must rapidly adjust the criteria for quarantine as new knowledge dictates."

          ~ Jeffrey A. Singer on Pandemics & Personal Liberty (2014).

"That's where reasoned opposition should be focussed. Understand that this is an emergency; that government does have a legitimate role; that if handled properly it will be temporary; and focus instead on having proper due process and getting things right: Talk about how people can do business safely in this pandemic. (Talk about the need for objective rules [rather than goverments deciding who's 'essential'] and for due process in introducing regulations and police powers)."
          ~ PC on 'Yes folks, it's real...'

"A safety standard, rather than essential-business standards, couldn't be set overnight. But it could have been developed over the past months." 
          ~ Eric Crampton on The Nation


  1. I am all for doing everything we can to arrest the spread of this disease, but by voluntary means. Live safely *by* living freely. If we concede to coercive controls which violate liberty, privacy and property, the precedent is set and we are unlikely to get those things back during our lifetime. There is nothing safe about living under an authoritarian regime. Our present government is led by an avowed socialist ("Capitalism is a failed experiment"). THAT is the context we must not drop.

    Also, taking age out of the equation, there are roughly the same odds of dying in a car accident during our lifetime as dying from the virus this year, *should* we catch it, the odds of which are very low. We can all take voluntary measures to lower our risk of catching it, and we should.

    An emergency is a situation that poses an IMMEDIATE risk to health, life, property, or environment (emphasis added). The emergency that poses the greatest immediate risk is the rise of socialism.

    1. I don't agree we can make it completely voluntary. No more than we can make it completely voluntary to limit the consumption of alcohol or drugs before getting into a car and driving. Or that you need to be a fit and proper person who will handle firearms safely before being granted a gun licence.

      What we can do is ensure any government imposed controls are temporary, founded on the best evidence available, based on objective criteria (what's safe, not what's 'essential), and (to use David Seymour's words) assign to the state the role of umpire rather than player.

    2. Mark, there better be a damn good reason for giving up liberty and property rights to lower the risk of losing life, especially when it is to natural causes. Usually it is the other way around, where with war one increases the chance of losing life in order to secure liberty and property rights. Remember, the war of Independence in the US was fought during a true plague. 1,500 under 60s infected with zero deaths is not a good enough reason, I think, to justify giving so much power to government to intrude on our freedoms (the Covid-card thing together with forced quarantining away from one's home smacks of turnkey tyranny).

      Many of those who have died were in rest homes. Did you know that on average people die within one year and eight months after entering a rest home?

      With a power-hungry socialist-leaning junta insisting on being "protector," and with much of the country in adulation of its leader, there is even less reason to want to give up liberty and property rights for the "team." Reason compels me to want to take my chances with everyone taking self-responsible precautions rather than forced compliance in lockstep with they who do not understand or recognise my rights.

      It saddens me that the wider context is not being accounted for by those who identify as being pro-liberty.

      Now, if those holding the reins of power were committed to upholding individual rights, and the population in general were aware of their rights and willing to fight for them, or if there were a much higher mortality rate with the disease, it would be whole different ballgame.

    3. Terry, you seem to be saying that the primary context is not the virus, but that "socialism is taking hold", as if this is something unique to this particular government and presents an emergency in itself. But I see little evidence for that. I'm aware of Jacinda's historic sympathy for socialism, and that as a result she will tend to be biased towards more rather than less state control - but I don't think things are significantly more or less socialist now than they have been for many decades, and arguably less socialist since the reforms of the 80's. I doubt we would have had a significantly different response had National been in government. We've also now got better opposition in David Seymour challenging Labour from more or less the right framework, and getting good press coverage when he does. As Peter said, the virus is primary context, not the world that existed prior to it.

    4. Mark, I wrote below what the primary context is: “The primary context is not the disease alone, nor the rise of socialism alone, but the appearance of a new disease while socialism is taking hold.”

      Socialism is a disease. The virus is also a disease. The context is that the first disease has now become chronic, while the second is new disease. As can be observed, they are mutually reinforcing diseases.

      You say you see little evidence of socialism taking hold. Are you kidding me??

      What about the $160 billion of new borrowing in just the last few months, all of which is consumptive?
      What about the umpteen billions in handouts to those whose businesses are no longer viable and who did not save for a rainy day, forcibly paid for by those who did?
      What about the new border controls *within* our own country?
      What about the effective ban on gatherings (to protest), even when there is just a handful of cases?
      What about all the media propaganda in support of the socialist agenda, specifically: a green new deal and “great reset,” BLM, and now the virus response?
      What about the new environmental laws which set aside your private property such that you cannot use it?
      What about the assault on landlords’ rights?
      What about the impending prohibition on free speech, and the recent law to censor the internet of anything deemed “objectionable”?
      What about the assault on capitalism through instituting debtism, which aims to consume capital by lending it to those who consume it rather than put it to productive use?


      So you are blatantly wrong about things not being “significantly more or less socialist now than they have been for many decades.”

      You refer to the state of things in the 1980s as the standard against which we should compare. Again, are you kidding me?? Muldoonism brought this country to the brink of collapse, and in a very short space of time. Is being at the point of imminent collapse the only measure against which the level of socialism is to be gaged?

      As for Seymour, he is for extending the wage subsidy. He wants mandatory measures implemented that take away our right to privacy. He hasn’t said boo about “positive cases” being hauled from their homes and put in a government run facility. Yes, he is against lockdowns as a means to eliminate the virus, but he is still for eliminating the virus!

      We don’t have any real opposition in parliament to this virus problem, what we have is a fractured one party state.

    5. I'm not denying the existence of socialism, I'm saying I'm not seeing an emergency in its current application, nor anything particularly unique about this government compared to previous ones - at least not so much that it should make us take a higher risk with the virus than we otherwise would. Socialism has waxed and waned for centuries, and will continue to do so. What we considered an acceptable risk 200 years ago is also not what's acceptable today.

      You seem to be conflating different issues. My initial comment was in reaction to your inference that we should address the risk with voluntary measures, and I disagreed it can be entirely voluntary. If we agree on that, and the only question is how far controls should go, we're essentially in agreement.

      Of course all those economic interferences you've listed are socialist, and I'm against them. But you can't infer from this that other controls implemented to stop the spread of the virus are necessarily wrong - which is what this post was about.

      When you start conflating socialist economic interferences with measures to control the spread of the virus, you make your argument against the socialism weaker.

    6. I am not conflating issues. The original response of this government was that it was going to manage the virus such that the health system would not be overloaded. That would have been a proportional and justified approach. It quickly changed to wanting to eliminate the virus, permanently. The latter serves only to empower and further the socialists’ agenda. I wrote below what measures should be taken, so I suppose we are in agreement in principle. I disagree with your assessment of how fast things are changing in terms of a loss of our freedoms.

  2. Except ... we have unreasoned opposition not on the basis of "this is how principled govt *should* act when plague happens," but instead on the basis that "it's not real" and "I refuse to submit to your stupid rules."

    The plague is real. That is the primary context.

    But instead of reasoned, principled opposition to the way govts have reacted we have stamping of feet, putting hands in ears, and threats to hold their breath until it all goes away. And from some wings of the (former) liberty movement, we now have insane calls that started with "masks are tyranny" and have now morphed into "it's your moral duty to get infected"!

    That is not effective protest. Nor is it how adults should behave.

  3. I agree it is not helpful, but that was not my post's (or my) approach or position.

    The primary context is not the disease alone, nor the rise of socialism alone, but the appearance of a new disease while socialism is taking hold.

    Plague is an emotive word. This is no bubonic plague. It is no common cold either. So what is it? During the Enlightenment, plague was defined as "a disease eminently contagious and destructive." We should use that definition because the postmodern definition is so broad that you can call a virulent-enough common cold a plague if you want. Of course this new virus is real, contagious and destructive, but is it *eminently* so? All 1,500 people in NZ under 60 having caught it without a single death doesn't exactly qualify as eminent destruction of life does it? Sure, over 60s, particularly those in rest homes, have a bubble of heightened risk (but still nothing like other plagues), so you can call it a *potential* plague for them, I suppose. How much of the eminence is real, and how much generated by modern media though? That is a question to ponder.

    I'll tell you where there is most definitely eminent contagion and destruction, and you don't need the media to see it: in all the for lease signs that are rapidly popping up all over the place.

    1. If you're arguing Terry that we have to be cautious about how far this government takes things, I agree. It's likely that shutting down NZ's biggest city over a few cases, when contract tracing could have isolated or at least minimised this outbreak is already taking things too far. We can't be swinging in and out of lockdown long term.

      But responding to that by saying it should all be voluntary (i.e. no controls at all) is not the way to challenge that. It just makes both of you wrong.

    2. Mark, border controls, quarantining rest homes, and giving strong guidance, would be a proportional response. All the mandatory measures over and above this is not worth the trade-off because of where it can lead under the current government.

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