No – just a different set of wonks

This is not some intriguing polic­y experiment for wonks. We cannot conduct pilot trials and, if they fail, walk back. If the virus is allowed to spread and the strategy doesn’t work out in terms of bringing a rapid end to the pandem­ic, there can be no backtracking.

Judith Sloan

Now I’d normally be very hesitant to contradict or criticise my good friend Judith Sloan.  But there is a lot to disagree with in her op-ed in The Australian this morning.

Sometimes the social engineers are economists and sometimes they are medical doctors. It doesn’t change the fact that social engineers are experimenting on society. Right now the current crop of social engineers are experimenting at a scale never before seen in human history. This is not putting our society on a war footing.

What the social engineers are trying to do is spin down our entire society – economy and all – to meet an undefined objective.

Flatten the curve sounds  all very well in theory, but what does it mean in practice? So right now the social engineers have not defined what success looks like, nor have they described a viable and plausible exit strategy. To the best of my knowledge they have not even mentioned the notion of an exit strategy.

Now, I’m happy to believe that there is radical uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic. Okay. All that means is that notions of “success” and “exit strategy” need to evolve too. It does not mean that such things do not need to exist at all!

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25 Responses to No – just a different set of wonks

  1. max

    problem is done long time ago… history teaches that this kind of pandemic happens — well we do not teach self responsibility to prepare for this kind of situations — save 30%, invest and when something come like this self isolate.

    it can not be proven but I assume if heal care is private, mean we pay when we go see doctor we would have more hospital and hospital beds for this kind of situation.

    also money incentive will bring entrepreneur can foresee or forecast this kind of situation.

    Some entrepreneur who saw what happen in China if healcare is free would smell money and build hospital and make machines or medicine — “but we do not want this kind of system because greedy man exploit sick people”. — which is now proving catastrophic for all of us

  2. max

    sorry for spelling and grammar mistakes

  3. Confused Old Misfit

    “We have put into power a class of people whose skills are all in manipulating language and managing image and narrative, and as a result our procedures for dealing with problems rely first, and sometimes exclusively, on these tools.”
    Anon
    Watch for the emergence of the globalists, evidenced by coordinated country to country policies to prevent the recurrence of similar outbreaks.

  4. thefrollickingmole

    So right now the social engineers have not defined what success looks like, nor have they described a viable and plausible exit strategy.

    Thats the problem isnt it, lack of benchmarks for anything.
    Quite deliberate IMHO, if it goes to crap then “it would have been worse” if it passess by then it “see how clever we were”.

    Despite the deaths Id almost prefer the first option, wrecking businesses and peoples lives with draconian bans on a moments notice will wither the economy massively.

    And before “oh he only cares about the economy”, what do you think pays for your hospital beds?
    No economy then its back to dung poultices and a course of leeches for you.

  5. C.L.

    It surprises me to discover how meaningless some people’s principles are to them in a crisis. Yesterday’s libertarian sceptic is today’s loyal Rooseveltian dirigiste – singing from the same “expert” song sheet that blamed Scott Morrison for bushfires just weeks ago. Remember the “23 former fire chiefs”? Their word was scientific gospel in December.

    Society and the economy cannot be “shut down.” This isn’t a Ferris wheel. If that’s the solution, then there is no current solution – except patience, cleanliness and protection of the vulnerable. That is all we can do.

  6. Anthony

    So right now the social engineers have not defined what success looks like

    I’m thinking success is = number of (able to be used right now) ventilators and ICU beds that is greater than any number of Australians who will be hospitalized at the (probable) peak of simultaneous infection.
    That is, if for example, 1% of infectees need a ventilator and there are 2000 ventilators, then 200,000 people can be sick at any one time. For 20,000 ventilators, 2 million people etc. Assuming of course non of your medical staff get sick.

    Obviously, ventilators are recyclable. So, any mass produced anti-virals or anti-inflammatories that can knock even a few days off being on the ventilator makes a big difference.
    Other interventions to reduce R0 (manufacturing massive numbers of masks, disinfecting everything) that drop that peak of infected individuals help.

    Exit strategy = 95% vaccine coverage?

  7. Some History

    C.L.
    Society and the economy cannot be “shut down.” This isn’t a Ferris wheel. If that’s the solution, then there is no current solution – except patience, cleanliness and protection of the vulnerable. That is all we can do.

    +1

  8. Iampeter

    All that means is that notions of “success” and “exit strategy” need to evolve too. It does not mean that such things do not need to exist at all!

    This is totally right.
    Not only is there no exit criteria/scope for what they’re trying to do but they don’t even have a time frame.
    They’re not even suggesting that this is temporary.
    They are openly using terms like “indefinite.”

  9. Iampeter

    Society and the economy cannot be “shut down.” This isn’t a Ferris wheel. If that’s the solution, then there is no current solution – except patience, cleanliness and protection of the vulnerable. That is all we can do.

    What? And go against god’s will? Against the actual gospel?
    You should be cheering the tearing down of our society as it is fundamentally at odds with religious teachings on every level.

    It surprises me to discover how meaningless some people’s principles are to them in a crisis.

    Indeed. But even more surprising is how many people don’t realize what their own principles really entail when taken to their logical conclusion. As a result they never live according to them anyway because their principles are so backwards and evil that life would be impossible.

  10. Alex Davidson

    They haven’t discussed their exit strategy because it goes something like this:

    – Having got everyone used to the idea, declare many of the draconian measures as permanent. Just in case someone catches the flu or some other disease. Towards zero.

    – Continue counterfeiting money and scrap the debt ceiling (again). Raise taxes and extend discretion over spending without needing parliamentary approval to all ministers.

    – Increase the number working in government at all levels. Monitoring and controlling the rest of us is hard work.

    – Formalise their existing defacto ownership of everyone and everything by changing the official name of the country to the Communist Republic of Australia.

  11. Elderly White Man From Skipton

    Sinclair: remind me to stay away from your foxhole in the event of actual war. I can hear your knees knocking from here!

  12. thefrollickingmole

    Iam5&1/2 responding to the voices in its head again instead of anything written.
    As usual.

  13. Sinclair Davidson

    I can hear your knees knocking from here!

    What?

  14. EvilElvis

    Thats the problem isnt it, lack of benchmarks for anything.

    A public service top to bottom who’s only concern is equality, non-discrimination and rampant virtue. Outcome doesn’t get a mention.

  15. Peter S

    Flattening the curve is simply controlling the rate of infections so that the serious cases do not overwhelm the facilities available to treat them. This also means the virus will be active for longer and maybe the mortality rate will be lower. But just as many or even more infections will occur, until the herd effect kicks in. The danger of the strategy is that the virus may mutate to a more virulent form. Or if we get lucky it could mutate into a less virulent form. Once into a human population corona viruses tend to regularly mutate, which is one reason we don’t have vaccines for the common cold.

    The alternative strategy would be to actively and aggressively protect those who are likely to be infected and let the virus run its course. But if the protection fails then mortality will soar and medical facilities will be overwhelmed.

    So far the mortality rate is still quite low at around 0.005%, but is likely to increase

    I suspect the second strategy wiil be least costly, but it is risky and probably politically unacceptable.

  16. Dr Faustus

    Flatten the curve sounds all very well in theory, but what does it mean in practice? So right now the social engineers have not defined what success looks like, nor have they described a viable and plausible exit strategy.

    Not sure that this really is the Government’s strategy, but lets assume it is:

    ‘Flatten the curve’ means no more than restricting the rate of growth of the spread of the virus in the community, so that numbers of infected don’t overwhelm the capacity of the health services to respond. The central idea is simply harm minimisation – where the concept of ‘harm’ is expressed as numbers of ‘dead people’.

    The natural ‘exit point’ is reached at the point of herd immunity – either by creation of sufficient antibodies in the community that the virus ceases to have enough vectors to transmit, or through vaccination/cure, which cuts off the spread.

    At this stage Government (in all forms) is unable to articulate any of these controlling parameters:

    – What the target critical case load is – how many critically sick people can be managed in Australia at some socially acceptable standard of care;
    – What constitutes herd immunity in terms of community % exposure – and when will that point be reached, either through uncontrolled vector spread, or controlled by social distancing/shutting down sections of the economy;
    – When a vaccine, or treatment will be available that can artificially curtail the disease within the community.

    Putting some rough numbers to it:

    – Unless a vaccine/treatment intervenes, herd immunity is likely reached at ~60% population immunity [ref. UK CMO] – ie around 15 million Australian infections;
    – Assuming the low current case mortality rate of 0.4% can be maintained by effectively ‘flattening the curve’, something like 60,000 deaths his will ensue from this strategy.

    Whether this was ever a good strategy (using the dead people metric) will depend on the number of ‘lives saved’. Which in turn requires some sort of a priori estimate of what sort of case mortality rate would have resulted if the disease were left uncontrolled – or controlled by some other strategy.

    And of course, this analysis invites utilitarian discussion about the economic costs vs the incremental lives saved…

    Clearly no government is going to have this sort of discussion publicly; either because of the risk of uncontrollable community panic, or the political risk of setting highly uncertain KPI’s and measurable outcomes.

    So, waffle, desperate blending of science/politics, and obscured seat of pants decision-making it must necessarily be.
    All the while hoping for the early arrival of a Silver Bullet.

  17. Tim Neilson

    What? And go against god’s will? Against the actual gospel?

    Giving us a Scriptural reference might help to clarify what you’re talking about.

    You should be cheering the tearing down of our society as it is fundamentally at odds with religious teachings on every level.

    Is it? So which is “collectivist”? The way our society currently operates, or religious teachings?

  18. Some History

    Lamepeter, you obnoxious little creep, how are you? Trust you are well? 🙂

  19. Squirrel

    The concept of an exit strategy is highly relevant to the growing push (apparently now starting to “cross the aisle”) for Australia to follow the UK in funding wages of “stood down” workers up to a fairly high monthly limit.

    In truth, many of those workers won’t be getting their jobs back, even if the businesses which formerly employed them survive this catastrophe in some shape or form – so generous wage subsidies, which would be very difficult to terminate in the (likely) event of a protracted downturn, should be approached with caution.

  20. 2dogs

    So right now the social engineers have not defined what success looks like

    Er, yes they have. Success is everyone who ends ICU care gets it. Failure is people left to die because we don’t have enough ventilators.

  21. BorisG

    The only part I agree with Sinc on is that the government has not shared their projections and strategy with us. They are treating us like small children.

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