From the ABC, Friday the 13th, March 2020:
The Prime Minister and state and territory leaders want all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people to be suspended from Monday amid fears about the spread of coronavirus.
It came after Australia’s chief medical officer told the leaders at a COAG meeting that mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled. from the ABC.
Governments are starting to treat this as serious, as serious as the fear mongers in the media have been. Already we have seen panic buying and cancelled travel plans. Massive payments are being made by the Australian government to prop up the economy.
Yet I keep having this feeling that I’ve heard all this before. I keep hearing in my head the word ‘Wolf!’. We have had this panic quite a lot over the past twenty years. But I don’t remember any such scares before then. Ohhh yes there was one great panic in the 1980’s, the AIDS scare. The thing to learn about that is that we were lied to. Unless you engaged in certain behavours you were safe.
So what has changed in the past twenty years?
Two things changed.
The first thing to change was an attitude, maybe we should call it an optimism. If you go back the middle decades of the twentieth century it is not uncommon to find scientists and doctors talking about eradicating disease. Smallbox and polio are two examples of this being carried out. Antibiotics would prevent disease and laboratories would find cures. The Liberal cult of progress fed right into this line of thinking. The cult of progress said that everything starts primitive and over time gets better. Everything is perfectible. Disease and other medical conditions are problems today but in the future they will not exist. This war would be won.
Today it is much rarer to hear that line, instead we have transhumanists talking about eliminating death. But most people, including the scientists and the doctors have lost that optimism. They no longer believe that this war can be won. Instead we are engaged in an eternal struggle. Unfortunately it seems that we slipped from one bad idea to another. In the past two decades, inspired by the AIDS scare, it has become the standard idea that every new disease may herald the end of the human race. Every outbreak is a new crisis. Have the medical authorities become addicted to crisis or adrenaline or is it now built into the culture of the medical profession?
The second thing to happen was China, this is the third major disease scare to come out of China since 1997. Bird flu also known as Avian influenza, SARS which is also a Coronavirus and the current Coronavirus, COVID-19. Trade between China and the West was quite small before the 1970’s. Since then China has become the worlds largest export nation. Today it is easier to find something with ‘Made in China’ on it than any other country…even your own. That hasn’t only affected economics. We are seeing that right now. More than a billion people packed into China with all of their animals and add to that a humid climate. It is an environment that creates it’s own dangers. New diseases find ready hosts quickly because people live so close together, it cannot be avoided. That close proximity then helps it spread. Modern transportation then helps it to spread further.
It seems that the medical profession knows things that you and I don’t. They know how dangerous this all is, at least potentially. Add to that mix our aging population, the mix of different races and ethnicities, each with their own vulnerabilities. What do you do if one part of the population is susceptible but others are not?
We’re all equal and interchangeable, so we must all be treated that way. Everyone must be told that they are just as much at risk as anybody else. Even if it’s a lie, particularly if it’s a lie.
It’s possible that I am wrong and that all of this is necessary, we will all know before long. But I have the feeling that this will be like the other events, people will die, but nowhere near the numbers that we have been told to expect. Then we will be told about how it could have been greater except for the efforts made. Personally I feel that I have heard ‘Wolf!’ once too many times.