Friday, 27 March 2020

The Bug

I'm writing this, gentle reader, on the fourth day of what is variously called "self-isolation", "lockdown", or "social distancing".

I don’t know why it’s not called “staying home”, because that’s effectively what it means, but in 2020, euphemisms rule.

I’m fortunate. My superannuation is taking a hit, but I can pay my bills, look after my family, and have somewhere to sleep.

There’s a lot of people for whom at least one of these activities is under severe threat, and the measures being taken by government and individuals to deal with the situation are almost beyond belief. I would have been considered bonkers if I had predicted a month ago that Centrelink payments would be doubled, cash sent to individuals, and most businesses would shut down completely.

If I had predicted that people would be destocking stores of toilet paper, I would have been quietly taken away and probably placed under close supervision. That's probably what should happen to the toilet paper hoarders.

But all these things have happened. It’s remarkable.

We're seeing both the worst and best in people.

People posting on Rightwing blogs are behaving like the idiots who assault emergency paramedics by abusing the medical profession. It's called "shooting the messenger". if you don't like what you're hearing, get stuck into the bearer of bad news. It won't change anything - but it might make you feel better for a minute or two.

These same medics (forgive the military terminology) are working to save the lives of others by putting their own lives at risk. People get commendations for that behaviour in wartime.

My kids are OK, although for a while, the immediate future of my daughter, working in the UK, was looking bleak. Thank heavens for her compassionate employer and Bojo’s wage subsidy.

Perhaps that strategy might have also worked here and prevented the block-long queues outside Centrelink offices.

My bride’s compromised immune system, as a consequence of twelve months of chemotherapy, is also a worry. She had planned a holiday with her many sisters in Cairns to celebrate the completion of the course of treatments that have anchored us pretty thoroughly since diagnosis. That's cancelled. Airnorth refunded - not so Tigerair.

I was supposed to be heading to Adelaide in April for a B Company reunion. That's also cancelled, and my air fares (Virgin) are somewhere in the ether - minor matter.... The greatest disappointment is that we're all becoming geriatrically compromised, and a future event, by the time it's organised, might be a bit late for some.
Now there’s a different kind of anchor for both of us. The problem with this one is that it’s open-ended.

My daughter’s carefully drafted plans to tour Europe in the Northern Summer have also been thwarted. At least she got to see the Northern Lights in Iceland before the axe fell on international travel.

There seems to be some kind of tension between those who say that the government is going too hard, and those who say it’s not going hard enough. There’s no contest between saving society and saving the economy.

You can’t have one without the other.

An “economy” operates within a "society". Despite what Maggie Thatcher said, there is a structure called "society". We socialise first - we trade later. There are enough resources on God's good earth to go around, so long as greed and fear don't trump generosity and compassion. 

The economy will recover. Some of those who get this bug won't.

A damaged economy may see a reduction in quality of life, but this may be a time when quality of life may need to be sacrificed simply to maintain life itself.

Many people with disabilities have been living with diminished quality of life for years. Perhaps able bods doing it tough might now develop a different view after this experience.

And perhaps the same compassionate appreciation of people on Newstart will develop as it becomes, for many, the new reality.

It’s an ill wind.

My blog stats tell me I have 185000+ viewers worldwide. Here's a message for each one of them.

Stay home.

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Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...