Anatomy of a Covid Panic

Peter Smith01 Dec, 2020 4 Min Read
They never stop, they never sleep, they never quit.

About 1.8 million people live in the state of South Australia (SA). Approximately thirty-eight people on average die each day. Since the start of the ‘pandemic’ in January, four elderly people have died of the virus. Not 4,000 you understand, just four. Of course, as commentators seem obliged to say these days, every death is a tragedy.  Unlike those those former days, if you can still recall them, before Covid, when ailing old people dying didn't make the headlines.

All told, SA has had only 562 reported cases of Covid. As at end November, not one Covid patient was in hospital. However, a cluster of seventeen cases (i.e., positive tests, not sicknesses) centering around one family recently arose. The source was a security guard at a hotel where the government keeps those arriving from overseas quarantined for two weeks.

As expected, the government panicked, as per the new-normal, as did the governments of surrounding states, which immediately reinstated bans on travel to and from SA. But, you ain’t seen nothing yet. All unbeknown to the powers that be, a common or garden take-away pizza box was lurking in the wings.

The security guard in question also worked in a pizza bar. And someone, a Spanish chap on a temporary working visa, who’d bought a pizza tested positive. Well, as you wouldn’t be able to imagine if you are level-headed, all hell broke loose.

Nicola Spurrier, the chief health officer in SA, who I can only guess is prone to female impetuosity, assumed that a new virulent strain of Covid was afoot; catchable in very quick time from the surface of a pizza box; and emerging uniquely in an otherwise unremarkable suburb of Adelaide. The premier Steven Marshall, whose IQ has not been made public, immediately announced that he would close down his entire state for six days. And by closing down, he meant everything.

And all this over a pizza box.

Then, lo and behold, the Spanish chap admitted that he also worked in the pizza bar alongside the security guard. Mystery solved. The same old virus after all. Premier backtracks while loudly blaming the Spaniard for not being forthcoming. But, hold on, has the mystery been solved? Evidently not. Police in SA reported that they had put thirty-six detectives on the job, were examining video footage and had seized mobile phones and laptops. I can only suspect, they suspect, the hand of Vladimir Putin at work.

Am I kidding? Sadly, no. Reason, level-headedness, objectivity, common sense, call it what you will, is out of fashion. What happened is now yesterday's news. However, best not to let it pass so easily. It speaks to a general malaise at the heart of modern-day society, which will continue to play out. I will return later to this malaise and controversially suggest one possible contributing cause. Before that, two more examples.

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison thought it was okay to besmirch Australia’s reputation by broadcasting to the world the “brutal truths” that numbers of unnamed Australian soldiers had committed war crimes in Afghanistan; and by apologising and offering compensation ahead of any due process. Of course, the untested allegations are concerning but they call for a reasoned response, not national self-flagellation and virtue signalling. Unsurprisingly, China and Russia, those paragons of human rights, have already made hay.

It is instructive that the basis for the inquiry into the behaviour of Australia’s elite special forces stemmed from a report of a female sociologist commissioned to examine their culture. I bet she found lots of toxic masculinity. As the feminisation of the defence forces moves apace, I find Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men (“You can’t handle the truth”) increasingly more appealing than Lieutenant Kaffee - though maybe I’m not supposed to.

Notice something about both examples thus far. A generalised passivity afflicts the responses of the two political leaders and those advising them. Events call the tune and they follow compliantly.  Furthermore, epidemiologists, the political class and the petticoat top-brass who head Australia’s defence forces form only a subset of those so afflicted. It is rampant across all walks of life; including, disconcertingly, the legal system.

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, was jailed in March 2019, spending 400 days incarcerated for crimes he could not possibly have committed. But the ABC and its Madame Defarge, Louise Milligan, said he did it and therefore it must be true. A jury and an appeal court compliantly found him guilty. Thankfully, the High Court retained its collective senses and by seven to nothing set him free. But what the heck is going on?

Let me be uncharacteristically brave. A feminine temperament has been characterised in the sociology literature as being, in part, passive and cooperative; and, correspondingly, the masculine as being aggressive and competitive. Men and women have both temperaments to varying degrees. Both are necessary. Neither one should predominate in society in normal circumstances. I suggest that within the space of one or two generations western societies have become lopsidedly feminine; more inclined to be passive and cooperative, less inclined to be aggressive and competitive. Hence the malaise to which I previously referred. Take climate change as a further example.


Is it any accident that the public face of alarmism became a teenage girl? I think not. Think about the proposed solutions. Both are intrinsically passive, relying on external elements, the wind and sun, to solve the perceived problem. Calls are made for cooperative global action. Look at a counter example, one of the few in the west: ‘America first’. That is an aggressive and competitive (temperamentally masculine) sentiment. That’s Trump’s America. That’s not Morrison’s Australia.

Australia accounts for only 1.3 percent of world emissions of CO2. China, India and other developing nations are adding more each year to their emissions than our total. Yet where does that lead those who see Australia as being in cooperative kinship with parties to the Paris climate accord. Illogically, into blaming the government for the widespread bushfires in 2019/20. Apparently, it is not doing nearly enough to combat "climate change."

Masculine-inclined heads are prone to exploding on hearing this. And, more stressful still, so many people in the street who look normal have mentally re-gendered. After all, in the last general election, they easily voted out the archetypal manly former prime minister Tony Abbot, putting Ms Zali Steggall, a green airhead, in his place. Says it all.

After a career in economics, banking and payment-systems management, Peter Smith now blogs on the topics of the day. He writes for Quadrant, Australia’s leading conservative online site and magazine. He has written Bad Economics, of which, he notes, there is much.


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