Why we Ignore the Warnings?

Australian beaches packed with sunbathers, English parks crowded with walkers taking in the fine March weather, packed tube trains and Sunday markets brimming with bargain seekers, supermarket shelves stripped of merchandise…

On the face of it, the populace seem intent upon ignoring the dire warnings of government:  the virus is dangerous;   we must self-isolate, we must protect ourselves – so why?

Essential mistakes have been made:

The health gurus suggest that only older people or those with underlying health problems are in mortal danger, so the young and fit, if the odds are no higher than the chance of getting a rather severe dose of flu will be tempted to gamble.   The possibility of passing on infection matters relatively little to those who, for the most part, live at a distance, physically and emotionally, from their elders.  Besides, we are being advised to exercise, aren’t we?  In a city, the streets aren’t safe, so where else can that happen but in the parks?

In UK anyway, the National Health Service is continually crying wolf.  Every winter the population is treated to threats of inadequate staffing, long waiting times and tragic outcomes, that somehow omit to mention the prevalence of expensive agency staffing and the manner in which specialists apportion their time between NHS and private practice.  Are most of us unaware of these inconvenient truths? And then, of course, there is personal experience, which largely runs counter to the media blast.

UK consumer credit is at an all-time high, so I can only imagine the pressures upon those who are nominally ‘self-employed’ or who work in the ‘gig economy’.  Living costs in big cities are phenomenally high and millions live at the absolute limit of their means, or beyond.  A government loan is no answer for them – it is simply additional debt.  They need to work or face homelessness.

Finally, there is an issue of trust.  It is no surprise that Australia, whose Prime |Ministers’ chances of dying in bed equate to those of medieval British Kings, should regard sententious warnings from politicians with cynicism.  Nor is it likely, so hot on the heels of the Brexit debacle, that the British should be easily persuaded of sincerity in a politician.  Throughout most of the First-World, the press is the willing bedfellow of those with the most power to deflect it, propaganda is rife and there are no steadying voices.  All journalism is sensationalist, all journalists will sacrifice truth for a story.

Few aboard the rusting hulk of ‘democracy’ feel in a position to trust the rudder.  The idealistic young, aboard the fleet yacht of simple solutions have delivered their verdict, and unless the statistics hit blitzkrieg proportions, as they have in Italy, who’s to say that they are wrong?

Personally I am in favour of quarantine (I will not use that rabble-rousing and etymologically incorrect term ‘lock-down’);  but then, I am over 70 with underlying health issues, so I would be, wouldn’t I?   Even so, threatening me with fines or arrest if I raise my head above the parapet is hardly likely to win my heart.

A Momentous Year

harpy-imagesA coke and a smile and it’s already 6th of January, most New Year’s resolutions are well on their way to being broken and a whole new seedbed of freshly sprouting tragedies are preparing to break the soil of 2017.    So, will this year be better than last?

No.

At least, not in the eyes of the media harpies who sit on the branches  of the ‘London Bubble’, glaring balefully at me through the window of my northern turret.   Now these are interesting birds:  for they are gifted in their description of impending misery.  The instant I venture to share their wavelength they bombard me with carefully measured doses of doom, interspersed with worthy advice concerning avoidance measures.

Brexit, they persist in wailing, will be a disaster as yet beyond human experience, one we cannot possibly calculate in terms of the millions who will starve, the race riots that will injure us and loot our properties, or the unmitigated fury of the spurned bankers, who will all leave for France.   Have we not already been swept up in a tide of hyper-inflation, with savage price rises, critical supply shortages and assaults by irritable German Federalists?

Well again, no.

In fact, virtually every prediction for Armageddon has so far proved false, apart from the one concerning the lowered value of our dear old dusty English Pound, which, as it turns out, is a boon to industry, because at 2.2 percent the British growth rate for the past year is the highest in the western world.   Meanwhile, across the Channel, the European economies are either languishing or in trouble, one way or another.  The euro is showing all the early signs of terminal disease.

Without indulging in lengthy (and very boring) discussion of comparative ills, the political right is hauling itself up several electoral ladders, notably in the big European players – France, Italy, and possibly even Germany, with electoral processes due to chart their success this year.  Right-wing political thinking is broadly anti-EU, but political science is a lot like theology: a subject with no substance in itself which is guided and reinterpreted by those who administer it.  Where it exists it is upon an ideal or a myth, and the problem for the ministry of a fashionable creed is their vulnerability to being swept aside when events disprove their ineffable vision.  There is no in between:   saints or heretics; the Vox Populae judges only by results.

Britain’s greatest enemy in the execution of Brexit lies within itself.  Pandering to instinctive British obsequiousness, and unconvinced of its negotiating power or the cards it holds, the government seems to be falling over itself in attempts to ‘achieve the best deal’, regardless of its record in that department when David Cameron was lashed to the helm, and without any acknowledgement to the bigger world that waits to trade and interrelate.

Hot news!   You cannot ‘negotiate’ with zealots.  They don’t listen.  Whether Federalist or Islamist they are convinced of their cause in the face of all reason, and their pursuit of it will be relentless.   The only way for the European ideal to break down is the way it must, whether in months or years: by collapse from within.

Complications, EU rules and agreements founded upon them, are really a distraction from what will be UKs final recourse, just to walk away and close the door.   The vast amount of money, and work for the Civil Service, though, that will be expended in reaching that conclusion, is not for the EU.  It is to gratify powerful influences within UK.

Make no mistake, the greatest obstacle to a smooth and effective severance is rampant self-interest.   I can understand it, in a way.  In the long term, as everyone knows, the Carney Bank of England interest rate, which has lingered at fractions of a percent for some years now, must rise.  In most of the country such changes are manageable, but if you live in a two-bedroom flat in London which cost your lenders the north side of £600K a half percent rise is tantamount to ruin, especially if the property starts to devalue as well…

On a personal level, this is the year (so my harpies, in concert with the British Brainwashing Corporation tell me) I am sure to contract a significant disease – diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Ebola, terminal flu.   All will be well, if I could only bring myself to take the wisest course the moment I experience early symptoms and consult my medical practitioner.  Okay, although due to the medical staff’s extensive holiday commitments the waiting list for appointments with my local General Practitioners’ exceeds one month.  By which time, of course, I will have expired.

Meaning, I suppose, I need not be too concerned that a piece one-quarter the size of Wales is about to break away from the Antarctic ice pack, or that due to billions of gallons of extra melt water filling up the oceans, the world is getting too fat in the middle and wobbling on its axis a bit.   This is no surprise to me.  Ever since acquiring extra weight in middle age my pirouettes are definitely more erratic.  A lesson for us all.

It will not be a bad year, 2017.   Whether we like or loathe Donald and his rug, the system will blunt his excesses I am sure, and all though the treatment may be painful, it will be beneficial, by and large, in the end.  If one thing, and one thing alone, could make 2017 a very good year it would be to see peace break out in Syria.  Those poor people have been bombed and shot at for too many years, and for once I find myself applauding Russia for its logical approach.  I hope that, at least, succeeds.

Happy New Year, everyone.

No – NO!   Put that drink down.  You promised!  God is watching!