Those who think they know

We (not in the sense of “I”) may know something about the transmission of the Red Batflu (TM) towards the end of this month, when we have the results of serological surveys. These are done with blood or saliva tests, conventionally, on a representative sample of the population, statistically extended to the population at large. They will tell us what portion of the general population, by arbitrary class, has developed antibodies to the virus, and are presumed to be immune. This is a different kind of test from the one now popular, which is only good for telling who has got a fresh infection; a method of triage. By now, or if not within a few weeks, much of the population may already be “home free” — but of course we do not know that yet.

It is a pity that we don’t, for by the end of April, events may be sliding out of hand. It is no use to have answers if no one is listening to them.

What we do know, at present, is numbers that are posted every day in the media for their sensational value, but are irrelevant. The numbers of infected and dead in mainland China, for instance, have been made up, for propaganda purposes, themselves inconsistent. They are nevertheless taken by our media at face value. But the numbers for such countries as Italy, Spain, Canada and the Natted States, are merely anecdotal.

The Trump Team has trained, experienced, capable epidemiologists, as do the teams in other developed countries. But they are only guessing from such fleeting (and often wildly inaccurate) field reports; and adapting while those change dramatically overnight. Their projective charts and graphs are like those which support “climate change” theories; which is to say, a terrible waste of print-out paper. Only their assumptions are fixed. While it is demonstrably true that “social distancing” will slow any pandemic, it does so in the same way that mud will slow a car. It does not point us to the road home.

And in the meantime the economy — our livelihoods — are being destroyed. While I might facetiously say this is a good thing — we all had too much money — April Fools’ is now over. With economic collapse we lose social order, and all plunge into hell. It is said that crisis brings out the best and worst in people. This is quite true, and I have seen good, virtuous, even heroic behaviour. But from my close analysis of Parkdale, and judicious remembrance of other locations, I have concluded, mostly the worst.┬áThere are certain observations of Thomas Hobbes that remain permanently valid.

The idiots (i.e. self-identifying “smart people”) who wish to launch rhetorical broadsides against Wall Street, for instance, should be polled again when their retirement funds vanish, for that is what they are actually advocating. The smart people who would seize on the crisis, to advance social policies only they want, should be removed from our vast regulatory bureaucracies. This would empty them out. (The overwhelming majority of politicians are smart people. Worse, most of them are personally quite charming.)

Unfortunately, however, even the stupid people are playing along. The majority, as it gets more and more frightened, agrees to shut down almost everything, in the belief that if they don’t they will soon find themselves needing a non-existent ventilator — and then rebel against the closures when they don’t. But while people are scared, it is easy to manipulate them, and politicians of every complexion are hugely empowered, to do what they have always done in an emergency: create a larger, more consequential, emergency.

Should we live long enough, we will watch this play out. No one can predict what will happen, and as the churches are closed, we had better pray at home.