The Haps

The virus appears to be outrunning the world’s toughest lockdown, which is no longer short, nor sharp, enough. If eradication cannot be achieved with four weeks of Alert Level 4, the Government is going to need an honest conversation about its strategy. Government thinks it can borrow endlessly, businesses know they can’t.

Defending Liberal Democracy

After a boost at the end of the Cold War, democracy is declining around the world. Fewer countries practice it, and even many that do are not doing it so well. All this according to Freedom House, who’ve been tracking civil liberties and political rights since 1944.

At least part of the reason is to do with the destruction of truth in the West. As Free Press has written in past weeks, the left believe that there is no one truth, there are lots of different truths depending on your identity. That’s why the Ministry of Education thinks there is Māori science that is not part of everyone else’s science.

But there’s another problem with truth, more often associated with the political right. It’s distrust in institutions that leads to the same result. People prepared to accept dubious theories from dubious people are destroying truth just as effectively.

Take one example. There is a group going around claiming that over 100 New Zealanders have died from the COVID Vaccine. A terrifying thought if true. Normally smart, successful people have emailed Free Press asking, ‘surely there’s something too this?’

Here’s how we think about claims we hear. Who’s making the claim? Why are they making it? Is it plausible? Is there a simpler explanation for the facts the present?

The claim comes from a blog site that’s covered, over the years, the TPP, 5G, Fukushima, and every other cause that conspiracy theorists cup their hands around. This year it’s vaccination, next year it will be something else. They get their claim from a group who go and ‘interview’ relatives of people who die that were also vaccinated.

So, they’re people who look for conspiracies and seem to enjoy attention, but is their claim plausible? They’re claiming that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are engaged in covering up over 100 deaths, but nobody in any official capacity has leaked any solid evidence of it. Hmm.

What’s a more plausible explanation? Well, about 100 New Zealanders die every day. They are almost all over 65, and 67 per cent of over 65s are vaccinated. There are, of course, younger people who die, vaccinated and unvaccinated, but usually it’s for a clear reason, such as accidents or cancer. Sticking with over 65’s, 67 per cent of them have had a Pfizer vaccine over the past six months.

Every day, 100 people die and about 67 of them have been vaccinated. They would have died anyway. But, if you want to believe vaccination’s killing people, there’s a conclusion you can jump to.

And there’s people willing to leap to it. A group of self-appointed people go about talking to relatives of the dead. These people are predisposed to the idea that vaccines kill people. What do you know? They’ve concluded that over 100 people this year died from vaccines.

The amazing thing is that they have only managed to ‘find’ 100. Around 3,000 people died last month and 2,000 would have been vaccinated. That number of vaccinated people was not as high in prior months, but has been rising steadily for most of the year.

Democracy is about people peacefully working out their differences to find a way forward. Like any negotiation, it can’t work if there’s no agreement on the basic facts. Disagreements about basic things like, is this vaccination program killing people, make it very difficult to find a way forward through COVID.

We’re going to need an agreed strategy to move beyond elimination-by-lockdown, and vaccination is the most effective tool we have for doing so. The harder it is to have a debate based on fact, the more difficult that will be.

More generally, we need to go back to the days when the word’s future seemed bright because more and more people were turning to democracy as the way forward. Identity politics and conspiracy theories are both hurting our chances. President Xi smiles on.