China saves its people as democracies slaughter theirs

Don’t get me wrong. China is not off the hook for COVID-19. It only started thanks to the contradictions of totalitarian CCP rule.

Yet it is impossible to miss the diametric opposite responses of East and West to the pandemic.

China shut down completely to choke the virus. It appears to be on the verge of success.

Western democracies have failed completely to contain the outbreak and have moved swiftly to stimulus. That is, they are encouraging activity that will only spread the virus further and trigger a much deeper mass casualty event for the elderly.

It is tempting to interpret this through the prism of values. Confucian cultures revere the elderly while Western individualism throws them on the scrap heap.

But, I think, something altogether more banal is at work, captured nicely today by Ross Gittins of Domain. After his recent article in which the statistics were wrong, the research non-existent and journalsitic responsibility cratered, he does a kind of summersault with ten twists:

The coronavirus is deadly – it will end up killing quite a few oldies – but we (and the rest of the world) are making so much fuss about it mainly because it’s new. Thanks to that fuss, it’s likely to do more damage to the economy than it does to life and limb.

…The news media are making a great fuss for no reason other than the virus’ newness. New is what news is about. What’s new is unknown and what’s unknown is frightening.

You may think we’re making all this fuss not because the virus is new, but because it’s deadly. But we have daily contact with a lot of deadly things we don’t make a fuss about because we’re used to them.

It could be that road accidents cause more deaths – and certainly more injury – than the virus does this year. And seasonal flu carries off a lot of oldies every year without much fuss. In the end, Sydneysiders decided that the death and injury caused by late-night drinking wasn’t a good enough reason to limit the fun.

So what are they trying to do? Just slow down its spread. Why? To give the medical and aged care system time to prepare for the onslaught – including the time to set up separate “fever assessment clinics” where the “worried well” are kept away from those likely to have caught the virus, and away from those known to have.

…Disruption to the economy is unavoidable, but the danger is that hour-by-hour reporting of efforts to slow the spread is frightening a lot of people and will lead them to overreact to the risk of infection, closing businesses and purses and making everything worse than it needs to be.

In other words, if you’re not old then calm down and get out there to work and consume. The problem is, of course, that by doing so you will spread the virus much faster, ensuring that the hospital system is overwhelmed and, as such, many more elderly than need to will die. Probably you’re own loved ones. Which will make the ultimate panic and economic fallout worse.

It is a miracle of psychopathic media hypocrisy that a suicidal Gittins can write this at all. Yet is more interesting as a figment of where our liberal democratic system is at.

First, and most pointedly, we must observe that Gittins is right. Consumers will bunker, house prices collapse and the economy implode. But it is not because the young should literally consume the old, it is because we have created such a fragile system in the first place. An economy based upon a confidence trick of endless mortgage and house price inflation is the very definition of fragile when history comes calling.

Second, that system has run so far out of control that the interests that govern it now dictate the terms of government. A virtual real estate agent is the prime minister. His government’s only plan is to lift house prices. Gittins himself is employed not by “media” but by a real estate listings loss leader. One of the main businesses at risk is his employer.

By comparison, China can shut down and not collapse because it has real economic activity at its base. A massively productive economy that makes real stuff and real money. Yes, it’s got other problems because it wants to grow too fast to keep control of people without freedom. But, at the end of the day, because it has an economic base, not just fluffy superstructure, it can look after its people better, and weather this shock economically more so than consumer societies can.

MB has documented over many years how we reached such a point of economic psychopathy. I hope, when it’s all done, that some lessons are learned.

With many of the interests that drive it dead and buried there may finally be a chance of that.

David Llewellyn-Smith

Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Look, I hate commies as much as the rest of you BUT I believe that China has proven itself to have the world’s most superior system. Yes it’s totalitarian as fck but hey, they sort things out. And if you tow the line you can make filthy profits. I’m loving it!

    • Sad but true. Democracy is a drag that quite often creates comprised outcomes to make everyone kind-of-happy, sometimes.

      • “Democracy has never been and never can be so durable as aristocracy or monarchy; but while it lasts, it is more bloody than either. … Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”

        John Adams – the second President of the United States

      • Nah bullsh!t all of you.

        Democracies, even when imperfect, are more resilient. Free press (sorta), free markets (sorta), accountable officials (sorta) and independent institutions (sorta) provide this resilience. It means they can self correct when they get things wrong (any human system gets things wrong from time to time).

        By contrast dictatorships are fragile. They cannot afford even one major error. Collapse and chaos results. We do not yet know if Xi has got through this.

        I’m not saying democracies are getting the virus right. But they are more likely to survive it.

        • “ Coronavirus: China’s risky plan to revive the economy | Financial Times $$

          “The party propaganda machinery has unwittingly admitted that Xi was responsible for the fiasco,” says Steve Tsang, head of the China Institute at Soas in London. “The changes Xi has made to the operation of the party-state have not strengthened its capacity to act in order to pre-empt a crisis. [Instead]it has made it easier for a crisis to emerge as it all depends on Xi understanding the situation properly and making the right call at critical moments.”

          An adviser to senior officials in Beijing agrees. “This virus crisis was really 70 per cent human error [attributable to] the leadership,” he says.

          Some economic projections make sober reading for China’s leadership. Bert Hofman, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore, predicts that “first-quarter growth year on year may well be negative, between -2.0 and -6.5 [per cent]”.

          https://www.ft.com/content/396def8e-5d82-11ea-8033-fa40a0d65a98

        • “Nah bullsh!t all of you. Democracies, even when imperfect, are more resilient.”

          Hmmmm….. I have to think about that. Meanwhile, could you remind me what had happened to the First French Republic, the Second French Republic, the Third French Republic and the Fourth French Republic, before the incumbent Fifth French Republic?

          • Thanks Darth. I’m not aware of any dictatorship or communist regime in any country that counts that has outlasted the US, UK Australian, Canadian democracies. Or the French one.

            There isn’t a single one.

            Yeah France – well they like to change names but the third to the fifth “republic” was basically a continuum from 1871 until the present, interrupted for five years when they were invaded and conquered in WW2 but then right back to business. This simply proves my point, the system was resilient.

            The third republic was seventy years long, up until WW2. Then five years when the Nazis were in charge. Back to business as usual in 1945. Between the fourth and fifth the change was to the constitution in 1959 but the democracy continued uninterrupted.

    • There’d be riots if Cheltenham didn’t go ahead. The gypsies look so forward to it the prior twelve months the disappointment would be too much. 😉

  2. CraftsmanMEMBER

    And yet, everyone is trying to get out of China for a better life. If an elderly person cannot self support themselves financially then when does it become immoral for such a large obligation be put on the smaller demographic of younger people to support them?

    This event could be a gift to western economies. A timeout to reset the financial system to improve resilience and efficiencies in the future.

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      How very moral.

      What about children?

      Do they pay for schools, their lunches and the places they live? What a burden on society. Probably should get rid of them too.

      The genocide in Rwanda reset it. Maybe we should do that, and save on the coming health care costs.

      Reset the financial system. Chortle.

      • CraftsmanMEMBER

        Short term moral vs long term moral. In the best cases humanity comes up with solutions to do both at the same time. But if not, which one do you choose?

        • Arthur Schopenhauer

          It is possible to be moral and humane. What you are thinking is amoral and selfish.

          My suggestion is you read the Bible and volunteer to do something for the poor and less fortunate every week, where you have to show up in person and look them in the eye.

          • Read the Bible? I have and I can tell you it’s jam-packed with a vengeful god tormenting and killing vast numbers of people, animals, birds and fish by plague, pestilence, lightning, flood, storm, dust storm – or just good old fashioned war- in both Old and New Testaments. Then you get to Revelations: whoever wrote that needs 24 hour psychiatric care. If this is your guidebook then we are fucked.

            Einstein said “you can’t solve a problem on the same level of thinking that created it”. Our problems are vast but they boil down to one thing – all it takes is a few selfish cnuts to desire, grab and abuse power and we run amok. Fixing that psychotic issue in society requires a new kind of ’religion’ (mindset) that makes the other old foolish god-bothering religions powerless. We don’t need a new god, or an old one. All we require is one simple truth. Do no harm. That, and an awareness of people desperate for power need to be neutralised by denying them it.

          • Arthur Schopenhauer

            I’m not Christian and I have read the Bible. It’s good on human nature, in the same way Marx is good on the industrial economy.

            There is a strong correlation between the decline in attendance at organised religion services, and the increase in self-serving socially destructive behaviour.

          • Read the Bible? I have and I can tell you it’s jam-packed with a vengeful god tormenting and killing vast numbers of people, animals, birds and fish by plague, pestilence, lightning, flood, storm, dust storm – or just good old fashioned war- in both Old and New Testaments. Then you get to Revelations: whoever wrote that needs 24 hour psychiatric care.

            Sure, if you just cherrypick the fun parts….

    • Here’s the real Western elite mindset. Everyone wants to undo their demographics, but appear to do enough not to get voted out for doing it.

  3. China PlateMEMBER

    Great article but are we getting alittle ahead of ourselves. It will only be in the fullness of time that we will really know the true numbers – both economic and personnel – from china

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        I read a very disturbing story last night on this thread:

        https://twitter.com/jasonvanschoor/status/1237142891077697538

        The story appears to have been repeated through first China, Korea and Iran and now Italy. One of initial complacency, then mild concern followed by near total collapse of their health systems. The complete quarantine and lock down of Italy confirms the pattern previously established.

        Australia is on track to follow exactly the same path of complacency, concern then collapse. I suspect Sydney schools will be closed before the end of March, with a quarantine possibly extended to include all of Sydney and by mid April the whole of Australia will be in lock down.

        Prepare now.

        • You can draw an almost perfect parallel to people’s attitudes to bubbles. First reaction is, it cannot happen here coz we are different. After that, one of initial complacency, then mild concern followed by near total collapse of the financial systems.

          Importantly, people will never learn. You can count on it.

        • I think you are right. Sydney tracking about 2-3 weeks behind Italy and Melbourne maybe 5 days behind Sydney. And with the incubation period and limits on testing reporting is weeks behind the bug.

        • Ronin8317MEMBER

          Our only defence is the weather. If we have two weeks of really hot temperature, it will reduce the people to people transmission. Otherwise Australia is doomed because the politicians refuse to do the right thing until it is too late.

          • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

            Otherwise Australia is doomed because the politicians refuse to do the right thing until it is too late

            A comment which could be applied to pretty much any topic of concern in what remains of our society today.

  4. the real problem here is that over last few decades western economies became Bul%$t economies, where majority of people do BS jobs that none really needs. Even in essential companies like utilities we have now more people employed in ancillary departments like HR, public relations, management, … that people doing work on actual core business (not to mention BS consulting workforce attached).
    So the problem we have is the demand problem. Since most of spending is just people paying for bull&^t , when confidence drops demand disappears and with the demand gone BS jobs are gone and than even more demand is gone … pure positive feedback
    in 1918 almost all economic demand was essential like food, building material for war destroyed countries, … so the effect of much much deadly pandemic was not that great as it’s going to be now

    in other words, our economy is house of cards and as such even smaller breeze can bring it down completely

    • C’mon doc, you can’t knock the ‘Communications Officer’ role – it’s a great advance for humankind. Add in Diversity Officer, Gender Relations Officer, and so on. Productive jobs are over-rated and, frankly, not even necessary! This is what a ‘socially advanced’ society is all about: touchy-feely bullsh#t jobs.

      No, really – I heard it from a ‘progressive’.

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      I don’t know why this is in moderation:

      Agree DrX. And, the lack of real jobs in our economy means there are very few people who deeply know and are responsible for a mission critical technical activity. This trivializes the skills of truly capable people, as for the most part, their skills go unrecognized. (Medicine being the exception.)

      The response of government led by spin doctors is an overt symptom of the BS job economy.

      South Korea is doing an excellent job of managing the virus. Better than China? Probably. Certainly more humane. They are a democracy and effective.

      Their big difference is a broad industrial base that they built from nothing, which they must maintain and improve to sustain their nation. As a consequence, they have people and a culture who are capable and deeply technical. Certainly, they have a society that can deal with an existential crisis. People who can plan and execute with deep technical knowledge.

      Fill an economy with BS jobs, and eventually there is no one with hard technical skills in positions of power and management when you need them.

        • I agree to that. You can manage a society where only a few may not conduct themselves according to shared values but there is a ratio at which society becomes dysfunctional.
          Anyone who sees the above as rascist needs to look at their own bias in drawing a conclusion that it would only be those of a different race who don’t share values.

      • you are right and the reason Korea is doing well is their permanent readiness for things like this due to being under constant threat of war,
        they have strategic supplies of medical stuff, food, petrol, …, they have 12.77 hospital beds per 1,000 (we have 3.5), they have robust system designed to operate under high stress

        we on the other decided to run everything on as tin margin as possible, cutting public services, reserves, … so we have a system that fails to run under normal conditions

        (e.g. in 2001 they had 4.5 hospital beds per 1000 we had 7 now they have 12 we have 3.5)

  5. MountainGuinMEMBER

    Still unclear how much china get back to work before a vaccine is made. With reports of the virus lasting up to 2 or 3 days on surfaces, incubation of up to 14+ and stories yesterday of air transmission on a bus of 4.5m and up to 30m after the infected person left the bus, any restart is bound to cause more breakouts. And china will need alot of travel bans.

    • Xi has gone to Wuhan and declared ‘victory’ over the virus. It’s all clear now – as you were.

      • Yep. Declaration of victory is an instruction to local officials to cover up numbers. And the implication to local people is “if you are sick, you’d better hide too, we don’t want to know about you (or worse)”.

        • Message to the very sick: Dig your own hole and throw yourself in, by order of Emperor Xi!

    • Yes that report was very interesting. Including the positive effect of face masks which counters current medical advice here. No idea who to believe.

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        Face mask will primarily prevent those who have the virus from transmitting to others. It also prevent the wearer from putting their hand near their face. While not 100% effective, it does reduce the transmission.

        The problem is finding a face mask in Australia.

    • innocent bystanderMEMBER

      you’re a numbers man, what are the current x factors?
      CV is x times more contagious than the flu. CV is x times more deadly than the flu.

      • MountainGuinMEMBER

        The other x factor is the proportion of infected who need medical attention but if they receive it they wont die. While data is patchy, I have seen estimates of 10 to 15 percent but there probably a strong demographic driver of this. Hopefully the health care sector can keep up with demand here…..

  6. Straya is an Exhibit A of what will happen if you combine democracy with lazy and dumb voters.

  7. Arthur Schopenhauer

    Agree DrX. And, the lack of real jobs in our economy means there are very few people who deeply know and are responsible for a mission critical technical activity. This trivializes the skills of truly capable people, as for the most part, their skills go unrecognized. (Medicine being the exception.)

    The response of government led by spin doctors is an overt symptom of the BS job economy.

    South Korea is doing an excellent job of managing the virus. Better than China? Probably. Certainly more humane. They are a democracy and effective.

    Their big difference is a broad industrial base that they built from nothing, which they must maintain and improve to sustain their nation. As a consequence, they have people and a culture who are capable and deeply technical. Certainly, they have a society that can deal with an existential crisis. People who can plan and execute with deep technical knowledge.

    Fill an economy with BS jobs, and eventually there is no one with hard technical skills in positions of power and management when you need them.

    • Straya has been too lazy or dumb to value add. Instead of making and exporting steel using the local iron ore, Straya export iron ore and import steel. This is not unique to iron ore, of course. The result is, predictably, hollowing out of the industrial economy.

      As I have been stating, an industrial economy is the backbone of a civilization. Straya chose to throw it away.

    • Your first para reminds me of a guy I met at a party years ago – he was an engineer in the successor to Sydney’s MWS&DB designing and maintaining the sewerage system. Obviously uncomfortable talking about what he did for a living, more used to people going “ewww” and changing the subject. Still, given that SARS-CoV-2 transmits through faeces too, when this guy’s department goes down, so does the whole city…

    • YEAH:
      in 2001 South Korea had 4.5 hospital beds per 1000 we had 7 per 1000, now S Korea has 12 we have 3.5

  8. I can’t believe we’re even questioning our world-famous and perpetual economic miracle, when the first priority must be to protect our Christians from savage persecution. Go, Izzy. Arise, Cardinal Pell.

  9. Only have to watch news last night to see the degree of incompetence with our health system. They have had a good full two months to prepare and all we have is confusion and slow beaurocracy. A hotline you wait ages on before the call drops out and massive queues outside hospitals to get tested where you wait hours only to be told they wont test you unless you arrived from another hotspot (China Korea or Iran) or you have been in direct contact with another confirmed infected. Already the process is breaking down due to inefficiency and incompetance with just over 100 cases and spreading fast. Rest assured Scummo promised another $2b to fix the issues which they hope will fund tests of 14,000 people over the next 6 months. As we all know by the time these baffoons get their crap together you can safetly determine the whole of Australia will be infected this looming winter.

  10. Great article. China is globalist but only when it serves the national interest. They are not cosmopolitans. As we are now finding out, if you don’t have a national interest then all you are left with is self interest. Hence, our politicians, corporates, media elites etc are quite happy to sell out ordinary people because it serves their own interests.

    Hence the different responses to the coronavirus: China’s national interest versus our elites’ self interest.

    This isn’t brain surgery. Up until about 1990 it was just accepted as a self evident truth (OK, not by self interested elites but by ordinary people) that a nation state was the best form of government we had, that nations had borders and a government’s responsibility was to the people who live within those borders.

    This is why China succeeds while we will struggle. Our leaders are global cosmopolitans who abolished the people. They only have self interest left.

    • Totes BeWokeMEMBER

      Yep. Excellent comment.

      Our failure comes from the plebs party Labor being infiltrated by wealthy, globalist elites.

  11. what a joke…. China was bogeyman for forced quarantine, now it is good that this seem to have saved the nation?
    i guess china is guilty of being… China

    • Locus of ControlMEMBER

      Ha! Is that an own goal for the universities? Import coronavirus-carrying students from overseas for the sweet, sweet lucre, but then have to close their doors because of the virus. How many students will then withdraw (cut-off dates are usually a good six to eight weeks in from start of the semester) because they can’t get the education they paid for? End result: less cash anyway. Slow clap.

      • Let’s hope so. These chvnts deserve everything that’s coming to them. Everything.

  12. wow.. I want to know what you had for breakfast.. this is your best work since I joined MB. Just wow..

    “First, and most pointedly, we must observe that Gittins is right. Consumers will bunker, house prices collapse and the economy implode. But it is not because the young should literally consume the old, it is because we have created such a fragile system in the first place. An economy based upon a confidence trick of endless mortgage and house price inflation is the very definition of fragile when history comes calling.

    Second, that system has run so far out of control that the interests that govern it now dictate the terms of government. A virtual real estate agent is the prime minister. His government’s only plan is to lift house prices. Gittins himself is employed not by “media” but by a real estate listings loss leader. One of the main businesses at risk is his employer.

    By comparison, China can shut down and not collapse because it has real economic activity at its base. A massively productive economy that makes real stuff and real money. Yes, it’s got other problems because it wants to grow too fast to keep control of people without freedom. But, at the end of the day, because it has an economic base, not just fluffy superstructure, it can look after its people better, and weather this shock economically more so than consumer societies can.”

    • He tried the congee and green tea for breakfast today. As opposed to the regular Weetbix and Nescafe. But, I do agree with you. Good article and more honest about his assessment of the world than usual.

    • It’s alright Niko, while we’re undoubtedly fcked the Chinese are equally rooted (despite having an economy of way more substance). It’s the debt, you see. Their currency is basically worthless and they just haven’t realised it yet.

  13. Goldstandard1MEMBER

    On this site we seem to talk about “symptoms” of the economy too much-

    Property is crashing, property can never lose etc. The reserve banks will always save us.
    The disease is the issue and I’m not talking about Corona.

    This comment from the article is just perfect: “But it is not because the young should literally consume the old, it is because we have created such a fragile system in the first place. An economy based upon a confidence trick of endless mortgage and house price inflation is the very definition of fragile when history comes calling”

    That’s it. No matter what the “disruption” is, we have built a house of cards basically hoping something like this wouldn’t happen. Not only that, people are INCENTIVISED to leverage up just to pay the bills. It’s insane and I agree that hopefully this virus pandemic can wash the whole system out, and reset it – but that comes with a lot of pain and losers

    • Arthur Schopenhauer

      Yep, and we haven’t done any of the work countries like Germany, South Korea, Israel or China have done to build complex economies. A complex economy with multiple industries and multiple competing interests, is a resilient economy.

      It would be good to discuss how we could rebuild our economic complexity without the usual, ‘It’s all farked. Australians are fat and lazy.’ line.

  14. blindjusticeMEMBER

    I frequently see comments here about how Australia is no longer a nation. It is an economic zone now. The entire west has taken this route. I saw a stat today – 1/4 Americans have no sick leave. Along with obesity and its associated health problems, we are no longer looking at the US from afar in this regard. The entire west has embraced this system to varying degrees. We have all taken the mass migration route and the ruination of standards all over – NZ & Australia, Canada, UK & Ireland, all of Europe etc. To large percentages too.

    There are those who will call you racist if you point this stuff out. They should be sent to a third world country of their choice. We dont need people like that, we need people who will do what they can for their country. The importance of nation states is clear now. We`ve all been fed propaganda for years from business interests.

    Mass migration and now throw in the overnight decimation of the over 65s.

  15. “The coronavirus epidemic will lead to “a global recession of a magnitude that has not been experienced before” but will eventually allow humanity to reset its values, according to trend forecaster Li Edelkoort.

    Edelkoort told Dezeen that the virus was causing a “quarantine of consumption” and would have a profound cultural and economic impact.

    People would have to get used to living with fewer possessions and travelling less, she said, as the virus disrupts global supply chains and transportation networks.”

    If it results in a little less frenzied tourism, hard bodied yoga poses in sacred (and non-sacred) places, the impulse to always be seen to be having “experiences”, the end of influencers and social media one-upmanship. Good. The Quiet Life.

    But I doubt it.
    https://www.dezeen.com/2020/03/09/li-edelkoort-coronavirus-reset/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

  16. As Switzerland moves to limit testing to the over-65s and at risk individuals (thereby limiting official coronavirus numbers and ensuring widespread community infection) will other European countries follow. What about the US which appears disinterested in containing the spread of the virus. Is this a move to acceptance that some lives will be lost but life (and the economy) must go on.

  17. Chairman MeowMEMBER

    China “not off the hook”, “contradictions of totalitarian CCP rule”? Lol. China admitted irs mistakes and acted fast once they’d made up their mind. The West and irs journalists of varying hues have spent the last two months screaming that Coronavirus “proves” that “China is bad, mmm-kay?” but now it looks like we’re going to find out our system is not “better” but just different and if things keep progressing the way they are recently may turn out to be worse than “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” but I anticipate there’s going to be a lot of 180 degree turns of rhetoric from certain people before this is over

  18. Does that Wuhan Virus hotline they set up go through to a Filipino or Indian call centre?