• Wishful Thinkng

    It should come as no surprise that the government’s critics, on the pandemic and other subjects, are from the political right. For many of them, the touchstone is purely political – if the policy is right-wing, it is “right”, and, if not, then it is by definition wrong.

    In no case is this more true than that of Mike Hosking (or, as my spell-checker would have it, Mike “Honking”). In his latest diatribe in the pages of the Herald, he veers off into serious irrationality. He finds it possible to urge our government to emulate Boris Johnson in the UK; here, he argues, is an example of a government that puts “freedom” first, and freedom, he says, is a prize for which it is worth paying a high price.

    He does not, however, bother to specify just how high that price is. The UK suffers about 50,000 new Covid cases and around 200 deaths each day (and has suffered 140,000 Covid deaths in total). Each of those deaths leaves a hole in the lives of many others and in the country’s economy. Even making due allowance for their population at ten times ours, the figures are staggering.

    Never mind, says Hosking, this is an example of what a government of the right can achieve in the name of freedom. He is led into similar irrationally when he looks at other aspects of our domestic scene. Giving vent to an impatience that no doubt many of us feel, he urges our government to respond to the unvaccinated by “cutting them loose”. Why, he asks, allow them to hold the rest of us to ransom?

    Sadly, however, it is not as simple as that. To proceed to end all restrictions, while leaving a substantial proportion of the unvaccinated in the community, is to guarantee that the virus will continue to thrive and spread and threaten the most vulnerable for the foreseeable future. And some (Maori and the young, in particular) will be more vulnerable than others. Thankfully, governments – whether of the right or the left – are a little more hard-headed than that. It is noteworthy that the UK Health Secretary continues to urge people to get vaccinated.

    Wishful thinking is still wishful thinking, even if it has precise dates attached to it.

    Bryan Gould
    21 October 2021