Tuesday, February 1, 2022

A Cult to Safety

How much risk is acceptable? The question hangs over pandemic response measures, threatening children and truck drivers. In the name of stopping the virus, we have acquiesced to a zero-risk policy. 

Children are at a miniscule risk to catch Covid, yet we have shut down schools and are now forcing them to wear masks throughout the school day. The masks serve no real purpose. They damage children, psychologically and emotionally. Those who are promoting the no-risk regimen do not care.

In the name of risk aversion, they have done significant damage to the nation, to the economy, to mental health and to children. Since they are totally convinced that their no-risk policy is all that is standing between us and death, they need not assess the price of a no risk policy.

Among the champions of no-risk is New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. She shut down her country to protect against Covid, to the point where the strict implementation of her rules caused the nation to refuse entry to a journalist, by name of Charlotte Bellis. You see, Bellis is pregnant and she is working in Afghanistan. When she wanted to return home to New Zealand to give birth, her request was refused. It would have been too risky. Now, given the public outcry, the government has relented and will allow her to return if she stays in hotel quarantine. 

Since she is due to give birth in March, one wonders how the no-risk government will deal with her medical needs. 

It is the reductio ad absurdum of these policies.

And then there is Christiane Druml, Austrian bioethicist, who recently declared that her country should expand its vaccine mandates. Why stop with Covid?

In her words:

“The Covid-19 vaccination requirement could be the starting signal for a new attempt to better protect people against unnecessary diseases such as measles, whooping cough or influenza – also by means of vaccination requirements.”

The term “vaccination requirements” is a watered down way of saying ‘vaccination mandates’.

The bioethicist, who is also UNESCO Chair for Bioethics at the Medical University of Vienna, pointed to the development of combination influenza and COVID-19 vaccines as another sign that flu jabs could eventually become compulsory in some countries.

“There is definitely a social interest in avoiding unnecessary flu outbreaks,” she said.

Where does it end? When can we go back to taking acceptable risks?

The interesting point, one that you have probably not missed, is simple. The more our leaders are not governors but governesses, the less risk becomes acceptable. You see, by the best scientific research, one gender is far more averse to risk than the other. The reasons might have to do with relative strength or it might have to do with the fact that one gender is far more likely to mother children. Mothers of children want to protect their children, especially their small children, from all risks. Otherwise, apparently women break more easily.

In a previous post I reported on the effect that risk averse directors have on corporate profits. In Norway, according to the Daily Mail, here is what happened when the nation mandated more women on corporate boards:

An increase from one to two female members on a board reduces that firm's profits by 12.3 per cent, a study has claimed.

Why should this be so? Apparently, women are more risk averse. Hmmm:

Using post 2003 data, they found that increasing the number of women meant that they took 'fewer risks', which they say could attribute to the fall in profits.

Norwegian firms after this point scored lower in terms of accounting-based performance and were characterised by fewer risks.

But, they said, the lower risk might positively affect firms' long-term success and survival. 

The rebellion against patriarchy has produced some unintended side effects. It’s the least we can say.

Now, one Thomas Buckley argues that we have created a cult to safety, where no risks are acceptable. (via Maggie’s Farm)

He begins his essay by pointing back at the origins of the cult, in the 1970s.

It was the 1970s.  Dry cleaning bags lurked quietly behind couches waiting patiently for the opportunity to pounce on the hapless child who dropped a Lego nearby.  Unguarded five-gallon buckets stood brazenly in the middle of basement floors hoping to entice their next drowning victim.  Discarded refrigerators prowled the land looking for unsuspecting eight-year-olds to gobble up.  GI Joes and Barbies, with the help of their little owners, were making out everywhere.

As he points out, these aberrant policies were of limited scope. Now, however, the safety cult has taken over large parts of the country:

It is the 2020s.  Entire schools ban peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because maybe one kid might have an allergy.  Parents get visits from county protective services for letting their children play unsupervised in the park across the street.  Jungle gyms are an endangered species.  And third-graders are taught to not impose cisnormative constructs, let alone behaviors, on anyone or anything.

Among the possible causes, aside from the defeat of the patriarchy, are these:

Whether it was caused by the misadventures of Darwin’s children, the ever-burgeoning personal injury litigation field, a cherry-picking sensationalist media, humanity’s inability to comprehend statistics or some combination thereof, society has clearly shifted drastically from a relatively laissez faire approach to common hazards to - not just a risk aversion or risk reduction model – the codified elimination of risk.

Whether out of true concern or some other nefarious motive – power, profit, societal purchase – the inexorable march towards the bubble-wrap of today that was launched by the professional caring class continues all the way from the classroom to the living room to the newsroom to the board room.

The professional caring class, like the teachers’ unions, I would say. In the name of eliminating all risk from classrooms, these professional carers have damaged a generation of children, some of them, beyond repair.

Given the risks posed by the Covid pandemic, it was a perfect instance to shut down industry, to shut down education, to shut down social interaction:

Obviously, we can see this process in real time in the pandemic effort.  From “two weeks to stop the spread” to fully vaccinated people being shame/told to wear two masks a year later, this continuing impact is a perfect example of a “gain of function” experimental research principle being implemented not in a lab but in society at large.

Buckley continues:

It may seem to be a bit of leap to claim that the proposition that children should be warned to stop eating lead paint led inevitably to having children ask people what their preferred pronouns are so as to avoid even the semblance of giving offense, but this form of incrementalism – whether intentional or not – cannot be easily controlled once started.

So we have gotten to the point where the pathetic wimp who is prime minister of Canada, a girly man if ever there was one, is hiding out in the basement while enraged truckers take over the streets of his capital city. Somehow or other these truckers do not accept government imposed mandates.

Of course, no one would have cared if they were protesting against white supremacy. In which case they would have been allowed to march all they wanted, without masks or vaccination cards. Since they mostly work alone in their cabs, they feel that the mandates are a mindless imposition, an effort to show them who is the boss. They are telling little Justin where he can go.

Right on, truckers!


David Foster said...

If more women on boards means less risk-taking, then one would also expect less dispersion in terms of results...ie, less big wins and fewer disasters/bankruptcies.

There are so many factors influencing firm performance, though, in comparison with the number of relevant firms, that I'm not sure studies like this really mean anything definitive.

jmod46 said...

It's been my observation that pronouncements from bioethicists are usually light on the ethics component.

Anonymous said...

Teachers' Unions DELENDA EST!!

It seems to me that Canadians are mostly white, but I've not heard of "Canadian White Supremacy...

ga6 said...

The feds just locked down the entire Federal Prison system because two inmates died in a fight at one prison. Next they will announce they are releasing all prisoners for fear of fights.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

They're taking their cues from this blog!!

370H55V said...

The first time I read anything about this was back in 2000 in the following essay by the now ostracized John Derbyshire, in the no longer conservative National Review:


But not to worry. All those snowflakes who have decided not to have children because of climate change or something equally ridiculous will ultimately be replaced by those with lots of kids:


Unfortunately, this will take too long for this to happen, and untold numbers of lives will be ruined in the interim.

bobby said...

Re: schools, I think there was little concern about the health of the kids. The paranoia was almost entirely driven by teachers' concern for the health of teachers.

I don't think this weakens your conclusions at all.

IamDevo said...

When one realizes that 75% of public school teachers are female, one no longer need marvel at the lengths to which the public school system has gone in the name of "safety." https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2019/02/the-explosion-of-women-teachers/582622/
Inasmuch as the rest of society's organizations, clubs, groups, other organized entities have become dominated by females, they lose their dynamic energy and become stultified. One cannot have both "safety" and "innovation" at the same time. There is a place for females in society, but that place is not at the dynamic center of society's vanguard. Nurturing their offspring is the most important role played by females in all of nature. The bulls fight in solitary combat for the right to establish dominance while the females gather together to protect the next generation from harm. The further we have strayed from the natural order of things, the more we suffer the consequences.