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A World on Fire

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BY JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Every day, news reporters, traders, and workers of all sorts the world over wake to do their work as they always have. Part of that requires that everyone pretend that life is normal, fixable, and more or less stable. All of this is temporary. It will come and go and really not be that bad.

Strange, isn’t it? Human beings have a hard time adjusting to disaster, in their decision-making and even in their mindset. Reporters have to do their jobs as they are trained. Traders too. Everyone does. They please their bosses. They don’t sound alarms. They don’t scream and yell as they probably should.

But there is a moment in the day when the work is done and perhaps a cocktail comes out or the dishes are washed and the kids are in bed and the room falls silent. At this moment, millions and billions of people the world over know it. Disaster is all around us. We are just pretending otherwise, simply because this is what we have to do.

It was this way during lockdowns. They must know what they are doing otherwise why would we be forced to do this. If we all do our part, maybe this will end sooner rather than later. The experts surely know better than we do what is what. What can we do but trust?

Let us adjust and find a way to normalize all of this in our minds. We are powerless to change it in any case.

And thus the peoples of the world adjusted and will continue to do so as the fundamentals decay and rot, long past the end of lockdowns and most vaccine mandates, even as all the old rituals and signals of life as we once knew it fade further into memory.

Enough with the dreary existentialism. Let’s talk about life in a one-bedroom apartment in London. The price of energy for heat has nearly doubled, seemingly overnight. Truly, it took months but it has felt like one day to the next. The energy bills will be approaching a substantial portion of the rent itself. And the forecast — which one has to do because that’s how energy markets work on the consumer end — is showing a doubling and doubling again.

Here is what Goldman Sachs is seeing.

Small businesses cannot function under these conditions. “Tom Kerridge, the celebrity chef, revealed that the annual energy bill at his pub has soared from £60,000 to £420,000 and warned that ‘ludicrous’ price rises left the hospitality sector facing a ‘terrifying landscape’,” reports Telegraph.

This is all running wildly ahead of consumer prices generally. This is only through June. We are already approaching 100% inflation in energy.

Many will need to close up shop. The new Prime Minister Liz Truss, who calls herself a conservative, has capped price increases for consumers while pushing the largest spending bill to bail out energy companies ever. It truly seems like she had no choice. Yes, that’s what they all say, but in this case, it might be true simply because otherwise, the entire nation would totally fall apart.

It could happen anyway.

“The U.K. may be facing a wave of business bankruptcies exceeding anything witnessed during the post-2008 panic and recession,” reports Joseph Sternberg. “Some 100,000 firms could be forced into insolvency in coming months, bankruptcy consultancy Red Flag Alert warned this week. These are otherwise healthy firms with at least £1 million in annual revenue. Business failures on this scale would dwarf the roughly 65,000 firms of any size that went under from 2008-10.”

Everyone wants to know why. As always, there are a number of factors. The sanctions on Russia for its struggle over the borders of Ukraine were ill-advised. That has never stopped the deployment of such tactics: sanctions against Cuba still in force began 60 years ago, all in an effort to make some foreign state behave in a way that the US demands.

They have driven up the price of energy all over Europe and the UK. But even then, Russian sources only about 3% of the UK’s energy needs.

Another culprit is the fanatical attempt on the part of the government to convert a fossil-fuel economy to one powered by the wind and sun. For reasons of climate change, we know how good politicians are at controlling the global climate by taking away your consumer conveniences.

But really even these two factors would not be enough to cause this level of carnage. The real root of the problem is monetary, which in turn traces (again!) to lockdown policies: the wild currency debasement starting March 2020 and continuing through lockdowns has wrecked the place. How could they not see this coming? It’s ridiculous.

And it happened the world over. The chart below that I put together looks messy but it tells the whole story of how one generation of central bankers wrecked the world. The key on the left tells you monetary inflation rates and the key on the right tells you price inflation rates. One lags the other by 16-18 months. I’ve color-coded it so that you can see the relationships.

This covers the U.S. (green), the EU (red), and the UK (blue). You can see the massive oceans of paper being pumped out to cover up for the egregious evil of lockdowns. Do you remember those days when governments the world over imagined that they could somehow shut things down while keeping the data looking pretty with the printing press?

How Quickly Things Fall Apart 

My friends in the UK are truly panicked. They want to come to the U.S. just to get away. But many of my friends are rebels and did not accept the vaccine because they are healthy and under the age of 80. They rejected the jab. Now they cannot come to the U.S. because the U.S. is still imposing rules that forbid travelers from foreign countries who are not vaccinated from getting across the borders. 

These policies again trace to the lockdown era: March 12, 2020, in particular, when the office of the president decided on its own to do the unthinkable and shut travel from Europe, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. It caused family disruption, business loss, and tragedy all around. It is still not normalized, which makes the point: no one in Washington has any regrets.

This is the essence of policy in America today. Truly people are being locked out of our country for being insufficiently loyal to Pfizer, which seems to be the real government here at home, at least as it pertains to public health.

The most striking feature of that which afflicts the UK today is the sheer speed of it all. One day life was normal and then suddenly the bills were through the roof. No one could explain why. It was some kind of mystery, and extremely disorienting.

Why energy, for example? Well, inflation strikes in strange ways. It gravitates to the thing most vulnerable to price hikes. This could be dictated by fashion or policy or both. But when it happens, no power can stop it.

The story of going from normal to double and triple prices, forecasting to go much higher, reminds me of books I’ve read about Weimar, how things were fine until suddenly they were not and life itself took a shocking turn.

Until recently, Americans have looked at the chaos abroad and thought oh that’s what these weird foreign people do, just strange stuff with unstable governments and unsound financial systems. And yet right now it is happening to our mirror country across the pond, a place that Americans think of as cousins with a Royal family.

The remarkable thing is that the UK’s monetary policy was not as bad as the U.S.’s own. The only difference is that there is a larger international market for dollars than for pounds. This allows the Fed a bit of breaking room to do more damage.

But can it happen here? Yes, certainly, and it could happen before year’s end. The policies of the last three years have created an incredible powder keg. No one knows when it will go off, and no one knows what to do when it happens.

There are so many other data points: missing workers, food shortages, political instability, and the breathtaking entrenchment of Xi-backed lockdowns in China.

The world is on fire. Most people are not willing to think about it or talk about it. Yet.

Author

  • Jeffrey A. Tucker, Founder and President of the Brownstone Institute, is an economist and author. He has written 10 books, including Liberty or Lockdown, and thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He writes a daily column on economics at The Epoch Times, and speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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Brownstone Institute

How the Dutch Failed their Children – A Cautionary Tale

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BY HANS KOPPIES

One of the best places to raise children is The Netherlands. In several consecutive UNICEF reports the Netherlands ranked first for raising the happiest children among wealthy countries (2008, 2013, 2020). However, in the spring of 2020, The Netherlands became a harsh place for children and young people. The Dutch government adopted a one-size-fits-all policy handling the covid-19 pandemic, which did not spare the youngest and took a great toll on Dutch children. The Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt remarked that the Dutch policies would ‘set the record for worst covid-response ever.’

 ‘Intelligent Lockdown’

Unable to withstand the rising global panic, the Dutch government on March 16th 2020 announced an “intelligent” lockdown, a phrase coined by Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Dutch society came to a halt. Offices, shops, restaurants and bars, libraries, sport facilities, as well as daycare centers, schools and universities were closed. The closure of schools was unexpected since the government’s official advisory group, the medics-dominated Outbreak Management Team (OMT), advised against it, for a school closure would have a minimal effect on the spread of the coronavirus.

A reconstruction of events showed that the main reason the Dutch government closed schools was that the educational field started to panic about keeping schools open. Closing schools was a political decision to follow the panic, not a medical decision. Schools supposedly closed for three weeks. Three weeks became three months. Research by The University of Oxford (Engzell, et al. 2021) shows that during the first wave the average Dutch student learned next to nothing during homeschooling. Moreover, students whose parents were not well-educated suffered up to 60% more learning losses.

School Closure ‘No Effect’

According to the Dutch equivalent of Fauci – Jaap van Dissel, chief scientist of the Dutch Health Agency (RIVM) and chairman of the Dutch OMT – the closure of schools in the spring of 2020 had “no effect.” Media, experts and politicians paid no attention to evidence though. Children were portrayed as ‘virus factories’ and schools were depicted as ’unsafe’ environments. Fear had a strong grip on the field of education and teaching unions exaggerated the risks of teachers in schools resulting in a drastic increase in safety demands.

The data was clear that not only did children not run any significant risk, but also that there was ‘no evidence that children play an important role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission.’ Still, a second lockdown would hit children. That second lockdown – now called a ‘hard lockdown’ – was announced on December 15th 2020. Schools closed again, this time advised by the OMT who had increased the number of areas it deemed itself expert on, on the basis of models, of course, proving Martin Kulldorff’s point that lab scientists are no public health scientists.

Dutch minister of Health Hugo de Jonge caused a stir by explaining this intervention was meant to coerce parents to stay at home. The international children’s rights organization KidsRights harshly criticized this policy: “The Netherlands has set a bad example internationally by closing schools during the corona pandemic to keep parents at home.” This children’s rights organization concluded that children were not a priority in Dutch corona policy and warned for the possible consequences.

As new insights on the negative impact of closing schools on children’s lives emerged, governments from countries all over the world decided not to close them again in the future. Undeterred, the Dutch government closed schools again on December 18 2021, just long enough to deny children their traditional Christmas dinner at school with their classmates, a big event in the childhood of Dutch children.

The deteriorating mental health of Dutch children was striking. The Dutch Health Authorities (RIVM) published a disturbing report which stated that more than one in five (22%) teenagers and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25 seriously considered taking their own life between December 2021 and February 2022 during the third lockdown. From happiest in the world to suicidal in a matter of three lockdowns.

Record Low in Sports Participation

Not only were schools closed by diktat. For two years, sports facilities were also repeatedly forced to close. The restrictions were constantly changing, with as a low point banning parents from watching their child play sports outdoors. Once again, there was no scientific evidence that this would help minimize the spread of the virus. The result is a record low in sports participation nationwide. The Dutch Olympic Committee and the Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) were ‘particularly’ worried by the negative effect on young people’s sports participation.

The Corona Pass

So no school and no sports. Another low point with regard to children was the corona pass (Coronatoegangsbewijs) that was mandatory from September 25th, 2021 for every Dutch citizen above 12. The corona pass was required for most social activities, such as going to the movies, attending a sports game with parents, or entering the canteen at sports club with teammates to drink tea or lemonade after the match.

Unsurprisingly, there was no scientific evidence that this intervention would reduce the spread of covid-19, but the Dutch government enforced it anyway. Crucially, the corona pass required vaccination, recovery from covid-19 or a negative result from a coronavirus test taken less than 24 hours before entry. So essentially, access to social life was used by the government to blackmail Dutch children into invasive medical procedures.

The madness continued, unsupported by evidence. At one point in time, outside playgrounds for children were closed. Parents were not allowed to enter swimming pools to dress their preschoolers before and after swimming lessons. In the winter of 2020-2021 the Dutch government even went as far as trying to regulate snowball fights, by dictating that only those from the same household were allowed to participate, and that their group could not exceed a certain number.

Neither sex nor the sea were exempt from the regulators. Young adults were advised which forms of sex were recommended, bearing the 1.5 m distance rule in mind. Drones were used to prevent people from gathering on the beach. To restrict the movements of young people even further, an evening curfew was introduced. It was not supported by any scientific explanation, just “boerenverstand” (common sense) as the advisory group OMT called it.

Restricting the lives of children and young people during the pandemic should require a great deal of evidence, as well as a risk-benefit evaluation. The Swedish government decided early in January 2020 that the measures in Sweden should be evidence-based. So it kept schools open, a decision supported by the evaluation of the Swedish Corona Commission in 2022. In Norway – where schools only closed briefly – the corona commission concluded in April 2022 that the Norwegian government had not done enough to protect children and that the measures regarding children had been excessive. The Norwegians essentially took the unethical initial decision to harm children without evidence and its authorities recognized that afterwards.

Sweden’s approach to the pandemic contains inconvenient truths for the Dutch, which is why Dutch authorities ignored the evidence from Sweden (and from Norway). As the Swedish journalist and author Johan Anderberg states in the epilogue of his book The Herd:

From a human perspective, it was easy to understand why so many were reluctant to face the numbers from Sweden. For the inevitable conclusion must be that millions of people had been denied their freedom, and millions of children had had their education disrupted, all for nothing. Who would want to be complicit in that?”

This year, my wife and I decided to spend our summer holidays in Sweden and after two years of often doubtful restrictions in our home country, the Swedish summer and the beaches of Skåne were a breath of fresh air. As a parent and a Special Needs Education Generalist (and former teacher of Physical Education) I am greatly impressed by the path chosen by The Swedish Public Health Agency and the Swedish Government as they remained focused on the health, well-being, and education of children in the process of policy-making. Anders Tegnell and his predecessor Johan Giesecke have tirelessly advocated for not disturbing the lives of children, and they have been proven right.

A very outspoken Giesecke gave his frank opinion on Swedish television: “I am a father and grandfather myself, and I feel if children are given the opportunity to receive a good education and that the risk for me to become infected with covid-19 would increase slightly, it is worth it. Their future is worth more than my future, and it’s not just about my grandchildren, it’s about all the children.”

The successful Swedish approach shows that in many countries government policies met the criteria of child abuse. A key lesson for the future is that schools should not close again in similar circumstances. The Dutch government and the OMT failed the children of their country, a dark and shameful chapter in our history that future historians will surely not look favorably upon.

All expert knowledge and wisdom that has contributed to the health and well-being of Dutch children was thrown out of the window overnight in the spring of 2020. Children and young people were made to carry the burden in order to ‘supposedly’ protect adults.

As Sunetra Gupta and many others have stated, that is the precautionary principle turned upside down. The Danish-American epidemiologist Tracy Beth Høeg rightly condemned such policies, which were also pursued in the US, by calling them: Sacrificing children’s health in the name of Health.

After two years of closing down children’s lives, I firmly believe we owe it to children and their parents to make amends for the wrongs that were done to Dutch children. Above all, Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should never be forgotten: “In all measures concerning children, the best interests of the child must come first.” It is mind-boggling how quickly children’s rights have gone out of the window worldwide. With disastrous consequences.

For children and young people a recovery plan should focus on repairing the damage done in education, recovering sports participation, and restoring the trust in the government and institutions that they can traditionally rely on for their health and their well-being. The Netherlands should be a safe haven for children, as it used to be. Pandemic preparedness also includes watching over children’s health and well-being and in this regard the Dutch failed their children and young people. We should do better in the future. Much better.

Author

  • Dr. Hans Koppies has completed the Academy of Physical Education (ALO). He then studied Pedagogical Sciences at the VU University Amsterdam, specializing in Orthopedagogics: Families in Psychosocial Difficulties. He has worked as a remedial educationalist at various institutions in youth care and special education. He writes about growing up and raising children, parenting and counseling in articles and essays in newspapers and magazines.

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Brownstone Institute

Another Flub by the Fact Checkers

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BY THORSTEINN SIGLAUGSSON

Recently, Danish health authorities decided to stop making Covid vaccines and boosters available to the general population under the age of 50. Note, the general population, not absolutely everyone under 50.

This interesting development, and the fact that the rationale for this decision has not been properly explained, has clearly wrought havoc among those whose day job it is to protect the reputation of these medications.

Flora Teoh, the Science Editor of the “fact checking” website Health Feedback, has now written an article which supposedly refutes the standard summary of this decision, i.e., the Danish health authorities have banned vaccines and boosters for nearly everyone under 50. Teoh‘s article is a typical fact-checking piece. She starts by stating a claim – “Denmark banned COVID-19 vaccines for anyone under 50” – which she then proceeds to refute, but the problem is no one has made that claim.

Two sources are listed, although the “facts” being “checked” are both supposedly contained in a headline above a video and a tweet linking back to an article, not in the YouTube video and article themselves.

The first headline, which refers to a video by Clay Travis, reads: “Denmark Bans Covid Shot For People Under 50 Years Old.“ The second, which is a tweet posted on Toby Young’s account linking to a piece by me in the Daily Sceptic, reads: “Denmark has banned the use of COVID-19 vaccines for people under 50 saying the benefits are too low. What it conspicuously fails to mention (though surely knows it) is that the risks are also too high.”

Unfortunately, neither the headline or the tweet state what Teoh claims they state, namely, that Denmark has banned the covid shots for anyone under 50. The word “anyone“ is crucial here. Instead, all that’s being claimed is that the vaccines have been banned in general for people under 50 and the discussion that follows in both cases contains details on which under-50s are exempt from this ban.

And those are, in effect, headlines. Headlines routinely generalise and exaggerate the contents of the videos and articles they’re flagging up. Let‘s take some examples:

“Food crisis if we ditch Russian oil,” The Times claimed on September 19th, 2022, while the article itself details that this is in fact the opinion of one central banking institute. In other words, it is not a fact that ditching Russian oil means food crisis, it is the opinion of some.

“High-profile Dems silent when asked about housing migrants,“ Fox News said in a headline the same day. But if you read the main text it turns out this does not at apply to all high-profile Democrats, only a handful. If Fox had said “All high-profile Dems silent…” its headline would be wrong. But it doesn‘t, thus it isn’t wrong. By the same token, while Denmark’s ban on Covid shots for people under 50 applies to almost everyone, there are a few exceptions.

Headlines are headlines. Branding a video description or a tweet as “misinformation” because they contain condensed and generalised information, with a more detailed discussion in what follows, has nothing to do with checking facts. It’s just about creating strawmen, especially when the “fact-checker” even distorts the quoted headline to make it fit her narrative. This is what Flora Teoh does in her article by adding the crucial word “anyone“.

Teoh then moves on, claiming the Danish ban on vaccinations only applies to boosters. This is incorrect. The first section of the Q&A on the official website explains to whom COVID-19 vaccines should be made available in general, not just boosters:

Question: Who will be offered vaccination against COVID-19?
Answer: People aged 50 years and over will be offered vaccination. People aged under 50 who are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 will also be offered vaccination against COVID-19.
Staff in the healthcare and elderly care sector as well as in selected parts of the social services sector who have close contact with patients or citizens who are at higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 will also be offered booster vaccination against COVID-19.
In addition, we recommend that relatives of persons at particularly higher risk accept the offer of vaccination to protect their relatives who are at particularly higher risk.
Before the start of the vaccination programme, the Danish Health Authority will publish guidelines for which persons aged under 50 are recommended booster vaccination.

This is the full list of the groups to whom the vaccination will be available. People under 50 who neither work in the service sectors mentioned, nor are at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, are NOT eligible for vaccination. Vaccinating them is banned.

Then on to the boosters:

Question: Why are people under 50 not to be re-vaccinated?
Answer: The purpose of the vaccination programme is to prevent severe illness, hospitalisation and death. Therefore, people at the highest risk of becoming severely ill will be offered booster vaccination. The purpose of vaccination is not to prevent infection with COVID-19, and people aged under 50 are therefore currently not being offered booster vaccination.
People aged under 50 are generally not at particularly higher risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. In addition, younger people aged under 50 are well protected against becoming severely ill from COVID-19, as a very large number of them have already been vaccinated and have previously been infected with COVID-19, and there is consequently good immunity among this part of the population.
It is important that the population also remembers the guidance on how to prevent the spread of infection, including staying at home in case of illness, frequent aeration or ventilation, social distancing, good coughing etiquette, hand hygiene and cleaning.

Notice the words in the first question: “not to be re-vaccinated“. This is a pretty definitive prohibition.

Flora Teoh then moves on with a number of claims which appear to be unsubstantiated or false:

She explicitly claims, referring to general vaccination, not boosters, that people “can still choose to get the vaccine if they wish”. While this may have been the message last April, it is clear from the Q&A quoted above that for the general population under 50 this is no longer the case.

She claims the “benefits” of the COVID-19 vaccine “outweigh their risks”, without providing any reference to support this statement, let alone acknowledge how research and real-life data already show how the risks in fact outweigh the benefits for younger age-groups, especially young males.

Discussing the reason the vaccination programme was halted last spring, Teoh says: “It was this level of high vaccine coverage, coupled with falling numbers of COVID-19 cases that enabled Denmark to stop broad vaccination efforts,” quoting a CNBC story. The CNBC story, however explains that the immunity rested on not only vaccination, but also on natural immunity. Teoh fails to mention this crucial fact.

Claiming the COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous is a “false narrative” Teoh says. This is wrong. As studies have already shown, there are multiple risks associated with those vaccines, and for many groups the risk of vaccination is higher than the risk of the disease. Thus, they are dangerous for people in those groups.

Flora Teoh‘s article has nothing to do with checking facts or correcting wrong statements. All it has to do with is creating and then attacking strawmen, by distorting headlines, ignoring the crucial difference between headlines and the text they refer to, and presenting a number of unsubstantiated or false statements. Her “key takeaway” does not even address the issue in question – it is simply pure propaganda for the vaccines.

Republished from the DailySceptic

Author

  • Thorsteinn Siglaugsson is an Icelandic consultant, entrepreneur and writer and contributes regularly to The Daily Sceptic as well as various Icelandic publications. He holds a BA degree in philosophy and an MBA from INSEAD. Thorsteinn is a certified expert in the Theory of Constraints and author of From Symptoms to Causes – Applying the Logical Thinking Process to an Everyday Problem.

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