Jordan Peterson writes at National Post Open the damn country back up, before Canadians wreck something we can’t fix. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
The country is growing more authoritarian in response to fear
I am not accustomed to feeling particularly sympathetic for the travails of large, successful enterprises: banks, airlines, utilities and the like. I expect a certain standard of service, so that I can conduct my own affairs effectively, and am impatient when delays unnecessary in the normal course of things emerge. The letter from the bank stopped me and made me think, however. It wasn’t just the bank. It was also the airline. It was the empty shelves in the grocery store in northern Alberta. It was the daughter of the man I once worked for as a cook, back when I was a teenager. It was the shopkeepers and small business-people I have spoken with on this trip.
We are pushing to their breaking point the complex systems upon which we depend and which are miraculously effective and efficient in their often thankless operation.
Can you think of anything more unlikely than the fact that we can get instant trouble-free access to our money online, using systems that are virtually graft- and corruption-free? Just imagine how much work, trust and efficiency was and is necessary to make that a reality. Can you think of anything more unlikely than fast, reliable and inexpensive jet air travel, nationally and internationally, in absolute safety? Or the constant provision of almost every consumer good imaginable, in the midst of plentiful, varied and inexpensive food?
These systems are now shaking. We’re compromising them seriously with this unending and unpredictable stream of restrictions, lockdowns, regulations and curfews.
We’re also undermining our entire monetary system, with the provision of unending largesse from government coffers, to ease the stress of the COVID response. We’re playing with fire. We’ve demolished two Christmas seasons in a row. Life is short. These are rare occasions. We’re stopping kids from attending school. We’re sowing mistrust in our institutions in a seriously dangerous manner. We’re frightening people to make them comply. We’re producing bureaucratic institutions that hypothetically hold public health in the highest regard, but subordinating all our properly political institutions to that end, because we lack leadership, and rely on ultimately unreliable opinion polls to govern broadscale political policy. I’ve never seen breakdown in institutional trust on this scale before in my lifetime.
I was recently in Nashville, Tennessee. No lockdowns. No masks. No COVID regulations to speak of. People are going about their lives. Why can that be the case in Tennessee (and in other U.S. states, such as Florida) when there are curfews (curfews!) in Quebec, two years after the pandemic started, with a vaccination rate of nearly 80 per cent? When BC is still limiting social gatherings? When we are putting tremendous and unsustainable strain on all the complex systems that have served us so well, and made us so comfortable, in the midst of the troubles of our lives?
The cure has become worse than the disease.
I have spoken with senior advisors to provincial governments in Canada. There is no end game in sight. The idea that Canadian policy is or should be governed “by the science” is not only not true, it’s also not possible, as there is no simple pathway from the facts of science to the complexities of policy. We are deciding, by opinion poll, to live in fear, and to become increasingly authoritarian in response to that fear. That’s a danger, too, and it’s increasingly real. How long are we going to flail about, hiding behind our masks, afraid to send our children (who are in no danger more serious than risk of the flu) to school, charging university students full tuition for tenth-rate online “education,” pitting family member against family member over vaccine policy and, most seriously, compromising the great economic engine upon which our health also depends?
Until we decide not to.
There are no risk-free paths forward. There is only one risk, or another. Pick your poison: that’s the choice life often offers. I am weary of living under the increasingly authoritarian dictates of a polity hyper-concerned with one risk, and oblivious to all others. And things are shaking around us.
Enough, Canadians. Enough, Canadian politicos. Enough masks. Enough social gathering limitations. Enough restaurant closures. Enough undermining of social trust. Make the bloody vaccines available to those who want them. Quit using force to ensure compliance on the part of those who don’t. Some of the latter might be crazy but, by and large, they are no crazier than the rest of us.
Set a date. Open the damn country back up, before we wreck something we can’t fix.
Time for some courage. Let’s live again.