The end of Team New Zealand

After tomorrow our government splits New Zealand in two along political, religious, and marginalised lines.

And the conditions of that split have already escalated out of control. Two months ago experts said domestic vaccine passports were unlikely; now they're practically everywhere, far beyond government orders, let alone the law.

If this were the last blog post I ever made, it would be enough. Though I have so much to say about all this, I've said little, because I've been so discouraged since the first lockdown. I thought New Zealand believed in equality and non-discrimination. Turns out it was — in the vast majority of Kiwis — nothing but lip-service.

I know most people don't understand why strict limits on power are necessary. What's happening now may make some realise - but most aren't even aware of what's happening now, which is what this post is for. Going by historical precedents, most still won't understand until it's far too late. But we don't need most people, to stop this.

I've been writing about privacy for over 15 years. Being forced to give your name, date of birth and vaccine status wherever you go, is an identity thief's dream, and having your movements recorded in a central government database, with no watchdog responsible for ensuring it isn't abused, is a huge breach of democratic rights. But that's nothing compared to the purpose of vaccine passports.

Do not be mistaken: what you are witnessing in New Zealand is the creation of an underclass. I cannot think of anything more contrary to Kiwi spirit.


Why not use a vaccine passport?

There are many reasons why people won't use vaccine passports. Some (a few percent of the population) are not engaged with the healthcare system and are not even counted in the vaccination statistics (which are based on Health Service Users). Many have had legitimate medical exemptions submitted by their doctors but denied by Ministry of Health bureaucrats.

Reasonable doubt

Most who refuse vaccination do so because they have reasonable doubts about the efficacy of these new vaccines, or of their adverse effects that are still being uncovered (but in the media covered up), or of the secret agreements between Big Pharma and governments to ensure those producing them cannot be held liable for those effects.

Not all of people's doubts have a sound basis. But all doubts are automatically misinformation under New Zealand's new technocratic belief system. It's all crazy conspiracy theory stuff. Never mind that vaccine passports were a conspiracy theory. We said the same about compulsory vaccination, we'll definitely never do anything like that.

By rejecting criticism of their position, the technocracy rejects science. "Trust the science" is a political statement running directly counter to the scientific mindset. Science is about testing and re-testing, the opposite of the blind faith being asked of us. Yes blind; because in no circumstances are serious questions from the public to be indulged; because science cannot be conducted when scientists are paid to produce a particular conclusion, or when experts are fired for talking about tests that counter official claims. From the beginning I have opposed our covid response for being irrational and dangerous; vaccination is no exception (no I'm not saying it's useless).

If covid were really as dangerous as the propaganda makes out, no-one would need to be forced to do anything. They could see the danger with their own eyes. Instead we must rely on statistics (not just lies or damned lies). Certainly there's nothing weird about counting an Auckland man who was shot to death as a covid fatality; all the reason we need is that the WHO told us to. Trust us as the "single source of truth on COVID". "Trust the experts" — no, not those experts, only these experts who agree with us. Never mind that at the beginning only a minority of experts agreed with us — we planned only according to the most pessimistic of epidemiological projections. Now we have more who have been convinced (not by science, but by social pressure and coercion) — or at least convinced to shut up. That is how we have operated from the beginning. We don't need to address objections, just repeat every day the mantra: "the vaccine is safe and effective". We don't care that you mistrust us, we can use force.

More reasons

Many oppose vaccination for religious reasons (one of which I have discovered is shockingly justified — another post for later). Still others are opposed to vaccine passports on the basis of human rights because, unlike most, they still believe in them. That is, they oppose passports for legal and/or political reasons.

Most of these people have already been coerced into being vaccinated and/or adopting the passport system, to keep their jobs, careers, homes, education, or smaller "incentives"; but most of those who haven't, never will. Even pro-vaccine sociologists agree. These people won't fold, they will have to be literally tied down and forcibly injected, and even then they will refuse to use the passports.

I am one of those refusing the passport, because beyond the short term, there is nothing to gain by surrender, and a great deal to lose. I would rather stand with those in the gulag than with their guards.

There is no more fundamental right than bodily autonomy. If this is taken, anything can be taken. Giving a bully what he wants can only embolden him to take more. This doesn't stop when people comply, it grows because people comply.


Medical apartheid*

Segregating a group of people, whether it be by race, religion or politics (or to a large degree, all three in this case), never goes well. It has already escalated far beyond the government order. What was a few "everyday things you will miss out on" — like hairdressers, restaurants, cafes, places of worship, events, weddings, and funerals — is now, thanks to the voluntary embracing of passports, also most public council facilities and almost everything except places the order expressly excludes (healthcare, pharmacies, supermarkets, and hardware stores) — sometimes not even those. Many thousands of people have been fired on short notice for being unvaccinated or for refusing to share their medical status. This is in fact illegal; but few really care about obeying the law. What matters is the ideology, and one must show oneself to be zealous in supporting it.

It has already turned nasty.  Others are bullied at work, despite their employer retaining them (so far). VTNZ says people will not be able to get a driver's license without a vaccine passport. Many people are worried about becoming homeless as private accommodation providers enact passport checks and public housing providers threaten to. Others have been refused medical treatment outright. Some have been refused treatment inside medical centers, because they were unvaccinated, or even vaccinated but with a mask exemption; instead "for legal reasons" being treated in carparks, or in one case treated gynaecologically in a dirty garage. Of course there are no such legal reasons; nor apparent consequences for the actions of the doctors violating their code of practice; nor interest from media in their stories. Stories like these should not be surprising: from what I've seen of the exaggerated fear many doctors have, but mostly from what the government is saying: that unvaccinated people are second class citizens, undeserving of equal treatment, and a danger to society. There is little fear of the government punishing an attitude they are promoting. Segregation is essentially dehumanizing.

Such is the kindness our Prime Minister has spoken of so much.

How are we supposed to take it when she says "we are still a team"? Six weeks ago she happily admitted to her purpose of creating two classes of citizen. Thanks to the encouragement of this government discrimination, many people are now afraid of the unvaccinated and regard them as infectious, unclean betrayers of the nation, certainly deserving of being treated worse than other people. Perhaps even deserving of jailtime; look how seriously Austria and Greece are taking COVID. Around the world police are beating peaceful protesters; for the good of public health they deserve it. It's not politics; all those millions of protesters are nut-jobs.

It doesn't matter that covid isn't yet spreading at all in most places in New Zealand. It doesn't matter that the unvaccinated are not much more infectious than the vaccinated — causing the narrative to change from "vaccines reduce the spread of infection" to "vaccines reduce the burden on healthcare". It doesn't even matter if the unvaccinated have never used the healthcare system and never will and thus cannot burden it. No, the unvaccinated are evil and selfish because they challenge the notion that the vaccines can save us from COVID, and the belief that it is a sin to refuse to trust one's body to Big Pharma. Specifically Pfizer, a company with a long criminal history that spends two to four times more on marketing than research, and tens of millions on lobbying politicians every year.

Oh yes and we expect you to entrust your children to it also.

It doesn't matter that most people are not so unreasonable as to hate those without vaccine passports. It has never mattered in any nation where forced segregation has happened before. All that matters is that the majority does not identify with the underclass and doesn't actually do anything to stop their mistreatment. Some businesses and churches have made public statements that they will not discriminate as government orders or encourages them to, but so far they are a small minority.

No-one would have accepted vaccine passports if they had been implemented right from the start. No, blind compliance had to be ramped up slowly: a "short sharp lockdown" becoming two years on and off; officially useless masks becoming officially mandated masks for the purpose of being "a constant reminder of the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19" (in other words, to increase fear); an endless state of emergency; and now a system that tracks everyone and a mandatory drug to be administered every six months.

Papers, please. We are looking for traitors.

The media calling Friday "Freedom Day" is a sick joke. One that is only possible because the nation has been conditioned since last March, such that most Aucklanders now believe segregation is a small price to pay to regain the basic freedoms that were theirs before covid panic.


Unjustifiable and irrational — except politically

Vaccine passports cannot be justified for health reasons. Firstly, the Ministry of Health said in an official position statement on Friday 19th that in a population that's 80% vaccinated, covid is mostly spread by the vaccinated. If the unvaccinated were continued to be allowed to go everywhere, the bigger threat in all those places would still be the vaccinated. How then can this discrimination, this massive denial of rights, jobs and services that people rely on, be worthwhile? Oh right, because virtually anything can be justified if it slightly reduces the risk of a low-risk virus**. Not because Aucklanders are "high on all of the freedom that’s coming [their] way".

Secondly, covid mostly spreads within households, where vaccination doesn't make a difference. The doublespeak continues to shine: authorities accept this with regards to supermarkets, admitting there's no evidence of COVID spreading there, but somehow it doesn't apply to other places, not even outdoor community events. Certainly this is all about science and nothing to do with what's politically acceptable.

Thirdly, the regional rules for passports are not even based on covid cases. There are many regions like Rangitikei that have zero cases, that will be in red level on Friday, while others like Waikato have hundreds of cases but will be orange. Never mind that we were told the more restrictive levels would be used "when cases start to climb" in a "highly targeted and localized" way. Certainly the political expedience is pure coincidence.

And there are so many more examples that aren't directly about passports — that would be a huge post in itself. It's a house of cards.

One way only

There are many other possibilities. The supposed reason for the mandates is fear of "overwhelming the healthcare system." A simple solution could be to refuse to treat unvaccinated people for covid. While problematic, at least it wouldn't involve segregating society.

There is the possibility of rapid antigen testing. There are serious problems with that, but it would still be preferable to this, and it might actually accomplish something positive, though temporarily. Rapid testing would be very expensive; apparently the government has decided this would be more expensive than splitting the country. They are wrong, because culture is crucial. There are long-term effects of dividing people. Restoring trust will not be easy; but at no stage of the covid response have they shown they care about the trust of those who ask serious questions.

There are many things that we know have greater effect at slowing the spread of covid than vaccination. Things like increasing exercise and exposure to sunshine and reducing obesity. We wouldn't dream of mandating these, even though they have a far greater effect on the healthcare system as a whole. But it can be politically acceptable to attack a fraction of the country, many of whom are already on the fringes anyway.

The unvaccinated are disproportionately poor, marginalised, and/or Māori. Demonizing these people is the opposite of what the Labour party is supposedly about.

One reasonable justification***

Our government's response to the virus failed. The justification for lockdowns was to not overwhelm the healthcare system, and to wait for vaccines. But government did little to expand healthcare capacity (in fact it has now done the opposite, firing thousands of workers). It pinned all its hope on vaccines, which have turned out to be not very effective. It spent tens of billions (without proper oversight) not on healthcare, but on "sustained propaganda" and on preventing people from working, and citizens from returning to their country. Despite the handouts, lockdowns destroyed thousands of businesses, saw a rise in mental health problems, created a massive increase in house price inflation, pushed an estimated 18,000 children (with Māori and Pasifika triply represented) into poverty in the first year alone, and achieved nothing but a delaying of the inevitable.

But it is political suicide to admit a failure of this magnitude, so the blame must be shifted to the enemies of the program: those who might have prevented the failure had they been allowed a platform, those who ask questions and are independent enough or already sufficiently marginalised as to not respond to coercion. It is the simplest and most effective strategy of all time: divide and conquer. Create scapegoats.

Anyone who knows anything useful from the history of the previous century knows what follows.

If it is allowed to continue.

It is your choice whether you are part of it. You can do something about this.


Encouragement

Illegality

First, note that the legality of all this is highly questionable. These orders violate multiple specific laws against this kind of discrimination, whereas they are enabled by a new emergency law that gives vague and broad powers. These orders have not been tested, and while related High Court cases indicate the judiciary may support them, it remains to be seen whether they uphold these larger violations, and more importantly they are the kinds of laws that need to be addressed at the highest level, the Supreme Court. Further, many employers have broken the law already by firing their employees over vaccination. And don't get me started on the people everywhere on power trips trying to force everyone to wear masks, in violation of the actual rules.

Unconstitutionality

Second, note that the government is out of control and acting unconstitutionally. The Speaker of the House, the Human Rights Commission, respected legal experts, Amnesty International, and many other advocacy groups and lawyers have condemned the government's ramming through of the latest amendments to last year's COVID Act. I've been writing about unconstitutional lawmaking for a long time, but have never seen this much support against it — because it's never been this extreme.

The law itself is true police state stuff - essentially indefinite partial lockdown with extra controls. Government now has the power to take control of COVID testing labs. The powers around MIQ facilities are expanded, right when the supposed reason for having them is disappearing. These powers apply not just to current facilities, but any place of isolation designated by a COVID order, which could be anywhere, such as your home. Enforcement officers (who no longer have to be police) may literally send you to your room, choose what items are allowed with you (such as alcohol), what behaviour is acceptable in your room, and keep you there for however long the MIQF chief executive determines is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID (the presence of the virus that is, not infectiousness let alone sickness). The executive can control whom you are allowed to associate with, or physically distance from, or where you may travel. It allows officers to enforce "any kind" of on-the-spot medical examination, in any circumstances, so long as the executive decides it helps prevent spread of COVID. The executive can invent extra rules on the spot. And it allows for additional information to be required on your vaccine passport.

Most of the biggest checks and balances required by democracy are currently ineffective or non-existent, as evidenced by the majority of churches staying silent, and now enacting blatantly un-Christlike discrimination, many also gaslighting their congregations on how they're not creating "different castes of disciples"; a parliamentary opposition who have done virtually nothing to challenge the official narrative; a High Court that said lockdown was illegal but that this didn't matter; the same said the roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine was likely illegal, but must continue regardless; a Police Commissioner who shows no regret about enforcing illegal orders; a Prime Minister who no longer answers questions from "unapproved" members of the public; fifty-five million dollars given to media to further undermine any supposed press independence, making it not at all surprising that it has acted almost entirely as a megaphone for the government on covid orders rather than as any kind of watchdog.

This makes it easy for the government to abuse an indefinite state of emergency. The state of emergency wasn’t democratically established in the first place, and it continues to be inappropriate because it has no clear end. Covid is not expected to disappear (probably ever, since animals also carry it), nor is there a reasonable expectation of vaccines removing the danger that is the purported reason for these laws.

Things won't fix themselves

There's no reason to think that government will stop this power grab, and every reason to think it will only increase pressure on the unvaccinated. There's no reason to think the establishment will right itself any time soon. Even before covid, the new leader of the National Party Christopher Luxon was talking about refusing welfare to the unvaccinated.

What you can do

But there is every reason to think there are things that can work: speaking up, non-compliance, and protests. 

The first is the most important. Talk to anyone and everyone about what is happening. Yes everyone is sick of it; but not half as sick of it as those having their lives destroyed and being treated like lepers. It's amazing how many people are afraid to even discuss things in plain sight, like tokenistic mask wearing. People are so cowed. The Kiwi spirit itself was muzzled last year. Without talking, fear only grows.

There are more official versions of talking. Write to the Human Rights Commission. Write to your local MP, your chosen political party leader, your church leader, businesses you love to express your gratitude or disappointment respectively. Anyone with authority with the ability to do something, or with a larger public platform.

Even if you have submitted to coercion to keep your house and job etc, you can minimize the use of your vaccine passport for anything else. You can maximize your use of non-discriminating businesses. There are other kinds of non-compliance too, just don't be an asshole or break the law.

You can attend the rallies that are far larger than media is saying, and are very positive and powerful in person. The government cannot continue to ignore them when they grow large enough. Massive protests in Australia have had success: the federal government is now putting pressure on state premiers to stop their heavy-handedness. But the Aussies were roused to that through months of endemic police abuse. It would be great if we don't have to go through that — but I expect we will.

The situation is evolving rapidly. Now is the time to make a difference. Lives and livelihoods are at stake — more than covid could possibly take. What is happening is normal behaviour for a totalitarian socialist state, and it always leads to disaster. The world is watching as one of the harshest pandemic policies is enacted on one of the most compliant populations, and calling us sheep. All it takes is a small number of the flock to break off at the lead of the chasm-approaching stampede, and the rest will follow. We choose now between control or freedom, fear or dignity, shame or courage.

I have no doubt that we conscientious objectors will be found to be on the right side of history. Similar things have happened so many times before. I have no doubt that by standing strong, we will win back a democratic single-class society — one that is stronger than before.

The battle lines are drawn. But for most they are not yet entrenched.

The panic must stop.





Notes

Yes I'm deliberately varying the capitalisation of COVID; if you pay attention you might work out why.

*Medical apartheid

Some people object to my use of the word "apartheid", because it has a specific and recent history. I'm using the more general meaning: "A policy or situation of segregation based on some specified attribute." I think I will have the same objection whatever word I use beyond the others I've already used (class, segregation and discrimination). Apartheid is apt, with a class who are deemed worthy of serving the higher class, but not of mixing with it, and the comparison to South Africa not entirely inappropriate; rather, the longer a segregation policy continues, the more it will look like the South African version — or the Soviet version, or the Nazi version, which were more extreme. Segregation isn't less bad just because it isn't (directly) about ethnicity, which is why every human rights law doesn't speak only of race — or even only of attributes people are born with. Maybe I could talk about that in the human rights post I'd like to write.

**Low-risk virus

Meta-analysis from late March covering six systematic evaluations covering a total of 516 studies supports an estimated fatality rate of ~0.15%. I talked about a WHO estimate of 0.13% last year; apparently they've put out other estimates in the range of 0.1% to 0.3%.

***One reasonable justification

Having established from the most official source that the unvaccinated are not the biggest threat, if anyone can give a logical reason why we need to treat them as if they are — apart from the usual power/incompetence/ass-covering triad preserved by the bureaucratic at heart — I'm all ears.


Articles along similar lines to mine that I've linked above:

Updates

3/12: North Avon Medical Centre, Christchurch says on their website that no-one who is unvaccinated, or doesn't wear a mask for any reason including having a mask exemption, will be seen in the building. They will also be charged 50% more, or 80% more for those with a Community Services Card. This is definitely illegal even according to the new orders.

3/12: The Deputy PM joins the PM in straight up lying and gaslighting, saying that our 90% vaccination rate shows the nation is not divided over the issue. So 10% of Kiwis don't count? And we're supposed to ignore the fact that a large proportion of those who are vaccinated did so only because they were coerced?

7/12: The Prime Minister confirms that there is no end, and it matters not that at least 5% will never comply: "I'll never be satisfied so long as there's someone who chooses... you know, who is eligible and hasn't been vaccinated. There's not going to be an end-point to this vaccination program."

Comments

  1. Well written Chris. You have perfectly encapsulated my thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was awesome and spot on, loved it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post. The current narrative that seems to have slipped under most radars is that "we are vulnerable and need to be protected from the unclean unvaccinated", when in reality if the vaccine is at all effective, and if *kindness* ever factored in it should instead be "we are the protected and those unvaccinated are vulnerable". But our behaviour betrays our unbelief.

    Let's hope we don't completely lose our minds, and can look back in a few years and cringe without crying.

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  4. Thank you Chris, thank you so much. So grateful to have it all laid out, and references to support statements. I smiled while I read, not because of the content but at the sheer relief at someone cutting through the gaslighting. Also appreciated your ideas about action- feeling like there are steps which can be taken is empowering and heartening.
    I'm a lawyer, and I'm horrified. My employer doesn't agree, so I soon may have some more time to spread the word too!

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