Go back a decade, or even only five years and newspaper story after story assured us we’d all be in driverless cars by 2020. As my company receives about $25million annually from car-parks in our office buildings I grilled my CEO on ideas for using all of this space, given it’s mostly sub-terranean. For my troubles I copped an earful about my naivete re newspaper and purported “expert” speculations about the future.
We should bear that in mind re Covid. I certainly don’t make light of it but sufficient time has elapsed to see that many purported expert claims of tens of thousands of deaths in New Zealand were totally over the top. It still goes on. In Britain and some other countries there were some particularly outlandish “expert” forecasts, subsequently proven to be hog-wash.
A German “expert” last week forecast 100,000 German deaths from Covid this winter, given the predicted soaring seasonal figures of infection. Does anyone believe that? But it made this fellow world news.
There’s another dimension to this. Early this century I was persuaded to be a dragon in the New Zealand Dragon Den series, in the event, an enormous waste of my time. What fascinated me was how many people came in who were plainly intelligent but advanced propositions that were simply stupid.
I raised this with the producer and fellow “Dragon” Julie Christie, now Dame Julie. She specialises in making light entertainment TV programmes which involve the public making asses of themselves of the Married At First Sight ilk.
She told me people will crawl over broken glass to be on television, regardless of the humiliation. We see that particularly with American television, with experts interviewed on some topic and saying “thankyou for having me”.
Or again in America with a Police chief or politician discussing a major event with a dozen lackies lined up behind.
Watch Antique Roadshow. An expert is explaining the background of something someone has brought in while 50 people who can’t see the object or hear the explanation, crowd in the background simply to be on camera. I suspect this television publicity appeal has been a huge factor through the last two years Covid crisis.
What Covid flushed up in hitherto hidden away university obscurity, were numerous health academics. Suddenly they were in the limelight and what keeps them there is repeated doomsday forecasts. Does anyone doubt that the sainted Ashley has not gone home and his wife said, “Margaret rang and said she thought the blue tie today looked smart” and so on? Here’s a mousy figure, heading a Department notorious for its incompetence, as indeed was pointed out last week by the Audit Department, and suddenly he’s in the limelight and a national hero. All very addictive and an incentive to keep up his totally unnecessary appearances.
The public is now plainly fed-up with the hyperbole and Jacinda, with good political antennae, has sensed this and ceased her absurd daily Covid announcements, more so as her previous Joan of Arc saviour role is exposed for the nonsense it always was, such as her much vaunted amazing feat of telling the White Island volcano to stop being a naughty boy.
Consider the last election. At the time the voters were understandably terrified of the unknown and hiding under their beds, the “experts” having inferred we were all going to die otherwise. So daily they anxiously watched the Prime Minister’s Covid broadcasts with basically nothing to report, after all Jacinda had already saved us through elimination, all this throughout the election period. In my view that was a gross abuse of the electoral process and explained the massive Labour victory.
Give me a third of that unprecedented television exposure during an election to promote a flat earth political movement and I’d garner at least 10% support.
I repeat; I certainly don’t make light of Covid but it still requires a more balanced approach than we have endured. Today the media report one to two hundred cases daily in New Zealand, plus the occasional death and it’s relegated to a small single newspaper single column. The seemingly daily murders and road deaths are surely much more alarming.
On this Blog in March last year I predicted that when it’s all done and dusted, Sweden’s practical approach of learning to live with Covid, but with sensible precautions, will ultimately be proven to be the wise one.
There’s another year to go before the “done and dusted” point is reached, specifically when Africa has been vaccinated. Nevertheless, readers abreast of the news will be aware of the figures released a week ago showing that Sweden is now looking like one of the best performing European nations re Covid, and all without wrecking its economy and people’s lives.