Covid divide in 2022: you ain’t seen nothing yet

As the Omicron wave washes through, it’s hard, even with the seasonal perspective, to reckon what things might be like in say a year’s time.

But perhaps necessary.

Because the day-to-day measures seem less and less meaningful – except where they provide a pointer to the direction of long-term policy.

Continue reading “Covid divide in 2022: you ain’t seen nothing yet”

In Britain, Christmas locks itself down

Experience suggests one should only call a turning point after it has actually – well – turned.

That said, it might be wise to keep an eye on developments in the UK over the Christmas and New Year period.

While Europe is fast locking down for fear of Omicron, Britain’s cabinet is the fulcrum of a political battle over whether any policy response would be meaningful.

Continue reading “In Britain, Christmas locks itself down”

Vaccinating the underclass

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Brian Easton – writing for Pundit – says if we want to minimise the impact of the Covid virus, we are going to have to think about social class.  

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New Zealanders do not easily talk about social class: that there are groups in the community who connect together, live different lives and have standards of living very different from the average – who are different from, but still a part of, us. We may recognise such groups exist, but we generally avoid using the notion or incorporate it into our social thinking. (A bit like Victorians being chary of talking about sex.)

Once we would say that New Zealand was a ‘classless society’ or, more cautiously, that we were the least class-bound society in the world. We may have been but the data suggests this is no longer true if it ever was. Often all we meant was to compare ourselves with the English but they are hardly a useful benchmark in the whole world.

We have a curious dialogue which implicitly equates Māori with the lower classes, drawing attention to their low incomes, their poverty, their unemployment, their poor health, housing and life prospects and their high incarceration rates. All true on average, but demeaning to many Māori, who have good jobs, decent incomes, reasonable health, their own homes and high social status and who are proud of their culture. It is true there are proportionally fewer of them than for Pakeha, but it is also true that there are many more Pakeha in total who are low in the socioeconomic rankings. Continue reading “Vaccinating the underclass”

Come on, Joel – more research should show that classism and the pox weren’t the only exports sent here by the Poms

ACT​ leader David Seymour (who is doing nicely in opinion polls) irked many people when he sent out priority vaccination access codes intended for Māori.

The critics (no surprises here) included

  • Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson, who said the move was “despicable” and she would be writing to Speaker Trevor Mallard about it.
  • Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, who said it was a “low-life move” aimed at intentionally sabotaging the Māori vaccine campaign.

This week, former Stuff reporter Joel Maxwell pitched in, too, to huff:

I’ll admit, Māori like myself were pretty angry about it. Some might accuse us of being ideologically driven, and that’s true – if the ideology was not wanting our whānau to die.

Having told us what he thinks of Seymour and his politicking, Maxwell proceeded to a bout of Pommy-bashing: Continue reading “Come on, Joel – more research should show that classism and the pox weren’t the only exports sent here by the Poms”

Everyone has a different Covid reality. That could be important

The role of chance in politics is often underrated.  The impact of Covid in different countries might illustrate this.

Take New Zealand and the UK, for example.  It’s difficult to think of a time when the mood in each country – to the extent that such a thing can actually be gauged – has been so divergent.

Continue reading “Everyone has a different Covid reality. That could be important”

Our post-covid future: the downside of working from home and the grim lessons office owners should learn from the retail sector

Post-Covid trends in workplace choices and the implications for the office market are the subjects of two recent articles drawn to our attention.

An article about the modern-day workplace, published in The Conversation, is headed How the pandemic will shape the workplace trends of 2021. 

It reminds us that the economist John Maynard Keynes  in 1930 predicted the amount we work would gradually shrink to as little as 15 hours a week as technology made us more productive.

It didn’t happen.  Rather, we began to spend extra time away from home

 … due to commuting and suburban living patterns, which we often forget are recent historical inventions.

An article in the New York Times,  headed The Future of Offices When Workers Have a Choice, reminds us that at the end of the 19th century, most American urbanites walked to work.

As late as 1930, Manhattan’s residential population was larger than it is today, meaning the city was more mixed in terms of land use, not dominated by office towers.

In the post-Covid society, the author surmises, many people will again prefer to work within walking or biking distance of home. Continue reading “Our post-covid future: the downside of working from home and the grim lessons office owners should learn from the retail sector”

Covid: an endgame taking shape?

Things are moving fast on Covid, perhaps faster than we realise.  But as Europe painfully grinds its way through a second lockdown, it’s easy to miss this.

First of all, it’s more of a lockdown-lite this time.  Policy is more nuanced and – although most people are too polite to say – has more or less converged on a Swedish approach.

Secondly, the second wave so far looks less deadly. Excess mortality is considerably below the levels of earlier in the year. And while the institutional response hardly rates as an exemplar, there are plenty of signs of successful adaptation, of government policy certainly and, perhaps more importantly, of individual and business behaviour.

Continue reading “Covid: an endgame taking shape?”

A year in the life of an Octopus

A regret.  Point of Order doesn’t cover octopi with sufficient rigour and detail.

So it’s a pleasure to recommend to readers looking to expand their knowledge the Netflix documentary My Octopus Teacher.

The plot is sui generis.  Craig Foster, a film-maker in crisis, retires to an isolated cottage on the far edge of the world (the Cape of Good Hope).  Each day he swims in the kelp forest at the joining point of the land and the ocean, until he knows it as well as his home, indeed it becomes his home.

And it is also the home of the Octopus. 

Continue reading “A year in the life of an Octopus”

There’s nothing new about the concept of end of life choice

This post was written by David Barber, media adviser and newsletter editor for the End of Life Choice Society

There is nothing new about the concept of a doctor helping to hasten the end of somebody who is already dying to spare further pain and suffering.

It is not some fanciful New Age idea, as some seem to think in the lead-up to this month’s referendum on the End of Life Choice Act.

Euthanasia (the word translates as “good death” in Greek) was practised in Ancient Greece and Rome, where writers and philosophers reported that good emperors prayed for a dignified and pain-free farewell.

After becoming the first country to allow women to vote, in 1893, New Zealand developed a trailblazing reputation for social reform, but has fallen behind in legalising medical assistance to die, which is seen by advocates as the last human right denied citizens – the right to die when and how one chooses. Continue reading “There’s nothing new about the concept of end of life choice”

Covid news not bad; political and economic news not good

This far into the epidemic it’s interesting what we know and extraordinary what we don’t. Which is more significant: the knowledge or the ignorance?

So what is happening:

  • Daily cases in many European countries are rising sharply but recorded death and excess mortality rates are not – so far.
  • In the US, the daily case and death rates have been falling for two months, from a late summer bump.
  • And in Australia and New Zealand, we are seeing just how hard it is to eliminate the disease.

The data has lots of possible interpretations, which certainly helps if you’ve got a particular case to support.  But one piece of good news is that the fear factor is coming in at the lower end of expectations.

Continue reading “Covid news not bad; political and economic news not good”