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Who’s in Charge? The Rule Makers, Power Brokers, and Influencers of Lockdown Wonderland

Is this the third lockdown to end all lockdowns, or the fourth? How many layers of masks do I need to wear to buy groceries today? And why is it safe to buy a cup of coffee at Costco, but not at the coffee shop?

We no longer live in a liberal democracy grounded in evidence-based policymaking, logic, and human rights. We’ve fallen down some kind of rabbit hole into a hellish nonsensical Wonderland where the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, and the Queen of Hearts are making the rules.

We can argue at length about why this nightmare began and who nudged the ball to get the panic rolling. But the more important question at this stage of the game is: Who’s in charge now, today? Who has the authority to make this nightmare stop?

To answer those questions, I’m going to take you on a little tour down the rabbit hole to show you the tangled web of rule makers, power brokers, and influencers that are propping up this never-ending Hellscape. As the layers peel away, the more bizarre the story gets. And the answers that emerge are going to make your head spin. Nothing in this Wonderland is quite as it seems.

The March Hare and the Mad Hatter put the Dormouse’s head in a teapot.

~

“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.” 

 

— excerpt from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland #Commissions Earned, by Lewis Carroll

~

To tell this tale, I shall jump straight into the middle, since the beginning is unclear and there doesn’t appear to be an end. Intergovernmental agencies like the WHO and the World Economic Forum have their own agendas and they can spew unscientific nonsense and make endless utopian policy recommendations, but they can impose nothing. All they can do is offer advice that no-one is forced to follow.

It would therefore be reasonable to assume that the rules being imposed on us and the power to make all this stop ultimately lies in the hands of each country’s leader. If only it were that simple.

Let’s take Canada as the tortured example of this sordid tale, though any country would serve equally well because the story rhymes no matter which country is put under the looking glass.

Politics is all about maintaining the illusion of competence. The important thing is to be seen doing something, no matter how ineffective, so that when the sun rises in the East tomorrow, the politicians can take credit for it. So, not long after the virus first made its appearance, the government passed the Emergency Response Act, which gave the federal government the authority to fire up the printing presses, shut our national borders, and put our great-great-grandchildren into debt. And Prime Minister Trudeau has used these tools to put on a masterful performance to create the illusion of pulling out all the stops to save the world. Even a fool does what he can to avoid the appearance of impotence.

But healthcare is uniquely a provincial responsibility. Aside from border restrictions (and spending boatloads of money), there isn’t a single public health measure that the federal government can legally impose. When it actually comes to the public health measures, the Emergency Response Act merely lifted certain restraints to give the provinces the right to start creating their own emergency rules – a rule to start making rules.

The only authority Trudeau and the federal government have over provincial public health measures is the right, indeed the responsibility, to intervene if provincial health measures violate our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a responsibility he has categorically neglected so far for reasons that will soon become clear. But beyond that, he has no authority whatsoever to impose health policies onto provinces.

The White Rabbit is pompous towards his underlings and grovelling towards his superiors. And when Alice grows to a giant size and gets wedged in his house, he proposes to burn down his own house to solve the problem.

 

Are you with me so far? Not to worry, the rabbit hole gets much, much deeper – the fun is just beginning.

Trudeau does, however, have the responsibility to offer medical advice to help provinces coordinate their efforts. For that he relies on his Chief Public Health officer. Dr. Tam advises Trudeau, but he doesn’t have to follow her advice, although going against her recommendations would be politically risky. But since he is her paymaster and can fire her at will, her advice is likely tailored to what she thinks he wants to hear.

That creates a bizarre Catch-22 where it becomes impossible to identify where bad ideas originate. They may actually be winding each other up, each afraid of contradicting the other out of fear for their own jobs. Her supposedly apolitical advice requires political approval so she can keep her job. His recommendations to the provinces better not contradict the medical “experts” so that frightened voters don’t lose their confidence in his leadership ahead of the next election.

But since health is not a federal jurisdiction, the provinces don’t actually need to follow the recommendations of either of these Muppets. They can pick and choose what they want to hear. The buck stops with the premiers for what happens in each province. So, we finally found the culprits who are holding us hostage, right? Not so fast.

Each premier likewise has a chief public health official to advise them. But premiers are not bound by their recommendations either. Policy is, after all, supposed to be a political decision, with the option but not the obligation to balance advice from multiple departments (i.e. health, economy, human rights, etc.), which are often in conflict with one another.

But Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently openly admitted on camera that “I’m going to be frank. There’s no politician in this country that’s going to disagree with their chief medical officer. They just aren’t going to do it. They might as well throw a rope around their neck and jump off a bridge – they’re done.” Meanwhile, remember the accidental hot mic confession by Dr. Yaffe, Ontario’s Associate Chief Medical Officer, speaking to Dr. Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer? “I don’t know why I bring all these papers. I never look at them. I just say whatever they write down for me.

Which means no-one’s really in charge because the premiers are avoiding accountability by hiding behind their health officials while the health officials avoid accountability by advising whatever they think their political bosses want to hear. What a lovely self-reinforcing cycle of fascist terror imposed through sheer cowardice.

Everyone, from top to bottom, appears to be trying to weasel their way out of blameworthiness and so a system of suffocating tyranny grows, not because of the strong hand of a dictatorial mastermind, but because of a bunch of gutless invertebrates who are trying to hide behind each other’s coattails.

Individual cities, with their mayors and their own chief medical officers, are repeating this madness by implementing their own rules independently from the provinces. You would think that the provinces wouldn’t tolerate this kind of jumbled patchwork of DIY rulemaking on their turf, but you’d be wrong. Although some premiers have exercised their right to overrule some cities that tried to be more lax than the provincial rules called for, so far no premier has dared roll back municipal rules that are more draconian than the provincial rules out of fear of, yet again, being accused of putting lives at risk. He who has the most alarmist rules gets to be in charge… and hopes to take credit for saving the universe when the virus eventually fades away on its own.

In the Dodo’s Caucus race, everyone wins, and all must have prizes, which Alice must supply out of her own pocket. Even her own prize – a thimble – comes out of her own pocket, which the Dodo gives back to her after a solemn speech given before a cheering crowd.

There’s a strong correlation between media praise and future career prospects whereas, in the current climate of cancel culture, failure to match policy to media hysteria could easily prove fatal to any promising career. Now that it’s been normalized to ignore inalienable rights and freedoms in exchange for the promise of safety (rights that previously would have put limits on the kinds of policies that these invertebrates could dream up), there’s really no downside to alarmism for any of these people, but a great deal of risk if they grow a spine.

Ah, yes, the media. The poisoned chalice that keeps on giving. They are smack dab in the middle of all this, driving the hysteria to create click-bait and keep eyeballs glued to screens, which motivates them to constantly push health officials and politicians to new heights of hysteria and pounce on any that dare to try to dial down the rhetoric. They have a business to run. It’s clear that they’ve convinced themselves that investigative journalism doesn’t pay the bills or secure lucrative government subsidies. But fear sells. Handsomely. If it bleeds, it leads. Turn up the fear dial to harvest the low-hanging fruit, and keep those advertising profits coming in. The politicians have no choice now but to dance to their tune.

Could any of these various players pull the brakes on this madness today? Unlikely. Unless they all acted in unison to re-embrace integrity, evidence, honest debate, and human rights, speaking out on their own would likely cost any lone dissenter their job and see them swiftly replaced by someone else willing to play the game.

Every politician, official, and journalist understands the game perfectly well. Cancel culture is very, very real. To flinch, to admit error, or to show restraint when the mob craves action are sure-fire ways to find yourself at the losing end of a cancel-culture coup. All anyone needs to do to put their career in jeopardy is say something reasonable. The cry of alarm will instantly sound, and the Furies will begin to circle like sharks that smell blood in the water. “Apologize! Resign! Repent! How can you be so reckless, look at all those other countries, they can’t all be wrong!” A cult demands purity of thought. Nothing helps cure independent thinking quite like the threat of a purge. And there are plenty of disciples eager to create some space in the hierarchy for a promotion. In this game, conformity is the key to survival, so, like Tweedledum and Tweedledee, none dares contradict one another.

The twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee never contradict each other, no matter what kind of nonsense the other says.

That conformity even extends across borders. No-one dares be the black sheep of the global community, not after the drubbing dished out by the media against Sweden and South Dakota (now joined by Florida and more recently by Texas) for the audacity of following long-established pandemic planning guidelines. Unless politicians feel that their voters are overwhelmingly behind them, they won’t stick their necks out.

All it takes is a single voice to trigger the next wave of alarm, and, like a flock of birds, they all take flight out of fear of contradicting the alarmist, out of fear of being left behind. That’s why they refuse to discuss scientific evidence and epidemiological data – it risks splitting them off from the flock. So, it’s no longer just the compliant public that appears to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. It’s also become a survival mechanism for many of politicians, health officials, and journalists in order to come to terms with the situation that they find themselves in. It’s better to surrender your mind to a popular delusion than to stand alone in defense of an unpopular truth. Graveyards are full of people who were in the right.

~

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

— excerpt from Through The Looking Glass #Commissions Earned, by Lewis Carroll

~

Anyone breaking ranks to discuss actual verifiable evidence is willingly demoting themselves to the ranks of the “conspiracy theorists”, the catch-all phrase that politicians and media have used to smear anyone and everyone who disagrees with their narrative. It’s a desperate ploy used by desperate people to protect the coherence of their self-deception.

By now they’ve all strayed so far from evidence-based policymaking that if rationality returns and the public (and the courts) examine the data with their own eyes, it will undeniably cost them all their jobs and guarantee them a date with a human rights tribunal. Better to pretend the evidence doesn’t exist, better to pretend the science is settled, better to distract the public with unintelligible scientific jabberwocky, and better to pretend that truth hinges on credentials and the opinions of elites.

Once they went off the rails, they have no choice but to stick together. Anyone that dares to abandon ship must be thoroughly discredited for the protection of everyone else’s reputation. So, they put on their best poker faces, close ranks, and defend their house of cards because it’s the only shelter they’ve got.

~

“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?”

— excerpt from Through The Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll

~

And that brings up another influential player in this deadly little game, which is making politicians dance like puppets on a string. The frightened mob itself. Politicians, bureaucrats, media, and businesses are all slaves to public opinion. Weathervanes. Swimming against a strong tide is lethal. Going against the will of the mob is a dangerous sport. Not even the courts dare push against it if the current is strong enough.

It’s no longer just shameless opportunists whipping the crowd to ever greater heights of fear. Once the crowd’s imagination was stirred by the menace of an invisible virus, the crowd itself often does its own whipping. Consider how often politicians have tried to reopen schools, fully supported by epidemiological data and peer-reviewed scientific research, only to back down and issue a grovelling apology after parents and teachers howled in protest. Consider that even the WHO, which did much of the whipping during the early days of pandemic, is now routinely ignored as it has tried to back away from some of the most extreme measures and has tried to urge for a measure of restraint. Those that initially whipped the crowd into hysteria are now held hostage by that very same hysterical crowd. A weathervane will never turn into the wind. Woe to anyone that tries to make the music stop.

The Red Queen (not to be confused with the Queen of Hearts) lectures Alice on the rules of chess concerning promotion—specifically that Alice is able to become a queen by starting out as a pawn.
~

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else—if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Red Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

— excerpt from Through The Looking Glass, by Lewis Carroll

~

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