Joe Biden’s path to presidential irrelevance is paved with bad intentions, like his decree mandating Covid-19 vaccines in every workplace with 100 or more employees.
“We’ve been patient,” the President lectured the unvaccinated in September. “But our patience is wearing thin.”
Biden’s patience would be wearing even thinner after a federal appeal court delivered a scathing 22-page opinion on Friday confirming a freeze on the workplace vaccine mandate.
It described the measure as “staggeringly over-broad … a one-size-fits-all sledgehammer” that lacked legal force or logic. How could an employee with 99 or more co-workers be in “grave danger” when no attempt was being made to shield those with 98 or fewer co-workers from the very same threat?
The practical reality of living with Covid-19 is slow to dawn on the laptop class, the professional elite whose sentiments Biden instinctively appeases. Living with Covid-19 means living with the unvaccinated, unless we are to live permanently with the kind of segregation decent Americans would find intolerable in any other circumstance.
Yet the temptation to bully, shame and demonise the vaccine-hesitant is proving too strong to resist, and not just in the US. The healthier-than-thou, self-righteous preening of those who like to boast about their fully-vaxxed status is one of the nastier memes on Twitter right now.
“Follow Singapore and legislate no medical or hospital expenses to be reimbursed to people who are not vaccinated without medical justification and then contract Covid,” tweeted former NSW premier Bob Carr on Tuesday.
“You ignored warnings and got the disease. You pay for your wilful stupidity, not the rest of us.”
The following day he upped the vitriol. To be unvaccinated was “a violation (potentially fatal) of the rights of others to life and health. This should be enforced as we enforce smoke-free work environments or no driving while drunk”.
Carr, an incorrigible Sinophile, is no doubt aware that even in China, vaccination is officially a matter of informed consent.
If he is studying the emerging data from health authorities in the UK, he would also know the risk of being infected by a vaccinated person is higher than the risk of being infected by the unvaccinated.
The reason is prosaic: vaccinated people over 30 are more likely to be infected than the unvaccinated but are far less likely to develop symptoms, meaning they are less likely to call in sick when infected.
Yet the same people who insisted that we should spend fruitless months in lockdown on a fool’s mission to eliminate the virus are intent upon repeating their heavy-handed mistake in the administration of vaccines.
Vaccination could never be made compulsory, as the Prime Minister made clear in August last year when a policy of encouragement rather than coercion was established.
The transition plan agreed at national cabinet three months ago by state, territory and federal governments allowed for the fact that not everyone in Australia would be vaccinated. Modelling by the Doherty Institute demonstrated that the risk that hospitals would be overwhelmed by the unvaccinated was low once 80 percent of adults were double-jabbed.
On Friday, the national vaccination rate reached 82.8 percent and by the end of the week Victoria is likely to join NSW and the ACT with a vaccination rate of more than 90 percent.
Yet there is precious little sign that the state apparatus built to enforce lockdowns is being dismantled. Instead, it is being deployed to make life miserable for the unvaccinated in ways that were not envisaged in the national plan.
On Friday last week, an unvaccinated teacher with a medical exemption certificate received a visit from the police at his Sydney home.
They were acting on a tip-off from one his teaching colleagues that he had celebrated his birthday at a particular local restaurant the previous evening.
A simple phone call by police would have confirmed that the restaurant had been closed, but this is the kind of harassment the unvaccinated must now expect.
The teacher still has his job, unlike thousands of his unvaccinated teaching colleagues without medical exemption who have been or are about to be sacked.
The same purge is happening in state health services, where thousands of unvaccinated doctors, nurses and ambulance workers are losing their jobs.
Quite how our hospital services will be enhanced by the mass departure of trained staff with years of experience isn’t clear.
Meanwhile, in Victoria, police raided a respected GP’s surgery last week to confiscate the private health records of patients he had rightfully refused to surrender. This blatant breach of patient confidentiality was made possible by the Victorian government’s extraordinary emergency powers, the ones Premier Dan Andrews is seeking to extend indefinitely.
The raid was conducted without a warrant on the basis of unproven allegations that a patient or patients had been exempted from vaccination without justification.
Last week the Prime Minister painted a rosier picture of post-lockdown Australia in his address to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry: smiles on the faces of small-business people, hugs at airports, and the simple pleasures of friends catching up, the sharing of beers, visits to restaurants, strolling around the shops, getting a haircut.
“That is why I put the national plan together,” Scott Morrison said. “A plan based on the best possible medical science, homegrown right here in Melbourne, and economics to ensure we open safely and stay safely open. We’re not going back.”
The Prime Minister acknowledged that Australians have kept their side of the deal by getting vaccinated.
Governments, right across this country, must now keep theirs and return to Australians their freedoms.
Yet Australians will remain trapped in this public health dystopia of form-filling, QR codes, masks, check points and coercion for as long as the ad-hoc discrimination by state governments continues.
This will remain the kind of country where one will be obliged to present one’s papers to go about one’s everyday business.
It is a prospect that jars against every liberal bone in our bodies, the abrogation of the right to equal dignity.
The freedoms the Prime Minister rightly celebrated must be universally restored if they are to be freedoms at all.