Self-isolation diary: Day 9

It's midnight. I'm a terrorist, holding Sydney in fear. I've blown up a famous building, the Opera House, or the Harbour Bridge. I'm alone, hiding in the house, with my AK-47 sub-machinegun. The house has been discovered and surrounded by police and the Army. There are sirens and helicopters. But I have a way to break out: a black Aston Martin car waiting in an underground garage with a secret exit! Soon I will zoom away and be free...

At that point I wake up, with my mouth dry. It's 1:30 in the morning, dark and silent except for a cool wind. It takes a while to get back to sleep.

That was last night's dream, the most vivid of my self-isolation time. Not hard to psycho-analyze, is it? Fear, isolation, the sense of hostile forces waiting outside. The childish fantasy of action and the wish to escape - good grief, Guy Fawkes meets James Bond! At a deeper level perhaps, there's an acknowledgment that I am a threat to other people, as a possible carrier of the coronavirus. As if my dream knew that we are all potential terrorists now.

In the cloudy light of day, I was impressed by another example of the magnificent incompetence, as well as the habitual lying, of our ruling classes. Under pressure, the Australian government announced some income support for workers who were losing their jobs in the epidemic. The official MyGov website promptly crashed, as tens of thousands of people tried to apply. The government immediately tried to pass the buck, blaming an external cyber-attack. Later in the day they were forced to admit that no cyber-attack had occurred.

The bungling is spectacular, but the problems in our national response run deeper.  There's an acute shortage of coronavirus testing kits, protection equipment, ventilators, and other tools for an adequate response. Why aren't we making them on a mass scale already?

The Australian economy, in brief
That goes back to the 1980s, when Australia, along with many other states in the global periphery, abandoned the development strategy of building a balanced economy. Instead the regime - Labor as well as Coalition - dismantled the manufacturing sector, in favour of deregulation and dependence on a mining boom. Short-term thinking, in spades. Basically, we outsourced our manufacturing capacity, trashed technical education (a massive scandal of bungled privatisation), and became utterly dependent on container ships - importing cheap manufactures in bulk from abroad. And suddenly those goods aren't easy to come by.

We all know by now to wash hands thoroughly, in soap, for twenty seconds. The soap dissolves away the fatty covering of the coronavirus and the washing disintegrates it. But how do we judge twenty seconds? The commonest suggestion is to sing "Happy Birthday", twice. I have a better scheme. Sing this. It's from I.W.W. Songs, To Fan the Flames of Discontent (for the happy pedants among us, 19th edition, 1923, page 10, as amended by personal memory). Tune: O Tannenbaum.

The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyred dead;
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their heart's-blood dyed its every fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high!
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep THE RED FLAG flying here!

Sing that with confidence. I guarantee that no coronavirus will survive it.
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