The role of politicians is not to upset us and make us angry because after all, they have to be re-elected every four years, and they’ll need our ‘x’. So, they try to keep us happy with cheques during hard times, not restricting our freedom, too much, or at least not for too long, trying to keep businesses happy, and allowing the respective health officials to have their say, not necessarily their way. So, as you can sense, they are trying to find a middle ground. They’ve called it a “balance”. And that is the problem.
Not sure if you remember Alex Trebek saying to an interviewer that he didn’t gamble because “winning a hundred dollars doesn’t give me great pleasure. But losing a hundred dollars really pisses me off.” In behavioral economics there is such a thing as “prospect theory” that basically says all kinds of emotions are at play in an economic decision, and that “satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not linear”. For example, losing a hundred dollars does not upset you twice as much as losing fifty, even though it’s twice the amount lost. And similarly, we aren’t twice as happy winning one hundred than winning fifty. But winning fifty dollars twice is a whole lot better than winning one hundred once. Alex was right. (Everybody loved Alex, bless his soul).
And so our happiness and unhappiness are not linear.
Here is the connection to Covid, suggested by a Canadian physician with a master’s degree in public administration, and a research professor at Carlton, Hasan and Munir Sheikh. In a lock down, reopen only once, “because if you do have to impose a second or third lockdown, the gains from reopening are less than the pain from the lockdown”. Well said. Politicians don’t understand human behaviour. Their inconsistent action has proven fatal. They are not prepared to risk re-election with a total smackdown shut down, for as long as infection cases deflate to near zero, and re-open only once, and only if there is a robust system of tracers on hand, to snuff out new cases. 26 countries did it, according to healthing.ca. Canada did not. But our Maritime provinces did. They are much more disciplined Canadians than the rest of us, and, there’s political will. Their ‘Atlantic bubble’ worked.
But in the rest of the country, closing, reopening, curfew hours imposed, then changed, closing, reopening. It’s not about “a changing science” as our Premier Legault said. It’s about not understanding that a middle ground simply does not, and has not worked.
The other reasons are obvious. People are skipping out of their hotel quarantines, dozens land in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver airports Covid infected, delays and uncertain vaccine deliveries, the AstraZeneca controversy. So we throw up our hands. That’s why people are understandably fed up and not even listening to our Health folks anymore. Their professional advice doesn’t matter anymore. It applies to our Dr Arruda, Dr Tam, Alberta’s Dr Hinshaw, BC’S Dr Bonnie Henry, and Ontario’s Dr Williams. The “prospect theory” has eroded our trust, our patience, and swelled our frustration. The people who do have our attention, are those on the front lines of this war, those who are living the nightmare every day, those who are making decisions about who lives and who has to wait to get medical attention and care.
Then there is the race against the variants. Some areas have had to close vaccination centers because there are no more vaccines. How is that possible when our federal government told us they had signed agreements “with more pharmaceuticals than anyone else in the world”? Wow, were we mislead! In some cities and towns, Canadians have cancelled their appointment or are simply choosing not to get vaccinated. Fully 33% of Canadians say they will not get vaccinated. How can we beat this virus with this going on?
The expert opinions vary from 60 to 75% of the population to be vaccinated to even reach herd immunity. Add to that, the contrarian opinion that we can afford to wait a third of a year for the second vaccine. Isn’t that tossing caution to the wind when manufacturers of these vaccines are telling us 21 days between shots, and the US CDC says 42 days, maximum? One jab in many is better than both jabs in fewer? Perhaps. But I see it as arrogance and condescension, politicians stretching it out for their own gain.
Governments need to inspire confidence to build trust, and that has not happened.
That’s What I’m Thinking