Unintended Consequences Will Rule

Everything about Covid policy in Australia is panicked, half-arsed, and fails to consider unintended consequences. Pretty much standard for our bureaucrats.

Bureaucrats, and the politicians that rely on them, are notorious for ignoring unintended consequences of their policies. So much so that I have long advocated for a Policy Smash crew that would aim to break proposed policies by working around them in legal, tax, economic, transactional and technological ways. But that is too results-focused for our governments.

In Australia the Covid policy space is jampacked. I just want to highlight a couple of policies and the likely consequences.

Smart phone tracing apps and mobility tracing

Set aside the creepiness of mobility tracing using mobile phone tower pings, and the government having a master database of everywhere you have gone.

What will people do who don’t like this? Drop their mobile phones altogether, or switch them off and only turn them on when they need to. Middle response? Switch to a 4G basic phone, Nokia style, with no apps at all, and leave it off until needed.

You have to have a smart phone to QR code in. No smart phone, you can write what you like on a clipboard no-one looks at.

Oh, and that transport Opal Card is going to be a cash top-up, not on named credit cards.

The result will be no tracking information at all.

Transaction tracing

People will pay cash. Shopkeepers are already telling me their daily cash banking has increased dramatically. Cash hoarding at homes will increase.

Online shopping will grow, but there will be new payment providers and payment methods, and delivery intermediaries guaranteeing privacy. Provision of privacy services in day-to-day life is a certain growth market.

Social, entertainment and accommodation restrictions on the unvaccinated

This is the fun one. Assuming there isn’t overwhelming non-compliance (this is Australia 2021, sadly) you will see the emergence of unvaccinated speakeasies, where – shock! – people may even be allowed to stand while drinking.

You think this can be controlled? You mean, like the rave scene? The weed market?

And just like the rave scene, people will learn to be one step ahead of the tyrant’s handmaidens.

Consider weddings between the unvaxxed. How’s that going to work? Easy. New, parallel, innovative venues that don’t qualify as venues. Pop-up parties arranged at the last minute. Flash beach or park mobs. Suburban street dining. Who knows? The crowd operating under extreme limits is the most creative entity in the world.

People with large homes may make a few bucks on the side as social venues. A network of trusted venues and customers will emerge. Venues that qualify as outdoor (but not really) will spring up.

The vaccinated may even find that they want to be with the unvaxxed. You know, as the cool kids.

Prohibition always works, right?

Endgame: Widespread Disregard of the Administrative State

When an administration is consistently over-intrusive, citizens eventually come to ignore its demands altogether. They find ways to isolate themselves from the “white” economy and society, and a completely parallel black society (not just economy) emerges.

Just look at building regulations in Italy.

OK, so that is an extreme example. Italy has always been a large, rich, 3rd World country masquerading as a first world one.

And it will be more difficult in a much more technologically linked society. But it will happen. When grandparents start talking about ToR and the black net, you’ll know it’s underway. They’re already talking about crypto.

Enraged people will increasingly be willing to sacrifice “white” social and economic presence for freedom and autonomy, even if it means lower incomes or social status. The lockdowns have seen many people reappraise what is important in surprising ways. Subscription entertainment and TV, televised sports? All in decline. Discretionary spending is crashing.

For may, what seemed an essential part of life 18 months ago isn’t anymore. People are “letting go” and simplifying. Interest in regional property is exploding.

All this is a silent but strong “F*ck You” not merely to government, but to many preexisting social and corporate norms.

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