Real and Fake States of Emergency

Quite aside from whether they come down with the coronavirus infection, the passengers aboard the Diamond Princess have been having a very interesting experience.

For the first two weeks of their voyage, they were having an all-day party, eating, drinking, smoking, gambling, dancing, playing games, watching movies. They were all doing more or less whatever they wanted to do, all day every day. The crew were no doubt striving mightily to give them whatever they wanted.

But then, on 5 February, it all suddenly changed. On the orders of the captain, they were confined to their cabins. And they were also forbidden from smoking, and no longer served any alcohol. Food was delivered to them three times a day. Instead of doing what they wanted all day, they now had to do what somebody else – the ship’s captain – told them to do. And now they’re going to have to spend the next two weeks in their cabins.

From the point of view of Idle Theory, they’d descended from a heavenly state of near-perfect idleness and freedom to a hellish state of near-complete constraint.

The passengers are not being obliged to dig in fields. Instead they are being constrained to do nothing at all. They have become prisoners on a prison ship. The crew who once were their servants have become their masters.

And what had happened was that a state of emergency had been declared. And in this case the cause of the emergency was the outbreak of a coronavirus epidemic aboard the ship. Lives were at risk, and every measure necessary had to be taken to save lives.

It’s not clear at present whether there is actually a real emergency on the ship, for the simple reason that so far nobody has died. And it seems quite plausible to suppose that, with all concerned warm and dry and well fed, nobody actually will die.

In which case it might be asked whether this actually was a real emergency, or whether the captain and the authorities in Yokohama were over-reacting to a not-very-dangerous virus. Couldn’t the passengers have just carried on living their idle, playful lives as before? Was it necessary to confine them to their cabins, and ban alcohol and tobacco?

Since about 800 people are said to have died in China of this virus, it would seem that the Diamond Princess is faced with a genuine emergency, and the passengers will be very lucky if none of them die.

Compare this with what happened in the UK on 1 July 2007, when smoking was banned in all enclosed public spaces. The WHO believes that there is a “tobacco epidemic,” so wasn’t it right for the government to ban smoking just like the captain of the Diamond Princess? Was it a justified response in another state of emergency?

The answer must be that this was a fake emergency. It wasn’t an emergency because people weren’t dropping like flies from inhaling tobacco smoke. In fact, nobody at all was dying.

In addition, the state of emergency aboard the Diamond Princess is due to be lifted after just two weeks. But the false state of emergency that began in the UK on 1 July 2007 has never been lifted. It’s a permanent state of emergency.

The same sort of fake state of emergency also applies with the global warming alarm, which is now being called a climate “crisis” or climate “catastrophe”. But there is no real crisis, and there is no catastrophe. It’s another fake emergency. And it’s also one that threatens to become yet another permanent state of emergency.

How long can people endure permanent states of emergency? The passengers on the Diamond Princess are facing a two week long state of emergency. How long are some 400 million Chinese going to have to endure their current lockdown state of emergency? They’re being locked in their homes just like the passengers on the Diamond Princess. But, unlike those passengers, they should be busy working, making and selling goods. The current lockdown is closing down the Chinese economy. Who is growing food? Who is transporting it? Who is making and selling all the other things needed by hundreds of millions of people? Is everyone else in China working twice as hard to make up the shortfall? If not, shortages are bound to result. And one medical state of emergency is likely to overtaken by an economic state of emergency. Which is the greater emergency?  What happens when 400 million people start getting very, very angry? China looks set to face cascading multiple  emergencies, one after another.

About Frank Davis

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5 Responses to Real and Fake States of Emergency

  1. Clicky says:

    • Rose says:

      She can try…

      Parliamentary questions
      19 June 2008

      WRITTEN QUESTION by Godfrey Bloom (IND/DEM) to the Commission

      Subject: Environmental tobacco smoke E-3520/2008

      “According to the Commission Green Paper ‘Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level’ (COM(2007)0027), more than ‘79 000 adults’ die in the EU per annum from the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
      This claim is the driver behind the proposals by the Commission to bring in a binding directive later this year to enforce smoking bans in workplaces.

      Given that the impact of such a directive will be considerable, both economically and socially, could the Commission please name three or four people who have died from ETS within the European Union in the last two years?”
      http: //

      Parliamentary questions
      18 July 2008
      Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission

      “The Green Paper ‘Towards a Europe free from tobacco smoke: policy options at EU level’(1), refers to the estimates of mortality attributable to passive smoking in the EU reported by Smoke-free Partnership in Lifting the Smoke-screen: 10 reasons for a smoke-free Europe(2). These estimates are based on the international evidence on the level of risk posed by exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and the estimated proportion of the population exposed rather than individual cases of deaths due to passive smoking.

      The nature of the epidemiological evidence on all risk factors, be they chemical or other, is such that it does not allow to identify the victims at individual level but only populations.”

      (2)Jamrozik K., ‘An estimate of deaths attributable to passive smoking in Europe’

      “The evidential link between individual circumstances of exposure to risk in exempted premises will be hard to establish. In essence, HSE cannot produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to SHS to the raised risk of contracting specific diseases and it is therefore difficult to prove health-related breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act”

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      The majority of studies, including the two most robust studies (Boffetta and Enstrom & Kabet) showed no adverse effects from second hand smoke under normal exposures.

      See Boffetta, et al: Multicenter Case-Control Study of Exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Lung Cancer in Europe, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 90, No. 19, October 7, 1998: “public indoor settings did not represent an important source of ETS exposure.” (This case-control study used data from the IARC. The period of enrollment of case and control subjects was from 1988 to 1994–16 years; IARC=International Agency for Research on Cancer.)

      This large study looked at 38 years worth of data: Enstrom, JE and Kabat, GC. Environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality in a prospective study of Californians, 1960-98 BMJ 2003; 326:1057.This study found “No significant associations were found for current or former exposure to environmental tobacco smoke before or after adjusting for seven confounders and before or after excluding participants with pre-existing disease.” (This prospective study used American Cancer Society dataset.)

    • smokingscot says:

      She seems to take herself far too seriously – a pain in the neck who faked outrage at every perceived slight, then got right uppity when she was fired.

      She can’t bring sexual harassment because she repels. But she can stay in the news by bringing nuisance cases against those she envies.

  2. Joe L. says:

    OT: I’m not sure I completely understand all the facts in this case because I have only read a couple articles, but my take so far is this:

    Actress Shannen Doherty experienced fire damage to her home from a California wildfire in 2018. She sued State Farm insurance for not covering all the fire and smoke damage to her home. She recently publicly divulged that she has had a relapse of breast cancer, and is now diagnosed with terminal stage 4 breast cancer. State Farm is fighting back by claiming that she is using her breast cancer diagnosis as a ploy for sympathy in her case against them. State Farm just publicly released documents (containing her unredacted home address!) which claim that they wouldn’t cover all the smoke damage because a large part of it was caused by her cigarette-smoking habit (which she claims she gave up in 2015 after her initial cancer diagnosis).

    There is a large difference between extensive smoke damage from a wildfire and “damage” (i.e., slightly yellow walls) caused by cigarette smoke. This appears to be a vicious, disgusting case of smoker-blaming and smoker-shaming by State Farm, using a terminally-ill woman’s smoking habit as a poor excuse to refuse payment to repair the damages from a wildfire. Smokers who pay State Farm for their insurance should beware. It may be time to boycott State Farm and find a new insurance provider.

    Shannen Doherty under ‘enormous emotional distress’ after State Farm peddled ‘lies’ about her smoking habits

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