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Today's Crises and Failing Governments

What do the covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, the immigration crisis and the nitrogen crisis have in common? In all cases we see heated discussions between supporters and opponents of the proposed measures and of the policy. We see this not only among the population, but also among politicians and even among scientists. This disagreement is not a good thing because it can get in the way of a successful approach. In this article I want to examine which strategy is suitable to get the population to change their behavior in solidarity or to support the policy of the government. The aim is to find a strategy that is widely supported and that avoids politicians and scientists confusing the population with contradictory statements and predictions.

If there is a new corona wave, it will not be easy to motivate the population for, for example, a new lockdown. The consequences of climate change can become unbearable if citizens do not radically change their behaviour. There seems to be no end to the mass immigration of mainly Muslims and no one knows a solution. The nitrogen problem could possibly lead to a civil war if large groups of citizens declare their solidarity with the farmers.

Approach covid-19 pandemic as a good example

It may seem impossible to devise an appropriate strategy to properly handle these crises. These are such complex matters with so many unpredictable consequences that even scientists cannot offer sufficient certainty to formulate a policy. However, for the covid-19 pandemic, we have a good example. The latter is elaborated upon by Deborah Birx in her book ' Silent Invasion: The untold story of the Trump administration, covid-19, and preventing the next pandemic before it 's too late'.

Dr. Birx coordinated the covid-19 policy under Trump. She was not Trump's preference, but Vice President Pence appointed her because Birx was incontournable. She had gained a great deal of experience in successfully combating the HIV virus in Africa, among other places. She avoided publicly contradicting Trump, but she was often opposed by his administration and she was banned from speaking in the national media. From a liberal angle, Birx was accused of working with Trump. Her reaction to this was that if she leaves, she will no longer have any influence. Birx is a courageous woman who sticks to her principles and does not keep her mouth shut. She finally managed to convince this unpredictable president of the danger of the corona virus.

Deborah Birx mentions some problems that make effective policy difficult. Firstly, citizens will eventually grow tired of all the restrictions. Second, the experts spend more time defending their strategy, making it difficult for them to adapt to changing circumstances. Third, some politicians have an interest in denying the danger. For example, Covid-19 is presented as the flu. Fourthly, scientists are also difficult to motivate to change their understanding. Birx said that the more she encourages scientists to change their minds, the deeper they dig. The latter is recognizable in all fields of science (I have been trying to convince psychologists for years that psychology is not an empirical science, but that is swearing in church).

Track data on a local level daily

What does Birx represent? In a pandemic that is costing so many lives, we have no time to lose. Immediate action is necessary. To do this, we need precise data on the distribution, of the symptoms, of the deaths as soon as possible. This data must be updated on a daily basis and it is crucial that the data is collected at a local level so that we know exactly when, where and how to intervene. The incredibly rapid development of efficient vaccines was obviously a stroke of luck.

Policy at the national level must be put into practice at the local level. That is why it is necessary to listen carefully to the people in the neighbourhoods, in schools, in care centers. This is especially important for the US because a policy that suits the big cities is unfeasible for rural areas where there is no primary care.

The data also provides insight into the emergence of new variants. These are by definition more contagious because they are the result of a selection process, but there are fewer symptoms. This is not a problem in a healthy population, but 15 percent of the population is vulnerable.

Another problem is that infection with the coronavirus does not provide immunity. Expecting herd immunity is nonsensical here. Long-term protection against infection and disease must be organised. The data provides a signal in which region the infections are increasing. It starts in young children, then adolescents, young adults until the vulnerable group of the elderly is reached. Mouthmasks for everyone in that region is a good preventive measure.

In order to avoid the politicization of the health crisis, it is important to provide the public with the full aggregated information that must be continuously available and, as mentioned, also at the local level. In this way, citizens understand the measures and the advice given. Trust is created through good contact with the local population. After each new wave, the data makes it clear how many lives have been saved. The sacrifice is then experienced as meaningful.

Finally, Birx says that prevention of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. also requires constant data collection. Business uses this tactic to continuously adjust production to the needs and requirements of consumers. In the same way, we need to apply the above strategies in 21st century health care. This worked well in Africa in containing the AIDS epidemic. Why did Western countries wait so long while the techniques were available?

Politicians prefer to look the other way

What does this say for tackling the nitrogen problem, the consequences of climate change, mass immigration and the increasing influence of an imperialist religion that rejects integration and the separation of church and state?

As far as nitrogen and fertilizer policy are concerned, the warrants come from Brussels without the direct involvement of stakeholders and without taking into account local needs. That this leads to mistrust is all too understandable.

The thousands of billions that Europe will spend to combat global warming are pointless. CO2 emissions in the rest of the world will continue to rise in the coming decades. In Brazil, the last tree in the Amazon forest has to be cut down first. Europe would be better off spending the money on adaptations to deal with the effects of climate change.

In the face of mass immigration and the increasing influence of Islam, politicians too often look the other way or live in denial. The vast majority of citizens do not want this, so that support disappears. In the face of this problem, the European Union hinders attempts by sovereign countries to protect their own identity and ensure the security of their citizens. This means that governments are failing to fulfill their most basic mandate. As a result, the population loses confidence in politics. The seed for a popular uprising is being laid here.

I cannot offer ready-made solutions for the current crises. Some main principles can be derived from the approach to the covid-19 pandemic described above. In any crisis, the advice of eminent and experienced experts must be put side by side. The government is drawing up a series of measures based on this. The population can vote in a referendum on the measures to be chosen. This consultation can be organized quite quickly thanks to the internet. In the meantime, data is kept to maintain insight into the course of the crisis and the effects of the measures. If the moment seems appropriate, the measures will be adjusted and resubmitted to the population.

The most important thing in this strategy is the exemplary role of the experts and the politicians. They are allowed to admit their insecurities and doubts. They must be prepared to change their views. It is crucial that they operate in all openness and take seriously what is going on among the population.

Party politics should not play a role in very serious crises. Politics in this case must be a joint project to ensure the safety and well-being of all. It is my conviction that the European Union is the worst possible construction to successfully implement the above strategies. Only sovereign countries that work well together will be able to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Nor should we shy away from military means to force Third World countries to take responsibility for their own people and the world in general. It's about choosing between a man-made apocalypse or a century that could be the best ever.

Your comments (send to juliaan.vanacker@gmail.com): if you submit a comment or a short essay. All reactions will be included except insults and what incites racism or violence:

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   © Juliaan Van Acker 2022