This is just brilliant. Below is an extract of Janet Albrechtsen’s column. This is a must read about first world problems and how, because either of our ignorance of even the most recent history or just plain intellectual laziness and incuriousness, we are skating close to the edge of repeating it. All of it. It’s all best summed up in the very last sentence —
“..We tend to assume the story of humanity is one of constant progress. But we should remember that after the Roman Empire collapsed, western Europe returned to the Dark Ages for 1000 years until the Renaissance. First World arrogance has led to the most diabolic First World problem of all: a deluded belief that we are immune from going backwards..”
READ ON —–
“….Here is a First World problem writ large: a lucky generation that has never known the misery, maiming and death caused by diseases that are now preventable thanks to modern-day vaccines. We haven’t seen young limbs mangled, children unable to breathe, drowning in their own secretions, when polio hit a peak of 39.1 per 100,000 people in 1938, with further outbreaks in 1956 and 1961. Today, polio is a thing of the past because a vaccine introduced in 1966 protects us from this killer disease.
We don’t see young children racked with spasms and cramp from tetanus, or suffocating from whooping cough. It’s likely we don’t know that 4075 people died from diphtheria between 1926 and 1935 and that deaths from the deadly disease fell to zero by 1990. Or that 2808 people, mainly small children, died from whooping cough between 1926 and 1935, with only a tiny fraction of deaths after 1986.
In Australia today, the more affluent the postcode, the more potent the complacency. The latest figures released in June show that in central Sydney, just 70.5 per cent of five-year-olds are fully vaccinated (worse than Byron Bay), compared with 99.5 per cent in Woonona, a northern suburb of Wollongong. My own suburb has an immunisation rate of 84.2 per cent, well below the 95 per cent cover that provides what doctors call herd immunity. South Australia has immunisation coverage at 93.4 per cent, exceeding the national average, yet in Adelaide just 91.9 per cent of five-year-olds are fully immunised. Perth has an immunisation rate of 90 per cent, compared with 99.2 per cent in Broome. Across the rich developed word, the “Whole Foods mum” phenomenon is putting lives at risk, while countries such as Zambia and Vietnam report higher rates of immunisation against measles, mumps and rubella than Britain.
We are a lucky generation indeed, one that has no experience of communism or socialism either. Casting aside the Cold War as old history, many in the rich First World continue their love affair with socialism, even as food shortages in socialist Venezuela kill people daily. Inflation there is set to reach 720 per cent and supermarket shelves are emptying. When you can find food, a basket of basics costs four times the monthly minimum wage, according to the Venezuela-based Centre for Social Analysis and Documentation. It might be fun for the Greens and Labor leader Bill Shorten to flirt with socialism, promising to spend more of other people’s money and to tax the rich more. Until we end up living the consequences of that conceit too.
Other First World problems are equally perilous. We are the generation that has no experience of living without basic freedoms. So we take them for granted and regularly curb them without understanding that we are chipping away at the core liberal project. The “cultural McCarthyism” that John Howard warned about in 1994 has taken hold. Freedom of speech is routinely curtailed in the name of not hurting someone’s feelings. Universities are cottonwool campuses that offer safe spaces and trigger warnings rather than robust intellectual learning.
Students regularly resort to violence to silence people with different views. If liberalism is the measuring stick, this is not progress.
We are the generation that assumed we would be better parents than our own, by helicoptering over our children. Lawnmower parents try to clear the way for their kids, then Hoover up after them when things go wrong. The generation that will follow us is at risk of losing resilience to deal with the vicissitudes of life, suggesting we are not half as clever as we think we are.
We are the generation that also lost sight of the real meaning of equality. The civil rights movement was premised on equal political and legal rights regardless of race, creed, gender and sexuality. In the 21st century identity politics has become the ultimate First World indulgence, weaponising difference with scant regard for the consequences of dividing people into noisy identity-based tribes demanding different treatment.
Our smugness has extended to assuming we can live in the luxury of green fashion without paying the price. That folly has been exposed by skyrocketing electricity bills that hurt the poor the most, frequent blackouts, an unstable energy grid, local investors choosing to do business in countries with cheaper energy and foreigners sucking up taxpayer-funded subsidies in our rent-seeking renewables industry. A decade ago we didn’t need to ask our governments to keep the lights on. Now we do. More fool us.
There is a common denominator here. We tend to assume the story of humanity is one of constant progress. But we should remember that after the Roman Empire collapsed, western Europe returned to the Dark Ages for 1000 years until the Renaissance. First World arrogance has led to the most diabolic First World problem of all: a deluded belief that we are immune from going backwards…..” First World faces a plague of complacency