Current Affairs Health Journalism Politics

Irish Times Platforms Anti-Lockdown Fake Science

As several commentators over at the Cedar Lounge Revolution have noted, the ideologically schizophrenic attitude of the Irish Times towards the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has become increasingly apparent in recent weeks, with both editorials and features expressing a degree of sneaking regardism towards the Darwinist argument that we should just “get on with it” and learn to live with the pandemic sans the need for substantive regional or national restrictions. If not quite an anti-lockdown stance the newspaper has nevertheless begun to lean towards something more in line with the “herd immunity” theory, or at least a scientifically distorted version of it, that initially gained traction with authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States. And which Sweden pursued to its own considerable detriment in terms of lives and prosperity.

However few people believed that the newspaper would go so far as to permit the publication of an expensive full-page advertisement from a disreputable organisation, funded by libertarian think tanks and billionaires in the US, attacking the health rules in place to manage the pandemic. Containing a number of scientifically false or misleading claims, the ad in the self-styled paper of record has been hailed by the far-right tendency in the country as a vindication of their position – and tactics. And while most newspapers maintain a firewall between the news teams and the sales teams anyone familiar with the inner workings of the Irish Times will be aware of just how porous that wall is. The timing in the publication of implicitly lockdown-sceptic editorials and explicitly anti-lockdown features is not coincidental.

Unfortunately Ireland lacks a liberal – as opposed to neoliberal – media which is why the crisis gripping our island nation is only going to get worse. Not just the spread of the virus itself and the terrible effect it is having but also in the increasingly irrational and unscientific behaviours of some of our elected politicians and their fellow-travellers in the press. Such actions are opening up spaces for ideological toxins to seep in and poison the well of public opinion. For proof of that look no further than the latest opinion piece in The Burkean, a conservative college magazine that has now become one of the Americana mouthpieces of the domestic neo-right.

Yesterday’s papers carried news of clashes Saturday afternoon at the anti-lockdown ‘Let Ireland Live’ demonstration. Unusually, the media also largely admitted to have been instigated by Left street activists through an informal alliance of football ultras and Left Republicans. Billed as an explicitly Nationalist event, the planned demo occurred fairly successfully, despite a marked increased left-wing threat at the gates of Leinster House.

With successful orations given by the National Party’s Justin Barrett and other figures the day, despite aggravation, proceeded well, with the starting skirmish merely guaranteeing public attention rather than preventing the demo to occur. If the previous half-dozen Nationalist demos the past 6 months were victories for the Right, this had the appearance of an effective stalemate with the resulting media storm heavily benefiting the Right.

…allowing the Right to profit from anti-lockdown disquiet.

Ironically even the liberal press gallery were forced to report on the very clear violent nature of the black bloc assembled, as opposed to the generally more peaceable Nationalist attendees. Online commentary from the left focused on targeting journalists who had the temerity to air the fact that violence was the sole responsibility of the Left and the Left alone, who came with the aim of disrupting a lawful gathering.

Without the added variable of the left-wing protests, the event would have occurred below the media radar, with the presence of the black bloc merely propelling the demo to the frontpage of national consciousness, with largely sympathetic coverage to boot.

To be clear, we have associates of the fascistic-style groups exploiting the current Covid-19 crisis by opposing government-mandated (and popularly supported) restrictions to manage the situation praising the Irish mainstream media for “sympathetic” coverage and using that praise as a means of legitimising their activities. And the decision by the Irish Times to accept the publication of a full-page ad by a controversial organisation whose aims align with that of the reactionary right adds further weight to that campaign of fake legitimacy.

18 comments on “Irish Times Platforms Anti-Lockdown Fake Science

  1. Charotte Anne

    In pooled analysis, the Centre for Disease Control found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51–1.20; I2 = 30%, p = 0.25) (Figure 2). One study evaluated the use of masks among pilgrims from Australia during the Hajj pilgrimage and reported no major difference in the risk for laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection in the control or mask group
    Two studies in university settings assessed the effectiveness of face masks for primary protection by monitoring the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza among student hall residents for 5 months (9,10). The overall reduction in ILI or laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in the face mask group was not significant in either studies
    Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids (36). There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.
    We did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility
    https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    A Stanford University blood sample study published this week put the COVID-19 mortality rate at 0.14% or less, meaning 14 deaths or fewer per 10,000 people infected Results were based on data from Santa Clara County in California, but if they hold up around the world, it means that millions were likely infected with the novel #coronavirus, but its lethality is about the same as that of the seasonal flu
    A Stanford University study published this week put the Cov19 mortality rate at 0.14% or less, meaning 14 deaths or fewer per 10,000. Results were based on data from Santa Clara County, meaning, millions were likely infected, but its lethality is the same as the seasonal flu
    https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20062463v2
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    “Positive [test] results are indicative of active infection with 2019-nCoV but do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease. Laboratories within the United States and its territories are required to report all positive results to the appropriate public health authorities.”
    https://www.fda.gov/media/134922/download
    —————————————————————————————————————————
    Survival rates: per the Centre for Disease Control USA.
    0-19 yrs: 99.997%
    20-49 yrs: 99.98%
    50-69 yrs: 99.5%
    70 & over: 94.6%
    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    According to the Central Statistics Office Ireland (www.cso.ie) during:
    Quarter 1 of 2020 8,674 people died.
    During:
    Quarter 1 of 2019 8,618 people died.
    That’s 0.6% of a rise. It may be that people stopped dying of conventional means and decided to try out the novel new way, dying by covid19.
    https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-vs/vitalstatisticsfirstquarter2020/
    ——————————————————————————————————————————–
    Why are the HSE currently testing at 40 cycles when the standard (useless) PCR test is 30 cycles. Will they return to 30 cycles mid lockdown to lessen the (false) postive cases in order to attempt to fool the people that lockdown worked?

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  2. What is the first quarter of a year? January to March. The first death in Ireland ascribed to Covid-19 was on March 11. By 28th of March 36 people had died. Can’t see why the figures above are in any sense undermining the idea that Covid-19 is lethal.

    Like

  3. To be past all the nitpicking, debates about numbers and such: Ireland’s size would make a mass testing approach like they used in S. Korea or Taiwan quite easy. Various countries have come up with a test that can produce fairly reliable results (not equal to PCR, but faster and cheap). That way a good portion of infected people can be identified and taken off the streets. They can be contact traced. Japan has controlled the outbreak extremely well with very few restrictions and they rely heavily on a group the call “The Cluster Busters” , who are good at finding clusters and getting nearly everyone involved in quarantine.

    Surely something can be arranged where the ECDC can invite some of these Japanese professionals over to share their experience with cluster buster. Whether the HPSC would do this via the ECDC or make their own arrangements, I’m not sure.

    Since the ROI already had a contact tracing app, but not enough people use it, maybe it should as emergency measure become mandatory for a while. One estimate says that 60-70% of the population must buy into such an app to stop a covid-19 outbreak. The news says only 30 odd% of Irish residents have done so. Surely if for some people the issue is not having a device to load the app onto, the ROI could come up with some way to procure one. Perhaps there should be a policy where all Irish citizens must have an app to go into any indoor public places or onto a bus, and where there’s a state way to provide for those who simply don’t have and can’t afford the equipment.

    Maybe the ROI has vaccinated over 90% of the population and the disease hasn’t been seen for a few months, the mandatory contact tracing should remain.

    Other concepts worthy of exploration could be Covid-19 sniffing dogs. They could be stationed in groups at major airports, train and bus stations, or numerous “checkpoints” that have a lot of human traffic. They could be used for churches or sports stadiums when better control is achieved or if you end up with a partly effective vaccine used by most people. In Ireland, I could see even having some teams of training virus detection dogs going to different town on different days and just start sniffing people who are out and about. Or using sewage testing to look for neighborhoods, districts or even towns with high levels of infection. That way they could quarantine people in just that area for a few days in addition to the appropriate testing, isolation or quarantine, contact tracing, and perhaps in the near future some coming Covid-19 prophylaxis could be used as well. Another could be some of the “environmental control” methods suggested such as high ventilation, sanitary UV lighting, air filters and such.

    Basically until and vaccine and possibly after a vaccine that may well be less than 85% effective, it would make sense to use a “combined attack”, rather than continuing to lockdown the population like this.

    Everyone hates masks, but……..

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    • There’s interesting modelling around mask usage which suggests that even accepting that they’re not an infallible method of preventing transmission which of course they’re not, at 50-60% rates of blocking transmission, which is lower than many studies seem to suggest, they have a very significant impact in terms of lowering the R number. I don’t get it personally. Yeah, they’re inconvenient, so are glasses and contact lenses, but they’re innocuous and in the context of a viral pandemic why wouldn’t one want to reduce the risk of transmission either to oneself or from oneself to others?

      re testing, completely agree. Whatever else an efficient comprehensive testing regime is essential. That said in order to bring transmission rates down a short sharp lockdown seems sensible if those rates are too high. And then the combined attack you mention makes a lot of sense.

      Like

      • Charotte Anne

        ———————————————————————————————————————–

        In pooled analysis, the Centre for Disease Control found no significant reduction in influenza transmission with the use of face masks (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.51–1.20; I2 = 30%, p = 0.25) (Figure 2). One study evaluated the use of masks among pilgrims from Australia during the Hajj pilgrimage and reported no major difference in the risk for laboratory-confirmed influenza virus infection in the control or mask group

        ———————————————————————————————————————–

        Two studies in university settings assessed the effectiveness of face masks for primary protection by monitoring the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza among student hall residents for 5 months (9,10). The overall reduction in ILI or laboratory-confirmed influenza cases in the face mask group was not significant in either studies

        ———————————————————————————————————————–

        Disposable medical masks (also known as surgical masks) are loose-fitting devices that were designed to be worn by medical personnel to protect accidental contamination of patient wounds, and to protect the wearer against splashes or sprays of bodily fluids (36). There is limited evidence for their effectiveness in preventing influenza virus transmission either when worn by the infected person for source control or when worn by uninfected persons to reduce exposure. Our systematic review found no significant effect of face masks on transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.

        ———————————————————————————————————————–

        We did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility

        https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article

        ———————————————————————————————————————–

        Keep wearing the mask though.. .. . ..

        Like

      • I’ve never found contact lenses the least bit inconvenient-been wearing them on and off since I was 11.

        Masks are a bit of an imposition in my book, but lockdowns are utterly horrific for individuals and society. It’s people who portray lockdown as a minor inconvenience or even a desirable “new normal” with advantages over regular life that I don’t get.

        An acquaintance of my brother knows a pediatrician in Louisiana, and all the doctors they’ve know have talked of cases where all kinds of people have shown up with problems they were never at risk for before. She saw a case where two eight year old twin sisters were having such extreme issues with nightmares, bizarre phobias, odd behaviors, bed wetting and other issues they had never had before. Stuff that would have warranted extreme suspicion of both sexual and physical abuse even among children who had been exposed to the absolute worst that places like Gaza had to offer. She had always perceived this as a very nice normal family. They had all been healthy before that. Since the family business had found a modified way to serve customers the “pandemic economic situation” and risk of work exposure was pretty darn good for working class Cajuns (French speaking in the home). So to her dismay she had to call child protective to investigate the family-the social working found nothing and said that this sort of call was common in the pandemic. Not just the but the girls’ tall, lanky, beanpole, knock-knee skinny 16 year old step-brother was diagnosed with dangerous hard-to-control hypertension and an unusual arrythmia. The boy seemed to be taken “distance-learning” well but his Mom and step-Dad were concerned about the educational quality. He was normally a basketball player. There was no family history of hypertension or heart issues at all despite a family history of long lived Cajuns who hadn’t all lived super-healthy lifestyles. He no history of rheumatic fever, evidence of congenital heart issues or any notable medical problems.

        OK. It’s 100% possible that there was something in the family that the social working missed, and the boy had some other risk factor that wasn’t detected. Even so, why are they seeing such an odd assorted of this stuff now? When people are going to the doctor less due to fear of infection? Maybe, there are a lot of families out there who may love their kids and there may not be any abuse, maltreatment, or dysfunction subtly promote poor coping skills. Allowing for those possibilities, I have a very strong suspicion that while the dangers are this virus are in fact, real that the consequences of forcing such uncompromising isolation on a social animal may be much worse than were originally predicted and that polarized lockdown debates have not left much room to talk about it.

        It’s my opinion that society should seek other ways to control the virus other than extended/repeat lockdowns. One test that just got authed in the US is a $5, 15 minute affair. It’s not as good as the PCR, but can get a lot of the infected off the street and into contact tracing fast. Ireland’s size is such an advantage for mass testing!!! I admit that “virus infection sniffing dogs” struck me as a particularly appealing concept. Ideas of “environmental control” have been researched here and there since the 1930’s. With Ireland, the idea of sewage could theoretically cover 66% of the population with a sort of mass screening. Perhaps there could be criteria for when an area with a lot of people on septic tanks could be quarantined if a sewage system nearby

        One “Scouse” physicist at Columbia maintains that a certain wavelength of UVC light can kill viruses but can’t penetrate animal skins, eyes, hair, or feathers nor most plant or fungal tissues-He’s not one of those quacks but a real physicist who has been researching this to control drug resistant bacteria and influenza since one of the former killed a good friend of this some years ago. Some think ventillation and/or air ionizers can also reduce the amount of virus in an indoor space. There’s no guarantee some of those ideas are going to pan out, but if you explore a wide enough variety of ideas that have some legitimate basis there’s a better chance at least some of them will. (It would help if certain Presidents did make certain ones his “darlings”!!)

        I’ve seen a lot that says that even a safe vaccine with not-so-hot efficacy might be able to contain this is the uptake is good enough. With a lot of low efficacy vaccines most of those who do get infected anyway tend to have a much milder illness with low risk of complications, and reduce the amount and duration of “viral shedding” among those with symptomatic or asymptomatic infection-even a low efficacy vaccine might stop this pandemic if it does one or both of those things well enough.

        The only major advantages the US has besides a lower mortality/case rate than most of Europe, is a long tradition of ambitious vaccine campaigns and of state level vaccine mandates-with the latter upheld by the Supreme Court in 1905. Otherwise the US is an extraordinarily difficult county for pandemic control, and would be even with a better President.

        There are also some researchers who think the BCG or other live vaccine might provide partial and/or temporary immunity via what they call “the innate immune system”. Dr. Gallo (American co-discovered of HIV) and Chumakov (FDA vaccine researcher and son two of the USSR’s best virologist) think live oral polio vaccines and other oral live vaccines like typhoid could provide some partial immunity to Covid-19 for months.

        Like

        • I too wear contact lenses, but I’ve myopia as my main issue – though as I’ve got older I need reading glasses. They tried with different prescriptions in the left and right eyes which kind of worked for near/far vision, but wasn’t great – and I cycle every day so that had some interesting byproducts in terms of depth of vision on the road. Glasses I do find a bit of a pain.

          Just re lockdowns – I have to be clear. I don’t like them, they are anything but a minor imposition, indeed the prospect of another one here in Ireland depresses me. Anyone who minimises them or waves them away is being foolish. The idea they are a desirable ‘new normal’ is simply wrong. They’re anything but. I’ve friends and neighbours whose jobs are on the line because it has been impossible to reopen to any great extent, and even as things stood a couple of months ago when matters were less fraught than now had little hope under the then plans of their jobs coming back. I’ve close relatives who are isolated by this to a much greater degree than tnhey should be at their age. I find the whole thing weighs very heavily on myself too. And on many others I know. This is a desperate situation and the longer it continues the worse it will get. Worse again oscillating between restrictions, lockdowns, restrictions, lockdows would damage many many more employments beyond the prospect of coming back.

          But… all that said, if as a means to a clearly defined end goal of suppressing transmission to a level that is controllable by track and testing then I’d say go for one for a period of a month or even six weeks if that offers a real chance to open up more fully than we currently are here at the moment. And if there’s a vaccine, well that’s an added extra bonus. But one thing we all agree on is the necessity to have in place proper track and test. If a short term lockdown allowed those mechanisms to be put in place that alone would justify it for me.

          But none of this is going to be easy – it can’t be, not with a global pandemic. It requires time and effort and as much patience as people can muster and all the supports for businesses and workers and families and people to get safely through.

          Liked by 1 person

          • One friend of mine actually manages a small lab/factory that makes contacts and they are trying to do adopt a new technology for multi-focal (not monovision) contact lenses. I’m hoping to get my eyes fixed after this pandemic.

            As for a vaccine? It seems to me that’s becoe more a question of “Which?”, “When?”, “How many?”, “What Platforms?”, “What’s the efficicacy?” and “How long will it last?” than “if”. Dr. Fauci thinks there will be many vaccines and it will evolve from an almost D-Day like effort to make sure as many people as possible in the world have had “a” Covid-19 vaccine of some kind, to knowledge that certain vaccines work better on certain people, but factors such as storage temperature may still call the tune in poorer countries. Then there are likely to be “regimens” where there will be various “combos” of more than one type of vaccine in a series, and with the recommended boosters.

            We are already being told to prepare for a very complex vaccine campaign. We have been warned of an incredibly wide variety of shortages depending somewhat on which vaccines get approved and when. Some of the things we’ve been warned could become short are sort of odd and unnecessary, but I don’t doubt they will ruffle some feathers.

            It’s interesting because I actually left a message board where a lot of the people really WANT society to adjust to a new normal where people stay home as much as possible, mostly socialize and often work on the internet, where kids are home-schooled, where voting, shopping, and other things are 100% mail order, and Congress “goes virtual” on a permanent basis, and where a life like the ROI labels “Level 3” for restrictions is a more or less permanent norm. If I see much wrong with that picture, they make it sound like I’m this maladjusted, stuck-in-my-ways, backward thinking, and reactionary type.

            Like

            • “a lot of the people really WANT society to adjust to a new normal where people stay home as much as possible, mostly socialize and often work on the internet, where kids are home-schooled, where voting, shopping, and other things are 100% mail order, and Congress “goes virtual” on a permanent basis, and where a life like the ROI labels “Level 3” for restrictions is a more or less permanent norm.”

              How can they see all that as a good thing? I’m all for people having greater flexibility in working lives, a four day week would be great, more working from home where people wish likewise, but human contact is, for most people, a necessity and a key part of socialisation (behaviourly). Shopping local, surely, but not no shopping at all. And socialization online is grand in some ways for those who are far flung but not for those who are closer at hand. As for home schooling… 😦

              Like

              • I believe with some of those people there’s a cocktail of extreme introversion, misanthropy, and having taken certain Ursula LeGuin jokes too seriously.

                Having worked in a related field, one thing I don’t like is insurance companies doing “mandatory mail order pharmacy”. Even with voluntary mail order many people tout the benefits for people in rural areas. What happens then in that mail order drives in person pharmacy in rural areas or some urban neighborhood out of business-making it harder to procure urgent medications, or other pharmacy related services (including vaccine administration) that you can’t do by mail.

                Another biggie is a movement in the US to make every state “mandatory mail-order voting”. Frankly, I see eliminating polling places or even encouraging mail-in as the default method problematic for a list of reasons.

                As for homeschooling. My mother who taught school for decades absolutely hates it. Many debates on the matter assume that homeschooled kids get an equal or better education than those who attend school, but miss out on social skills. My mother has always been convinced homeschoolig almost always meant a crappy education.

                I’m amazed at how many people who previously argued that “High School is really about social skills. For students who aren’t college bound the academic piece is secondary at best.” are now saying homeschooling is just fine as a more or less permanent norm. (High school teachers, administrations, and school boards utterly hate the old saw that “It’s really about social skills.”)

                Of course, the vaccine mandate and homeschooling issue are strongly interwoven in the US. It’s very complicated and probably confusing to people used to a Unitary Non-Federal State and unfamiliar with the history and legal decisions.

                My fear is that it could create a class of unvaccinated and homeschooled children who can’t fit into society, basically.

                Like

              • I’m with you on all that Grace. Particularly this:
                “Another biggie is a movement in the US to make every state “mandatory mail-order voting”. Frankly, I see eliminating polling places or even encouraging mail-in as the default method problematic for a list of reasons.”

                Anything that detaches people from direct interactions on a social, political or other level is problematic. Of course there are people, been one myself at points, who find social interactions difficult for a variety of reasons and that’s why it is crucial to offer alternatives. But as you say elimination is just bad.

                And re medical matters very necessary to have face to face interactions where at all possible.

                BTW my mother was a teacher too.

                Like

              • If you tell the the mandatory mail-in folks that people should have the option of using polls, they will say things like “What? You feel patriotic waiting in line?”. They will try to paint you as the closed minded Luddite, and mandatory mail-in as the cure to all election and voting related ills. Often they will portray the “voting in the comfort of your own home” as an offer only a fool would reject.

                I actually am involved in an electoral reform group, and we support extended early voting and possibly a full 48 hours of proper open polls-perhaps a Friday and Saturday. While we oppose mandatory mail-in voting, it’s not really the main focus on the group. We spend a lot of our time dealing with the myths about the sort of reforms we want. Now having to only meet each on Zoom-it’s a bigger disadvantage than we thought originally.

                What exactly did your mother teach? Mine taught a bunch of things, but mostly sixth grade (most of them would be 12yo at least part of the school year).

                Even before the pandemic American progressives saw the rising popularity of homeschooling and vaccine hesitancy as a potential source of social problems. Partly because a lot of parents homeschool to avoid school vaccination requirements or to teach things that cannot be taught at a public or in most private school-such the “Lost Cause” ideology. While it’s a MUCH harder to homeschool children in nearly all US states than in the ROI, it’s still vastly easier in most states than it used to be. Also the large majority of states are VASTLY more lax about vaccine mandates than they were prior to the late 1990’s.

                A lot of studies on homeschool students show they do OK in some academic subjects but very badly in others. My mother was known as a good teacher. However, she couldn’t have taught a bunch of things me and/or my brother studied in HS. On top of the academics, I’m sure I would have had big problems socially if homeschooled or even one of the kids missing a lot of school today. I wasn’t uncomfortable relating to people or shy, and didn’t have anything that would warrant a diagnosis, but I a much slower developer socially than cognitively. At the time homeschooling wasn’t even on my radar or my parents’ radar at all. The

                I’ve heard a lot of talk about how some countries might cannibalize education budgets for public health. Mostly this concerns involves countries such as Lebanon, Armenia, Egypt, Nigeria, Chile, and others. I guess in the ROI the “Patronage” system could be some buffer against that. I know that not all Irish progressives are crazy about that, but……it’s complicated. While I 100% get the reasons some people don’t like the patronage system, if it protects Irish children from cannibalized school funds it may end up as the lesser evil. However, if some countries just plain “cannibalize” their schools for public health, it seems like “Killing the goose who lays the golden eggs.”

                Like

              • 48 hours polling is a great idea. I don’t understand why they want it restricted to just one way. And there’s a different aspect too in that making a ceremony of sorts of voting builds a sense of communality and citizenship and moves it beyond consumerism.

                My mother was the next age cohort – I think – secondary school, English and History. Some of it must have rubbed off.

                I think the dangers of universal homeschooling (I can accept there are instances where it may be better on an individual basis but not as a rule) are so obvious – I couldn’t teach maths or chemistry to save my life. Socialisation is the big one though. I’m naturally introverted, I could see a more difficult path ahead if I’d never gone to school for me.

                I’m not sure given the system we have that there would be a cannibalising of funds in quite that way. That said there’s been significant underinvestment in education here, particularly at primary level (4/5-12 yo) which now is coming very clear due to the pandemic with small school rooms facilities etc, which aren’t fit for purpose for the numbers of children. Though I agree broadly that a closer link between politicians and citizens is actually quite a good thing, even taking into account the manner in which it can distort some aspects of political activity. Better than having TDs/MPs/Congresspeople or whoever completely detached from their constituents and indifferent to them. Politics is so ego-driven in the first place anything that stops politicians from forget that they represent voters as distinct from being in a seat due to some God-given right is good in my book.

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              • While a sixth grade is the last year in the US where teachers remain generalists, my mother did have a second career of sorts as a math education expert. My guess is she has always had the talent to be like the women in “Hidden Figures” but was a product of a pre-Sputnik all girls’ Catholic school (My brother and I, did both Catholic and public school).

                Unlike the ROI where homeschooling a child and establishing non-state school is a Constitutional Right in the US both ventures are supposed subject to heavy regulation: Although many states have gotten lax. It used to be the case that to homeschool a child the parent/guardian had to provide some justification beyond “I want to.” Common accepted reasons included things like special needs kids or severely infirm ones, circus families, child actors, children of lighthouse keepers, winter caretakers and other unique situations. The parent(s)/guardian(s) educator(s) had to have a HS Diploma or GED and pass certain tests (although not equal to a professional teachers), and a certified teacher had to administer a battery of tests to the child(ren) and come observe the homeschool environment annually. Very often at least some assignments and material had to be done by correspondence with the same State Dept of Ed teacher who did the observations and tests.

                Non-medical exemptions to vaccine mandates are easier too. It used to be that to get a religious exemption one had to demonstrate years of membership in good standing and reasonable adherence to a religious group with a longstanding (sometimes defined as 50-100 years), consistent and well-documented teaching that opposes vaccines. Philosophical exemption in the much fewer states where they existed were even tougher. They almost always had to be approved by a judge and in some cases The State Supreme Court. At every level they’d really GRILL HARD and just relentlessly and ruthlessly make you justify yourself. They’ve gotten lax about regulating private schools as well!!

                Liked by 1 person

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