Backward Counting

In this the 2,022nd year of our Lord, as they say in the classics or perhaps at your local church, the fog of uncertainty that shrouded the last two years, is supposedly showing signs of lifting.

You could be forgiven, however, for not seeing the path forward for all the wreckage.

Elimination and suppression strategies, favoured by the think tanks that inform the National Cabinet, are being memory holed as COVID case numbers, once the key determinant to life as we knew it, have since spiralled into the new issue of the day — a sudden shortage of rapid antigen test kits (RATs).

It follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention withdrawing the PCR test in the United States as it now claims to having a better way of differentiating between COVID-19 and influenza.

Online, swarming partisan fact checkers will insist you don’t draw the wrong conclusion just in case you scare the elephant in the room lest the gold standard is proven to be, like our disease-control experts, rusted on.

For a majority of frontline workers, knowing the mechanism of the supply chain was to be kept moving despite running on empty, has taken literal form as the countdown is already underway to see whether we can ride out the shortage of diesel emission fluids such as AdBlue ahead of an imminent collapse.

But before worrying about food, fuel lines and civil unrest, the rapid antigen test kit shortage must be blamed on someone as we approach a federal election where accusatory bombast, for all the nation’s recent failings, is the sideshow that rates highest.

An inability of workers to secure rapid antigen tests is being identified as to why workforces in the transport sector have been recently decimated.

That sounds, knowing all the staff who have been let go, awfully convenient.

While dwindling numbers of AdBlue stocks have, in turn, caused predatory price gouging, the sudden demand for rapid antigen test kits is creating similar inflammatory practices in the market.

Demand was outstripping supply according to the ACCC, who has taken to examining claims the current costing of RATs is due to challenges in obtaining supply of the tests.

But who is insisting upon demand? And of whom? Assurances have been made by governments, should it become a supply chain issue, which is to say a campaign wedge, that they have purchased enough RATs.

Though the supply is less certain than the supplier, who will be, without doubt, a politically adjacent ally. Call it mandated enterprise.

After all businesses in the private sector, unlike government, are without the power to sustain how long market demand lasts.

Demand, in this case, is the muddy realm of medical diagnostics, in which the well is separated from the unwell by the thinnest of margins.

The old adage regarding the asymptomatic goes something like this: they probably aren’t sick.

But in this brave new world the healthy, it seems, need some convincing.

There’s an episode of The Simpsons where the teacher, Miss Hoover, who has been off sick, returns to class and explains that her illness turned out to be psychosomatic. Ralph in response asks if this means she is crazy. Another student says it means she was faking it. The teacher, ruefully, admits it’s a little of both.

Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain, a novel, at root, about a sickness no one can properly diagnose, suggests the life of the individual is also lived, attuned to the era of the moment, consciously or unconsciously, aware of its deficiencies.

These deficiencies are likely to be prejudicial to one’s own moral well-being, thorny stuff, no doubt, for a truck magazine.

It will be the political leaders in this country, supposing they exist, that understand there is rarely a healthiest way of being ill, who are going to lead industry and by extension the country, out of this mire.

Put another way, if it were a workshop policy that resulted in a repeated fault code on a prized piece of working equipment, no longer would it be considered a bug but rather a feature.

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