Hello, and welcome to the ninth issue of Bright Morning! ☕ News always seems to find a way to fall right into our laps. In some cases, it’s almost like this stuff writes itself. However, in contrast to previous weeks, the overarching theme behind the major stories is not so much about left versus right, as it is about David versus Goliath. This week, it appears that common people, on both the left and the right, are in unanimous agreement on something: some of our institutions block out ordinary people - or proles, to use the Orwellian phrase - from participation.
Perhaps it is the case that underneath all of the endless debates about intersectional privilege that have been dominating our culture in recent years, it is the arrogance in our institutions that has been fanning the flames of discontent. Perhaps the “privilege” game has been amplified by these very same institutions to distract us from this problem. And, as we will see, perhaps some people have had enough, and are justifiably deciding to do something about it.
| ECONOMY & CULTURE
Play video games and bring down Wall Street - all in a day’s work
The Nitty Gritty:
Last week, a group of new-age investors from /rWallStreetBets pulled a major short squeeze on a laundry list of weathered stocks (most popular being GameStop) causing Wall Street to lose billions almost instantly
Robinhood, the popular stock trading app was under fire when they (and several other companies) all of a sudden halted the ability to open new positions in our favourite disheveled stocks out of fear of pissing off Daddy Wall St.
Unfortunately, they were joined by the likes of other institutions such as, NASDAQ and Discord in an effort to further censor and seemingly control the rules of the game
We all know about Wall Street, right? We have all heard the famous phrase from Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie where Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, boasts that “greed is good.” We have all seen movies like The Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short, which portray the consequences of insider trading, rent-seeking, market manipulation, and endless corruption. To call Wall Street shady would barely be scratching the surface. However, as conservative commentator Saagar Enjeti notes, there are some prominent Wall Street figures - such as the CEO of Nasdaq, Adena Friedman - who are suddenly calling for more regulation in the financial industry. Why? Has Wall Street experienced a collective epiphany moment, where they have recognized the errors of their ways and want to atone for the devastation they have brought to the lives of the citizenry? In the words of Steven Tyler of Aerosmith: “dream on.”
Last week, a number of hedge funds on Wall Street took out a massive short position - selling stocks with the intention of repurchasing later at a lower price - on the company GameStop. A group of Redditors (members of the website Reddit) called their bluff and used the trading app Robinhood to purchase stocks in GameStop, thus increasing their value by thousands of percentiles. This forced the hedge funds to liquidate billions of dollars in losses, as the group of Redditors said that they would “hold the line” to maintain the inflated value of GameStop. Saagar Enjeti, co-host of The Rising, has an excellent summary here.
In case it was not immediately obvious that certain institutions do not take kindly to ordinary citizens becoming wealthy at the expense of billionaires, then it is now. The response from the institutions was not to cut their losses, but to cut participation. Discord, the app which hosted the chat forum for r/WallStreetBets (the subreddit which started the movement), promptly deplatformed the subreddit for “hate speech.” As well, the trading app Robinhood responded by blocking users from purchasing shares in GameStop, while TD Ameritrade restricted clients from purchasing shares in AMC and GameStop “in the interest of mitigating risk for [their] company and clients.” In other words, there was a coordinated response from tech companies and the financial industry to not only protect the hedge funds and speculators, but also to remove the means through which the Redditors were communicating. Therefore, normal people were punished for manipulating Wall Street in the exact same way that hedge funds have been doing for decades. So much for the democratization of trading.
Does this response sound familiar? It should. It bears a striking resemblance to the crackdowns on freedom of speech that we described a few weeks ago when Google, Apple, and Amazon Web Services all engaged in a coordinated takedown of Parler because they claimed it was promulgating “hate speech.” In other words, this is the second time in less than one month that big tech companies have colluded to deplatform normal people, en masse, because they do not like what they are saying or doing. You do not have to agree with the utterances, behaviours, or motivations of some people on Parler to recognize how creepy the intrusion on freedom of speech is. Equally, you do not have to agree with the behaviour r/WallStreetBets to recognize how alarming it is when tech companies - who possess all the power and none of the accountability - can restrict the financial activity of normal people on a whim to protect their billionaire friends. Nonetheless, at least this is a rare instance where most people, on the left and on the right, are in agreement that this crackdown is unacceptable because it is a textbook example of system rigging.
Perhaps this could be the start of a larger pushback from normal people who are waking up to the fact that some elites in our institutions do not have our best interests in mind, and in fact resent our ability to communicate and participate freely. Or perhaps social media and tech companies will distract us, like the Eye of Sauron, by redirecting our attention towards another manufactured issue in the culture wars, and we will all forget about this by next week as we go back to screaming about who has more privilege.
| ORWELLIAN PUBLIC HEALTH
Welcome to Hotel COVID, where you can check out, but you can never leave
The Nitty Gritty:
New international travel restrictions were introduced for travelers coming into Canada
The restrictions now include: a negative COVID test before you get on the plane, a PCR test once you land in Canada, 3-day government sanctioned hotel stay (at a $2,000 expense per person), followed by the completion of your 14-day mandatory quarantine
We think we got it all.. ask us again next week. It will have changed.
Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided that now, and not twelve months ago, would be a good time to introduce new travel restrictions for Canadians. Starting February 3, all individuals arriving in Canada will be required to take a PCR test - you know, the one test that is so flawed that it cannot even determine if a person is infectious (here is the fact check). After being tested, Canadians will be required to stay in a hotel, at their own expense, for at least 3 days while the results of their tests are processed. These hotel expenses can exceed $2,000.00 (room service not included). Then, even if the test comes back negative, individuals will be required to quarantine at home for an additional 11 days so that they can meet the arbitrary 14 day self-isolation period. There is one possible exception to this rule, however, and that is rich, professional athletes, who will likely continue to come and go as they please, as they have been doing since March 2020. Mandatory quarantine is just for the proles. But this all makes perfect sense, right? Well, it should. Believe science.
Amidst all the absurdities embedded within these new restrictions, there is one glaring everyone in the face. That is, why is this happening now? If there was ever an award for bad timing, Justin Trudeau and Doug Ford would be co-recipients. This is something that should have occurred last winter when nobody understood what the virus was and people were justifiably fearful of what could happen.
Now, we are in the position where we do know about the virus. For example, we know that if you are under 70 and have no severe pre-existing conditions, then it is almost guaranteed you will shake off the illness in a few days. We know that only 2% of virus transmission is linked to international travel. We also know that the downstream effects of these insane restrictions - such as an increase in suicides, domestic violence, child abuse, overdoses, missed cancer screenings, depression, anxiety, obesity, etc. - are much worse than the virus itself. Finally, we know that ICUs are not as apocalyptic as Justin Trudeau, Doug Ford, Theresa Tam, David Williams, or any other public figure tell us they are during their stone-faced, finger-wagging lectures on television. Don’t believe us? Here is a letter from a group of doctors who support every claim that we just made. In fact, there have now been thousands of doctors who have spoken in opposition to this lockdown madness. So, if “believe the experts” is the only principle under which we are supposed to accept lockdown measures, then the argument that opposes lockdowns is even stronger because it is also coming from experts - except these ones happen to be using real evidence and not demonstrably flawed statistical modeling.
Aside from the Toronto Maple Leafs, unelected public health “experts” are the only people who are consistently paid ridiculous amounts of money to do their jobs as bad as they do. For example, it turns out that these incompetent, bumbling fools could not even properly maintain an Excel spreadsheet, as they have been overreporting the total number of Ontarians who have been vaccinated by a rate of almost-double. This begs the question: what else have they overreported? It is certainly the case that they have overestimated how much patience we all have.
It would also appear that our public health bureaucrats have forgotten what public health means. Public health does not mean “absence of COVID,” but it does mean advocating for policies that maximize the well-being of citizens. In other words, public health should include all of the aforementioned health consequences being kept at a minimum, instead of being accelerated and then outright ignored. Oh well. Believe science.
Fortunately, a group of Ontarians are organizing to politely but firmly fight this madness. Toronto-based personal trainer and podcaster Amer Kamra, also known on Instagram as amerthehammer, has been extremely vocal in his opposition to lockdown policies. Not because he is a “conspiracy theorist” who believes that COVID does not exist (as his critics have suggested), but because he, like the doctors we have cited, is concerned about the devastating effects of lockdown restrictions on mental health.
Kamra believes that the reason lockdown protests, such as the one initiated by Adam Skelly of Adamson Barbecue, have been unsuccessful in swaying public opinion or governmental policy is that they are too fragmented. Almost every weekend, we see small anti-lockdown protests pop up in Toronto, which are then promptly shut down by Toronto Police Service (apparently the police have solved all of the murders, sexual assaults, and thefts that plague the city). So much for the right to peacefully protest. Nonetheless, Kamra is working with small business owners, nurses, and everyday people to unionize opposition (for lack of a better phrase). In other words, he is organizing a council of business owners, with legal representation, and bringing formal challenges to the policymakers and unelected public health “experts.” If their concerns continue to be ignored, Kamra promises escalation. What that might look like, we do not know. However, it is unlikely that the opposition he is organizing will be so easily shut down. He is gaining more support with every passing day, as he posts countless messages from doctors, nurses, business owners, and others who are aligning with his cause.
Meanwhile, down in California, Governor Gavin Newsom - better known as American Psycho - is also staring down the barrel of collective opposition. In addition to the “Recall Gavin” campaign, which seeks to have the Governor removed from office for his botched handling of the pandemic, Newsom is facing scrutiny from fellow Democrats. Prominent figures, on the left and right, appear to be in agreement that Newsom is a failure when it comes to providing transparency and evidence-based justification for some of his more egregious lockdown measures, such as the stay-at-home order which made it illegal for citizens to walk outside (believe science). If Newsom is eventually recalled from office, perhaps he can use the money from his retirement package to celebrate his short and not so sweet tenure by sneaking out to another dinner at the French Laundry.
The arrogance of our elected officials has gone on for too long. We believe in reasserting the values embedded within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically “the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” Lockdowns are not justice, they are anti-justice. As Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, co-author of the Great Barrington Declaration said, we have accepted a system of “trickle down epidemiology,” where lockdowns have made elites, big businesses, and taxpayer-funded public workers rich while simultaneously convincing the rest of the population that wanting an independent life with dignity is somehow selfish, dangerous, or even “privileged.” This is not in the interest of public health, this is deranged gaslighting. Thus, to all of the vocal and forceful opposition out there, we say “thank you” and look forward to seeing how you progress.
This week, we encourage you to listen to Megyn Kelly as she interviews Dr. Jay Bhattacharya and Dr. Martin Kulldorff, two of the doctors behind the Great Barrington Declaration, as well as Dr. David Dowdy, to discuss all things COVID. Megyn Kelly is a renegade journalist and her podcast has been an unexpected breath of fresh air in recent months. Enjoy.
Until next week, thank you all for your time. Have a lovely week.