What they said: COVID-19 edition

Lord Sumption The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it’s not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It’s usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That’s what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don’t pause to ask whether the action will work. They don’t ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying. They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria. Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease. 

 

Then there is this:

The expansion phase of the ratchet reflects the decisions of a quasi-autonomous government responding to an insistent but ill-defined public demand that the government “do something” about a crisis. Whatever the policy adopted, however, costs must be borne by people outside the government. The greater are the costs, the less willing is the public to tolerate them. When people are burdened too heavily, their resistance jeopardizes not only the policy but, in a normally operating representative democracy, the government itself. Anticipating such reactions, the government takes steps to conceal the true costs of its policies. Most importantly, it substitutes a (cost-hiding) command-and-control system of resource allocation for the (cost-revealing) market system and its utterly visible measuring rod of money.

Robert Higgs – author of Crisis and Leviathan

 

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81 Responses to What they said: COVID-19 edition

  1. stackja

    What if Canberra did nothing?
    Just let the Wuhan virus spread?

  2. Alex Davidson

    What if Canberra did nothing?

    A false dichotomy. No-one here is suggesting that Canberra “does nothing”. What I and others are saying is that it is an unwarranted, draconian overreaction. They could have simply carried on with their usual interventions in our lives, perhaps putting a bit more money into the health system. Besides, there is nothing to stop individuals who are scared of catching this virus “self-isolating” voluntarily. Keep away from others who you fear. No need to turn the place into a police state over a virus that will have much less effect than many other common causes of death.

  3. Roger

    The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action.

    That may bte the case in the UK but here I think it’s come from the medical ‘experts’ who failed to close the borders early on and have been playing catch up since.

    If they’d acted earlier we’d probably only be looking at govt assistance for tertiary education & tourism & not a shut down economy that will take years, if not decades to recover.

  4. Aynsley Kellow

    Interestingly, there is some attention coming on Professor Neill Ferguson and his Imperial College group whose modelling led to Boris adopting a more panicked approach.

    Specifically, it has been pointed out that their modelling seriously overestimated mortality from the 2009 epidemic, and that it also served as the basis for mass culling (10m animals) in the 2001 Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the US.

    There is an interesting paper on this:
    Kitching, R. P., Thrusfield, M. V., & Taylor, N. M. (2006). Use and abuse of mathematical models: an illustration from the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic in the United Kingdom. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office International des Epizooties, 25(1), 293.
    Summary
    Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a major threat, not only to countries whose economies rely on agricultural exports, but also to industrialised countries that maintain a healthy domestic livestock industry by eliminating major infectious diseases from their livestock populations. Traditional methods of controlling diseases such as FMD require the rapid detection and slaughter of infected animals, and any susceptible animals with which they may have been in contact, either directly or indirectly. During the 2001 epidemic of FMD in the United Kingdom (UK), this approach was supplemented by a culling policy driven by unvalidated predictive models. The epidemic and its control resulted in the death of approximately ten million animals, public disgust with the magnitude of the slaughter, and political resolve to adopt alternative options, notably including vaccination, to control any future epidemics. The UK experience provides a salutary warning of how models can be abused in the interests of scientific opportunism(Emphasis added).
    A couple of quotes:
    ‘The key question for any model is whether decisions made with it are more correct than those made without it (17). However, the consequences of following the recommendations of these models were severe: economically, in terms of cost to the country; socially, in terms of misery and even suicides among those involved in the slaughter programme; and scientifically, in the abuse of predictive models, and their possible ultimate adverse effects on disease control policy in the future (see below).’
    And
    ‘Significantly, Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, has commented: ‘In 30 years in public health, I’ve never seen any statistical modelling that had any impact on public health’. ‘

    Did this serve as the basis for Australian policy? I have seen no reference to specific Australian modelling.

    And, it use unreliable Wuhan data. It was released a day before John Ioannidis released his much more assuring analysis of the data from the Diamond Princess which had widespread testing and suggested Infection Mortality rates akin to seasonal flu.

    Incidentally, I had a post on this published on Quadrant Online last week.

  5. Bronson

    Gee you could almost draw an analogy with climate change modelling couldn’t you………

  6. twostix

    What if Canberra did nothing?
    Just let the Wuhan virus spread?

    I’m pretty sure there’s something between nothing and a tyrannical police state in which we are all imprisoned in our houses for an unspecified period of time.

    There’s a fair bit of space in between those two ends of the spectrum.

  7. Sinclair Davidson

    What if Canberra did nothing?
    Just let the Wuhan virus spread?

    NSW government did that already.

  8. Infidel Tiger

    NSW government did that already.

    Exactly.

  9. Hay Stockard

    Alex Davidson,
    What you said.
    Plus many times.

  10. stackja

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3385549, posted on March 31, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Ruby Princess passengers lied?

  11. Hay Stockard

    The Davidson’s are on a roll. Funny as Sinclair. True though.

  12. Sinclair Davidson

    Ruby Princess passengers lied?

    I have no information on that point.

  13. candy

    Those people on the cruise ships should have been lifted out and taken to Christmas Island just like the individuals stuck in Wuhan etc at the beginning which was a radical idea at the time but good thinking.

    Would have saved a whole lot of trouble if the cruise passengers could have been directly taken there.
    Ideal really.

  14. stackja

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3385565, posted on March 31, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Ruby Princess crew lied?

  15. Pyrmonter

    @ Doomlord

    The courts are open. http://www.supremecourt.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/coronavirus_covid19_announcement.aspx

    The legislative restrictions, if a little unwieldy and vague, are public. If anything, they suffer from being drafted so as to be understood by the layperson – https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/_emergency/Public%20Health%20(COVID-19%20Restrictions%20on%20Gathering%20and%20Movement)%20Order%202020.pdf

    Those measures are time limited (90 days).

    I wish we weren’t here. Many of us are mindful of the authoritarian proclivities of both some Ministers (http://catallaxyfiles.com/2020/03/19/dob-a-shopper/) and servants of the Crown (https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/coronavirus-australia-live-updates/live-coverage/6833f3fc2b53bec553dc6fb428cd8215#43102)

    But to compare these situations even with Qld under Bjelke-Petersen, Singapore under Lee Kwan-yew, or still worse the Greece of the Colonels, South America under caudillos as varied as Pinochet, Videla or Maduro, African dictators ranging from Mobuto to Mugabe to Smith; or the Iberian fascists is hyperbole. I wish things were otherwise; I wish we’d taken action much sooner to impose quarantine on everyone entering the country and thereby to stop the whole thing in its tracks before it ‘took hold’. Hindsight is fantastic.

    But the voices who are now complaining about the severe consequences of the ‘shut down’ are very often those who insisted we need do nothing, and that it was no more serious than a bout of the ‘flu.

    The protection we have lies in strict adherence to the rule of law; to insistence on the enforcement of the law (and nothing further); and to overcoming what remains a serious threat to public health.

  16. twostix

    There is a natural tendency of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects

    This is juicy but is Britain specific.

    Australia’s police forces have always seen themselves as a praetorian guard against the violence prone rabble-like people for the ruling class. Loving nothing more than rubbing it’s boot on the citizenry’s face, acting like a separate paramilitary gang and taunting us that they’re banning X, Y and Z because people are enjoying it too much. That we are at their mercy because (in their mind) it is they alone who can truly lawfully act.

    We are the children, they are the stern principals and teachers always “disappointed” and “outraged” and “shameful”ing at us, as if we care . Unfortunately many do and internalise this power structure and so we we see the desire of many Australian suckholes to get a pat on the head by dobbing on everyone to daddy Policeman for the most trivial things.

  17. twostix

    But to compare these situations even with Qld under Bjelke-Petersen,

    🤣

    Is this a joke?

  18. Sinclair Davidson

    Pyrmonter – in 25 years I have seen the Australian judiciary stand up against the executive on just one occasion. I have zero confidence that it will happen over this.

  19. Pyrmonter

    @ twostix

    Australia’s police forces have always seen themselves as a praetorian guard against the violence prone rabble-like people for the ruling class.

    May capture Qld (though the ‘ruling class’ tended to be ‘Big Men’ politicians, from the Labor side for the first 6 decades after federation; and then from the ‘conservative’ side for the next 4) and NSW (successive governments infected by the mafia that is the Labour Right, including that curiously still secret episode of Four Corners dealing with Wran, and the unreleased parts of the Costigan Royal Commission report) but traditionally didn’t cover most of the other states. The decay in institutional integrity in places like Vic and SA is palpable.

  20. Pyrmonter

    @ twostix

    Recall the unhappy experiences of Ray Whitrod. Qld was rotten. Not all of it: his own party who finally took out JB-P in disgust, but too many of the core institutions were.

  21. Pyrmonter

    @ Doomlord

    The UK Supreme Court recently quashed prorogation. I thought that unconstitutional: the court’s reasoning essentially followed from their conclusion. Is that the sort of brake you want on the executive and legislature?

  22. Sinclair Davidson

    The UK Supreme Court recently quashed prorogation.

    Indeed – the UK courts are made of sterner stuff. The Natal division of the South African Supreme Court used to strike down government state of emergency declarations too. But we’re talking about Australia here …

  23. Sinclair Davidson

    … having said that, I didn’t think proroguing the UK parliament was unconstitutional. But that isn’t the point here.

  24. Pyrmonter

    @ Sinclair Davidson

    The Federal Court’s rulings on refugees? The High Court’s recent ruling on alienage? The High Court’s decision on Lawyer X?

    I happen to think both of the first two have tended to be wrong, and the Courts have sought to circumvent fairly clear, authorised legislative schemes, and to have used ‘motivated reasoning’. But they’re not evidence of undue deference.

  25. Alex Davidson

    Pyrmonter:

    The protection we have lies in strict adherence to the rule of law; to insistence on the enforcement of the law (and nothing further); and to overcoming what remains a serious threat to public health.

    The flaw in this argument is that there is virtually nothing to limit the scope of what the government decrees to be “law”. It’s a system based on numbers and voting, rather than respect for fundamental negative rights that protect liberty.

    Also I don’t think it is any more hyperbolic to refer to current government actions as those of a police state than it is to vastly over-exaggerate the threat of this virus compared to other threats upon our lives and health. Governments are not only denying basic freedoms that should never be denied, but also wrecking the economy and setting us up for many years of higher taxes and lower living standards. Furthermore, the ‘punishments’ for disobeying their commands are completely disproportionate.

    If we whimper and obey this time, what is to stop them implementing similar restrictions to stop people dying from smoking or next year’s flu virus? It truly is police state stuff.

  26. Sinclair Davidson

    Lawyer X

    That is standing up to the executive? Really?

  27. Sinclair Davidson

    The High Court’s recent ruling on alienage?

    To be fair – I love that decision. The High Court struck a blow to the very foundation of the Westphalian state. Correct decision IMHO, but actual incompetence.

  28. Pyrmonter

    @ Sinclair

    Creating an ethnic/racial separation of the subjects within the westphalian state is a Good Thing?

    The recognition criteria are so arbitrary, involving ‘recognition by another indigenous group’ as well as descent as to wreck extraordinary injustice. How is the assessment to occur? Is it subject to judicial review? If not, why is this the only privative clause the constitutional lawyers will recognise? What protection does the minority within a group have against oppressive action of the minority? Are libertarian/anarchist indigenes susceptible to being blackballed? It’s awful.

    (I’ll concede there is some motivated reasoning there, but at least it begins from individualist prejudices)

  29. BorisG

    What I and others are saying is that it is an unwarranted, draconian overreaction

    Rather, underraction. Too little, too late.

    Had two months warning and did very little.

    Close the border two months ago, put every returning Australian into mandatory quarantine like now, and there would be no need for shutting down the economy.

    But once this isn’t done and community transmission is here, shut it down China style and will come at the other end in a few weeks. Instead we have half measures that would drag for many months.

  30. BorisG

    vastly over-exaggerate the threat of this virus compared to other threats upon our lives and health.

    Here lies the core problem. It comes down to assessment of the threat. Some people think what is unfolding in New York is a disaster, with critically ill patents cared for in tents in Central Park in cold weather.

    And the disaster waiting to happen in other places if strictest measures are not imposed EARLY.

    For others. Well it is a price of freedom.

    Fortunately we have sane governments (both on federal and state levels), which values saving lives above all else.

  31. John A

    Pyrmonter #3385588, posted on March 31, 2020 at 11:26 am

    But the voices who are now complaining about the severe consequences of the ‘shut down’ are very often those who insisted we need do nothing, and that it was no more serious than a bout of the ‘flu.

    I am one of those voices. But I was not advocating “do nothing.” I am still advocating a proportional approach commensurate with the identified at-risk cohort/s: older age groups plus people with pre-existing conditions and weakened immune systems.

    It is a matter of targetted response, both economically efficient and logistically feasible.

    Locking down the whole country is the equivalent of national suicide, a policy of hysterical despair which should have been shot on sight as soon as it emerged as a suggestion from some unnamed public servant.

    Even now, we have not seen any reports on the actual results of this supposedly flattened curve compared with what the curve could have been. I suspect that deficiency is because the actual rates of infection and hospitalisation are nowhere near the astronomical estimates originally published.

    This is the biggest “cry wolf” since climate change. I hope that the populace takes note and ignores future similar manufactured “crises.”

  32. BorisG

    Btw home isolation is a joke. A colleague came from Europe and wanted to self isolate as a precaution (before it was mandated), but kids jump on him etc.

    A lot of lessons to learn from this.

  33. Sinclair Davidson

    Creating an ethnic/racial separation of the subjects within the westphalian state is a Good Thing?

    It is an AWESOME thing. It breaks the connection between citizenship, belonging, and the State. Australian Aborigines have constitutional rights that are not derived from the power and existence of the Westphalian state. Now sure – non-Aborigines cannot acquire these rights. But so what? We never enhance our freedoms by reducing the rights of others.

    Also to be clear – these are constitutional rights not political rights. Aborigines still enjoy the same political rights as everyone else.

    Anyway – as I say: completely unexpected. Hilariously funny. Due to complete incompetence and a lack of understanding of constitutional principles in a Westphalian state.

  34. Rohan

    BorisG

    But once this isn’t done and community transmission is here, shut it down China style and will come at the other end in a few weeks. Instead we have half measures that would drag for many months.

    Defo two bags of Aldi cash to say that. Comrades.

  35. BorisG

    Even now, we have not seen any reports on the actual results of this supposedly flattened curve compared with what the curve could have been.

    You haven’t seen because you didn’t look.

    covid19 deaths in Italy used to double in 4-5 days, now 8 days and slowing further every week. Clearly the effect of lockdowns.

    US and UK deaths still doubling every 3-4 days. Let’s see what it becomes in a few days. Hopefully their late lockdowns will also slow it down but no sign of it just yet. Note that the effect can only show in 2-3 weeks.

  36. candy

    Rather, underraction. Too little, too late.

    Maybe the Ruby Princess had passengers on board who had ties to someone quite important and so the procedures were not followed and passengers allowed to disembark.

    It seems very lax and now just hushed up. The Health Dept were told there were ill people on board with flu-like symptoms. I feel a bit suspicious about the whole thing.

  37. BorisG

    Basically it is now clear for anyone who have eyes that the threat is enormous. We can still debate the right response (and rightly so) but claims that the threat is exaggerated now has zero credibility.

  38. Sinclair Davidson

    Basically it is now clear for anyone who have eyes that the threat is enormous.

    The threat to what exactly? The PUBLIC health system might collapse? We’re libertarians Boris.

  39. JC

    Boris

    It’s not clear it’s the impact of lockdown in Italy. A government check on cell phone activity sampling suggests 40% disobedience rate.

  40. Confused Old Misfit

    patents (sic) cared for in tents in Central Park in cold weather.

    Those tents will be well heated by gas fired industrial grade forced hot air.
    I would not be surprised if there was not some insulation applied as well.

  41. Boambee John

    Also to be clear – these are constitutional rights not political rights. Aborigines still enjoy the same political rights as everyone else.

    Doomlord

    I have a bridge for sale, what are you offering?

  42. Sinclair Davidson

    I have a bridge for sale, what are you offering?

    Ken Wyatt will be trying to sell that same bridge next year.

  43. Judge Dredd

    I must admit I am enjoying the social isolation, as it’s more time with the family, and the garden is starting to look good again.
    Another outcome of all this will be the temporary levy on all taxpayers, that will last years, to pay back the debt that can never be paid back. I think a debt jubilee is in order.

  44. BorisG

    It’s not clear it’s the impact of lockdown in Italy. A government check on cell phone activity sampling suggests 40% disobedience rate.

    I don’t know how credible it is. My colleague in Rome says streets are deserted. He also says now with so many deaths no one criticizes the measures anymore. Everyone now knows someone who died of this virus etc.

  45. Iampeter

    The dominant philosophies in our culture are irrational and altruistic so it should not be surprising that at a time of crisis people are going to support really bad ideas.

  46. BorisG

    The PUBLIC health system might collapse?

    Not so much worried it will collapse, but that this collapse will cause enormous death. This means you are either don’t care or, fortunately more likely, talking touché in cheek. Which is fine.

    For now NY private health system is being overwhelmed.

  47. Sinclair Davidson

    … that this collapse will cause enormous death.

    I am less convinced by that. There is a huge difference between reasonable and sensible precautions and what we are seeing. De Facto nationalisation of the entire economy is not what I expected from a Liberal government. When the Queensland government tried to ban three bikies or more being in public together the electorate, quite rightly, protested, and tossed them out at the next election.

  48. BorisG

    The PUBLIC health system might collapse?

    In my view, the the core of classical liberal philosophy is that everyone has a right to do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm others (or infringe on their right). Self interest and freedom do miracles in driving the economy and prosperity. Yet this only works if harming others is prohibited and this prohibition is implemented via civil and criminal penalties.

    In The current crisis exercising your freedom or movement, freedom of association etc. clearly harms others. In particular young people acting of self interest will harm and kill others, mainly the elderly (e.g. by catching the virus and spreading it say in a supermarket). Yet Civil penalties are impractical.

    Harming of others need to be outlawed, that is what the government has done. Good on them.

  49. Mater

    Harming of others need to be outlawed, that is what the government has done. Good on them.

    I think you’re missing the other side of the equation. Can you guarantee that these actions are not, in fact, also harming people?

  50. BorisG

    I think you’re missing the other side of the equation. Can you guarantee that these actions are not, in fact, also harming people?

    Sure they are. Moreover, they are harming many people who are not at fault. It is more about the balance.

    Here the size of the threat to life is so great that this trumps the economic etc rights of other people. The threat comparable to war. If you look at Italy and Spain, and the UK and NY.

  51. egg_

    anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria. Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.

    The outrage factor associated with risk assessment.
    The CMOs are trading on the Facebook/Twitterati low info idiots.
    Videos on how to wash your hands FFS?

  52. egg_

    It is more about the balance.

    Is this false equivalence pariah still stirring the pot?

  53. egg_

    I have a bridge for sale, what are you offering?

    The bridge will be 50% disease free but ten times over budget.

  54. Mater

    Sure they are. Moreover, they are harming many people who are not at fault. It is more about the balance.

    You said:

    Harming of others need to be outlawed

    People will die from undiagnosed cancer and a myriad of other things as a result of this action, but now you’re being selective, putting values to lives and doing the sums. Kinda what you’ve been accusing others of doing.

    This is the problem with moral dilemmas, there is no right or wrong, just shitty outcomes.

  55. BorisG

    People will die from undiagnosed cancer and a myriad of other things as a result of this action,

    Not if it is managed well. On the contrary, had the health system been overwhelmed, such an outcome would be much more likely.

    https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-the-hammer-and-the-dance-be9337092b56

  56. Sinclair Davidson

    Harming of others need to be outlawed, that is what the government has done. Good on them.

    Harming of others is outlawed. Always has been. But we’re not talking about “others” here. We’re talking about the PUBLIC health care system.

    I’m sure many people were harmed by the collapse of communism – but we all still think that was a good thing.

  57. BorisG

    Eggface, I know you prefer this place to be a quarantined exclusive zone for cranks like yourself.

    But doomlord like a diversity of opinion (even though he is in agreement with cranks on this one).

  58. BorisG

    I’m sure many people were harmed by the collapse of communism – but we all still think that was a good thing.

    Yes but there is harm and harm. If the threat is death of millions then you have to shift the balance. Spanish flu took 30 to 80 million, and the outcome in diffident cities varied according to measures taken in various countries and cities.

    Without tough measures this virus would have taken a similar number of lives.

  59. BorisG

    I’m sure many people were harmed by the collapse of communism – but we all still think that was a good thing.

    In Soviet Union – yes absolutely, but it didn’t pose an immediate threat to thousands of lives. Yugoslavia – not so sure if it was worth the human toll.

    Of course it was inevitable – but that is another story.

  60. Mater

    Not if it is managed well.

    Boris, now that we are into ‘phone consultations’ and yelling symptoms from the middle of car parks through open doors, I can promise you, it will. They are not the only deaths that will result.

    That aside, this:

    Harming of others need to be outlawed

    Doesn’t gel with this:

    Sure they are. Moreover, they are harming many people who are not at fault. It is more about the balance.

    In essence, you are sacrificing the few, for the many (based on your assumptions). At some stage, the cure will be worse than the cause, and this will reverse.

  61. BorisG

    Spanish flu probably took more lives than WWI. Think about it.

  62. Sinclair Davidson

    Without tough measures this virus would have taken a similar number of lives.

    Maybe – I’m not convinced. Like every other massive government expansion we’ll either never know, or never be able to tell the truth about it.

  63. Diogenes

    Some people think what is unfolding in New York is a disaster, with critically ill patents cared for in tents in Central Park in cold weather..

    Ironically patients treated like that during the Spanish Flu epidemic had better survival rates than those in toasty warm hospital wards (reference one of the History Guy videos) – I know different virus, but sometimes counterintuitive works .

    What I love the most is that NW has given itself sovereign immunity & cannot be sued by anyone for anything for actions they take or mistakes they make (Public Helath Act 2010 Part 2 Sect 9) .

    Consequences – yeah right !

  64. BorisG

    Boris, now that we are into ‘phone consultations’ and yelling symptoms from the middle of car parks through open doors, I can promise you, it will.

    Nonsense. Face to face consultations are still happening where necessary.

    Phone consultations are just an option. In many cases that is fine. Lots of times people just need regular prescription. It is not worth getting the virus and risking your life.

  65. BorisG

    Maybe – I’m not convinced. Like every other massive government expansion we’ll either never know, or never be able to tell the truth about it.

    Possibly, but what is unfolding in some countries and states is telling. What we already know is that it is at least 10 to 100 times worse than seasonal flu (in times of flu vaccine).

    And I also think the government is taking the best advice they have. It may be wrong but it appears to be consistent between different groups, within the large uncertainty inevitable for a new bug.

  66. Mater

    Boris, like Bob, you are focusing on an example and missing (or dodging) the point.

    Do you believe that people will die (either directly or indirectly) from these lockdown measures?

    If your answer is yes, then you possibly need to rethink this:

    Harming of others need to be outlawed

  67. max

    stackja
    #3385490, posted on March 31, 2020 at 10:38 am
    What if Canberra did nothing?
    Just let the Wuhan virus spread?

    Canberra is not god.
    if that is true, I/you/we would behave differently — work hard, save invest and prepare for emergency.

    what you have now is what you get, and it will get worse because all this need to be paid for.
    and if you do not know poverty is going to kill more people than this flu is going to kill.

  68. John of Mel

    Moreover, they are harming many people who are not at fault. It is more about the balance.

    What about driving? Just by an act of driving you’re potentially putting lives on innocent people at risk.

    And what about causing harm to people who are not at fault by denying them their livelihoods? Is that OK?

  69. candy

    Without tough measures this virus would have taken a similar number of lives.

    Hard to say. 18 deaths and most of the deaths seem to stem from the Ruby Cruise, of more senior aged people, not quarantined. Kind of a unique situation there.

  70. BorisG

    Do you believe that people will die (either directly or indirectly) from these lockdown measures?

    I don’t think so. Not in numbers REMOTELY comparable to tens of thousands that would fall victims to this virus.

  71. BorisG

    18 deaths

    Candy are you able to look beyond Australia to see what threat it really poses? Can we just once learn from someone else’s mistakes ?

    Or you want to wait until it unfolds here ?

  72. candy

    Or you want to wait until it unfolds here ?

    Boris, it looks as if has unfolded and here we are.

    I do wonder about it being supressed by the lockdown and when that is eventually lifted, could some other stray remnant or other virus take hold, especially given winter on the way. People hiding away from others does not make for immunity but makes people weaker. But maybe vaccine by then.

  73. BorisG

    What about driving? Just by an act of driving you’re potentially putting lives on innocent people at risk.

    Excellent question. Sure but in that case your self interest would prevent you from driving recklessly. Also if you harm someone you are subject to civil and/or criminal penalties.

    Nothing like this with the bug. This is one of those peculiar situations where we cannot rely on self interest because by meeting with people you hurt third parties with no legal remedy. And this is exacerbated by the peculiar age distribution of victims so that for young people it is perfectly rational to meet with peers etc. A bit like with vaccinations for deadly diseases, where relying on self interest is not enough.

  74. BorisG

    I do wonder about it being supressed by the lockdown and when that is eventually lifted, could some other stray remnant or other virus take hold, especially given winter on the wa

    If I were in charge I would use the respite form lockdowns to ramp up production of ICU beds, ventilators and especially, personal protective equipment, and training of personnel like in the time of war (by a factor of 10 – it can be done), so that if any secondary outbreaks occur, they can be handled well.

    And on personal level I would recommend taking a flu shot before they shut it down too (or run out).

  75. Some History

    If I were in charge…

    BorisG, I get the feeling that you would really luuuurrrve to be in charge.

  76. Sinclair Davidson

    And on personal level I would recommend taking a flu shot before they shut it down too (or run out).

    Good advice – but a different issue.

  77. Sinclair Davidson

    Some History – Boris is one of the good guys.

  78. Some History

    Sinclair Davidson
    #3386156, posted on March 31, 2020 at 5:25 pm
    Some History – Boris is one of the good guys.

    What, he sells retail white goods and home appliances? 🙂

  79. Steve

    The biggest concern I have us the govts not surrendering emergency powers when the risk is gone. However failure to do so will result in a population that may potentially force a govt to resign or be sacked.

    We are citizens, not serfs.

    Govt needs to remember that.

  80. Bill The Bunyip

    We are proving to govt. that we are indeed serfs by our adherence to the rules they are forcing upon us.

  81. Iampeter

    @BorisG, I think you’re definitely right that the state has a role to play if we have a deadly and infection viral outbreak and it would be perfectly consistent with protecting rights. It might even require lengthy lock-downs too.
    But our government isn’t capable of undertaking such an operation anyway. There is no capability in Australia to create the kind of quarantine required to stop such an infectious disease. If COVID-19 had a mortality rate similar to MERS we would just all be dead and our civilization is over and there’s nothing to be done about it.

    Luckily, it’s not that kind of virus. We don’t need to stop it’s spread, we just need to increase our capacity to treat those that will even need treatment.
    That’s why the countries with some of the worst outbreaks handling this the best don’t have any restrictions, no lockdowns, no panic buying and shortages. Countries like South Korea who just increased their hospital capacity and have the death toll under control.

    That’s what the focus here should’ve been. Instead like most Western countries Australia just followed the lead of the Chinese dictators. These lockdowns and the ones still to come are completely unprecedented. No one’s ever shut down an industrial economy like this so we are in uncharted waters.
    Decisions are being made willy nilly, wiping out the livelihood of millions of people already, with much worse still to come. Our politicians have done this because none of them have ever had a job, ever run business, or have any idea how anything actually works in the real world.
    And most people are asking for this willingly because of the wrong ideas that are dominant in our culture.

    We’re in a lot of trouble here but not because of the virus.

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