I have a piece in Quadrant where I estimate the person-years lives saved in Australia at 80,000. Each person-year is worth, on the government’s data, $219,000, hence saving is quantified at $17 billion.
The cost in outlays and lost production I estimate at $235 billion, fourteen fold the benefits in lives saved.
If however the initial health experts estimates of likely deaths without a lockdown had proved accurate the value of the lives saved would have been $526 billion, ostensibly far in excess of the costs incurred.
But we have to be wary of applying these high values per life saved in the context of very large numbers since costs per person become increasingly unaffordable as the numbers to be saved increase. More importantly, we have to have a better fix on health projections than one that, in this case, appears to have over-estimated the death rate thirtyfold.
Another piece in the Spectator reviews the Australian taxpayers’ costs relative to those of other countries and itemises the details. The Australian Government has been far more generous with our money than that of all identified countries save Japan and the US – a fact regarding which ministers were preening themselves until recently when the Treasurer suddenly started referring to the weekly cost.
The Spectator piece adverts to some of the means by which the costs can be met. Included among these is:
- a tax surcharge on those not regulated out of their jobs,
- cancel submarines,
- restore water to Murray irrigators,
- abandon renewable subsidies and the Snowy 2 folly.
Do we have a government astute and bold enough to address such fundamental issues or would it prefer to sail ahead with policy measures that don’t offend voters but ensure a broken economy?