Wednesday, April 22, 2020

'How can you say that?' Economics professor is slammed as 'heartless' for arguing Australia would be 'better off' if it had NOT gone into coronavirus lockdown

An economics professor has been slammed as 'cold' and 'heartless' for suggesting  Australia prioritised health over the economy by going into coronavirus lockdown.

University of New South Wales Professor Gigi Foster sparked outrage from fellow panellists and other economic professors while answering questions about the  impacts of shutdown measures on Q&A on Monday.

Professor Foster suggested Australia hadn't properly weighed up the economic consequences of tough restrictions introduced to reduce the death toll, and argued the 'economy is about lives' too.

'What frustrates me is when people talk about the economic costs of the lockdown they often don't think in detail in terms of counting lives,' Professor Foster said.

'Has anyone thought about how would you get a measure of the traded lives when we lock an economy down? What are we sacrificing in terms of lives?

'Economists have tried to do that and we try to do that in currencies like the value of a statistical life.

'If you do that kind of calculus you realise very quickly that even with a very, very extreme epidemic, in Australia, we are still potentially better off not having an economic lockdown in the first place because of the incredible effects that you see.  'Not just in a short-run way but in many years to come.'

Her views prompted a shocked response from fellow panellists on the ABC program. 'How can you say that?' ACTU secretary Sally McManus fired back. 

'We're avoiding what's happened in the UK, what's happening in the US, the idea of having our ICUs overrun, our healthcare workers dying as well is just the most horrible thought.'

'It's horrible either way,' Professor Foster replied. 'The coronavirus has made the world awful. There's absolutely no doubt about that.

'In order to have a proper discussion about trade-offs, you need to think in terms of lives you're giving up.

'I know it's invisible lives and difficult to imagine when we aggregate, for example, all of the health effects and the mental health effects and the effects of people right now who have illnesses other than COVID-19.' 

Earlier in the program, Professor Foster said human welfare costs should be considered more broadly. 'I reject the idea it's lives versus the economy. It's lives versus lives. The economy is about lives,' Professor Foster said. 'It's about protection of lives and human welfare and livelihood.'

Simon Longstaff, executive director of The Ethics Centre disagreed with Professor Foster's argument.

'There's so many things we can do to address the economic consequences on people's lives. It's not just the economy. Incidents of mental health. There's many things which are human fact beyond those,' he said.

Professor Foster later proposed Australia could implement a herd immunity strategy until a coronavirus vaccine was found.

Her comments on the program sparked division on social media, with some accusing her of being 'harmful and arrogant' and others praising her for her 'rational' response.

'She lacks capacity to appreciate that a mass outbreak would lead to same shutdown within a short time frame. A broad and orderly controlled shutdown is preferable to chaos of humans and companies dropping like flies,' one viewer tweeted.

Another added: 'Has Gigi considered the economic cost of post traumatic stress on a population like Italy? Is there a model for the way the economy and people behave after that?'

'What a disgraceful and cold thought process this woman has,' a third said. 'Has no respect for humanity, is all about the economy and the money.' 

Professor Foster was also criticised by some in her own profession. 'Hundreds of us warned today against the views like Gigi Foster's,' University of Melbourne economics Professor Chris Edmond tweeted.

'I’m an economics professor, and Gigi does not speak for me,' Steven Hamilton, a U.S-based professor tweeted.   

But not everyone was critical. 'Gigi Foster makes some excellent points and should not be trolled,' one supporter tweeted. 

'Gigi Foster is very much sharing a holistic rational view on coronavirus, not an emotional one that clearly doesn’t appeal to the everyday Australian,' added another.


A harsher lockdown? If you’re under 60, and in good health, crossing the road is more dangerous than COVID-19

And even if you’re over 60, you may not even want to see the economy trashed while you are isolated from your children and grandchildren for months. Maybe you’d prefer to take the risk

A bizarre “open letter” to the Australian government, signed by more than 100 economists, calls the trade-off between health and economic outcomes a “false distinction”, urging hard lockdowns until the coronavirus can be “comprehensively addressed”.

What might the 3.6 million Australians who may soon be out of work as a direct result of government regulations, according to a new report by the Grattan Institute, make of the “false distinction”? The lockdown might be considerably shorter if those calling for it, including the professors, had to take a large pay cut until it was lifted.

As Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England, said on Monday, governments were doing “enormous damage” and must acknowledge restrictions would have to be lifted even in the face of potentially higher death rates. Trade-offs are Economics 101. To stay locked down until a vaccine emerges, or until we “eradicate” the virus, was farcical, King suggested.

Charles Goodhart, one of the world’s top monetary economists of his generation, said late last month that from a strictly income-maximising point of view “let it rip” made sense.

“Given the age and frailty of those likely to die, this increased death toll in 2020 would have been almost entirely offset by sharply lower death tolls over the subsequent decade,” said Goodhart, himself in his 80s. “While one should keep such an analysis in mind, such a cold-hearted policy would have been morally wrong, and socially and politically entirely unacceptable,” he added.

Indeed, cautious easing of restric­tions — which is happening in Europe — is all anyone could advocate in the circumstances. COVID-19 can prompt many deaths and overwhelm health systems.

“The measures put in place in Australia, at the border and within the states and territories, have reduced the number of new infections,” the open letter said, with no evidence. Some probably have, but we don’t know yet which social-distancing measures are effective.

Simply because A follows B doesn’t mean A caused B. Australia’s weather, relative population density or island geography may play a role in our relative success too. We don’t know. The passage of the virus in Sweden, Japan and Taiwan, which haven’t locked down, is markedly better than in Italy and Spain, which did.

Certainly, the benefits of shutting down schools is debatable, unlike the terrific inconvenience it has caused millions of families.

Banning individuals sitting on a park bench, playing golf or meeting any more than one other person may well be seen in time as excessive once considered studies emerge. Certainly, governments didn’t go this far a century ago when dealing with a far worse disease.

If you’re under 60, and in good health, crossing the road is more dangerous than COVID-19. And even if you’re over 60, you may not even want to see the economy trashed while you are isolated from your children and grandchildren for months. Maybe you’d prefer to take the risk.

The death of a 93-year-old in a nursing home has become a daily national news story. Every death is a tragedy, but government policy should be guided by evidence, not emotion.

“Could the images of people dying on stretchers in tents in hospital parking lots be blinding us to the greater harm we may be causing across society through our efforts to avoid those awful deaths?” asked one of our top philosophers, Peter Singer.

It’s looking less like we’re facing the once-in-a-century Spanish flu-type virus we all feared, which justified draconian measures in the first place. And studies in California and Germany are finding more people have the virus without symptoms than first thought.

About 60 million people die each year and coronavirus has claimed 165,000, many of whom were elderly and unwell and might have died soon in any case.

India and Indonesia remain the big unknowns. These two poor countries endured the brunt of the Spanish flu, losing respectively 5 per cent and 3 per cent of their total populations, the equivalent of more than 70 million people today. As of Monday it is estimated COVID-19 had killed about 1200 people across both countries, which is tentatively reassuring.

In defiance of the professors, Sydney’s Randwick council on Monday reopened its beaches for exercise. The impact on gender equality is yet to be determined, but surely it is a sideshow.


Cardinal Pell and the Ladies of the Left

The next time you hear some strident feminist sounding off about glass ceilings and the supposed exclusion of women from decision-making, think of the case of George Pell. No connection? Oh yes there is. Gender quotas were not only filled but arguably exceeded by the volume of female participation in the long and sorry saga of Pell’s persecution.

All that blather you still hear on places like Radio National about men being in charge of everything and women chained to the sink is no longer true, if ever it was. Very powerful, high-achieving women had a big say in cooking up the case against Pell and in putting him away. Their involvement shows that the notion of male domination in the professions is a straw – I suppose we should say – person, set up by feminists to foster the myth that women are “oppressed” (by white conservatives males like Pell, presumably; as paid-up members of the Left, feminists would naturally believe that).

Let’s see, who shall we start with? Well, Louise Milligan of the ABC hurled herself into the fray very early on. As a reporter, she has more opportunity than most people to air her views, courtesy of your tax dollars. But not content with that, she wrote a book as well (on the taxpayer’s time?) telling the world how guilty Pell was, or more accurately, how guilty she had decided he was, since her literary effort appeared some time before any accusations against Pell had been made in court.

Then there was the woman who published the book, Louise Adler. She used the once respected imprint of Melbourne University Press to disseminate Louise’s anthology of vicious tittle-tattle, which conceivably did its bit to prejudice the minds of any potential jurors who read it. It might be noted that Adler’s other name is Mrs Max Gillies. She is married to the comedian emeritus of the elderly Dismissal-fixated Left, once a virtual fixture on the ABC – where else? – for his unflattering impersonations of Sir John Kerr and John Howard, two of the most noir of the elderly Left’s bêtes noires. Perhaps he has added George Pell to his repertoire, using Louise’s book as a source, if Mrs Gillies brought him home a copy.

Next in line chronologically is Belinda Wallington. She is the magistrate (indeed, the Supervising Magistrate for Sexual Offences at the Magistrates Court of Victoria) who sorted out the original charges against Pell, chucking out the flimsiest and sending him for trial on the others, which it now turns out were not much less flimsy. There is a photograph (below) of Belinda and Louise together in May 2017, when they took part in a cosy ABC natter-in called The Conversation Hour, with the topic “George Pell allegations and Law Week”. There is, of course, no known photograph of the Wallington with Pell.

As we know, the first trial was a washout and a second trial was held, which led to Pell’s conviction. This gave another of our ABC ladies, Leigh Sales, a thrill of joy. Introducing her programme she announced in ringing tones, categorically and as though she was the bearer of great good news (which indeed it was to people like her), “George Pell is a convicted paedophile.” Leigh was clearly untroubled by any of the doubts as to the justice of the conviction, doubts that more than a year later would lead the High Court to overturn it.

Our fifth influential female is Chief Justice of Victoria Anne Ferguson. She it was who presided over the Appeal Court that turned down Pell’s appeal against his conviction, an action for which the Victorian court was reproached by the High Court in no uncertain terms. Ferguson and a male judge were two-to-one in this against a third judge (male) whose dissenting judgment anticipated much that the High Court had to say.

Ferguson was appointed to her post as Chief Justice of Victoria by the Labor government of Daniel Andrews, which seems to have decided that substantial experience of the criminal law was not necessary for the post and that a former commercial solicitor would do as well. Andrews, one imagines, is not been best pleased by Pell’s acquittal, given that he thought it was “shameful” for Tony Abbott even to visit Pell in prison. Has he never read Matthew 25:36?

Andrews issued a statement after the acquittal that pointedly ignored the judgment and assured all “victims” of child abuse, and by implication Pell’s accuser, that he “believed” them. Apart from the fact that you can’t believe Pell, as the High Court does, and believe his accuser at the same time, Andrews hasn’t heard, and probably never will, what most of those other “survivors” have to say, so how can he “believe” it?

It is this perverse willingness to accept any and every abuse allegation made by anyone, anywhere, whether motivated by truth, vindictiveness or vengeance, that has led not only to the legal shambles deplored by the High Court, but to the growth, aided and abetted by sinister lawyers posing as compassionate champions of the “hurt” and the “damaged”, of a bloated child-abuse industry which has yielded a harvest of destroyed careers among the wrongfully accused to set against the numbers of genuinely abused for whom it has obtained justice and compensation.

Although supposedly a Roman Catholic, Andrews comes across as viscerally anti-Pell – the two positions seem not to be irreconcilable, such is the power of Pell’s conservatism, religious and secular, to excite hysteria and loathing in the ranks of the Left. Only Tony Abbott seems to possess this weird, almost shamanic, capacity to the same degree.

Back to our catalogue of inquisitorial females, so let’s not overlook eminent jurist Kerri Judd, Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions and another Andrews appointment. Kerri was resolutely opposed to Pell’s appeal being upheld by the High Court and informed the bench that the best thing to do was to send him back to Victoria for another of those trials they do so well there. The court declined to accept this sage advice, which it described as “specious”.

Our national broadcaster seemed to delude itself that it constituted an alternative branch of the law vis-à-vis Pell, one that could influence the mind of the High Court through one of its mendacious “investigations” of the sort it made a fool of itself with when it tried to convict President Trump of colluding with Russia. The reporter behind that, Sarah Ferguson (“I’ve spent my professional life understanding power and trying to give succour to the weak when abused by power,” as she sanctimoniously informed an ABC in-house puff) presented three programs on child abuse by Catholic clergy, full of recycled “revelations”. It is perfectly possible that the ABC calculated that this would persuade the court to weigh very carefully the consequences in adverse public opinion, whipped up partly by itself, of any decision to acquit Pell. If so, it would only show how hubristic the ABC is. Certainly, Sarah’s programs were timed to coincide with the High Court’s deliberations, and either rain on the parade if Pell were cleared or give one last slam to the prison door if he were not.

The ABC is always crying poor but spent vast sums sending Sarah around the world to put her nasty snipes together, a vindictive squandering of taxpayers’ money that makes reform of the ABC even more urgent.

I haven’t touched on the female lawyers and “victims’ advocates” who gathered around the scaffold in the hope of seeing Pell’s head roll. Consider instead some of the many women who took his part – three female justices among the unanimous seven-to-zero of the High Court bench, the nuns who gave him hospitality on his first night of freedom, the female journalists such as Rita Panahi, Janet Albrechtsen and Miranda Devine who stood up for him and maintained his innocence when the pack was baying for his blood. It’s non-feminists who’ll be proud of them.


A dozen students per classroom, disinfection after every lesson, no stationery or canteen: How pupils' school life will change forever after COVID-19

Children will be returning to school in Queensland for the first day of term two

Those few teachers and students who do go to school for term two will encounter a very different classroom to the ones they knew before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some children returned to school in Queensland for the first day of term two on Monday after five weeks of learning from home during state-wide lockdowns.

Queensland's policy was largely the same as New South Wales - that distance learning was preferred and schools were only for the children of those who must work outside the home during the lockdown.

Pupils in Queensland now have to bring their own stationery to school and use hand sanitisers as they walk between classrooms that will allow no more than 12 people per 52 sq/m room.

Schools have had to rearrange furniture in classrooms to maintain those social distancing protocols by keeping people at least 1.5m away from each other.

Frequent cleaning has also been recommended by state authorities with special attention placed on light switches, door handles, desks, toilets, taps and sinks.

The Gap State High School in Brisbane sent letters to parents with a full list of changes, The Courier Mail reported.

It had employed cleaners during the school day to disinfect classrooms, furniture and bathrooms during breaks.

At that school, a maximum of ten students will be assigned per classroom for all lessons throughout the day.

Students must bring their own food, as the canteen will be closed and pupils will not be allowed to leave school grounds to buy lunch.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stressed that schools are only open for vulnerable children and children of essential workers who are unable to learn remotely.

As a result, The Gap State High School will send attendance surveys to parents each fortnight so school authorities can decide how many teachers they need on site and how to ensure social distancing policies are being met.

'If you are working from home and incapable of supervising to ensure your child is getting online resource work happening then contact your principal,' Ms Palaszczuk said. 'But now is not the time to be sending your child to school if you don't meet those categories.'

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said sending the children of non-frontline workers to school would make social distancing protocols impossible to meet, jeopardising the safety of students and teachers.

'We want to make sure we can exercise social distancing, we want schools to be a safe environment because remember if there is an outbreak at a school, it will immediately be shut down and parents will have to cope with that.'

The new procedures are expected to run for five weeks and will be reevaluated on May 22.

It comes after Ms Palaszczuk announced that 5,254 laptops would be distributed to students across the state to ensure all pupils could continue their education from home.

Telstra donated 5,000 simcards and 4,000 dongles and hotspot devices to make sure all children had access to internet learning portals.

Up to 15 per cent of the state's students are expected to show up at school on Monday.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

It seems that "how dare you say that" has become the standard for argument and debate across all spectra of human activity nowadays.