Thoughts on economics and liberty

Gigi Foster’s Voices against lockdowns – (1) 20 August 2020

Prof. Gigi Foster has been sending out updates for some time. I’ve been remiss in sharing the info due to other time pressures. I’m now sharing what I’ve received to date (without the attachments and removing any email addresses which are not already in the public domain).

20 August 2020

Two opportunities in the near future, described below, allow public voicing of arguments against wholesale lockdown of the populations in Australia and Victoria as a response against Covid-19.

The first opportunity is presented by the hearings of the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee of the Victorian Parliament into the Victorian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic (for details see https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/paec/inquiry/1000). I will be appearing before PAEC this coming Wednesday afternoon to provide a five-minute statement and answer questions for approximately 30 minutes. The hearing will be live-streamed (https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/video-and-audio/live-broadcasting) and the list of all planned testifiers is here: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/paec/COVID-19_Inquiry/Hearing_schedule/Round_2_Hearing_Schedule.pdf

I plan to use my five-minute statement to highlight first the biggest costs that are most solidly tethered to lockdowns per se and have the strongest evidence basis – specifically, mental health deterioration and increased domestic violence due to people being locked away from the broader social sphere, and costs from children being kept home from school. I plan to mention briefly the myriad other costs that some might claim would have been incurred to some extent even without wholesale lockdowns in a fearful environment – including crowded-out healthcare for non-Covid problems and falls in GDP, resulting in fewer resources being devoted into everything that supports human wellbeing into the future. I plan to briefly put the projected possible deaths into context and estimate based on other countries’ data how bad the death count might have been for Australia in the first wave, contra initial modelling. I plan to report an upper-end estimate for welfare saved and compare that to estimated welfare lost from lockdowns, referring the committee to a short written document presenting a back-of-the-envelope cost-benefit analysis that I will prepare over the next two days and send to the Committee under separate cover, and then to end with “what should the government have done”: it should have controlled fear, directed resources and attention towards protecting the most vulnerable, and generated evidence based on a wide range of expertise (not only from health experts) of the likely impact of any policy choices on total human welfare – evidence that we still await – noting that all of this policy advice is still applicable.

I am also compiling a brief document to share with PAEC that collates the most convincing arguments and ideas contributed by other people, whether going further in-depth on any aspects above or discussing other relevant aspects of the problem. The brief given to me is quite broad: to “contribute” to the hearing. If you would like to contribute any thoughts or data to what I will be preparing to accompany my PAEC testimony, please email me within 24 hours with no more than half a page of information, including links; please type your name in the document if you desire not to be anonymous.

The second opportunity is that a legal challenge is being proposed against the Victorian Government’s declaration of a State of Disaster, and a second legal challenge against the Commonwealth Government’s declaration of a State of Emergency, in response to the novel coronavirus. The law firm pursuing these class action lawsuits, Advocateme.com, is searching for expert witnesses to speak to a number of aspects of the situation. I will be speaking in my capacity as an economist, and according to Serene Teffaha, the lawyer organising this case at Advocateme.com, the following expert witness positions are still unfilled (lifting her text here verbatim):

  1. Infectious disease expert who can assess the actual risks with COVID-19- the substantive analysis of isolating the virus, the testing issues and problems with RT PCR tests, clinical diagnosis based on the tests alone rather than actual diagnosis of symptoms, the causal fatality rate being so small and whether it justifies lockdown, whether there is any benefit in herd immunity thinking, whether appropriate measures would have been sufficient to those that are vulnerable versus everyone who is healthy and any long term effects, including whether there are any genuine risks with people who are asymptomatic being infectious.
  2. Pathology including the merits of the RT PCR tests, serology tests, how are they unreliable and any other issues.
  3. Data collection and Statistician in relation to COVID-19 codifications and recording Deaths.
  4. Vaccine and related experts in relation to criticising the tests and trials taking place and alternative medical alternatives like hydroxychloroquine.

Please email Serene on serene.teffaha@advocateme.com.au if you are able to fill any of the above roles. Please liberally forward news of these opportunities to others you know of who may be interested.

CLICK HERE FOR THE NEXT VOICES AGAINST LOCKDOWNS UPDATE

 

 

 

 

 

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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