Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Current Affairs

Further notes on my position on various issues

A few days ago I had responded to a voter here about a number of issues. The ACL had asked me for my views, so I responded. See this. At the Church gathering on Wednesday I provided my position (and in many cases the Australian Federation Party’s position) during the QA session – e.g. on:

  • should we force Australia Post to become  a bank
  • why are human rights of Palestinians, and (alleged) atrocities against children in Palestine, not a concern for Australian politicians
  • What about a voice for Australia’s indigenous community? An advisory body to the Parliament was suggested by the commentator. – I made a FB live on this on 12 May.
  • Climate change “existential threat”
  • NDIS – need for more funding
  • consultation with the community
  • overseas aid (should be increased?)
  • Federal corruption commission – I made a FB live on this on 12 May.
  • etc.

Now I have received a few more questions from a voter:

1. Do you believe “woman” is an adult human female, or a gender identity?
2. Do you stand for affirmative action for women in government?
3. Do you acknowledge the sex-based oppression of women, and stand for protecting women’s sex-based rights, such as protected private spaces and categories in sports?
4. Do you believe men should be entitled to purchase sexual access to others’ bodies?
5. What is your stance on LGBT rights?
6. How would you strengthen equity for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations?
7. What is your stance on climate change and environmental protection?
8. How would you support public health and education?

I’d like to request voters to spend 10 minutes to listen to this speech: It will give you a strong indication of my stance on almost everything.

Then please consider this video in which I explain how public policy should be made – based on reason and values (including freedom). I’ll

You might consider browsing through my manuscript, The Discovery of Freedom.

I have written millions of words over the past 3 decades on liberty. So if you search my blog you’ll find plenty of hints about my views on different policy issues.

If I find time I’ll make a video on which I address many of the commonly asked questions from voters. Please bear with me – I’ve just come off a major piece of work: a cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns in Victoria. We need to fight the LibLabs on many fundamental issues, and I haven’t had time to even prepare a flyer for my constituency.

Let me revert on this. Please use the material I’ve provided at this stage to develop a better understanding of my views. Further, I have been flat out working to finalise a cost-benefit analysis led by Gigi Foster (released on 11 May 2022) – so have not been able to respond to everyone. In brief, I’m a classical liberal with a conservative approach to society and family.

 

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Email I’ve sent out regarding Gigi Foster’s cost benefit analysis of Australia’s lockdowns

Sent this out a short while ago:

Finally, a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the lockdowns and border closures in Australia

Dear all

Over the past 8-9 months, I’ve assisted Prof. Gigi Foster in preparing a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of lockdowns and border closures in Australia. I put in over 200 hours into this effort.

Prof. Foster has now finalised the CBA and published a PDF of its Exec Summary yesterday at: https://www.thegreatcovidpanic.com/news. Direct link to the PDF: https://www.thegreatcovidpanic.com/_files/ugd/23eb94_b24d14bf34294102984da59251eac3ff.pdf.

For 15 years in the Treasury in Victoria I  reviewed, assessed and advised the Treasurers of Victoria on a wide range of CBAs. Prior to that, in WorkSafe Victoria, I contributed to a CBA on noise regulations. I’ve never come across a more comprehensive CBA than this.

HOW MUCH WOULD SUCH A CBA COST THE GOVERNMENT?

From my experience, even a much smaller CBA than this would cost the government well over $200k. This particular CBA would easily cost the taxpayer at least $500,000. But this has been a labour of love for Gigi Foster – and for me (Gigi was kind enough to provide me with a small fee as a research assistant – my only earning since I resigned my job in September 2020, apart from a tiny amount of royalty from my book).

WHY DID THE GOVERNMENT NOT CONDUCT SUCH  A CBA?

It was the duty of the government to conduct such a CBA. Even if a CBA was very sketchy at the outset, it would have been sufficient to prove that lockdowns – taken STRAIGHT FROM COMMUNIST CHINA’S PLAYBOOK – were a harmful policy that must never be adopted in Australia.

In April-August 2020, many economists within the Treasury department in Victoria asked for a cost-benefit analysis of these draconian policies (I was not the only one – there are written emails inside DTF and these should be preserved – for a future Royal Commission). Our request was denied. The fact that Australia’s governments have not commissioned a CBA even till now confirms they are determined to hide the truth about their actions.

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CBA

  1. The government has massively lied about the magnitude of the COVID pandemic. It is 50-500 times less lethal than the Spanish flu, and once we factor in the fact that it kills mainly the elderly, its effective lethality is far lower.
  2. Lockdowns prevented around 10,000 covid deaths over 2020 and 2021 in Australia (this is the maximum),not the 40,000 lives Mr Morrison claims he has saved.
  3. There were at least 7,940 additional non-COVID deaths from lockdowns in the first two years of the pandemic (in fact, there were far more: just in 2021 ABS data show over 3,000 excess cancer deaths – of people who were terrorised by the lockdowns and hysteria in 2020 and did not get their cancer identified and treated in time.
  4. But immediate deaths are not the only thing that matters. Every policy-driven harm that reduces our lifespan or earning power, every harm to our children, every harm through reduced capacity of the government to pay for health in the future, adds up. Economics is about the welfare of the entire society and ALL harms and all benefits of a policy must be added up – and they are, in this CBA. Gigi Foster estimates that the harms from lockdowns exceed any benefits by at least THIRTY SIX times. 

This estimate is not an outlier. It is consistent with innumerable CBAs that have by now been published across the world which show similar (or even greater) orders of magnitude of harm from lockdowns. While this full CBA will perhaps be published in a book form – the Exec Summary is sufficient to destroy the innumerable falsehoods people have been told over the past two years.

Would the Australian government want to pay Prof. Foster for this work? You bet not! I think they should. They should buy it and publish it in the public domain.

Will the media of Australia even acknowledge this huge piece of work? Will the media read it and write about this CBA? I can bet that they won’t – since they were a comprehensive accomplice to the government’s policy failures.

But I can also say that it won’t matter what the government does or doesn’t. Satyameva Jayate – the truth always triumphs. The forces of evil and corruption cannot stop the truth from becoming widely known.

Sadly for those who want to hide the truth, there are many people in this world who seem to believe, like I do, in Nishkama Karma: doing the right thing without regard to any reward. Many people in this country (and across the world) will KEEP FIGHTING and will not stop until (a) the truth is established, and (b) there is accountability for those who caused mayhem across the world by adopting China’s policies.

I gave a speech in the Doncaster Church of Christ yesterday as a candidate for the seat of Menzies – in which I mentioned this CBA and the lies of the government: https://youtu.be/lt-QAZtV1A8. The truth will spread. Let’s return to the values which made the Western civilisation what it was (till before COVID hysteria hit). We are NOT totalitarian China. And NOT corrupt India. We must commit as a nation standing for the truth.

Regards

Sanjeev

 

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My preliminary draft speech for a candidates forum at the Doncaster Church of Christ on 11 May

PRELIMINARY DRAFT – I’d appreciate comments/ suggestions at sabhlok@gmail.com. I’ll keep updating this, so this is work in progress.

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Dear Mr Bob Hodges and friends

I thank the organisers from the Doncaster Church of Christ for giving me the opportunity to outline to you, the constituents of Menzies, why I am best placed to represent you in Australia’s Parliament.

My name is Sanjeev Sabhlok. I’m contesting from the Australian Federation Party – the Federation Party in short.

The Federation Party is led by Peter Harris who was founder-Chairman of the Family First party many years ago and has returned to politics after a gap of over 15 years. Peter Harris is a fervent Christian and wants to see the return of the values which we have lost due to the woke movement of the last few decades. For instance, our party will ensure that abortion is not treated in the manner we treat the extraction of a tooth.

With a PhD in economics from the USA, I am the economic spokesperson of the party. As a senior economist in the Treasury Department of Victoria till September 2020, I advised the Treasurers of Victoria on a wide range of public policies for 15 years.

Our party is a safe pair of hands. We do not tolerate extremist policies. We are committed to keeping the size of the government and taxes under control. We are committed to fully costing our policies.

We are committed to the ideas of reason and liberty that emerged from Christianity and which underpin the Western civilisation. As I explained in an article in The Spectator a couple of weeks ago, Western civilisation has two main pillars: [the first is that] the government must not interfere in the life of citizens without a strong justification, and [the second is that] public policy must be based on evidence, not on the arbitrary whim of the government. And definitely not on mathematical models (which inevitably constitute garbage-in-garbage-out).

Australia’s politicians from both major party have generally followed this process in the past, so I never felt the need to join politics. I was a happy daily commuter by bus to the CBD from Bulleen – route 905.

I had migrated to Australia in December 2000 after resigning my job as a senior civil servant in India. After taking citizenship of Australia in 2005, I mainly voted for the Liberal Party but found nothing particularly objectionable about the Labor Party, either – in comparison with the corrupt political parties of in India.

But in March 2020 everything changed. The policy system that we had – of risk-based, evidence-based, proportionate intervention by the government – gave way to totalitarian policies straight from the playbook of communist China.

Yes, COVID was a serious pandemic. Yes, we needed to take urgent measures. But these measures had to be targeted to the risk. Victoria’s pandemic plan of 10 March 2020 committed to a targeted, risk-based approach. We needed to cocoon our elderly without brutally isolating them from their families, and we needed to recommend that everyone else take precautions.

But the Liberal and Labor parties tossed out our own plans and adopted Wuhan-style lockdowns, curfews and mandatory masks.

Victoria exploded with police atrocities in July 2020. I found myself serving a Labor government whose Police was behaving no better than Third World Indian police. They almost choked a young girl for not wearing a mask outdoors. A man not wearing a mask was hit by a police car and had to be sent into induced coma to save his life. And they snatched the phone of an elderly lady sitting on a park bench.

Ethics and morality is, to me, the most important thing in life. We had moral education classes in the Christian missionary schools I went to till grade 8 in India. But one doesn’t have to be a Christian to know that beating up people in the name of protecting their health is wrong.

By April 2020 the data was also clear: All models and predictions had failed. This was no mega-pandemic. COVID was in the range of the Asian flu or Hong Kong flu. The country did not have to shut down.

Many economists within the Treasury department in Victoria asked for a cost-benefit analysis of these draconian policies. Our request was denied. I then raised my concerns about the Police State in Victoria on my Twitter account. In September 2020, the department asked me to remove my tweets. I resigned. I will not be silenced when innocent fellow citizens are being beaten up.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrote about my resignation on his Facebook page on 16 September 2020. I quote: There’s not a lot of courage in our public life and there’s even less honour. I don’t know Sanjeev Sabhlok but his piece in the Financial Review is a timely and potent contribution to a debate that has been stifled for far too long. He’s resigned and openly published what he thinks needs to be said. Bravo! End of quote.

I then wrote a book, The Great Hysteria and The Broken State in October 2020. A sitting Liberal Party MP of the Victorian Parliament, Neil Angus has written to me about it. I quote:

I have just finished reading your book. I thought it was excellent and heartily agreed with your views. In my view, we have faced the darkest time in Australia’s history due to gross government incompetence. End of quote.

I then engaged with Tony Abbott and Mathew Guy in a zoom-based international conference in December 2020 and physically met a number of Liberal MPs.

The Liberal Party initially was supportive of my resignation because they thought I was only opposing Dan Andrews. But no, I was opposing the entire body of lies this nation was being told, including by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Morrison compared COVID with a once-in-100-year event, placing it in the league of the Spanish flu. He gave his blessings to border closures, lockdowns and curfews. Now he claims that his policies have saved 40,000 lives. Our Hon’ble Prime Minister is a man without any honour, without any values. I also consider him to be the biggest liar in Australia’s history, a man who brings great shame to the party founded by the great Robert Menzies.

Recently, the world’s most cited epidemiologist John Ioannidis of Stanford has confirmed to me via email that COVID is 50 to 500 times less lethal than the Spanish flu. If we account for the fact that the Spanish flu killed mainly the young while COVID mainly kills the elderly, the effective lethality of COVID is around 150-1500 times less than that of the Spanish flu. And we locked down Australia for this!!

Professor Gigi Foster of Sydney has released today the summary of a cost-benefit analysis of these policies. I have assisted her for the past eight months in this analysis. She finds that even with the most charitable assumptions, these draconian policies might have prevented (but basically delayed) around 10,000 COVID deaths – mainly of the elderly: definitely not 40,000.

But the totalitarian policies of Australia have harmed vastly more – mostly younger people. Children’s education and mental health has been badly harmed. And thousands of small businesses have permanently lost a lifetime of work. And these policies have killed 7,233 more people from non-COVID causes in 2021 compared to what we might have ordinarily expected. Over 3,000 of these were excess cancer deaths – of people who were made so fearful of visiting their doctors in 2020 that their cancer could not be identified and treated in time. And there were around 1,000 excess dementia deaths and 500 excess diabetes deaths in 2021.

When all harms and benefits are counted, the harms from these China-style policies exceed any benefits by at least 30 times.

The Federation Party is committed to following in the footsteps of Robert Menzies. We are determined to become Australia’s real liberal party – but with a huge focus on values: Christian values. We will stop the slide into socialism of the Liberal and Labor parties.

Please keep in mind the lies and incompetence of the Labor and Liberal parties as you enter the polling booth. Do you want honesty, decency and moral values in public life, or cowardice, deception and use the of China-style force against people?

Please vote No. 1 for me, then for the freedom parties. And do not forget to place the Liberals and Labor last in any order that you wish.

My many thanks, once again, to the Doncaster Church of Christ, for giving me this opportunity to speak. And many thanks to all of you, who have spared your valuable time to come and listen!

 

 

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Something else is not right about the OxCGRT database – things don’t add up

I’ve discussed the database flaws here. But here’s a highly suspicious thing. News reports on the OxCGRT database trends were already out on 26 March 2020 (e.g. https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/25/oxford-uni-academics-launch-a-tracker-for-covid-19-policy-interventions/). They published a full-fledged working paper on 30 March 2020: https://en.unesco.org/inclusivepolicylab/sites/default/files/learning/document/2020/4/BSG-WP-2020-031-v3.0.pdf – any such paper takes at least a week to prepare.

The OxCGRT database is heavily biased in favour of lockdowns. It is also an extremely complicated exercise to deliver. Its (a) concept design would have taken time, then (b) getting the funds, then (c) the detailed design of the coding system and manual, then (d) the programming of the system for people to enter data from anywhere in the world, and then (e) training people and getting them to start start data entry (I have trained to do data entry: it is a non-trivial exercise even to enter data). Then the analysis, then the charts and reports.

I would be interested in seeing the original project funding documents for this project. If it was visualised well before 20 March 2020 (before most of the world started thinking about lockdowns) we should ask how it happened – e.g. about the people involved, the funders, the programmers, etc. Did they have any advance plans in early 2020 or even earlier for such a thing? It seems impossible, at first glance, that such a database was not just conceptualised and funded but fully implemented (and producing reports/ graphs) by 26 March 2020, when most Western nations had barely begun to lock down.

I might be wrong, and there might be miraculously efficient people in Oxford University, but worth exploring this angle further, as well. Those who are aware of how the academic funding process works might be able to advise on the feasibility of such a mammoth project being conceptualised, rolled out and producing reports within 10 days of the first lockdowns in the West.

The creator of the database is Thomas Hale

Dr Thomas Hale’s research explores how we can manage transnational problems effectively and fairly. He seeks to explain how political institutions evolve – or not – to face the challenges raised by globalisation and interdependence, with a particular emphasis on environmental, economic and health issues. He holds a PhD in Politics from Princeton University, a master’s degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics, and an AB in public policy from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. A US national, Dr Hale has studied and worked in Argentina, China and Europe. His books include Beyond Gridlock (Polity 2017), Between Interests and Law: The Politics of Transnational Commercial Disputes (Cambridge 2015), Transnational Climate Change Governance (Cambridge 2014), and Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing when We Need It Most (Polity 2013).

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He has ZERO training in biology, virology, immunology, public health, etc.

His views on the Belt and Road initiative: https://www.ft.com/content/d076f548-805b-11e8-af48-190d103e32a4

He has not just worked but has specialised in China, e.g. an articlde “Domestic politics and Chinese participation in transnational climate governance” in a 2018 book: https://www.routledge.com/Global-Governance-and-China-The-Dragons-Learning-Curve/Kennedy/p/book/9780415810173

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