Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Current Affairs

Gigi Foster’s Voices against lockdowns – (4) 24 November 2020

Continuing fromhere.

24 November 2020

A chunky further update here with resources and opportunities to work against economic lockdowns as the right policy response to the Covid-19 phenomenon. The world seems gradually to be waking up, person by person, but the battle for sense in policymaking on this issue is still far from won. As always, please disseminate this email liberally.

Sanjeev Sabhlok has prepared the attached submission to the International Criminal Court, accusing the Victorian and Australian governments of crimes against humanity. Culpability for the same crime of the health scientists involved in lockdown decisions is proposed here by Ramesh Thakur: https://www.spectator.com.au/2020/10/hippocrates-cancelled/

A group of Victorian police officers have spoken out against police enforcement of lockdown policies under the banner Cops for Covid Truth, and then faced repercussions:

http://asenseofplacemagazine.com/cops-for-covid-truth/

https://advocateme.wixsite.com/copsforcovidtruth/the-project

https://tottnews.com/2020/11/06/cops-for-covid-truth/

A group of UK doctors have put up an open letter against lockdowns here: https://usforthem.co.uk/first-do-no-harm/

More broadly, doctors and medical professionals across the world are represented here: https://worlddoctorsalliance.com/

An excellent compendium has been compiled of evidence against the wisdom of lockdowns and opportunities to push against them, though the site’s curators/moderators keep themselves well-disguised: https://evidencenotfear.com/

Perhaps a reason for the mysterious stewardship of the above site is the sort of phenomenon discussed here, a flavour of which is also on display in the response to the Victorian Cops for Covid Truth people: https://www.newstatesman.com/science-tech/coronavirus/2020/10/why-scientists-fear-toxic-covid-19-debate?fbclid=IwAR2_4Yqo0bsLFeJplJJVxdnbHo9xQYxxavtvSPW44lvJhg1ALSnRic9ehVY

Relatedly, a heartening, if hero-worshippy, political-philosophical statement of support for the anti-lockdown position is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyDsjHZHsGc

A lockdown severity response tracker: https://www.bsg.ox.ac.uk/research/research-projects/coronavirus-government-response-tracker

The ABC Four Corners team have put together a program about the costs of lockdowns in Australia as told by people on the ground, including those paying the costs: https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/the-job-ahead:-surviving-australia%E2%80%99s-covid-19/12711470

For those who prefer to fight the fines imposed on people found to disobey lockdown restrictions, rather than help people pay them (an alternative option about which I previously circulated information): https://www.rebelnews.com/fight_the_fines_australia

Two informative videos put together by Ivor Cummins, trained engineer turned health guru (https://thefatemperor.com/about-ivor-cummins/):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UvFhIFzaac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmoM1AMdd4g

A heartening radio interview in which host Maajid Nawaz confronts a SAGE epidemiologist about the costs of lockdowns: https://www.lbc.co.uk/radio/presenters/maajid-nawaz/epidemiologist-on-cost-of-second-lockdown-coronavirus/

Coverage of some of my recently-released appearances:

https://www.mixcloud.com/Troublemag/gigi-foster-the-economics-of-a-pandemic/ (interview for Deep Trouble podcast)

https://news.yahoo.com/uk-lockdown-cost-covid-19-coronavirus-treasury-select-committee-economist-161611405.html (story following my testimony to the UK Treasury Select Committee)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1skjFx_FLKcBx4ij3l7hFT5fwSOBQOpgL/view?usp=sharing (panel discussion with myself, David Limbrick MP and Sanjeev Sabhlok, moderated by Daniel Wild of the IPA, organised by Bev McArthur MP)

Speaking of the IPA, that organisation has conducted the following modelling of the costs of lockdown policies: https://ipa.org.au/publications-ipa/media-releases/modelling-finds-covid-elimination-strategy-equal-to-entire-health-defence-education-and-welfare-spend-combined

Some other informative pieces from the UK media:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8751389/Oxford-scientists-circuit-break-need-cycle-bad-data-bad-science.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8776267/Ex-Supreme-Court-judge-LORD-SUMPTION-denounces-No10s-rule-muddle-authoritarianism.html

Finally, a couple of pieces with more name-calling and stronger political overtones than some on this email list may be comfortable with – shared here caveat emptor:

https://tomwoods.com/the-covid-cult/

https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/china-covid-lockdown-propaganda

 

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Gigi Foster’s Voices against lockdowns – (3) 12 October 2020

Continuing from here.

12 October 2020

Since I last wrote a month ago, a number of momentous events have signalling movement globally and within Australia away from economic lockdowns in response to Covid. I have selected several to highlight here. As always, please forward to others as you deem appropriate.

The WHO has changed its stance on lockdowns:

https://www.news.com.au/world/coronavirus/global/coronavirus-who-backflips-on-virus-stance-by-condemning-lockdowns/news-story/f2188f2aebff1b7b291b297731c3da74?utm_campaign=EditorialSB&utm_source=news.com.au&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_content=SocialBakers

A large group of medical professionals has spoken out against lockdowns, and is racking up signatures on its open letter, christened “The Great Barrington Declaration” (members of the public are also welcome to sign; I have signed):

https://gbdeclaration.org/

Ramesh Thakur has put together this excellent webinar setting out the case against lockdowns:

https://youtu.be/NrA1K5jH8Xk

Sanjeev Sabhlok, the courageous economist who quit the Victorian Treasury on principle, has produced the attached paper (“PAPER FOR GIFFITH”) and published this book. He and I will be appearing together in an event on the evening of Thursday 15 October, being organised by Beverley McArthur, Member of the Victorian Parliament for the Western Victoria Region.

A Facebook group called “End the Lockdown Australia” has been organised – for details, see:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/endthelockdownaustralia/

Quoting from organiser Tim Flynn, “The End The Lockdown Australia Group was established in mid-April 2020 and was set up to allow ordinary Australians to feel comfortable debating the merits of government policy from an economic and societal perspective. My rationale for establishing the group is included in my submission to the Senate inquiry into the management of COVID (submission 377) : https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/COVID-19/COVID19/Submissions. The group now has 4,200 members; it would have been much larger but we have a policy of deterring conspiracy theorists and extremists. Two cross bench members of the Victorian upper house are active members, as are several prominent journalists.”

A group of Belgian doctors has penned this Open Letter:

https://docs4opendebate.be/en/open-letter/

My fellow economist Henry Ergas published this beautifully written piece in The Australian last Friday.

A Catholic bishop in America has spoken out publicly against lockdowns: https://www.ncregister.com/interview/bishop-paprocki-catholic-church-can-provide-a-clear-path-for-covid-19-response

Sibby Ilzhofer is helping to organise small businesses that are interested in joining forces with others in a collective effort to lodge affidavits with the Victorian and New South Wales governments, affirming the damage of lockdowns. If you or people known to you are involved in a small business and looking to re-open but are struggling due to governmental restrictions – including but not limited to lockdowns – please email Sibby for further information about how to get involved.

On a drier academic front, I have published the attached paper, documenting some of the costs of the lockdowns to the present and future Australian labour market, in the Australian Journal of Labour Economics. I will also be giving an address at the Economic Society of Australia on 26 October, in which I will speak amongst other things about the failure of my profession in what should have been its finest hour – advertisement here:

https://esacentral.org.au/event/43536/2020-young-economist-address-and-2020-esa-awards-online-only

I have also been invited to give evidence on 22 October at a session of the Treasury of the United Kingdom, regarding the economic costs of lockdowns. I will draw partly on my own cost-benefit analysis of the lockdowns in Australia (linked to in one of my earlier missives, to which you can scroll down), but if you come across any detailed, well-referenced costings of lockdowns here or in other countries, please forward them to me for possible referral in my evidence.

Finally, a brief word on the future. As the world slowly turns away from wholesale economic lockdowns as the appropriate policy response to Covid, the raison d’etre of this “voices against lockdowns” group will inevitably fade. I will continue to speak out in public forums against lockdowns and other blanket economic restrictions, and I will also speak in favour of what I consider to be positive future directions for the country, as the debate moves on and the focus intensifies on what to do to get Australia out of the economic mess that has been created. I plan to stop using this mailing list once we see Australia ease restrictions, including opening borders.

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Gigi Foster’s Voices against lockdowns – (2) 11 September 2020

Continuing from here.

11 September 2020

Another update here on the Covid situation and opportunities to push for sensible policy responses to it in Australia. Please liberally forward this message to others.

First, the cost-benefit analysis that I submitted to the Victorian parliament – to my knowledge still the only detailed CBA of wholesale lockdown policies publicly available in Australia – has been posted in toto at the following blog site by my colleague Paul Frijters, and has attracted over 150 questions and comments there:

https://clubtroppo.com.au/2020/08/20/professor-fosters-cost-benefit-analysis-for-the-victorian-parliament/

Second, you have likely heard of the Covid Doctors Network that put together a letter to the Victorian premier arguing against the Victorian lockdown due to its detrimental health consequences. I spoke earlier today with the main instigator of this initiative. He asks that anyone with a story to tell about suffering due to lockdowns should feel free to pen it and email it to info@coviddoctorsnetwork.com for possible publication on the network’s website. He also foreshadows that moves are afoot to migrate the doctors’ network’s online presence to another, highly secure website, and to create analogous networks for other professions (e.g., “Covid Legal Network,” “Covid Journalists Network”, “Covid Economists Network”, “Covid Business Network” – all loosely united under the umbrella of “Covid Truth Network”) for which he is in the process of purchasing domain names. If you are interested in being involved in any of these networks, or if you are in the medical profession and wish to add your name to the original petition, please do not sign via the existing website but rather email info@coviddoctorsnetwork.com.

Third, amongst us is Liz Bryant who has instigated a Change.org petition to open Victorian schools that now has nearly 13,000 signatures. You may wish to email her to aid with her efforts, and/or add your voice to the petition: https://www.change.org/getvictoriankidsbackintheclassroom

Fourth, in the past few weeks the openness of the mainstream press to alternative views such as ours seems to have been on the increase. One particular opportunity is afforded by Channel 7’s “Spotlight” documentary team, who are putting together a piece about the costs of lockdowns to be aired live (with some pre-recorded interview content) from Sydney on the evening of Sunday, 27 September. I and many others will be interviewed for this piece. If you have a compelling story to tell and are interested in putting your hand up to be interviewed for the program, please let me know and I will pass your name to the producer.

Fifth, one amongst us has started a GoFundMe site to raise money for people issued fines in Melbourne for violating the lockdown restrictions. It hasn’t gotten much traction and perhaps feels to some people too much like enabling the Victorian government in its present policies, but I offer the link nonetheless, caveat emptor. https://www.gofundme.com/f/raise-funds-for-melbourne-protest-fines?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link_more&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

Finally, some links to recent pieces of possible interest:

https://www.afr.com/policy/health-and-education/what-s-a-life-worth-counting-the-cost-of-lockdowns-20200827-p55ps2 (my most recent AFR op-ed)

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/500000-covid19-math-mistake-panic/ (one of a number of stories alleging that technical errors fed into initial Covid policy settings)

http://asenseofplacemagazine.com/by-dr-guy-campbell/

https://the-iceberg.net/

I’m told that The Spectator is also soon to print an op-ed based on the letter to Australian leaders I co-organised back in June calling for the opening of the economy, mentioned in one of my earlier missives below, which now has over 1200 signatures: https://aip.asn.au/2020/06/open-up-our-country-sign-the-open-letter/

Sending thoughts of solidarity from Sydney to those all over Australia, and especially in Victoria.

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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.

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