Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Public policy

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Why Mr Devasahayam’s arguments against farm liberalisation in India are untenable

Mr Devasahayam is a brilliant officer who has unceasingly worked for the poor of India all his life. But he does have a socialist inclination, which prevents him from seeing the defects within the government, and the impossibility of socialist calculation.

He recently pointed out that farmers are still agitating outside Delhi. He then shared his article, “Can triple pricing fix the blunder of the new agrarian laws?“.

Here’s the summary of the farmer’s demand (in Panjabi):

My response:

I have called for the abolition of these farm laws and making them again – with extensive public consultation with better checks and balances. But the arguments made in the article are, in my view, not tenable.

1. High risk due to exposure to natural elements

That risk is the function of crop insurance and social insurance. Our party’s manifesto details both, with particular emphasis on social insurance, so no one is ever faced with deep poverty for causes outside their control. On the other hand, farmers in a free market will gain (and must gain) the benefit of unfettered pricing on the up side when there are shortages created by bad weather. The idea of “intervention price” is draconian communism, and is designed to guarantee that farmers will be enslaved, and kept in poverty for ever. Why can’t they benefit from high prices? Because we think consumers will suffer? But open markets (exports/ imports) will minimise any such risk

2. Adverse terms of trade

Terms of trade are stacked against most agricultural products and this has been going on all over the world ever since the industrial revolution. This won’t change anytime in the future, either. This is the shift to productivity which is leading to a change in economic structure and wealth creation by the more productive sectors. In the end all food in the world might be possible to produce by less than 2% of the world’s population, even as 98% do more productive things with their time. This inevitable consequence of human innovation can’t be made an argument for the government to become a businessman in perpetuity

3. Non-remunerative prices

This requires facilitation of strong futures markets. Farmers can then choose the mix of produce they sell via advance contracting or market sales in the future. Let the market deal with this. Governments are hopeless at everything. Do you expect any bureaucrat to understand anything in any level of detail? That is impossible. Market specialise at a level that no government can even remotely mimic.

Risk of predatory corporates

You refer to the risk of a few companies cornering the market. That’s not happened anywhere in the world where agriculture is genuinely free. It can happen under the Modi dispensation, though, with his crony capitalism. In genuinely free markets, the most productive companies, in competition with each other and with the entire world, have developed more and more efficient means of cold storage/ transportation so there is no wastage of food. India’s socialist system (commanding heights in agriculture) means that a huge portion of the food we produce is wasted. That’s criminal but such large scale crime against the poor is part of the DNA of socialism. Socialists fear corporates irrationally even as they use the product of corporates all the time (computers, mobile phones, cars, almost everything they buy). Socialists do not understand markets and competition because they do not put in the effort to do so, and in the process strangle the poor. That’s always the outcome of their actions. No exception.

MSP: These laws do not remove MSP – that remains an option for farmers. But I believe in the long run MSP must go. There are many superior ways to subsidise farmers if the government wishes to do so (during calamities, etc.). And the idea of working out the cost of production (as your 1990 committee did) is simply impossible. There are efficient farmers and there are inefficient farmers. There are good soils and there are bad soils. Such micromanagement of the price system is not feasible and even the contemplation of that should be stopped.

Most ICS officers were taught Adam Smith at the Academy before being let loose on the people of India. So almost all of them understood basic economics. Since independence, Smith has been consigned to the bin and IAS officers have no clue about the economy. They have therefore, with few exceptions, failed to advise our illiterate politicians sensibly – and, instead, participated in the destruction of India.

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Gigi Foster’s Voices against lockdowns – (9) 16 September 2021

Continuing from this (No.8):

Dear all,

The fight continues to end lockdowns in Australia. More and more determined voices – including that of the brave pilot in this home-made video – are being raised together against the madness, across the spectrum of professions and perspectives, as illustrated in the links below.

First, I’m delighted to announce that my co-authored book about this period with Paul Frijters and Michael Baker has now been released, and is available in paperback or on Kindle here and across the world: If you do read it, please consider writing a review on Amazon. Our publisher, the Brownstone Institute led by Jeffrey Tucker, has been doing terrific promotion in the US, although I’m told that posts about the book to social media in Australia are already being censored. I am presently liaising with a number of groups to organise book launches in Sydney and beyond, and will post details for these to the site above as they are fixed. You can see me speaking about the book, and the present situation, here:

GET REAL with Mahieash Johnney | Episode 120 | The Great Covid Panic (Sri Lankan TV) (Macquarie University Liberals Club “Sunday Sessions” group meeting) (Nick Holt podcast) (with Julia Hartley-Brewer on UK TalkRadio, at timestamp 2:19:20)

I’m also slated to appear on The Outsiders this coming Sunday morning and on additional podcasts and TV shows around the world in the coming weeks. The final episode of the fifth season of my ABC radio program and podcast co-hosted with Peter Martin, The Economists, also covered lockdown trade-offs, and rode the bleeding edge of what the ABC would allow to go to air.

A month ago I called on the lawyers amongst us to put their hands to the wheel. I have since become aware of a number of heartening initiatives and resources, such as: (Tony Nikolic speaking about his upcoming class action in the NSW Supreme Court challenging vaccine mandates) (information on the class action lawsuits being brought by the law firm AdvocateMe) (letters to print if you want to resist various restrictions on your freedoms)

More businesses and business groups are starting to organise and push against discrimination: (inspiration from the US)

From the medical resistance, see attached a letter that can be customised to your GP, speaking of the potential for early treatment of covid; and a covid patient treatment guide. While earlier this week, the TGA made it harder to access ivermectin, there has been a great deal of push-back against this decision. More and more doctors are speaking out about the lack of transparency about the vaccines and early treatment options, and about the costs of our covid response:

Even the odd Australian politician has started to voice resistance to lockdowns in assemblies:

Some other good reading and watching from recent weeks: (on the costs of lockdowns in Ireland) (Jay Bhattacharya defending the Great Barrington Declaration) (a collection of scientists rejecting the assertion that our covid policies have been “following the science”)

Some simple and well-presented “Facts about Covid” pieces to help people regain perspective:

Resistance art is priceless:

Many new media channels (BitChute, Telegram, Rumble, etc.), political groups (Reignite Australia, The New Liberals, Australia One, etc.), professional associations (e.g.,, community organisations (e.g.,, and even new academic journals (e.g., have been growing legs and members over the past few months, and are collectively part of the path out of our present reality. You may also wish to keep an eye periodically on the various petitions to Parliament available for your signing – many of which relate to covid policies.

It is up to all of us to push against destructive policies like lockdowns in the ways we can, to reaffirm our freedom and to build a better set of institutions for our future.



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Gigi Foster’s Voices against lockdowns – (8) 17 Aug 2021

Apologies for the delay. I’m just starting to catch my breath now. Continuing from here (No. 7)


Dear all,

With all of New South Wales now in lockdown by order of the Premier’s Saturday afternoon tweet, the Australian Capital Territory locked down in response originally to a single covid case, and those who speak out for sanity (such as Matt Canavan recently on ABC’s Q&A) still subject to rabid bullying and cancellation attempts, it’s clear we are still in peak lockdown madness here in Australia. Overseas, the unsustainable business costs of mandating discrimination against non-covid-complaint customers are becoming apparent, and the health departments in US states like Texas and Florida are disseminating a far more sensible message on covid than we are receiving here, even in the face of covid case counts in those states alone far higher than we have ever seen in all of Australia.

Since my last missive just over a month ago, by far the single most frequent response I have received from those on this list is some version of “what can I do?”. Hence today’s missive is focussed heavily on answers to that question, alongside the usual collection of links and other updates. As always, please feel free to forward this email liberally.

At the end of the day it is push-back from the population that will force the politicians to change tack, so anything you do to help people recover from their brainwashing is part of the solution. Challenging the inconsistencies inherent in the mainstream narrative, pointing to overseas countries that have ceased blanket lockdowns and whom we’ll fall behind if we don’t follow suit, and drawing historical or literary analogies (Nazi Germany, US Prohibition, Orwell’s 1984) may all assist in making headway in your conversations with friends, family, and people on the street.

One amongst us sent me the attached list of MPs, with their email addresses; his advice on using email to raise your concerns to politicians is as follows:

  1. Create a new email account in Yahoo, Gmail, etc. with a new name, so if the account is blocked it doesn’t affect your personal emails.
  2. Using the internet find the contact details of for example the members of the Federal cabinet and the shadow cabinet or the equivalents at State level and paste them into Word file.
  3. Edit this Word file to delete everything except the email addresses separated by one space from each other.
  4. In another Word file write you letter of complaints, telling the recipient why you are not going to vote for them next election and telling them what is wrong with the restrictions and include links to videos or information from the internet that you think they should watch or read.
  5. Compose a new email in your new account.
  6. Copy and paste into the new email the text of your complain including links of videos, etc.
  7. Address in the TO box a leader of the target and then in the BBC (blank carbon copy) paste one of your lists containing the emails addresses of that particular target group.

When I shop for groceries these days I wear a Guy Fawkes mask and engage actively and in a friendly manner with people who notice the mask. Yet that message can only reach the few people I encounter personally. Attached you will find two flyers (“Are You COVID SMART” and “Pass On 5”) that can be printed and distributed to others as you see fit, courtesy respectively of Jorg Probst and an anonymous couple. See the “intro_letter” also penned by the latter couple for guidance on using the “Pass on 5” flyer. For those who are concerned about the threat to our normal freedoms posed by policies that mandate the covid vaccines – regardless of whether you or your loved ones plan to get a covid vaccine – I have also attached a letter from AFL Solicitors that can be customised to push back against a ‘no-jab-no-X’ policy implemented by an employer or educator.

The Covid Medical Network released an excellent Open Letter on August 2nd:

“Due to State and Federal Governments’ relentless and increasing hostility toward Australians over the pandemic, the directors and friends of CMN are issuing an urgent letter for all doctors, health professionals and all Australians to read.

Please find the open letter here:

Any health professionals wanting to support this letter can either use the link

or email:

Steve, amongst us, contributes the following (my bolding): “I believe that in the light of fair work ombudsman’s 4 step plan it is vitally important that a website/app be set up asap to provide a business register for Australian businesses that refuse to discriminate on the basis of vaccination status. No doubt I’m not the first person to think of this however, I haven’t seen anything. This is vitally important particularly in terms of providing hope to those businesses who are questioning whether or not they can maintain their stand against government restrictions and mandates.” If you have web or app design experience and are interested in helping get this initiative off the ground, please email Steve (who is happy to coordinate efforts, but needs people with the abovementioned experience to contribute) directly on

Many people do not push back because they do not know their rights, and are afraid of being fined or jailed for refusal to comply with restrictions on freedoms. Do states’ declarations of emergency trump Commonwealth laws that describe our freedoms? Are masking orders or 5-kilometre-radius movement restrictions lawful? What about general restrictions on the movement of healthy citizens, within, into or out of Australia – are these legal? Answering such legal questions is outside of my expertise, so let me also ask any lawyers in this group to share their specific knowledge about what rights citizens have to which they can appeal if stopped by a police officer or member of the Australian Defence Force without a mask or driving in the wrong place on the highway without an approved excuse, or if found by an authority figure to be in breach of mandated quarantine or in some other way being non-covid-compliant.

Some written words of sense and hope from the last month:

Martin T. Lally’s cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns in New Zealand, in pre-print:

Ramesh Thakur’s argument against vaccination certificates:; his argument with a co-author, for a more academic audience, against a zero-covid strategy:; and his calling-out of governments’ use of fancy-seeming models rather than actual data in their covid policymaking:

An analysis of the costs of the Australian lockdowns by actuary Marc Hendrickx:

Some estimates of the mental health costs of lockdown policies:

Some perspective on the risks of covid to children from Dr Sebastian Rishworth, who offers several other reflections of possible interest on his blog:

Some perspectives with hindsight of how Sweden’s no-lockdown strategy played out: ,

A well-referenced letter of questions addressed to Scott Morrison, penned by Emma McArthur:

An articulate commentary on the suppression of real science during this period:

An application to the International Criminal Court alleging violation of the Nuremberg Code by the government of Israel (attached)

Someone at Wikinews interviewed me about Australia’s “pandemic control” response and produced this:

An independent investigative-journalism-style report about the developing narrative that vaccination is a precondition for regaining freedoms in Australia:

Finally, some videos, radio, and podcasts:

My appearance together with lawyer Tony Nikolic and law academic Rocco Loiacono being interviewed about the covid situation in Australia by Reiner Fullmich’s Corona Investigative Committee:

My first appearance on the Alan Jones show: (my second appearance on the show the subsequent week was not made available on YouTube)

Dr Peter McCullough making the case that the vaccine is not the only medical weapon in our arsenal against covid:

Dr Cameron Murray speaking on the “longevity machine” – the economy in normal times – that we have interrupted with lockdowns:,-lifespans-and-covid-responses/13470794

An interview I did with Ben Fordham on 2GB radio, aired this morning, making the case that other things apart from covid matter:

All going well, my co-authored book The Great Covid Panic (about which I speak here with Gideon Rozner of the Institute for Public Affairs) should be coming out in just under a month. I will include mention of how to get a copy, plus information about launches, in the ensuing missive I send to this group. In the meantime, the publisher’s website contains some sensible pieces on covid-related matters:

Thank you, as usual, to everyone who has been sending me material. Please continue.

Hang in there. We will get through this together.

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