Thoughts on economics and liberty

Category: Public policy

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 observations regarding the OxCGRT database not being fit for purpose – and how we could use it meaningfully

I’ve sent out this email to a few researchers. Please feel free to share with anyone who would be interested:

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Dear all

The University of Oxford has done us all a great favour by building the OxCGRT database with its stringency index, etc.

On the other hand, having had a look at it for a few days, I consider the database to be fundamentally deficient in its design, but also that there are ways by which some elements of the database can be used meaningfully – and have suggested a couple of examples/options:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/seeing-the-invisible/the-oxford-covid-response-database-is-not-fit-for-purpose-part-1/

and

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/seeing-the-invisible/the-oxford-covid-response-database-is-not-fit-for-purpose-part-2/

I’d be delighted to receive critical comments on my initial findings – particularly from those who have used the database – to inform further exploration. Criticism of my initial findings would be most appreciated.

Regards

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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My position on some policy issues, in response to questions received

I have been asked a few questions by a constituent of Menzies:

  1. Where do you stand on religious freedom?
  2. Where do you stand on gay marriage?
  3. Where do you stand on abortion?
  4. Who are the others in your party – I don’t see anyone on the website?  Where are they standing for this election?
  5. How do you feel about Australia’s dependency on other Nations with regard to food, energy and manufacturing?
  6. Do you support nuclear energy?
  7. Does your party believe in the climate policies currently undertaken by our Federal Government?
  8. What do you think about the fact that a lot of Australia is owned by foreigners?
  9. How do you think we can help young people to own a home?
  10. What are your views on the taxation status of Superannuation?
  11. I note that you have worked mainly for Government entities; what is your position on the level of governance (size of government) in this country and do you think that Australians depend far too much on government to solve their personal problems?

MY RESPONSE

I want to preface my response with a qualifier. First, my views are personal, not necessarily the views of the Australian Federation Party. That is because the Party’s policy development process leads to general recommendations on various issues, with party members free to deviate from the recommended position if they can provide a strong justification. In fact, AFP members are expected to listen to their constituents and to develop their views along with their constituents. And since AFP has not necessarily developed recommended policy positions yet on everything, I’m not even sure AFP has a position on all these matters. And AFP may not even have a position on many such matters, which are ultimately a matter of conscience and we respect the right of all AFP members in Parliament to stand by their beliefs.

But I do, and here goes:

1. Where do you stand on religious freedom?

To me religious freedom and tolerance for other religions is a primary pillar of a Western liberal democracy. That means I defend everyone’s right to their own religious belief. There is a proviso: I would not support actions to force others to believe in a particular religion, or to engage in any violence on the basis of religion.

2. Where do you stand on gay marriage?

I think we do not have any reason to look into private matters of consenting adults, but I have opposed – and do not support – the use of “marriage” to represent the relationship between persons of the same sex. To me marriage is a relationship (often considered by many to be sacred) between a man and a woman. Legally, there should perhaps be another name for gay “marriage” – that’s my view.

3. Where do you stand on abortion?

I have discussed this in The Discovery of Freedom under the section: “what is life?” Relevant portion:

Prior to the 24th week, the foetus can’t even feel pain since basic nerves are still forming. The brain then kicks into life in some primitive, sub-human form by the 26th week, with the first brainwaves detected…. It is crucial that our interpretations about ‘life’ are based on evidence, not on ideology, else we may violate the mother’s freedoms. While the foetus is life, and is a potential human life, the mother must be allowed to remain the best judge of the fate of her foetus till the end of its 24th week. At the same time, medical practitioners must be allowed the freedom of conscience to not support abortions at any stage. No compulsion should be exercised on the medical fraternity on such a delicate and sensitive matter.

4. Who are the others in your party – I don’t see anyone on the website?  Where are they standing for this election?

I understand 61 lower house seats are being contested by Australian Federation Party and a number of senate seats. The party was registered under the new electoral laws (which require 1500 members) only on 24 March 2022, so its website, etc. is under development.

5. How do you feel about Australia’s dependency on other Nations with regard to food, energy and manufacturing?

I’d cite Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms for a simple and clear depiction of the way the world is inter-twined. Exchange ultimately occurs between individuals (including individual companies) and not nations. Except for national security reasons (and I believe Chinese investment needs to be viewed with concern) we should have unilateral free trade – which is in the best interest of Australians. There is another exception, though: strategic reserves. We may need strategic reserves for food/oil, but also support the development of alternative supply chains.

6. Do you support nuclear energy?

I’ve looked into this and consider there are pros and cons. With modern improved technology, nuclear energy should be considered.

7. Does your party believe in the climate policies currently undertaken by our Federal Government?

This is one area where I believe there are significant differences of opinion based on different understandings by different members/ citizens. My personal view is that we have over-reacted to the climate threat – and we have not done enough to manage forests (in fact, we have allowed excess fuel to accumulate). I’d want a thorough review of these matters.

8. What do you think about the fact that a lot of Australia is owned by foreigners?
I think Australia benefits from capital investment by foreigners -so that’s overall a good thing. There are national security concerns that should inform such investments.

9. How do you think we can help young people to own a home?

The supply side of homes is a major issue due to highly restricted zoning in inner city areas. Some release of land in outer areas is made but that is irrelevant for the young whose job is in the city. Unfortunately, this is a state subject and the federal government mainly operates on the demand side by trying to reduce the cost of homes for the young. It could incentivise states to loosen up the restrictions in inner city areas to allow higher density – while also ensuring better infrastructure to meet growing density in the inner city. The First Home Super Saver scheme can also help. But with working from home being more common, it is possible that living in peri-urban or even regional areas might become an option in the future – which will dramatically ease the cost of owning a home.

10. What are your views on the taxation status of Superannuation?

There is no doubt that this issue needs to be reviewed. I don’t like constant tinkering with superannuation, but there is probably a need to reduce (and grandfather for existing contributors) tax-exemptions after superannuation reaches a significant level, say $2 million.

11. I note that you have worked mainly for Government entities; what is your position on the level of governance (size of government) in this country and do you think that Australians depend far too much on government to solve their personal problems?

I consider that the government in Australia has grown far beyond the efficient level. That is because people are expecting government to “solve” every possible “problem”. The issue is that once the government is expected to solve one problem then it is open-slather. Expectations build for the government to solve everything – and that’s both inefficient and impossible. The concept of self-reliance has effectively been lost in Australia. We need to have a conversation with the people on this. I personally like to ask policy questions (about the role of government) from first principles – so that’s where we need to go, with first principle reviews of major issues.

I’ve not edited this – so pl. ignore any typos.

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A 200-page first complete preliminary draft of a Discussion Paper on agriculture policy is now available for comment

Dear all
After the launch of the 80-page Feed India paper on 17 February 2022, I shifted my attention to broader agriculture policy. I’ve compiled a preliminary draft Discussion Paper of ~200 pages at:
With a few minor tweaks this will be released by Anil Ghanwat on 21 March 2022 to the media for public comment, along with the release of the Report of the Supreme Court Committee on Farm Laws.
Like I did with the Feed India paper, I’m keen to get feedback to improve the document – either editorial, criticism of logic or accuracy, or any other suggestions. Please take some time to go through this Paper at your leisure and provide inputs that can make this into a landmark document. I’ll also share with Rajiv Gauba, India’s Cabinet Secretary and my batchmate although I have no hopes that the IAS – which has betrayed India for 70 years, will ever take into account any of the suggestions in this Paper.
Also feel free to share this draft widely. It will be improved over the coming months and the final version launched by Anil Ghanwat at a large farmers’ gathering in Delhi later in 2022.
Regards
Sanjeev
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