Saturday, April 04, 2020

What can't be seen right now

RNZ reports Ashley Bloomfield said today the number of new Covid 19 cases appears to be leveling off now.

If we come out of the lock down with just one death we will be told, and we will be tempted to think, that the lock down was a roaring success.

But if  unemployment has shot up to around 12 percent

If the country's debt has gone from around 20 to 35 percent

If GDP has shrunk by 30 percent

If harm from domestic violence, gambling, and binge drinking has increased

If the suicide rate climbs

If rates of death from cancers rises

Is that a roaring success?

Yes, some of the negative picture I have painted would have happened anyway as a result of what other countries did. But our own actions compounded the harm.

The End of Winston

As I mow the lawns listening to the racing coming in from Caulfield and Randwick and eight other Australian venues; and as I reflect on the millions of speculation dollars flowing across the Tasman into the Aussie industry as our racecourses lay dormant,  I am slightly warmed by the prospect of the end of Winston, at last.

His industry backers now have no reason to fund him.The Deputy Prime Minister, the great Saviour of the racing industry, couldn't persuade the PM to do what the Australians managed. He is redundant.

Finally waking up

This is a pretty good analysis of what is happening and published as the major opinion piece in today's Dompost.

New Zealand's so-called universal healthcare system is actually rationed healthcare. The government gives it a certain amount of money each year and district health boards ration the care in various ways based on how sick people are, or through waiting lists. Pharmac – the  state's drug buyer – is the same. If the cost-benefit ratio for a drug isn't high enough, it isn't funded and people die.
These decisions are made all the time – the difference is that these are not acute cases happening all at once, but around the country, all the time. Unless waiting lists get particularly long for some procedures, no-one seems to mind too much. The point is not that we should not care that people die, but that we should have some perspective.

Friday, April 03, 2020

"We can't survive without business"

And a very sad column from Listener writer Joanne Black on the demise of the Listener in particular, a great New Zealand institution. She concludes, "I remain more afraid of the economic fallout of New Zealand's response to Covid-19 than I am of the virus itself."

Thursday, April 02, 2020

At the mercy of governments

Governments around the world are making the rules up as they go along.  Their commands are arbitrary and inconsistent.

The latest 'lock-down' to be announced:
All Tasmanians will need to stay at home for the next four weeks under new requirements from the state government to fight coronavirus spread... Gutwein said order would be in place for a month from Tuesday and reviewed over that time. Premier Peter Gutwein said people would need to be at home unless they were going to work, school, getting exercise or essential supplies, or providing or receiving medical or compassionate care.
Remember that? Going to work?


Each morning I wake up and the questions start immediately.

1/ Is hysteria even more contagious than covid-19?

2/ Why have people who didn't trust the government's policy response to climate change science (not settled) trusted their response to coronavirus? Eg Peter Williams.

3/ Is this the end of globalization?

4/ Will we return to the days of a command economy where we do a whole lot of stuff that we can never do efficiently and pay for the folly of it?

5/ Why is the Prime Minister on peak time telly talking about the price of cauliflowers?

6/ How is the world going to respond to the next virus?

7/ When a retrospective cost/benefit analysis is conducted into the lock-down will all of the people who died from other conditions or diseases because they couldn't get necessary treatment be included?

8/ Will New Zealand's obsession with retirement homes and voluntary mass segregation of the elderly turn out to be a godsend?

9/ With fewer than 20 hospitalized cases, is the unprecedented stress being reported by staff mainly about trying to keep out family members of non-covid cases and their response?

10/ What is the plan?

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Two more voices in the wilderness

Donald S. Siegel is foundation professor and director at the School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University ( Robert M. Sauer is professor of economics at Royal Holloway, University of London (

"...we call on all business owners and citizens who care about economic liberty and personal freedom to rise up and demand that politicians lift all bans on commerce. Let us get back to work!"

Sir Bob calls the lockdown "madness"

Read his brief column here.

I mused as I walked along the beach this morning in thick fog (unable to see the ferries and aeroplanes that aren't there) that pre-Covid19 the world was hysterical about climate change with increasing calls being made for population reduction policies. Now the panic is to save lives at ANY cost.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

More 'informed' skepticism

Another alternative view for you. A NZ epidemiologist who doesn't equivocate . He concludes:

"It is important that the public health response matches the threat posed to our health. It is important we keep abreast of developments, such as tests of immunity, so that we can return to normality quickly.
We don't want to squash a flea with a sledgehammer and bring the house down. I believe that other countries, such as Sweden, are steering a more sensible course through this turbulent time."

In a similar vein, I watched most of this yesterday. More rates than you can shake a stick at. The friend who sent it to me, an economist, wrote:

The arithmetic is accurate.
As a benchmark, it's estimated the "Spanish flu" virus of 1918 infected up to one-third of the total global population, and on average killed up to 5% of those it infected (i.e. up to about 2% of the total global population), over the course of several years.  See
Without a miracle and instant mass vaccine (not likely to arrive), the coronavirus pandemic will end when the global population has developed sufficient "herd immunity", and not until then.  It seems unlikely that any particular national population can isolate itself from that reality for long. So we certainly are incurring vast economic and social cost for an uncertain benefit (if any).
And if your immune system doesn't save you, it's unlikely any "health system" will.…
Off to the gym!

Monday, March 30, 2020

"PETER HITCHENS: ... this Great Panic is foolish, yet our freedom is still broken and our economy crippled"

An alternative view for you. I was alerted to a Daily Mail column by Peter Hitchens on the Mike Hosking show.


"Now, if you want a scientist who does not support Government policy, the most impressive of these is Prof Sucharit Bhakdi. If you desire experts, he is one.

He is an infectious medicine specialist, one of the most highly cited medical research scientists in Germany. He was head of the Institute for Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, one of Germany’s most distinguished seats of learning.

In a recent interview he had many uncomplimentary things to say about the shutdown policy being pursued by so many countries (there is a link on my blog to the interview, and a transcription).

But perhaps the most powerful was his reply to the suggestion that the closedown of society would save lives. He argued the contrary, saying this policy was ‘grotesque, absurd and very dangerous’.

He warned: ‘Our elderly citizens have every right to make efforts not to belong to the 2,200 [in Germany] who daily embark on their last journey. Social contacts and social events, theatre and music, travel and holiday recreation, sports and hobbies all help to prolong their stay on Earth. The life expectancy of millions is being shortened.’

He also gave this warning: ‘The horrifying impact on the world economy threatens the existence of countless people.

‘The consequences for medical care are profound. Already services to patients who are in need are reduced, operations cancelled, practices empty, hospital personnel dwindling.

‘All this will impact profoundly on our whole society.

‘I can only say that all these measures are leading to self-destruction and collective suicide because of nothing but a spook.’"

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Coronavirus and multi-generational households

Italy and Spain are experiencing high numbers of deaths particularly because they have high levels of multi-generational households. It is more common for the elderly live with the young.

In NZ there is limited publicly available data about multi-generational families.

The graph below has been constructed by people who probably paid for it:

Based on that trend New Zealand now has around a quarter million individuals living in three or more generation extended family households.