Saturday, April 25, 2020

Why did the world go ballistic over Covid 19?

I keep trying to figure out why the world went ballistic over Covid 19.

There's been a string of scary viruses but  international panic didn't ensue. Deadly influenza circulates but international panic didn't ensue.

Yes, first world societies have become increasingly risk averse and legislated to reflect that. Health and safety is a suffocating, saturating blanket which employs thousands directly and indirectly. Its tentacles reach further and wider.

But I think there's more. The world has been primed with hysteria over the spectre of rising seas, the extinction of species, and searing temperatures that will become frankly non survivable. In the very near future no less. The masses appear to believe these predictions based mostly on modelling, some manipulated imagery and an acceptance that the science was settled and the scientists infallible. We are collectively cowering and unable to control our destiny.

Then, along comes a new and unknown threat. Covid 19.

The threat pretty quickly magnifies with modelling. We are conditioned to trust modelling because modelling gave us all the climate change predictions which are now part of our wall paper. Our articles of faith.

So a critical mass is already scared witless. The media provides evidence of that daily.

BUT at last a threat we can exercise some control over. We can don our masks and keep our distance. Make lifestyle changes with immediate individual consequences if not collective. Quickly we are aided and abetted by the authorities. Perhaps most importantly, validated.

Lock down, Stay home, Stay safe.

What relief.

Trouble is, one man's relief is another man's aggravation.

"Millions of cases; small amount of death"

I spent an hour watching this and found it rather compelling.

Two practicing doctors - specializing in immunology and microbiology - who are trying persuade the governor of California to end their lock down. This is the press conference they called on Wednesday last week.

"Acclaim for the PM boosts Labour in the polls – but voters may not be so kind as the recession bites"

A cut and paste from Point of Order:

" it   a  winning  narrative  first to exaggerate the  catastrophic  number of  deaths  likely from the coronvirus,  striking panic  into  the population,   and  then to claim “We saved you”?

That narrative  will not  resonate  with  small  business  owners   whose  dreams have been  shattered  by  the way the government   has operated  in the Covid-19  lockdown. Already many  are  convinced  the government’s  lockdown rules   have  been  far  too stringent,  an over-reaction  to  academic  modelling  that  was  wildly   inaccurate.

They are  asking   why   NZ  didn’t  follow   Australia’s  example  in  allowing  small and  medium  businesses  to continue  operating .

Then there is the problem with the  word  “kindness”.   It worked very well  for the  Prime  Minister   as  she steered the country through  the threatened  crisis.   But  how   will  that  go  if  unemployment   reaches  10% or  more of  the  workforce?

The danger  for the PM  and her ministers  is  that hundreds  of thousands  of  voters   may come to believe   they were  hoodwinked  into  being confined  in  their  cells  for the duration.

That belief,  if  mixed    with  socialist  policy solutions  for the  blitz  on  the economy  subsequent  to  the  pandemic,  could   prove a    fatal  political  cocktail.  The  record  shows  the  Ardern  coalition  carries too  much deadweight  in Cabinet   when it comes to framing  and implementing  policy.

Peter Dunne   summed it up  neatly:

“Critical to this whole process of crisis management is there being an actual crisis to manage.  That has been clearly the case in places like the US, Britain, Italy and Spain, for example, as the numbers of cases and deaths have been spiralling out of control and the public reaction has been one of desperate panic.

“While the potential impact for NZ was just as serious, the perverse consequence of acting early to avert the extent of the crisis has been that the extremes seen overseas have been averted. But an inevitable consequence is that some now question whether there was ever a crisis here in the first place”

What won’t  escape voters  is that  the  billions of  dollars    being spent  by the government as a  result of its decision to  fight  the pandemic in the  way   it did   will have to  be repaid,  not  just  by the  current generation of   taxpayers but by future  generations — and the  prosperity  which New Zealanders were  enjoying just a few  months  ago  may  not   return    any  time   soon.

So,   as   voters  approach the  ballot  box to cast their votes,  will   phrases like  “ Be  kind”  and  “we are  all  in this  together”   still be ringing in  their  ears?"

Complete article here

Personally I don't think there are any 'buts' or 'maybes' about it. It is one of the few comforting thoughts I have currently. She's gone come September ...

Thursday, April 23, 2020

NZ - The little engine that couldn't

NZ has always been  'the little engine that could.' It's endearing imagery but  also powerfully symbolic.

But thanks to our leadership and their reckless decision-making now compounded by dogmatic digging-in, we are fast becoming the little engine that couldn't.

Today exactly what many have predicted has begun. Pharmac backtracks on a cancer drug that could have saved 1,400 lives a year because, "it can no longer afford to make the investment." In a headlong rush to save the lives of an unknown but over-stated quantity,  the lives of a known number will be lost.

The economy, our very lifeblood, was all but switched off with no advice from people whose job it is to understand and appreciate  its criticality. I still can't work out why. Maybe Grant Robertson thought that NZ was  in a relatively strong position debt-wise and he could take risks, enormous risks with it. But I am dismayed and disgusted by how many people think it's a mere matter of switch off - switch on. Just like that. Hence their patronising chiding of the rest of us to 'just be patient. 'It's only a few more days in your bubble'. Or worse, their snitching to the authorities.

Hell's bells. Have these idiots (many deriving their security from Super or a public service salary)  really thought any further than the end of their twitchy noses? They seem incapable of joining the dots beyond just A to B. Austerity will come as a rude and rough shock and they will deserve it.

Everyone of us is a domino to some degree.

Many have all ready fallen over. Tragically, today it was lung cancer patient's turn

"A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have." 

Monday, April 20, 2020


OK. People everywhere are banging away on their keyboards (especially on KiwiBlog) and that's fine. But all the angry frustrated commenting  does is dissipate the anger and frustration.

The economy is dying in front of us.

The modelling that caused the move to level 4 has been subsequently discredited.

There is enough evidence now to convince that the cure IS worse than the disease.

Every day business cannot operate their prognosis worsens.

I would go and stand on the lawn at Parliament with a banner conveying any one of these messages (and there are more) but I'd be swiftly removed under the new laws the police have been given (though the sole climate change protester stayed there for weeks).

Three people made sense to me yesterday and none was the PM. Sir Ray Avery (we cannot eliminate Covid), Oliver Hartwich (the economy is getting sicker by the day - exponentially) and Ian Harrison (the modelling the govt relied on was flawed.)

We should be moving out of Level 4 right now and to 2 if not 1.

If you are in the Wellington area and feel like I do email me.

"The Statisticians That Killed New Zealand"

A response to the Covid crisis strategy from Sir Ray Avery (if you haven't already seen it):

The most worrisome of words routinely used by Jacinda Adern, Ashley Bloomfield and Shaun Hendy is the rhetoric around New Zealand's mission to eradicate COVID-19 in New Zealand .
This has no scientific validity and if we continue on this course to get our infection rates down to zero then our country will become bankrupt for no good reason.


The Dominion Post features no less than five images of Jacinda Ardern this morning. On the front page, pages 7 and 8, and 13 and 14. Perhaps an editorial decision was taken to fill the void left by avoidable women's mags.

This led me to reflect yet again how visible previous leaders would have been in a similar crisis.

I cannot for instance imagine Helen Clark appearing daily to make housekeeping-type  announcements.Neither can I envisage John Key being so heavily involved in the minutiae.

Not a big fan of the whole societal love of 'leadership'  I do accept that at a certain level good leaders are vital.The best I have experienced are delegaters; people who nurture the abilities  around them and who keep their powder dry for the really important stuff.

As someone who will never vote for Labour the PM's 'over-exposure' is my perception and my problem - not hers.

But will it remain that way? The cult of personality is very fickle. The biggest fans can become the greatest detractors. Quite quickly.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Six in 10 of the 'employed' now on a wage subsidy

The most recent data for the employed was December 2019 when 2,648,000 people were working.

We now know that at April 10, a week ago, 1,236,875 people were being paid a wage subsidy.

47% of the country's workers are sitting idle.

Update: Treasury is providing different data saying "The number of Jobseeker Support beneficiaries has jumped sharply. Total wage subsidies payments reached $8.9 billion on 9 April, benefiting 1.4 million people." That would represent 53% of workers.

Update two: According to this source, 1.6 million at Friday April 17 - 60%

The article says, "By Friday afternoon, the government's wage subsidy was supporting 1.6 million workers - half the entire work force." I am using a different denominator - the closest approximation available of the number working before the crisis. The workforce includes people who were not.

The article also says, "Not every worker receiving the wage subsidy will lose their job - many are in construction, which is one of the areas tipped for boom times once the lockdown restrictions end."

Tipped by who? That's not what I am hearing firsthand.