Running with cows

I admit I was pleasantly surprised that my stories of growing up…

Letters from the Queen’s secretary on a touchy…

To people of my vintage it seems like yesterday that these events…

Change and difference

I would like to amend the statement "The only certainties in life…

Robodebt: Part man. Part machine. All crap.

Ok, I paraphrased one of the tagline from Robocop for the title…

Sinister Flatulence: Trump versus Twitter

Sawing off the branch you sit on can hardly be the best…

Covid 19 has hit the economy hard; But…

COVID-19 has hit the Australian economy hard. By some estimates the Australian economy…

2020 becomes 1984: Trump, Twitter and the Ministry…

Prologue: Trump as Big Brother  You do not need me to tell you…

Known problems

Spokesmodel Christian Porter has been all over the airwaves announcing the government’s…

«
»
Facebook

Greed isn’t good

By 2353NM  

It seems Australia’s success so far in reducing the impacts of COVID-19 has a lot to do with the co-ordinated efforts of the various state governments and the federal government. Comparisons to other countries with similar qualities of life demonstrate Australians are experiencing less coronavirus-related illness and death. Certainly, the standard of our health care system and dispersed population helps, but ‘stay at home’ restrictions are frustrating and annoying. However just like in the Spanish Flu pandemic at the end of World War 1, the restrictions seem to be effective. The Spanish Flu pandemic’s second and third wave also demonstrate what may happen if the restrictions are lifted too early.

Writing in the Nine Media titles, Political Editor Chris Uhlmann asks the question If a grandparent chooses a loving embrace that may kill them who are we to stop them? His argument is effectively that the longer the personal restrictions continue, the worse the world’s economy will be, which will lead to domestic violence, suicide, civil wars, totalitarian rulers and so on. Uhlmann suggests we allow freedom of movement so grandparents can hug their grandchildren (just to pull on a few heartstrings!). All well and good on the surface except that there is a time lag between the infection and the display of symptoms and in that time the grandparent has interacted with the bus driver, the supermarket checkout operator, the financial planner, friends and relations as well as the people in the coffee shop around the corner. While the grandparents statistically have a greater chance of needing hospitalisation, who’s to know if the financial planner is recovering from a major operation and has little or no immunity? Is a ‘normal’ economy worth one life (or over 50,000 and climbing while their President plays political games in the case of the USA)?

Uhlmann’s response, like the initial responses of UK PM Johnson and US President Trump, to the criticism above would likely be that should ‘normal life’ continue, only the weak should be concerned and ‘herd immunity’ will eventually reduce the virus to insignificance. Apart from there being no proof that long term ‘herd immunity’ to COVID 19 is a ‘thing’, during April Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz wrote an article in The Guardian entitled ‘Herd Immunity is a fatal strategy we should avoid at all costs’. While Uhlmann is an experienced reporter, according to The Guardian,

Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz is an epidemiologist working in chronic disease in Sydney’s west, with a particular focus on the social determinants that control our health.

Our money should be on the epidemiologist over the reporter to actually have an idea on a public health issue and its effects.

Looking at COVID-19, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who happens to have earned a doctorate in quantum chemistry) explains the risk in this video:

Guy Rundle, writing in Crikey (paywalled) suggests:

The position supporting lockdown is this (it is necessary to repeat it, since none of it appears in right-wing articles): COVID-19 appears to have a basic reproduction rate (R0) of around two, which means that anyone with it will infect two other people under normal conditions.

That is a basic exponential rate, doubling for every step of infection spread. If that period is, say, a day, then the population of Australia could be infected from a single case in a 25-day period.

The object of lockdown and social distancing is to detach the effective reproduction rate (RE) from R0, and push RE below one, at which point the virus will eventually die out under maintained conditions (so far as I understand it).

So what is more important — health or the economy? Is it really s/he who dies with the most economic power wins here? Most of us, and hopefully even Uhlmann despite his seeming lack of concern for older members of our society, would have some concern for older friends and relatives, hoping they stay safe and well in the current environment. Concern for others demonstrates to a large extent the fallacy of Uhlmann’s argument as well as demonstrating the ultimate fallacy in a couple of conservative dictums — greed is good (a growing economy trumps all other considerations) and that human suffering is acceptable (provided it is not to those ‘near and dear’).

Just as the ALP’s Rudd and Swan did in the Global Financial Crisis, Morrison and Frydenberg have crafted a package designed to generate economic activity in the community. Despite Morrison’s initial claim that things would ‘snap back’ on the other side of the COVID-19 health pandemic, Morrison’s statements have been referencing small steps rather than a ‘big bang’ recently. It’s also worth noting that the Morrison/Frydenberg stimulus packages are far greater that the Rudd/Swan packages last decade, even allowing for inflation.

There are three issues here. First, the Coalition has been running a ‘better economic manager’ argument for the past decade, calling out the debt that Rudd and Swan incurred to create their stimulus package. The current pandemic demonstrates that the Rudd/Swan approach was in fact correct and given similar circumstances, the Coalition government not only copies the ALP but ‘supersizes’ it. In both cases, those that had been vilified for years for being on any of the government’s support payments were finally supported properly. The current stimulus measures demonstrate that there should be considerably more emphasis placed on the people in our society than big business profits in the years to come.

Second, we now have the opportunity to press the ‘Reset’ button on the way our country has operated since the 1980s. The 1980’s ‘greed is good’ mantra should be tossed in the bin to rot with the shag pile carpet, white shoes and the 6-hour business lunch. We also need to acknowledge that former ALP PM Hawke’s ‘consensus’ model of government is still relevant and effective as demonstrated by Morrison’s ‘national cabinet’.

Last — it may be well and good that there is a concerted effort to ensure a return to economic independence, a race to fast-track a drug to cure COVID-19 as well as vaccine to prevent infection in the first place — but really the effort is wasted if there is no place on earth that has an environment that supports human life in 30 years’ time. Surely the environment and support for renewable energy over fossil fuel is more important than the return of record ASX Indices, ludicrously high executive salaries and larger dividends through going back to the same old ‘rape and pillage’ mentality.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Donate Button

14 comments

Login here Register here
  1. Keitha Granville

    Without an economy people have nothing for a while, but without people there is zero economy. It seems obvious where the focus should be.

    Now is our chance to re-invent a better normal. Looi at the planet, it is so happy right now. We need to work out what we can have and manintain that happy planet. In the long run we will all benefit. If we return to business as usual, the planet dies and we all lose.

  2. Roslyn 0RR

    At 64 years, I lived as an adult through all the situations outlined in the article. Absolutely agree with issues raised and the
    conclusions.
    Thankyou for the well written and researched article. Am pleased Chris Uhlmann is no longer at ABC!

  3. andy56

    Chris is a good reporter who sometimes goes fucking insane. He does have some intelligence but he is not a thought leader.
    It would be good to restart the economy from first principles. What do we expect of the economy? What is the roll of government? How much of a free leash is capitalism allowed? Somehow, i dont think its going to happen.

    Reform is being talked about but unless it includes UBI, it may as well be vapourware. So much of our tax system is skewed towards imaginary solutions to problems that dont exist or are our of our making which creates more problems. Super, middleclass welfare, business tax deductions, pollution controls, NBN, renewables vs fossil, military spending. Just by rearranging the priorities, we can make life so much better for so many more people. Just by giving the unemployed , 2million, a living support already makes life easier for everyone else. Relieves the pressure cooker of expectations and creates its own “tail wind”. Contrast this vision with $40 a day “unfunded empathy”.
    Seeing as Taylor and Tehan have already let the cat out of the bag, this government continues to enjoy the trappings of ideologically blinding stupidity.
    Its a false “learning” to think business leaders of big companies are the fountain of wisdom. They know how to run a large company but thats it, (yea there are a few exceptions). we need others inside the tent who have better minds at solving complex problems.

  4. andy56

    if the government is serious about red tape and efficiency, a UBI would be front and center. It fixes super, pensions, centerlink , tax, realestate and a lot of the spong industies that feed off the inherent red tape. Even NDIS can be more efficient if it was government run. Private industry does NOT do basic infrustructure well. Its an extra level of “takers” from the tax pool.
    My experience with mygov, centerlink and the ato already makes me sus about government contracted IT. Would have been cheaper to have a dedicated inhouse crew who can grow into the job and sort the fucking mess out as they go. They need to stop promising that reforms will be cheaper in the long term cause i aint seen a one yet…….oh yea there’s a robo flying in the sky….

    Reform not hard if you ask the right questions . And get more nuanced answers

    Like super, decent living in retirement equates to a parallel universe to a pension which is what a pension was set up for in the first place.n ah durrr

  5. Kaye Lee

    What is the role of government?

    “The government of a democracy is accountable to the people. It must fulfil its end of the social contract. And, in a practical sense, government must be accountable because of the severe consequences that may result from its failure. As the outcomes of fighting unjust wars and inadequately responding to critical threats such as global warming illustrate, great power implies great responsibility.”

    “The central purpose of government in a democracy is to be the role model for, and protector of, equality and freedom and our associated human rights. For the first, government leaders are social servants, since through completing their specific responsibilities they serve society and the people. But above and beyond this they must set an ethical standard, for the people to emulate. For the second, the legal system and associated regulation are the basic means to such protection, along with the institutions of the military, for defense against foreign threats, and the police.”

    “Government economic responsibility is also linked to protection from the negative consequences of free markets. The government must defend us against unscrupulous merchants and employers, and the extreme class structure that results from their exploitation.

    Governments argue that people need to be assisted with the economic competition that now dominates the world. But the real intent of this position is to justify helping corporate interests . . . siding against local workers, consumers and the environment.”

    “Another general role, related to the need for efficiency, is the organization of large-scale projects. It is for this benefit that we accept government involvement in the construction of society’s infrastructure, including roads, posts and telecommunications, and water, sewage and energy utilities. Further, giving government charge over these utilities guarantees that they remain in public hands, and solely dedicated to the common good. If such services are privatized, the owners have a selfish motivation, which could negatively affect the quality of the services.

    That such assets should have public ownership is expressed in the idea of the “commons.” They should be owned by and shared between the members of the current population, and preserved for future generations.”

    “Indeed, while we of course still need a means of defense, including against both external and internal (criminal) aggressors, it seems clear that our greatest need for protection is from other institutions and from the abuses of government itself, particularly its collusion with these other institutions. (Many of the needs that we now have for government are actually to solve the problems that it creates.)”

  6. king1394

    What a sweet sentimental man is Chris Uhlmann. I have been a grandmother for over 20 years and currently have a number of lovable grandchildren aged under 12. I have, over the years, learned a number of defensive actions that are totally aimed at avoiding the snot and spittle. You can arrive brandishing a handkerchief or alcohol wipe, and clean the sweet little face (tends to upset the daughter/daughter-in-law). You can deliver a big hug which effectively wipes the face on the clothing around your abdomen. Or you can bend the kid forward and plant your loving kiss on the back of their head – I prefer this nowadays.

    Grandchildren at any time are little infectious cesspits and I recommend that no grandparent ever makes contact with their mucous membranes

  7. Phil Pryor

    Ulmann like a hundred other and similar media maggots is a stupid, egopumped, self-fixated, inflated nothing made up of vacuum girders and nonexistent cladding. Airheads with pretensions infest media like fleas around a dead dog’s date, so avoid them literally, like the plague. But because of Murdoch, the despicable yanko wanko, cranko crapskull, a whole galaxy of garrulous garbage, we are doomed to suffer atrophy of the brain, soul, heart, character and future; we seem doomed to imperious idiocy and terminal turdery. We must fight for a better future, or decline and die.

  8. andy56

    kay lee, thats what we need, to quantify what we want. Then we implement policies to achieve those ends. Its called a PLAN.

    I keep harping on about super buts its a classic case of fixing a problem by adding more layers to a disfunction system. Sure 10% of my income went to a super account, but 15% came off on the way in, 15% of earnings goes to the tax man , the fund takes 1-2% ( 10% if you count insurance) and then we find the majority wont have enough at the end and still get a part pension. WTF is this? If the goal is a reasonable income in retirement, why have all this red tape limiting what goes in and clipping of the ticket all along the line? Its suposed to be a pension substitute but it costs the budget $17b a year and rising. Its a bandaid approach. Sorry Keating, its a crock, i know you tried working within the system but its fucked. In effect its another layer over the tax/welfare system. Much more efficient to have a UBI, that is a big red tape destroyer that the liberals are praying for but cant see to save their lives. I did the sums on another post and its doable without any major draw on the tax system.
    A UBI recognizes not everyone will be able to get a job especially after the virus and technology is our goal in recovery. It treats people with dignity. more than unfunded empathy ever could.

  9. andy56

    it just shows the stupidity of Scotts ” the best form of welfare is a job”. If 5%, and its been so ever since i was a kid is the norm, is considered ok result then its an intellectual failure of capitalism as we have practiced and an indictment on government policies. Its saying 5% is normal and lets treat them like shit when the reality is their policies have maintained the 5%.. You want 0% unemployment, simple government employs them or pays them a living and calls it quit. It just doesnt sit on any christian richter scale to wilfully vilify 750,000 and treat them like shit. Its the old protestant work ” ethic” crap. It doesnt work in a modern society, in fact it is treating the unemployed as thieves and blaming them for their predicament. We call it BLAMING THE VICTIM.

  10. wam

    1) the ultimate hypocrisy was koch explaining how the debt increase was not a worry because of our income.

    2)Imagine the grand child who kills her/his grandparents?

    sadly, kaye, the government is responsible to those people, with a 4 day memory, who lightly read the papers, hear but not listen to the wireless and see but not comprehend commercial TV.
    KISS repeated over and over sets the scene for the last minute release of fear, thanks boobby, to maintain the status quo.of democracy 50% plus 1.
    my eldest grandchild took a gap year found 3 jobs in wangaratta but is under 21 so not a member of society and lives at home.
    ps thatcher was not wrong about society.

  11. Harry Lime

    Since corporatism took over the running of governments,it has always been about the MONEY.Schmo’s weird mixture of “religion” and materialism is no exception,despite his bloated self regard.Of course we need to change if we’re ever going to get off the brainless merry go round we are on,and yes, we have a golden opportunity to do so,but is never going to happen with the blinkered,unimaginative ,idiotic, incompetents masquerading as a government.
    We’ll learn soon enough of the horrors they have in store for the average punter,and it’s not going to be pretty.

  12. Matters Not

    Lots of talk about the need for change, but pray tell, what is the structural mechanism(s) to do just that over and above elections which tend to be about the latest manufactured distraction(s)? Not that any political party voices an agenda for serious change.

    ‘Til then – let’s keep howling at the moon. And talking about the pressing need for change.

  13. Max Gross

    I don’t want “normal” life to resume. Normal was shit. Normal was below poverty level dole. Normal was smirks and prayers. Fuck normal!

  14. andy56

    matters not,
    “from little things, big things grow”

    look i have days when i want a french revolution and others that i dispare. But you got to have some hope that these sacks of shit will fall in a hole of their own making. Trumps doing a good job of self destruction and these guys want to imitate him, lol.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Return to home page
Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: