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The Economy Above All – Even Life Itself!

Ok, I was going to write about how Dan Andrews is responsible for security guards not being up to the job in Melbourne and ask why the federal government isn’t responsible for security guards committing crimes on Manus or Nauru. Or why the federal government isn’t even responsible for crimes committed by its ministers. But then the whole gas thing happened and I decided that in the interest of balance I should write about what a disappointment Albanese is as Opposition leader, and that he’s neither leading nor mounting an opposition… government follower would be a more appropriate title.

But more on those at some future date. I realised after reading the following quote from the University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor, Duncan Maskell, I’d just have to address this because it seemed so reasonable and measured:

“We have to look at this as an overall picture. My personal view is there should be some form of sensible, public health, QALY*-based analysis done and tough calls made. It boils down to a basic but very hard moral philosophy: What is the value of a 90-year-old’s life versus the value of the continuing livelihood and happiness of a 25-year-old?’’

*QALY The quality-adjusted life year or quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) is a generic measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived. It is used in economic evaluation to assess the value of medical interventions. One QALY equates to one year in perfect health. QALY scores range from 1 (perfect health) to 0 (dead) QALYs can be used to inform personal decisions, to evaluate programs, and to set priorities for future programs

There was just something about it that I found both rational and disturbing at the same time. I realised that it was a reframing of the Trolley Problem where you’re asked if you’d kill one person to save five, but I sensed that it was something more than that. . And then it just hit me. It was the FRAMING of the hypothetical.

There was so much that was loaded in that single question that it’s hard to know where to start but let’s begin with the implicit assumption that the 90 year old was just a waste of space. I mean if the question was something like: “Why should we prevent Eric from going to his job at KFC and partying on weekends simply to keep David Attenborough alive?” Or substitute Ruth Bader Ginsburg because she was 87 and pretty much there.

And what if the twenty five year old wasn’t happy anyway? Yes, I do have a pretty good understanding of how not having enough money can really affect your happiness, but I’m suggesting that there’s an assumption that if the poor young person can just go back to their dishwashing job that they’ll be happy when some of them may be a lot happier on JobKeeper…

Or what if we frame it in terms of some of our sporting heroes? Why should some poor AFL/NRL player have a shortened season and a lack of opportunity to strut their stuff at a nightclub just so some old person can live?

Yep, the framing makes a big difference.

Once you start accepting the idea that it’s reasonable to start trading off the sad, old 90 year old in order to enable the happiness of the young it’s the old slippery slope. Why stop at ninety? If you think of how much the over 80s cost in terms of health care, it should be a simple matter to round them all up and put them in the same aged care facility with no access to any medications apart from those which allow a smooth painless transition to that place where they’re not costing anyone’s happiness. Now, I’m not advocating that we murder them off; I’m just suggesting that after a few weeks hanging around with other old people they’d surely realise that their time was up and that they’d be happy to go for the greater good. Of course, if they insist on being selfish and living… Well, there’s always methods to make people see reason…

And with the money we save we could afford to give even greater tax cuts to those having a go.

Yes, it’s all in how you frame it. Apparently it’s fine to suggest that we can’t afford any economic slowdown just to keep old people alive. After all, they’ve had a pretty good innings so they can just shut up and accept that COVID-19 will kill a few of them.

Yes, that seems to be an acceptable way to treat the elderly if you’re a politician or an economist or someone who has a media gig…

But if you should suggest touching their franking credits, you’re some sort of monster!


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  1. RomeoCharlie29

    Nicely framed Rossleigh. As someone who has passed their (biblically, or is it Shakespearly) allotted three score years and ten, I find the subject of dispensing with the aged somewhat distasteful. But then, I dont get any franking credits either so probably not qualified to have an opinion. However I do have one opinion to share: this incompetent Federal government is led by incompetents, liars and shonks and can never be relied upon to know, and therefore act in, the best interests of Australians.

  2. Yeahno

    Rossleigh, this is a where we end up when economic rationalists join forces with medical bureaucrats.
    From Sweden: “health authorities have received many complaints about how elderly relatives were treated. A consistent theme is that nursing home residents with suspected Covid-19 were immediately placed on palliative care and given morphine and denied supplementary oxygen and intravenous fluids and nutrition. For many this was effectively a death sentence.”
    Same story in the UK?
    Team Google and Big Tech is onboard with what looks a lot like senicide with their attack on American Frontline doctors back in August.
    It is now at the stage where some working treatments for covid are politicized and it’s easy to imagine how the vaccine story might play out, dependent on which Party wins the next US election it will be a case of – I, rusted on supporter of Party X, am not taking a Democrat / Conservative vaccine.
    Whatever happened to application of medicine based on verifiable science?
    I still see idiots on newscasts in Austalia promoting ventilators as first goto option despite recommendations from the CDC months ago: “For adults with COVID-19 and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure despite conventional oxygen therapy, the Panel recommends high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen over noninvasive positive pressure ventilation (NIPPV) (BI).”

  3. mark delmege

    obviously not un qualified workers employed by shonky operators making a quick buck installing insulation but according to a former high court judge I asked it was the govts responsibility for not anticipating events. To which I said and what about all the people who die in hospitals every year because of bad medicine and practices… if I recall the subject was changed.

  4. Jack Cade


    This incompetent government and its forebears have almost always been preferred by Australians. Clearly, competence scares us.
    Arrogant as Kevin Rudd apparently was as PM, he looks better and better as the years go by. At least his arrogance and ego acted in OUR best interests rather than overseas-owned corporates.

  5. New England Cocky

    Geez Rossleigh, you’ve done it again! Thinking about Trolley Problems or the Cannibalism after Ship Wreck Problem or Justifying an incompetent and uncaring Liarbral Nazional$ misgovernment that is better at ripping off the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme than keeping the Australian economy working on behalf of the Australian voters.

    However, you are a little late to the party because American Sci-Fi authors discussed the Fixed Duration Life Span enigma in many books during the 50s and 60s; why they even made television series about them. You know the old adage, ”Life ends at Thirty (30)” and the young inherit what remains of the Earth ….. except for an elite of Aged Sages all over 60 years who established the system and have benefited financially and comfortably since they introduced this policy.

    Notice any present day similarities; say to Germany 1933 to 1945, the USA (United States of Apartheid) 1961 to present or Australia under Little Johnnie Howard and his Liarbral successors?

  6. Keitha Granville

    omg, funny but not.

    What happens when they start on other sick people, disabled people, single lonely people, orphaned children, displaced refugees? Insert your own likely candidates.

    Doesn’t really matter, the planet is dying so we’ll all die anyway.

  7. Vikingduk

    Well, I’ve always maintained that those pesky refugees should have had their boats sunk and the survivors machine gunned, jeez, think of the squillions that could have gone to the budget’s bottom line and as far as touching those sacrosanct franking credits and negative gearing, well, the very hide to suggest such an abominable idea reeks of sedition. Hillsong and news corpse are suffering enough as it is, how could this honourable pack of xxxxx survive without their kickbacks?

    Really, the smirking jerk, his weekends are very important, so important that he taped the speers segment on Friday, shit, do you expect this holy motherfucker to work weekends? Let me assure you, if we don’t move to a culling program soon, motormouth & co. will need to work and not go to the footy.

  8. Max Gross

    A little logic is a dangerous thing…

  9. Regional Elder

    Ah Rossleigh, as you demonstrate so lucidly, neoliberalism can be so flexible !

    In other eras, the dispatching of the young to possible death. / dismemberment for the greater good of assisting weapon manufacturers, and the national good, thrive in both the national and international markers was not uncommon.

    Why, as I well remember, during the American-Australian war against Vietnam, young Australian men who didn’t have the vote, and who had not reached the legal age of adulthood at that time, were selected by ballot to go into roulette wheel of life and death.

    So here we have the neo-liberal flexibility demonstrated by the excessively financially remunerated Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University ( recently appointed appointed after an international search of course, and therefore ipso facto, he must be a very high quality appointment ! Professor Maskell invites us to make bald comparisons between a 90 year old and 25 year old, and suggest that the former might be expendable.

    Yes it is all in the framing.

    So flexible !

  10. Wam

    Yes, Rossleigh, the pre-boomers that we successfully dumped into homes far out of sight should grab the headlines by dying so publicly have thoroughly spoilt the opportunity for untrammeled reform. Still it has deflected Rex the leader of the opposition in the senate and thrown his questions of the air.
    I wasted 6 years writing to little billy and torpid Tanya seeking a campaign to laugh at the rabbott for his inept governance and at him personally for his silly utterances but silence no hint of the beaconsfield shorten. then, at the election did he concentrate on their lies no more silence and no action till just before the election when labor burst into a plethora of announcements with inadequate explanations on top of a job destroying screaming caravan. The game has gone.
    Then the man we wanted in 2013 fell into office. Not the albo of the NO!NO!NO! but the albo of wait wait wait QED

  11. Jack Cade

    Keitha Granville
    That, of course, is national socialism. Get rid of your unwanted by increments. Start with the old, unproductive baby boomers who are just leeching off the nations welfare teats. Then move onto minorities you don’t like, all the time blaming the ‘Chinese Virus’.
    I’m absolutely convinced that the governments of USA, UK, and Australia had decided to sacrifice the boomers until the pesky virus took up residence in Dutton, Johnson and the White House.

  12. Michael Taylor

    Jack! Watch the game! 😀

  13. Jack Cade

    I’m watching it!

    When Ladhams dropped a mark smack in front, my daughter snapped ‘The Hoff would have marked that!’
    Was like shooting Bambi, dropping Hoff. Still…time waits for no man..

  14. corvusboreus

    In a week where Greenland calved a 110km2 chunk off an ancient glacier,. Trump officials endorsed intimidation tactics (aka Jim Crow) at US polling stations and the Dutton creature announced plans for greasy easy access to the Australian military (define ‘civil emergency’) ,the AIMN is abuzz with the news that a fella in lycra butter-fingered a ball.

    There are numerous statistics from various studies that show how many more wives and kids get abused and bashed when the boyz get all geed up over ballgames (eg +>20% for AFL GF night) but I won’t bother posting links because no one gives a shit.

    I’ll put this all down to people having different priorities for their attentive focus.
    The report from Vesuvius brought a brief awkward silence, then conversation resumed, and the forum once again resounded with earnest discussion of circuses, chariots and gladiatorial games.

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