Thursday, April 30, 2020

Quarantine and delaying entry is not making any citizen "stateless".


Not even close, let's get that clearly established!

Just as the moronic media need a re-education camp say in Waiouru to attempt a reset of the ideals of journalistic integrity as opposed to  current opinions replacing news and those opinions  being slanted towards globalisation and socialism, free democracies need to  regain the high ground.

Months and years of pursuing such ethereal rubbish as global cooling, desertification,  plagues and pestilence, that when proved mirages those proponents moved to peak oil,  pollution and finally eldorado in Climate warming  Change where they decided a "Tax" was the solution.

Those few who actually treasure and fight for freedom of speech and true democratic norms need to go to battle.

End the propaganda over endlessly quoting all vaguely connected deaths as Covid 19  caused, when the truth is  totally expected deaths  perhaps moved up a little when Corona entered the lists. "Rosewood" tragedy could have occurred in any year at the onset of the flu season and would have been never anywhere near any media comment let alone the orgy witnessed and continuing as we speak.

Grasp the very pertinent fact that the economic costs mounting in billions of dollars a week along with associated rising death rates from untreated,  delayed treatment, medical and mental issues and suicides are making any delaying in the entirely natural cycle of life perhaps best encapsulated in the age old saying "where there are live ones there will inevitably be dead ones",  totally unacceptable.
Unless of course those imposing their ideological beliefs and /or abject displays of total ignorance, cannot  or will not understand the economic reality that will accompany their headlong rush to satisfy appease and manipulate a doctrinal agenda using the crisis  Pandemic!

As two old buggers in the high end seventies with enough functioning brain cells, we  took a deliberate decision to readjust our pursuit of pleasure by putting the mobile home into storage almost three months earlier than recent annual autumn practice and put ourselves into a good approximation of self isolation back in mid February.  I am now of the opinion we can resume some activities with minimal alteration to past behaviour and incidentally not needing the thoroughly over enjoyed directions from Bowen Street.

We still shop for ourselves while feeling grateful to all the neighbours who offered support and assistance. We have bins in the rear of the  tow vehicle, we wear gloves that are discarded into the bin at the New World door after returning an emptied trolly to the door,  we wear face coverings to prevent any hint we are spreading any bugs and more importantly oppose a lifetime habit of touching our faces, we then use sanitiser,  re-enter the vehicle for the trip home where hand washing and prudent handling of the loot is continued in the brave new world (borrowed from dear old Aldo).
This is the MO until any suggestion of local infection arises , then there will be a reassessment.

Meanwhile there is heightening displeasure and often outright laughter at the moronic media messaging. This morning under a headline "The Country could not deny returning citizens entry"  under an ancient UN ruling from the sixties that made making a citizen stateless was against international law as decreed by the United Nations.

What a wheel-barrow of steaming bovine (male) excrement as a diversion.

My concept of manageable border control was  at around January ending;
"No"  Entry for any non citizens,
No entry for cruise boat infection laboratories,
Expedited exits for departing nationals of other nations,
Any dual citizens examined as to their right to remain.

For this treatise but I am not being paid a damned cent to have  a plan  such as above in situ, my state salary is in the region of $300 pw, while those  who reveal daily,  a total dearth of any viable health or economic response,  enjoy remuneration many times that.

One gobmeister in particular at a multiple in excess of twenty five plus expenses,  all wasted and in fact valueless. In fact almost able to be 'eliminated' with few noticing.

DON BRASH ON COVID-19

Have we been conned?

Perhaps it is dangerous to write about such a fast-moving situation as the Covid-19 pandemic when what I write may not be published for 10 days or more, but at time of writing my strong impression is that the public believe that the Government has done a remarkably good job of suppressing, perhaps even eliminating, the spread of Covid-19 in New Zealand, and that they deserve warm applause.

I believe the public has been conned.

To begin with, in common with most of the countries in Europe and North America but quite unlike the countries of East Asia, the New Zealand Government was very slow to take the virus seriously. Despite the Ministry of Health issuing a statement in late January talking of the extremely serious threat posed by the disease, the Government did little or nothing to prepare for its arrival on our shores for more than a month.

By contrast, and perhaps because they had had experience of the SARS epidemic some years ago, countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong swung swiftly into action with far-reaching testing and tracing. As a result, for example, Taiwan – geographically and economically much closer to the source of the virus in China than New Zealand – has vastly few total Covid-19 cases than New Zealand has had. Indeed, on a per capita basis, New Zealand has had some 17 times as many cases as Taiwan has had.

As late as the middle of March, there had been no suggestion that the very large public ceremony to mark the anniversary of the Christchurch massacre would be cancelled, even though a crowded public event would have been the perfect way of spreading the virus.

On 17 March, the Minister of Finance announced what he called a “$12.1 billion support for New Zealanders and business”. Some of that was well targeted – including an extra $500 million for the health sector and a substantial wage subsidy to help businesses retain staff. Other parts were very poorly targeted, including a permanent increase in benefit levels and a change in the depreciation rules around commercial buildings. And the Government made it clear that they intended that a further increase in the minimum wage would still take place on 1 April, making it certain that whatever impact the virus had on employment would be made worse by a significant increase in the cost of employing people.

On 23 March, the Prime Minister announced that two days later the country was moving into an Alert Level 4 lock-down for four weeks. We had to do this, we were told, because otherwise “tens of thousands” of New Zealanders would die from the disease and our hospital system – especially the availability of ICU hospital beds – would be overwhelmed. Yes, there would an economic cost it was acknowledged, but faced with a choice between saving lives and worrying about dollars, the Prime Minister was clear that she placed a higher value on lives saved than on dollars.

Has it worked? Superficially yes. The number of new cases yesterday (I’m writing on 18 April) was just eight, only 14 people were in hospital, and only three were in ICU beds. Only 11 people have died from the virus. Perhaps we could even look forward to the day when New Zealand has no cases of Covid- 19, and we can all get back to work, though with our international borders permanently closed, or at least closed until an effective vaccine is discovered and deployed.

But very serious questions must be asked.

First, it is now clear that “tens of thousands of deaths” were never likely. Yes, some of the projections made by epidemiologists at Otago University suggested that deaths could rise to between 8,600 and 14,400 – not exactly “tens of thousands” but certainly a very large number – but those numbers assumed that the Ministry of Health would abandon its trace, test and isolate strategy. As Ian Harrison of Tailrisk Economics has noted, the same model “configured with effective tracing and isolation, and some other plausible assumptions, generated about 160 deaths” . And given that we have had 1,409 identified cases at this stage, and only 11 deaths as a result, it appears that the fatality rate is not much over 1% (I’m allowing for a few more deaths from those who, at time of writing, had contracted the disease but had not yet recovered).

Second, it also seems clear that Australia has had fewer cases of Covid-19 than New Zealand has had, on a per capita basis, despite having a much more relaxed attitude to “lock-down”.

Third, without exception all those who have died of Covid-19 in New Zealand are people who were over 70 (and most were over 80), all with one or more other serious “health issues”. While clearly overseas experience confirms that younger people can die of Covid-19, it appears that in other countries too those who have succumbed to the virus have overwhelmingly been over 70, and overwhelmingly people with other health issues. At no time has our hospital system even looked like being overwhelmed, and typically no more than three or four ICU beds have been occupied at one time – of the several hundred ICU beds which either are, or could quickly be, available.

More serious still is the fact that the Prime Minister seems to think that by locking the economy down tightly she is showing that she cares more about lives than about dollars. If she imagines for a single moment that locking the economy down tightly has no effect on lives lost she is even less well informed than I had imagined. We all know that four weeks of isolation in our respective bubbles has seen a marked spike in domestic violence. We can guess that seeing a business that one has spent years or decades building up destroyed in the course of a few weeks has led to an increase in suicide. And suddenly being unable to bring home a wage or salary will be having a similarly devastating effect on the mental health and lives of many tens of thousands of employees.

Professor John Gibson, one of New Zealand’s leading academic economists, has drawn attention to the fact that life expectancy is to some extent a function of real GDP per capita. He has noted in a recent paper that “if real per capita GDP in New Zealand falls by 10% due to the lock-down and other effects associated with Covid-19, life expectancy would be predicted to fall by 1.4 years” 2. Of course, not all the fall in real GDP per capita is a result of the lock-down: earnings from international tourism, and the education of foreign students, were going to fall precipitously, almost no matter how severe our domestic lock-down had been.

But there can be little doubt that severely locking down much of the economy will have cost a great many lives, and very probably many more than the lives lost to Covid-19 to date. As the Prime Minister must surely know, every time the Government decides to spend money on improving road safety, or increasing the Pharmac budget, or increasing the school lunch programme, they are implicitly (and often explicitly) calculating how many dollars they are willing to spend to save a life. I strongly suspect that in adopting perhaps the strictest lock-down regime in the world, the  government has cost more lives than it has saved.

Don Brash

April 2020

with acknowledgement to https://www.elocal.co.nz/

NICE ONE

The Royal Mail has instituted a special postmark to help celebrate Captain Tom Moore's 100th birthday on Thursday.   All stamped mail posted up until Friday will be stamped with the postmark ... 'Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020'.

Captain Moore has raised over 28 million pounds for the NHS by walking with the help of his walking frame.   His nephew Adam Birki, a junior doctor at the East Surrey Hospital, saying he plans to continue walking and raising more money.









Royal Mail's Capt Tom Moore postmark

And so say all of us here in New Zealand.    Walking the walk in spades.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Hello Darkness My Old Friend


My Photo
Now any of you 60's retrobates should pick up on that famous line, coming as it does from a famous song of that groovy era.

So let me introduce you to an extremely clever young artiste who has decided to re-purpose the song for our era of State Of Emergency.


I must say that I'm amused at the idea that a song born out of the birth pangs of Western 60''s Counter Culture - replete with feelings of Question Authority, Never Trust Anyone Over Thirty and worries about how "The Man  Come And Take You Away" (complete with a cowboy hat) - could be so effective in sticking it to the Leftists that now represent all that they once protested against.

And as we all now know, COVID-19 Is This Generation’s Vietnam.

VALE RADIO SPORT

Another death attributable to Covid-19.   Will it rise again phoenix like from the ashes?    Like to think so and, if the public backlash that greeted the government's decision to can Concert FM is anything to go by, perhaps it will.

Here's hoping.

AND WHEN SHE GOT TO HEAR ABOUT IT ....... ?

As a student of history I have always found it fascinating to explore the relationship that existed between the Crown and various administrations.    The relationship King George VI had with the Attlee government (1945-1951) is particularly interesting.   The King was a small 'c' conservative and there would have been aspects of Labour's legislative programme that would have caused him concern.    Nevertheless he and Attlee forged a close relationship based on mutual respect.

As in all cabinets there were ministers the King warmed to and others he barely tolerated.   Among the latter was Hugh Dalton, Chancellor of the Exchequer.   Dalton was characterised by his biographer as peevish, irascible, given to poor judgement and lacking administrative talent.   But,  more importantly, he was the son of the imperious Canon Dalton, the Prince of Wales' tutor who both domineered and frightened him and was one of the reasons he developed the stammer that was to blight his life early on.

But this is a story about one of the King's favorites.   Ernest Bevan, working class poor, Baptist lay preacher and Trade Union leader.  So different from the King's circle of friends.   But the King enjoyed his bulldog English views and earthy sense of humor which he shared.   Bevan could push the boundaries ... he once said the to Queen, eyeing the Palace gold plate ... 'I like your crockery'.    But this story I like the best.   When the King asked Bevin as Foreign Secretary if he would be taking his wife to an important overseas conference he replied .... 'Taking Mrs Bevin to Paris is like taking a sandwich to a banquet'.

And when 'she' got to hear about that remark  .................... 

IS A VACCINE A REALITY OR ONLY DREAMING?


There is still small anecdotal incidence alleging Covid 19 survivors becoming re-infected by the Virus.

If true then that might indicate a body blow to hopes of a successful vaccine.

Vaccine involves tricking the human  immune system into creating antibodies to thwart a subsequent  invasive attack.

In actually eliminating Smallpox, finally declared as eliminated in c1970, the closely related but non fatal Cowpox virus was employed to have the Human body sufficiently prepared to fight off the more virulent and often fatal smallpox that had death rates over 30%.

Cowpox was normally found in lesions on the teats of cows that then infected Milking maids. Their hands bearing lesions leading to Jenner, widely acknowledged as the "father of immunology",  realising that Milkmaids had very low incidence of Smallpox infections in the regular plagues.

The declared success against Smallpox is rare and without research the only known such outcome.

Polio is massively diminished while Malaria while not actually a virus is still killing millions each year. Immunity to a malaria infection has some reduction in severity if a reinfection follows nearer to a successful recovery, however antibody protection diminishes quite markedly in the absence of exposure to infections. One of the unfortunate problems with the Female Mosquito bite triggered disease comes with the abolition of a cheap control vector  DDT? on environmental issues freely acknowledged by self. India still manufactures and uses DDT.

Viruses of the strength and virility of Covid 19 will be a much bigger challenge and the regular variants of influenza that involve minor but significant annual mutations, leave those electing to have their flu shots only catching up with the last nasty. But the enhancing of the immune system gives added protection.

Covid 19 is alleged to be "Stable" and not as prone to mutation as is the Influenza bug, but if repeat infections are happening then my degree in medical science from the Saltwater Creek University tells me the hope for a Covid vaccine might just be exactly that, a hope.

Before the pile on commences this is merely a heads up for those working on a theory that a vaccine will restore the old normal, don't put your house on such a relief any time soon.

A picture is worth a thousand graphs


I wish I'd seen this graphic when I published Visible Death vs. Invisible Death a few days ago.

Produced for those complaining about articles that have too many words, numbers and graphs.

Having said that, here's a very cool graph from Snopes of the progress of the virus. An interesting way of portraying the data, at least up to early April.




WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER EXAMPLE.


This morning Mike Hoskin(s)g hosted the deputy Prime Minister and again the old chestnut of turning "Logs" into more money by way of downstream processing was advocated.

That whole concept is so nineteen seventies only more so in the third decade of the twentyfirst century.

Oh very saleable to the unthinking masses and so typical for the great charlatan, now The Troughmaster General has shuffled off.

NZ Inc has produced some remarkable and talented entrepreneurs over time and if there was a miniscule droplet of potential for such moronic nonsense then rest assured it would have been happening long before the Coalition of Losers embarked on destroying the nation's economy.

The bloody "Logs" are pinus radiata, possibly one of the lowest value timber available for export in the world after Crack Willow. Ideal for pulping for paper (toilet and newsprint) and cardboard, boxing, particle board, and low quality framing, Very prone to insect attack, staining and decomposition unless chemically treated within a short time following felling.

Leather is another potentially high value product from slaughter of animals and we kill a large number of sheep and cattle to feed a lucrative world market for red meat, yet those raw materials have become increasingly lower value following some misinformation campaigns from the elite luvvies, who see fibre and plastics from the hydrocarbon fed chemical industries as superior, to satisfy their shallow value beliefs.

Wool, a natural fibre with sustainability and a long list of favourable attributes is another product  consigned to the scrapheap by a world seeing synthetics as viable. So devalued today is it, except for Merino wool, that it is now a serious economic problem in sheepmeat production, as the cost of necessary removal for health and survivability has exceeded the resulting value of the fibre. This is leading to a search for natural shedding ovines that do not need removal of the wool.

As a soundbite for the currently facing "elimination" charlatan of NZ politics, that definition the pre Ardernearly redefinition, further processing of logs from trees that grow exponentially faster anywhere in NZ than they ever did in Southern California, such populist claptrap is a recyclable certainty as an indicator of deep thinking, when the reality is somehow of seriously lesser quality,  almost a possible indicator of senile dementia in fact.

Lockdowns don't work. What does?


It seems appropriate to put this out at the end of our Level 4 lockdown, especially since the regime we're now entering is not much below it.



This article analysing the effectiveness of lockdowns was published on April 21 so has been able to look at some solid data from the COVID-19 outbreak from Italy, Spain and France where lockdowns happened in early-mid March.
If strict lockdowns actually saved lives, I would be all for them, even if they had large economic costs. But, put simply, the scientific and medical case for strict lockdowns is paper-thin.
...
At this point, the question I usually get is, “What’s your evidence that lockdowns don’t work?”
 
It’s a strange question. Why should I have to prove that lockdowns don’t work? The burden of proof is to show that they do work! If you’re going to essentially cancel the civil liberties of the entire population for a few weeks, you should probably have evidence that the strategy will work.
First off though, a lockdown has to be defined:
  1. People are ordered to stay at home or required to provide a reason for movement outside of home. 
  2. Assemblies are limited to a very small (usually single-digit) threshold. 
  3. Many businesses and activities are forced to close, even if they do not technically constitute assemblies and would like to stay open.
Without those three features, it’s not a lockdown, and that list certainly fits New Zealand's.

First the article looks at the history of lockdowns.
There are very few documented cases of lockdowns being used to fight epidemic diseases in the past. One example where lockdowns were used was to fight Ebola in West Africa. However, it’s hard to study these lockdowns, since they also included a door-to-door campaign delivering information and supplies to almost 70 percent of the impacted areas.
...
Nor does the 1918 influenza pandemic provide much help to lockdown advocates. The most severe restrictions during that pandemic, which dramatically reduced deaths, were in St. Louis. 
Restrictions - but it wasn't a lockdown:
St. Louis’s measures included closures of specific assemblies like churches, closure of all “amusements,” restricted business hours, mask orders, school cancellations, and centralized quarantine procedures. St. Louis never issued a stay-at-home order, and only imposed a complete cancellation of business for about forty-eight hours.
Moving to the current situation takes into account the specific data about COVID-19:
At this point, enough research has been done that it’s possible to say with some confidence how long it takes to die of COVID. Across numerous medical studies, COVID has reliably been found to take anywhere from two to ten days to incubate (but most usually four to six days), and from twelve to twenty-four days to kill a person after incubation. Across all studies, these estimate places typical death time at about twenty to twenty-five days after first exposure.
And that time of twenty-twenty five days is important when assessing the effect of a lockdown:
As such, practically speaking, lockdowns should not create an appreciable decline in deaths earlier than twenty days after a lockdown. If deaths begin to decline very rapidly after a policy measure is put in place, it suggests the real force reducing deaths occurred much earlier.
He casts a glance at the lockdown in the Wuhan province but concludes that the Chinese data can't be trusted (there's a lot of that going around recently). Instead he looks at the actual results of the lockdowns undertaken by Spain , France and the Lombardy region of Italy. In each case using Change In Daily Deaths vs. 1-Year Previously, to avoid the current issue of incorrectly coding deaths as COVID-19, a problem the Italians are already looking into and which has caused strange one-day spikes in NYC and France.


What we see in Spain’s case, however, is that the spike in deaths plateaued around March 25–30, just ten to fifteen days after the lockdown, and began to fall about eighteen days after the lockdown.
And that can also be seen with the worldometer graph for Spain:

Similarly for France:
France went into lockdown on March 16, but the spike in deaths appears to have more or less stabilized some time between March 25 and April 6—thus, again, before the lockdown could have saved lives by preventing infections.
... and the Lombardy region of Italy:
Again, the death spike in Lombardy had already plateaued or even begun to decline before the region-wide lockdown could have been responsible.
He's also built models to look at the Netherlands and Sweden, which did not go the lockdown path, plus a county-based analysis of the USA. However, as interesting as that is I don't think we need it to prove any further the main contention, and in any case it's plunging down the rabbit-hole of models that got us into this mess in the first place.

It's enough that comparing Lombardy-Italy, France, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands has shown that:
  • In the nations where lockdown occurred the drops in deaths began too early for the lockdown to have been the cause.
  • Sweden and the Netherland have suffered no worse, and have actually done better, than many lockdown nations despite the claims that refusing lockdown would mean the disease would rip through their nations unimpeded. If that was true they should be much worse off, and they're not.


And now there is an article in the WSJ where others have crunched the numbers and come to the same conclusion, Do Lockdowns Save Many Lives? In Most Places, the Data Say No!:
To normalize for an unambiguous comparison of deaths between states at the midpoint of an epidemic, we counted deaths per million population for a fixed 21-day period, measured from when the death rate first hit 1 per million—e.g.,‒three deaths in Iowa or 19 in New York state. A state’s “days to shutdown” was the time after a state crossed the 1 per million threshold until it ordered businesses shut down. 
We ran a simple one-variable correlation of deaths per million and days to shutdown, which ranged from minus-10 days (some states shut down before any sign of Covid-19) to 35 days for South Dakota, one of seven states with limited or no shutdown. The correlation coefficient was 5.5%—so low that the engineers I used to employ would have summarized it as “no correlation” and moved on to find the real cause of the problem. (The trendline sloped downward—states that delayed more tended to have lower death rates—but that’s also a meaningless result due to the low correlation coefficient.) 
No conclusions can be drawn about the states that sheltered quickly, because their death rates ran the full gamut, from 20 per million in Oregon to 360 in New York.
Getting back to the first article, it's not as if the author is recommending doing nothing, which is the straw man response and not true of Sweden or the Netherlands. In fact they are doing what has worked in past pandemics and which he finishes up with as the set of recommendations for dealing with future outbreaks like this one.
But ordering people to cower in their homes, harassing people for having playdates in the park, and ordering small businesses to close up shop regardless of their hygienic procedures simply has no demonstrated effectiveness. 
None of the actual examples of lockdowns around the world provides particularly compelling evidence that lockdowns actually work. We don’t need to have a national debate about whether the economic costs of lockdowns outweigh their public health benefits, because lockdowns do not provide public health benefits.
The actions that do have public health benefits and that have a history of supporting evidence are:

ONE
Large-scale centralized quarantine protocols - where individuals who test positive or have had contact with infected people are forced to be quarantined for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one days in hotels or special-purpose spaces - are an extremely effective way to fight infectious diseases, actively reducing their spread to a very low level.

TWO
Restrictions on long-distance travel to reduce the occurrence of new outbreaks.

THREE
Bans on large assemblies - more than 100 people - are an obvious policy with good support.

FOUR
School cancellations are hugely important, and reliably show up as a key part of reducing the spread of infection.

FIVE
Social distancing: empowering people to protect themselves and their neighbors during their everyday lives.

SIX
Masks, as were worn during the 1918 flu pandemic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

AND ST JACINDA SITS STUM

The revelation here that that hapless Health Minister moved house during the lock-down simply beggars belief ... along with his mountain biking and taking his family on trips to the seaside 20k from his home.   His arrogance is breathtaking even for a Chardonnay socialist wedded to the mantra of do what I say rather than do what I do,

And all the while Jacinda Ardern sits stum and tells business to suck it up losers (per courtesy of Deborah Russell).    Why should we peasants even bother?

One could say more but why feekin bother.   We're living in a dictatorship where there is one rule for the haves and another for the have nots.

Flake, Milt, Petri Dish et al ... hope you are ashamed but I suspect not,

A TRANS-TASMAN BUBBLE

A guest post from Wayne Mapp .....

There is a lot of speculation about how Australia and New Zealand can form their own global bubble. Now that both countries have virtually eliminated the covid virus, it seems logical that both nations will be open for business to each other, not just for goods and services, but also for travel.

Both countries are each other’s largest source of travel, though this obviously has rather more impact for New Zealand. Tourism makes a direct contribution of 5.6 % of New Zealand’s GDP, with another 4% being contributed indirectly, a total of nearly 10%. This lines up with the total number employed, being 8.4% of the workforce. In terms of foreign exchange, tourism contributes is $20 billion, or about 20% of overseas trade.

The key point from these statistics is that over 40% of the tourists come from Australia. So opening up the border to Australia could literally save over 100,000 jobs. Of course, in the post covid era, people may be reluctant to travel, in the first instance there will simply not be as much money in people’s pockets as there was pre covid. On the other hand, if the only travel that is readily allowed is trans-Tasman, then there may well be an increase in such travel.

Tourism is only the most obvious benefit of a trans-Tasman bubble. There could be many more depending on how willing the two governments are prepared to change the way they do business. Both countries are going to have huge challenges around unemployment and the velocity of business activity. While trade in services and goods will be able to continue internationally, the post covid recession will require governments to be more active. They will need to set the conditions to boost business and employment.

Everyone talks about shovel ready projects, or if you are Green, about environment focused projects. Undoubtedly this will happen, but it is unlikely to make much of a dent in unemployment. There will need to be more activity across the broad swath of the economy. Covid has shown the risks of being too dependent on international supply chains for everything. The next pandemic could be more severe than covid.

There will be a premium for nations to be more self sufficient, not just for covid, but as a general principle. While this is difficult for New Zealand with only 5 million people, it is easier for Australia with 25 million people. Combining the two is 30 million. An economy of that size can do many of things required for modern 21 century life. Not everything, that requires an economy the size of North America or Europe.

So what could be done in the trans-Tasman bubble? The easiest thing for the two governments to do is buy as much as possible locally. This might seem self evident, but for a whole range of things, it might require incentives for things to be made locally. Purists will decry this, since it will increase the real price, even if not the sticker price. However, the alternative might be double digit unemployment for years to come.

It would mean hospitals, schools, government departments and local authorities would be required to source locally, unless it was simply not possible. Australia has traditionally supported the car industry. The last Holden rolled out of the factory in October 2017. Would it be surprising if the Australian government provided incentives to get Ford and Holden back into local production? Would the New Zealand government play a part to get some part of the manufacturing here? Part of the incentive would be a mandatory requirement that all local and central government vehicle purchases be locally sourced.

Governments can also incentivize local processing of exports of raw materials. A huge percentage of New Zealand’s timber exports is in the form of raw logs. Serious questions need to be asked if this is something we have no choice but to accept. Can local processing, at least of a set percentage of the raw material, be made mandatory? 

All this supposes a much more active role for government in industry policy. Covid has shown the danger of all supply chains being fully globalised. When everything is fine, globalisation has been able to produce unimaginable wealth for billions of people. But the downside has been vulnerability, not just to supply lines, but also to stability of employment. This would seem to be the time for some rebalancing. It will take imagination, both from government and from people.


Prime Minister - Will You Please Answer The Following Questions For Me

1. Why did you say on the 26 March that 80,000 New Zealanders would die from coronavirus?

2. Why was Health Minister David Clark in Dunedin and not Wellington during Level 4 lockdown?

3. Did you and Grant Robertson send him home because he was incompetent?

4. Or did you and Grant Robertson send him home because you did not want to share the limelight with any other Ministers?

5. Why were our borders so late in closing? We did not go early and we did not go hard with our borders notwithstanding your assertions that we did.

6. Why are you allowing Justice Minister Andrew Little to progress his Prisoners Voting Bill when you said that there was no room for politics while New Zealand was fighting Coronavirus?

7. Why are you condoning and in fact endorsing the illegal road blocks manned by vigilantes in various parts of the country?

8. Do you accept that if a member of the public retaliates at one of these road blocks and blood is spilled that that blood will be on your hands and also on the hands of Police Minister Stuart Nash?

9. Do you have confidence in David Clark as health minister?

10. Do you have confidence in Stuart Nash as Police Minister because of the illegal road blocks and arms control mismanagement?

11. Do you have confidence in Phil Twyford who is threatening councils with funding cuts if the give rates relief to ratepayers?

12. Has Grant Robertson siphoned $40m approx of taxpayers money under cover of the coronavirus lockdown to pay off Fletchers and therefore appease the illegal occupiers of Ihumatao?

13. There is a strong public view that you delayed closing the borders so that you could be front and center of the Mosque Shooting anniversary - despite most Muslims saying they did not want such an event to be held.

14. What is your plan to rejuvenate the New Zealand economy from today?

Monday, April 27, 2020

JOE BIDEN ... SEXUAL PREDATOR?

Over the weekend the controversy over the then Senator Joe Biden's alleged sexual assault of Tara Reade surfaced again with the discovery of a video from 1993 where her (late) mother called 'Larry King Live' to complain about her daughters experiences on Capital Hill.    The video backs Reade's claim that she alerted her family as to what happened.

Whatever, the stakes have now been upped with Peter Dauo, a prominent Democrat and one-time key Hillary Clinton advisor and backer who switched camps to support Bernie Sanders, calling for Biden to end his presidential bid and withdraw from the race.    He called on Democrats to take a principled stand and not run a candidate accused of sexual assault against Trump who has faced numerous sexual assault allegations ... 'We lose all moral authority if we embrace the lesser of two accused rapists'.

Explosive stuff.    The unpredictability of politics is perhaps best summed up by Harold Macmillan (Super Mac) when he said 'events dear boy, events' when responding to a question as to what was most likely to blow the government off course.

Question ... Is this Joe Biden's #MeToo moment event?

THIS IS HOW I'M RECKONING THE CURRENT POLLS ARE TRACKING

Labour 52.7%; National 35.4%; Greens 4.7%; NZF 2.9%; ACT 2.3%; others 2%.

St Jacinda is clearly reaping the benefit of over-promising the number of deaths and under-delivering and her full-on media attention.    Nothing like some shroud waving to focus public attention while the economy goes pear shaped.

Be interesting to see the numbers in three months time.

Australia for the Win?


Given how dreadfully useless our MSM is I like to make a point of linking to other blog sites for actual thinking, research and argument. To that end here is some material from Australian economist Jim Rose, and his blog Utopia.

In this article he takes a comparative look at how Australia and New Zealand are coping with the Wuhan Bat Soup virus, NZ locked down, Australia is social distancing.

New Zealand                                                            Australia


That data from Google Mobility for April 17 gives the lie to the claim that the Australian "lockdown" is similar to ours. In every major category from Retail & Recreation to Residential, the NZ figures are tougher than Australia's - often vastly tougher.

Yet both nations are tracking similarly for the virus. As Rose said:
With many sections of media screaming for tighter lockdowns, as they sung the praises of New Zealand’s PM Jacinta Arden, insisting that Australia must follow New Zealand‘s lead; closing hardware stores, shutting down the building industry, banning takeaways (so you couldn’t even get a coffee) and hairdressers - our PM had to make a decision. 
And he stood firm, stating ‘’every worker is an essential worker’’ as he rejected imposing a New Zealand type lockdown that many were calling for. 
Several weeks later, we now see that Scott Morrison was right...
...
If our PM had of followed NZ, as many ABC types where calling for - we’d have a million more at least unemployed, and we’d be tens of billions more in debt.
No wonder I'm not seeing any more Facebook/Twitter or blog postings and comments filled with snark and mockery about the stupid, Right-Wing, Conservative, Christian PM of Australia - "ScoMo" and "Scotty From Marketing" as the snide had it in the early days of April.

And what will they be saying about the comparison in a few months time when the Australian economy has got up off its knees in better shape than us?

Meantime, while I had not looked into what Australian medical experts were saying it seems Rose has that also:
Peter Collignon (one of Australia’s leading infectious diseases experts) said the latest data showed New Zealand, with a population of 4.7 million, had about 20 new COVID-19 cases a day compared with Australia, population 25.5 million, averaging about 50 a day. 
He said the good news was that both countries had managed to reverse the curve, but while New Zealand had imposed more draconian “level four” lockdown measures, Australia’s less stringent approach appeared to have been as effective. 
New Zealand has been locking everybody in their houses, there’s no going to Bunnings, and there is no evidence they are doing any better,” Professor Collignon said. 
I actually worry that what may be happening in New Zealand is if you come down too hard, people stop complying as much as they should.’
The blog followed this up with an interesting comparison of Australia to Sweden in terms of "lockdown".



There's actually not as much difference between Oz and Sweden in terms of mobility reduction as there is between Oz and NZ.

And of course the more locked down you are the tougher it is to get out of it, which brings me to one of the key insights of the infamous Spanish Flu of 1918.



Sunday, April 26, 2020

DEALING WITH REALITY

Every night we're bombarded on TV News with undoubtedly worthy charities/organisations calling for government support to help them maintain their services over the period of the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.   Tonight it was the YMCA and Royal Albatross Centre in Dunedin.    Sorry folks ... the world/NZL has changed and the government (any government) has to prioritise its spending ... put simply, there ain't the dosh to sustain both the want to haves and the nice to haves over the must haves.

Since 1993 I have been involved with a Trust that provides the children & grandchildren of Vietnam veterans with the wherewithal to help them realise their dreams.   Over that period we (the royal we) have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a capital fund with the interest on our investments being distributed by way of grants which now total over 600,     Over the last few years the earning rate on our investment portfolio has halved reflecting the decline in interest rates and bonds.   Over the last six weeks the value of the equities in our investment portfolio has declined by about 30% reflecting the reality of the share-market.

My colleague trustees could have cried poor us and sought a government handout.   We didn't.   Instead we faced up to reality and changed the way that donations to the Trust and the fees charged by Perpetual Guardian (the Trustee) were handled.   The net result has been to increase the amount available in our distribution account.

The nest few years are going to be tough.   We recognise that ... but equally we accept its not the responsibility of the taxpayer to come to the party.   The future is in our hands ... our challenge is to make it happen and we are working on that.   If any of you would like to contribute to the work of the Trust then you can direct credit your donation to Perpetual Guardian account ID 03-0104-0984913-01.   Be sure to tag it #415670 in the reference column (the Trust's reference number).   All donations are receipted and are tax deductible. 

Thanking you in advance.


DIDN'T ONLY SAVE NZ, THE WORLD?



Today estimated dead with the corona virus passed 200 000 in the whole world.

If not for the bold heroic leadership of Saint Jacinda here in lil ol NZ/Aotearower that figure would have been 270 082 and we would not be  having the sad faced autocue reader with a solemn countenance but a beaming Appointed one suitably attired, while her loyal subjects are  out in the streets celebrating the achievement.  Until that is,  Andy's troopers  dispersed them  and herded the misguided ones  back into house arrest until 0ne minute to midnight tonight.

Next big question will The Colonel have the chickens ready by then, best not count them till they hatch eh, oh hang on that event passed a while ago

Those thighs will be bigly as the killing has had a five week hiatus wuhoo! bet the bastards cut the breasts in half though.

Special while stocks last "Thunder Thighs", the spicy wings not so much.

Take it away the Ghost of John Clark, "we dont know how lucky we are".

ITS TIME

I have never been a fan of President Trump although I can at least understand how he made it to the White House riding on a wave of distrust of Washington and the liberal effete establishment typified by Shillary Clinton and her dismissal of those opposed to her as being a 'basket of deplorables'.      Bottom line is that HC lost the election she couldn't lose leaving the Washington establishment, supported by their media friends, to declare war on Trump even before he took office.

And the war has continued helped along by Trump's penchant for OTT rhetoric and a demonstrated ability to call black white and vice versa and then deny he ever said it ... fake news.    I refused however to join those whose TDS is such that they are unable/unwilling to acknowledge that Trump is reflective of a large segment of American society who believe their political system is broken and that more of the same is not the answer ... no longer.

Trump's Press Conference last Thursday where he 'mused' that injecting oneself with disinfectant might be a way of preventing the catching of the coronavirus is the last straw for me.   You would be kind if you labelled what he said as irresponsible ... a better response is utter madness.    For me and clearly Trump lost the plot to point where you can argue he is clinically insane.    Trump's response that he was being 'sarcastic' cuts no ice either.    By his action he has demonstrated that he is patiently unfit for office.     The Vice-President and cabinet should exercise their power under the 25th Amendment and remove him from office.   Not done lightly but if America wants as their President someone who can seriously suggest injecting disinfectant while having his hand on the nuclear button then heaven help us.

Gonna be fascinating to have Trump's supporters defending the indefensible.

Ho Ho Ho



























































Visible Death vs. Invisible Death


One of the most famous economic essays ever written is That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen, by 19th century French economist, Frédéric Bastiat. He introduced what he called the fallacy of the broken window, where the money spent to fix the window - paying the person who made the glass and the glazier who installed it - is seen, but other costs are not:

Frédéric Bastiat


But if, on the other hand, you come to the conclusion, as is too often the case, that it is a good thing to break windows, that it causes money to circulate, and that the encouragement of industry in general will be the result of it, you will oblige me to call out, “Stop there! Your theory is confined to that which is seen; it takes no account of that which is not seen.”


It is not seen that as our shopkeeper has spent six francs upon one thing, he cannot spend them upon another. It is not seen that if he had not had a window to replace, he would, perhaps, have replaced his old shoes, or added another book to his library. In short, he would have employed his six francs in some way which this accident has prevented.







The lockdown of New Zealand society to deal with COVID-1984 is presenting the same problem, except instead of money, the counting is in deaths.

The other day I looked at a report of the results from testing the epidemiological model used by the NZ governments's health care advisors.

Buried within the report was a short section that made crude sensitivity estimates of the costs and benefits of the Lockdown across just one part of the NZ economy: building and construction. The report estimated the benefits of avoiding deaths and hospitalisations in that industry at $7.6 million and the cost at $3 billion (one month, 250,000 workers at $3000 per week).

The point of this was not to try and calculate precise numbers but to test the ranges and comparisons across different runs and sensitivities to get a handle on the possible cost/benefit. As the report said:
Of course, the benefit cost ratio of .003 is from just model run. Different, and plausible, assumptions can readily generate benefits that are a order of magnitude, say, ten or twenty times, higher than the $7.6 million. But it is very difficult to see how they could be over 300 times higher.
But what I was interested in was the assumptions had purloined from government sources (p. 25):
  • The value of a statistical life is $4.5 million;
  • The life years conversion factor is 0.10 for over 70s and 0.55 for under 70s;
  • The cost of an illness is $4000;
  • The cost of a hospitalisation is $30,000.
The value of a statistical life!

A précis of that report was linked to in an article of Michael Riddell's Croaking Cassandra blog, Coronavirus economics. But there was another section of Riddell's article looking at an unpublished (as yet) economic analysis that took a different bite at the cherry.

This analysis was performed by one of New Zealand’s leading academic economists, Professor John Gibson from Waikato University, and he decided to look at the Lockdown policy from the POV of how it might affect population-wide life expectancies in NZ.

The flu kills about 500 New Zealanders a year but it can kill more in a bad season like that of 2015, when 767 died from it. A season worse than that would be "flu shock" and Gibson picked a figure of 875 for that edge-case scenario. That produces a reduction in life expectancy of 0.14 years across the whole population.

Ten such shocks would therefore drop it by 1.4 years: that's 8,750 dead people, which is in the range of the middle scenario of the Otago model for COVID-19 deaths.

In other words, in saving all those lives the lockdown could be expected to prevent the population life expectancy from dropping by 1.4 years, and more again if the third scenario of 14,000 deaths eventuated.

But at what cost? We've allowed ourselves to be bullied by shroud-wavers talking about preferring to make a buck over saving the lives of old people. But that's a false choice and an emotional weapon wielded by people who don't want their solution to be questioned. The fact is the lives will be lost as a result of the lockdown.
It turns out that life expectancy in New Zealand is more sensitive to changes in real income than is so for many countries.
...
In other words, a ten percent decrease in real per capita GDP reduces life expectancy by 1.7 percent. The most recent period life tables for New Zealand report that male life expectancy was 79.5 years and female life expectancy was 83.2 years, so 1.7 percent of the average of those two values is 1.4 years.
 
In other words, if real per capita GDP in New Zealand falls by ten percent due to the lockdown and other effects associated with Covid-19, life expectancy would be predicted to fall by 1.4 years.
And we could be looking at an annual GDP drop of more than 10%. By contrast, even going by the real worst-case death rate of New York City, currently 1,085 deaths per million, we'd be looking at a life expectancy drop of 0.93 years.

So even in that highly unlikely example the lockdown solution would still result in reducing life expectancy by an extra 0.5 of a year. The apparent kindness of doing everything possible to limit deaths due to Covid-19 would, instead, be killing more people by making them poorer.

======================

And we may not need to dabble in such statistical comparisons of invisible deaths anyway. As this article by six American doctors points out, the US hospital system has been so emptied out that doctors and nurses are being laid off and furloughed in droves:
Almost every hospital outside of the hotspots is empty. The dramatic reduction in healthcare utilization and capacity is by no means limited to small, country hospitals. Mayo Clinic is empty: 65% of the hospital beds at Mayo Clinic are empty, as are 75% of the operating rooms. This is the world’s premier medical center. If Mayo Clinic is empty, imagine how dire the situation is at smaller, community-based healthcare centers. Given the complexity of the patients referred to Mayo Clinic, its emptiness alone will have a significant negative impact on healthcare outcomes.
Same with this article written by Dr Scott W. Atlas, of Stanford University Medical Center:
Most states and many hospitals abruptly stopped “nonessential” procedures and surgery. That prevented diagnoses of life-threatening diseases, like cancer screening, biopsies of tumors now undiscovered and potentially deadly brain aneurysms. Treatments, including emergency care, for the most serious illnesses were also missed. Cancer patients deferred chemotherapy. An estimated 80 percent of brain surgery cases were skipped. Acute stroke and heart attack patients missed their only chances for treatment, some dying and many now facing permanent disability.
Same in Britain:
It’s chilling to know that many hospital wards, waiting rooms and car parks are now empty. Before this country was hit, only 800 of the NHS’s 4,125 critical care beds were vacant at one time. Now it’s 2,300. Even with some of the worst fatality rates in Europe, some hospitals now report being half empty since they paused almost all non-emergency work.
...
Richard Sullivan, a professor of cancer and global health at King’s College London, says: The number of deaths due to the disruption of cancer services is likely to outweigh the number of deaths from the coronavirus itself over the next five years. Cancer screening services have stopped, which means we will miss our chance to catch many cancers when they are treatable and curable.
And there are almost certainly deaths happening right now because of the focus on saving people from COVID-19:
Accident and Emergency chiefs in London are concerned that more people are dying of non-coronavirus-related illnesses than normal because they are reluctant to leave their homes and be a burden on their local hospital. They believe there has been a ‘sharp rise in the number of seriously ill people dying at home’. They report that dozens more people than normal are dying at home from cardiac arrests, for example, presumably because they do not want to impose upon our locked-down society and what is continually presented to us as a busy, stressed-out health service.
Spain:
In Spain, health investigators found a 40 per cent reduction in emergency procedures for heart attacks at the end of March compared with a normal period.
Australia:
there has been a ‘drastic drop’ in cancer and heart-attack patients presenting to the health services. In Victoria, health officials report a 50 per cent decline in new cancer patients and 30 per cent decline in cardiac emergencies. It is now feared that ‘coronavirus anxiety’ could lead to ‘more deaths from cancer and heart attacks’.
And back to NYC:
The New York Times published a piece on 6 April headlined, ‘Where have all the heart attacks gone?’. It was written by a doctor who likewise described hospitals in the US as being ‘eerily quiet’. He has heard from colleagues who are seeing fewer patients with heart attacks, strokes, acute appendicitis and acute gall-bladder disease than they would normally see.
In Britain at least they appear to have asked the question:
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, refuses to give a figure for the potential non-Covid fatalities from this catastrophe but the cabinet was told it could be up to 150,000 avoidable deaths.
I've seen no evidence that we asked that question of our public health experts, either inside government or outside. It cannot be possible that the same deaths are not happening here. We're just not seeing them widely reported in the MSM or announced in the PM's press conferences.