A powerful state directing action must be avoided at all costs

It’s getting harder to read the papers but also not easy to break the habits of a lifetime. So what greets me on the front page of the Australian today: Tough measures working: PM. And how does he know they’re working? Because hardly anyone is dying:

COVID-19 has so far infected more than 5314 Australians and killed 28, but Mr Morrison said that was a fraction of the figure forecast just two weeks ago.

“Had the virus kept growing at the same rate it was 12 days ago, we would now have more than 10,500 cases in this country,” he said.

A forecast is not a reality. Maybe the forecasters were wrong. I’ve been among economists long enough never to trust any forecast. Did I ever mention the time I was AFR Forecaster of the Year after the Great Share Market Crash of 1987? Everyone else was forecasting the high probability, if not the near certainty of a recession, while I said that the probability of a recession was effectively zero. In the end 1988 was one of the best years on record. But let’s return to the issue at hand.

The reality is that while the PM continues to go on about six months of lockdown ahead, which no one actually believes for a second unless they are a complete moron, someone like Daniel Andrews for example. He, of course, is enjoying every moment.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew­s warned on Friday that his state might progress to “stage four” restrictions, without detail­ing­ what that would entail. “I think there will be a stage four — when I’m in a position and when I need to make those ­announcements, I will,” he said. Mr Andrews said adhering to social-distancing measures was a “matter of life and death”, and implor­ed Victorians to stay home. “Whether it be a big city hospital or a smaller regional hospital, they’ll all be overrun,” he said. “We’ll have people queuing for machines to help them breathe.”

One more forecast we can keep before us. And should our hospitals not be overrun, he will ask us all to thank him for his leadership. Which reminds me of this, which I have just come across: New York City is lying about Chinese virus death rates. Hadn’t even occurred to me, but this is far from implausible given the Democrat leadership in both city and state:

The mass hysteria over COVID-19 in the U.S. is driven in large measure by misleading statistics and bad math about the disease’s body count. Now that New York has become the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, we are now regularly inundated on cable TV news with the latest pandemic statistics from the city. The statistics grow gloomier by the hour. These figures have frightened people into submission as state and local governments across America enact repressive measures they say are necessary to contain the virus or slow its proliferation. After doing everything in their power to oust President Donald Trump, journalists and others are now calling him a weakling for supposedly not doing enough, while they demand an unprecedented nationwide crackdown. The problem starts with the fact that the highly influential statistics from the Big Apple paint a false picture of what is actually happening. In New York City, the death of anyone who dies who tests positive for COVID-19 is counted as a coronavirus death. This is the case even if the coronavirus failed to play a significant role in the person’s passing or illness.

Amazing beyond incredible it it’s true. You can read the rest at the link. Now back to The Oz with the headline story: Split over Fair Work Act changes threatens $130bn wage rescue. The changes are temporary but legislated. Labor, however, wants to go through the Fair Work Commission which means it will hardly be automatic and whatever else it won’t happen as soon as it should, like right now. But then we have, on the front of the Inquirer section, the reliably wrong Paul Kelly with this: ‘Team Australia’ our new normal, for now. It’s actually the old normal that is our present normal.

There are lots of other things I could go to, but will end with this Coronavirus: Conservatives ride big government to rescue by a mind even more poorly attuned to reality than Daniel Andrews, our former foreign minister and ideological friend of the People’s Republic, Bob Carr. This is the sub-head for the story:

If capitalism is so good, why does it need socialism to save it every decade?

I will give you his final line but you may be sure that the first two words in the quote are not actually the limitation he really believes:

Right now, a powerful state directing action is what we need.

If the aim is to rob you, ruin the economy and steal your freedoms, they are just the people to do it.

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