Insights from Quadrant

Self-harm in Sicktoria

The Wall Street Journal wonders how, in the middle of a pandemic, the 12 per cent of the US economy represented by health care dropped through the floor, subtracting 9.5 per cent from US second-quarter GDP, itself down on an annualised basis by a staggering 32 per cent.

How does that happen in a pandemic? The answer … is that politicians panicked in March and waited for a surge of COVID-19 patients that the pandemic modelers told them would arrive. Blessedly, the modelers were wrong, and far fewer hospital and intensive-care beds were needed. But the economic harm from stopping all elective surgeries and barring visits to doctors was severe and unnecessary.

It was also a terrible public-health blunder. That harm will play out for years as Americans discover cancer, heart-disease and other diagnoses that were missed or delayed. . . .

As here in Victoria, where the hapless and hopeless Daniel Andrews is reportedly poised to plunge his state into a New Zealand-style Stage Umpteen total lockdown, the US Left and the public health institutions its acolytes control and direct want more masks, more shuttered stores, stiffer penalties, more lost jobs — and another massive decline in GDP. There’s a presidential election in November, and it’s a fair assumption that Democratic strategists are figuring a broke, miserable and fearful nation is more likely to back Joe Biden than the incumbent.

The Journal continues:

The lockdown-as-miracle-cure is a fantasy, as the World Health Organization has now acknowledged. The economic and public-health harm is too great and the virus is too easily transmissible.

The public is smarter than the media and can adjust its behavior when flare-ups occur. Hospitalizations and cases in hot spots in the South and West are trending down. They’ve fallen by a third in Arizona from a peak two weeks ago and are down 8 per cent in Texas. Deaths have increased, but the rate is far below those on the East Coast in the spring.

At least the worst economic news is over, or it should be without a second lockdown. Orders for motor vehicles and capital goods are rising, and housing is strong. The service economy will take longer to come back, but it will do so when the public feels confident enough to venture out. What no one needs is another catastrophe like the second-quarter lockdown.

All of which makes sense. Victorians can therefore be confident Premier Andrews will do the exact opposite.

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