Voices against lockdowns – 26 January 2021

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This is an archived version of one of Gigi Foster’s email missives. Some links may no longer be current.

Dear all,

Happy Australia Day! 

The throngs at Coogee Beach today would almost make you think that our policy settings had returned to normal.  Sadly, I am still finding reason to keep sending these missives.  Australia’s international borders are still closed, with standard air-mail services to most countries suspended; many of our domestic borders are still closed to a selection of would-be interstate travellers, and a suite of state- and territory-level regulations still mandate that people from certain regions of origin quarantine for significant periods on arrival; and in several states, the free movement, congregation, and otherwise legal behaviours of people and businesses are still restricted.  Our governments have still not articulated an end-game strategy with a timeline for the removal of these restrictions.  All of this continues to cause unprecedented disruption to Australia’s activities and the welfare and progress of its people – not to mention the disruption that our choices are causing for our trade and aid partners abroad.  Meanwhile, abroad in Europe, the Americas, and many other countries, lockdowns of various forms continue at even tighter levels, bringing their own human tragedies.

I am heartened at some signs that people are starting to see the folly of the lockdown approach to managing Covid.  The traditional satirical Australia Day advertisement put out by our lamb producers is a great example, poking fun at the very idea of domestic border closures, and featuring an elderly male (more vulnerable to Covid than most of us!) as the unwitting protagonist:

Below I have pasted links to more resources that I hope aid and hearten you in the fight for a removal of these unprecedented restrictions on our economic and social activities, and the pursuit of more sensible policies.  I am continuing to write on this topic and will also continue to speak out in the media when the opportunity presents itself.  I have also taken to wearing a Guy Fawkes costume mask while doing my weekly grocery shop, as a statement of passive resistance against the NSW blanket mask mandate in shops (for those who don’t know the reference: https://youtu.be/lSA7mAHolAw).  In the past month, about 75% of the people in my eastern Sydney suburb who have noticed the mask and made a comment about it have been supportive.

An extensively researched article by Ramesh Thakur and Deepak Nayyar on the recent political, economic and health trajectories in India and the rest of the world, including the consequences of lockdowns:

https://apjjf.org/2021/3/Thakur-Nayyar.html

A few recent pieces from the academic literature:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103120304248 (finding experimental subjects to weigh the human costs of alternative action plans asymmetrically depending on whether or not the costs are directly related to Covid-19)

https://sabeconomics.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/JBEP-4-S3-2.pdf (reviewing the media headlines in Australia, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK in 2020 and suggesting that insights from behavioural economics can help us understand the responses to Covid-19 by people and governments)

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/eci.13484 (finding that more restrictive interventions do not cause reductions in Covid-19 cases)

Two pieces articulating with extensive references the position that lockdowns do not achieve their stated anti-Covid aims, published by the American Institute for Economic Research:

https://www.aier.org/article/lockdowns-dont-prevent-coronavirus-spread/

A video of European medical professionals arguing (amongst other things) against lockdowns:

A piece in the Toronto Sun featuring Canadian medical professional Ari Joffe, arguing against lockdowns:

https://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/canadian-experts-research-finds-lockdown-harms-are-10-times-greater-than-benefits

A presentation by New Zealand medical professional Sam Bailey in relation to claims about excess mortality, arguing (amongst other things) that a significant fraction of reported excess deaths have been due to lockdowns themselves:

https://youtu.be/bw5ldWr9QD0

An interview with a German lawyer Reiner Fuellmich who plans to seek legal redress for the harms that the German government has created via the restrictions it has mandated during this period:

A speech by Canadian MP Pierre Poilievre arguing against lockdowns:

https://www.facebook.com/PierrePoilievreMP/videos/3844403742279142

A blog by economist Paul Frijters about the comparative severity of lockdowns in different countries around the world:

An entertaining, data-heavy narrative thread arguing that non-pharmaceutical interventions (“NPIs” – of which restrictions on economic activity are one type) do not work to control Covid, crafted by someone adopting the pen name “the bad cat” (el gato malo), on a site called Buzz Chronicles:

https://buzzchronicles.com/Alex1Powell/b/society/4912/

A review of the incorrect, naïve, and/or misleading claims of people and groups supporting lockdowns, published by the Ron Paul Institute:

http://www.ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/featured-articles/2020/december/27/twelve-times-the-lockdowners-were-wrong/

I have also attached to this email the transcript of my testimony to the UK Treasury late last year, together with that of David Miles and Tony Yates, with whom I shared the evidence session.

Finally, some groups overseas whose mission statements are consistent with our position:

https://usforthem.co.uk/

https://hartgroup.org/

https://pandata.org/about/ (see also accompanying PDF, attached)

If you would be interested in starting a group here in Australia that is affiliated with or modelled on one of these organisations, I would be happy to lend support as I am able.  Another person on the Voices Against Lockdowns list, Arief Farid, has organised the following virtual space that may be useful for coordination: https://semperfi.mn.co/

Let me close by thanking all of you who have continued to pass me links and resources since my last missive.  Much of what appears above has come from you.  I plan to keep periodically disseminating to this group selected information that I find and receive about the folly of lockdowns and ways to fight against them for as long as the extreme restrictions on economic and social activities in Australia remain in place, as part of the public service and community outreach component of my occupation as an academic economist funded by the Australian taxpayer.

Yours in sanity and hope,

gigi

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Author

  • Prof Gigi Foster

    Gigi Foster (Professor, UNSW School of Economics; BA Ethics, Politics and Economics, PhD Economics) works in diverse fields including education, social influence, time use, lab experiments, behavioural economics, and Australian policy. Named 2019 Young Economist of the Year by the Economic Society of Australia, she publishes in both specialised and cross-disciplinary outlets, and her innovative teaching was awarded a 2017 Australian Awards for University Teaching (AAUT) Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning. She has filled numerous roles of service to the profession and engages heavily on economic matters with the Australian community, as one of Australia’s leading economics communicators, in the media and at live events. She is co-author of The Great Covid Panic (Brownstone Institute 2021, with Paul Frijters and Michael Baker) and Do Lockdowns and Border Closures Serve the “Greater Good”? (Connor Court 2022, with Sanjeev Sabhlok).

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