Politics Analysis

Progressive support for COVID lockdowns was a disaster

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The COVID lockdowns resulted in unprecedented harm to the Australian economy (Image via Pixabay)

While a necessary life-saving measure, the COVID lockdowns caused massive damage to the economy that was ignored by progressives as neoliberalism took control, writes Philip Soos.

BETWEEN 2020 and 2022, Australia imposed upon itself arguably the most disastrous policy in its modern history: the COVID lockdowns. Although it was strongly supported across the political spectrum by elites, the professional-managerial class (PMC) and the public, progressives proved to be the most enthusiastic group. In short, the more Left-leaning, the greater the backing.

The lockdowns were forced upon the population to mitigate the transmission and consequences of SARS-CoV-2, a pathogen apparently arising in China in late 2019 with a natural origin (zoonosis). Lockdowns were popularised with the slogan, ‘Two weeks to flatten the curve’. Little did the people supporting the lockdowns understand they would remain in place for much longer, with horrific yet predictable outcomes.

The consequences

Instead of the lockdowns achieving the goals of protecting the healthcare system and the elderly as the most vulnerable demographic, the opposite occurred, resulting in the most reactionary sunk-cost fallacy ever. It violated many progressive and liberal values but no one can claim ignorance, given the early warnings by economists Gigi Foster, Paul Frijters and Cameron Murray.

The lockdowns had dire consequences:

  • ‘Two weeks to flatten the curve’ morphed into two years;
  • the labour market imploded, resulting in the highest underutilisation rate on record;
  • nominal wage growth fell to its lowest point;
  • millions of workers lost their jobs, had hours reduced and hopes of employment dashed while subsisting on the worst unemployment payments in the OECD;
  • many small businesses collapsed;
  • big businesses became larger and more profitable as competition dwindled and goods purchases were increasingly made online;
  • the capital share of national income hit a record high, with the labour share falling to a low;
  • economic inequality rose as asset values surged due to the largest deficit spending since WW2, backed by supportive monetary policy;
  • much of the public spending was wastefully misallocated, mostly benefitting the wealthiest;
  • industries such as tourism were devastated;
  • the bloated, criminal banking sector was bailed out again, mirroring the previous one during the Global Financial Crisis;
  • the banks and regulators developed a new policy (mortgage holidays) to keep house prices permanently inflated;
  • after a small dip, house prices ballooned as homeowners took advantage of low interest rates, thus becoming even more unaffordable;
  • the rental market became dire, with the highest rental growth and the lowest vacancy rate in recent times, as shared households split apart due to the need for extra rooms to facilitate working from home;
  • people became depressed, anxious, unmotivated, despondent and fatter from being subjected to home imprisonment in all but name, seeking refuge in alcohol, drugs and overeating, while having exercise routines disrupted;
  • domestic abuse increased;
  • mental illness in children ballooned — there was a doubling worldwide, with 25% experiencing depression and 20% with anxiety;
  • children experienced a rise in suicidal ideation and attempts but fortunately did not lead to a marked increase in suicide;
  • critics of the lockdowns were ridiculed, abused and censored;
  • federal and state governments took the opportunity to grant themselves ever more powers over the public;
  • human rights were trampled over, particularly those who had the least capacity to protect themselves from the intrusion of state power; and
  • society descended into a form of mass hysteria, also known as mass formation psychosis.

Perhaps by the 22nd Century, there will be a royal commission into the devastating harms of the lockdowns. Those who supported and implemented the lockdowns have no interest in investigating the disaster they created.

Manufacturing consent

The public was subjected to an extreme state-media propaganda campaign designed to manufacture consent on a scale far greater than what had previously occurred in the lead-up to the Iraq War in 2003. A parade of endless lies, both explicit and by omission, was fabricated about the virulence, spread and origin of COVID, lockdowns, masking, social distancing, asymptomatic transmission, cross-protection from influenza and treatment protocols.

Both the federal and state governments implemented many policies that deviated significantly from the evidence and recommendations detailed in the Australian pandemic management plan and World Health Organisation (WHO) report on non-pharmaceutical interventions, both published in 2019. These documents are useful in determining how detached the measures were in relation to the actual risk and mortality from COVID.

Of particular interest is the fact that COVID was already spreading across the world by September 2019 at the latest, and between March and July 2019 at the earliest, long before the public admissions by China and the WHO. No one noticed anything amiss until the hysterical state-media scare tactics began in China and Italy in early 2020.

In 2019, 17,385 Australians died of the flu and pneumonia. Why weren’t those supporting the authoritarian COVID policies from 2020 onward also previously demanding lockdowns, flu vaccine mandates, masking, social distancing, business closures and school shutdowns to combat the flu? They only began to panic in 2020 about virus-related deaths because the state-media propaganda campaign told them to.

Cost-benefit analysis took a holiday

An obvious indication of the lack of scientific evidence for lockdowns comes from the paucity of rational cost-benefit analyses (CBA). By the end of 2021, only eight papers examining the costs and benefits were published on the most important, overriding issue in Australian society since 2020.

The research papers supporting lockdowns were biased by radically overestimating infection fatality rates (IFRs), reporting that economic recovery would take just weeks after the lockdowns were lifted, ignoring the upwards transfer of wealth and income, cherrypicking the methodology regarding the value of a statistical life, downplaying the rise in public debt, and excluding the vast array of physical, mental and social harms.

In contrast, a comprehensive CBA by Gigi Foster, summarised by Sanjeev Sabhlok, indicates the costs were an astounding 68 times the benefits.

This is why the federal and state governments will not publish a CBA, given a detailed aggregation of costs and benefits readily demonstrates the lockdowns imposed massive net costs. The Productivity Commission regularly publishes large volumes on a multitude of economic policy issues, but the political class refuses to commission a comprehensive CBA.

Failure of the medical profession

If a rational course of action had been followed based upon the research of leading doctors such as John Ioannidis and Peter McCullough, which was available in early to mid-2020, only a minimalist approach was necessary to deal with COVID. This would consist of allowing citizens abroad to come home, advancing highly effective non-vaccine prophylaxis and early treatment protocols, implementing decent unemployment payments and above all, remaining consistent with the facts and telling the truth.

McCullough has stated that early treatment protocols alone reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death by 95%. Instead, non-vaccine prophylaxis and early treatment protocols were completely ignored, with inappropriate medical interventions imposed upon those hospitalised for COVID in the form of mechanical ventilation, remdesivir and bizarrely, the refusal to treat pneumonia with antibiotics as per protocol.

These COVID deaths are arguably democide or iatrogenesis and were used as propaganda to terrorise the public into submission, particularly the old. The elderly, true to form like Saturn devouring his son, willingly threw the young under the bus to save themselves. Ironically, the policies they supported instead led to many instances of unnecessary hospitalisations and deaths.

Australia is now gripped by a mysterious and persistent rise in excess all-cause mortality which the medical profession remains profoundly uninterested in investigating.

Further, the healthcare system nationwide is overwhelmed due to the very policies the lockdown supporters claimed would prevent it from becoming overwhelmed in the first place:

  • harms caused by the lockdowns such as mental illness and obesity;
  • sidelining non-COVID medical issues, thereby increasing the future disease burden;
  • firing of medical professionals due to the vaccine mandate;
  • medical professionals quitting due to burnout;
  • the interruption of exams facilitating the graduation of medical professionals;
  • the horrendous array of adverse events caused by COVID vaccines; and
  • the fear caused by propaganda led to people flooding ERs even when asymptomatic.

The great leap downward

Progressives overwhelmingly supported lockdowns with no scientific basis, a rabid neoliberal economic class war resulting in the crushing of workers, small businesses, the young and the poor, vicious cancel culture against lockdown critics, reprehensible criminal police brutality against freedom demonstrators, and vastly expanded government powers. The latter will eventually be used against workers engaged in class-based protests if an economic or financial breakdown occurs in the future.

The lockdowns have revealed that progressives are not the most pro-labour segment of the political spectrum. By advocating a generally minimalist response, those on the Right have proven to be more supportive of workers by simply not wanting to decimate the labour market.

The cancel culture intrinsic to the shift from class analysis to identity politics over the decades has disciplined progressives to such a degree that many were simply too afraid to speak up and criticise the lockdowns and associated policies. This has revealed an unfortunate truth: neoliberal labour market deregulation with subsequent worker insecurity is explicitly wielded as a weapon to ensure conformity to the party line.

Class war redux

It is often said the victors are the ones who write history; an obvious truism. Everything we saw, read and heard about COVID was tightly controlled by elites and dutifully disseminated by the nauseatingly obedient PMC. Collectively, the elites and PMC consist of the top 20% of households by wealth and income, and easily won the most extreme class war in modern times. “We are all in this together” was one of the most contemptible lies of the COVID saga.

They are never going to apologise for the disaster they imposed, given the complete lack of accountability while enriching themselves beyond avarice. If they had suffered the brunt of economic and social costs, the lockdowns would’ve been called off immediately, with cries of “Never again”. Instead, the public was subjected to two years of crippling lockdowns, with the costs borne by those least able to deal with them.

The West is increasingly infected with an expansive bureaucracy that is out of control, avoids responsibility and is run by educated people demonstrating unrestrained arrogance, ignorance and hubris, capable of manufacturing consent and driving society into mass formation psychoses. This bureaucracy has perfected the art of internalising benefits while externalising costs.

Thankfully, what may well be the first book to condemn the irrational COVID policies from a Left perspective has recently been published. This demonstrates there is plenty of capacity for progressives to disapprove of the policies without reflexively denouncing criticisms as “far-Right”, “QAnon”, “fascist” or “mass murder”.

Those on the Left ought to question why they supported this disaster and continue to do so, given how profoundly the lockdowns violated progressive principles. Some humility and contemplation are in order.

Philip Soos is an independent economist and PhD candidate investigating bank crime and mortgage control fraud. You can follow him on Twitter @PhilipSoos.

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