THE COMING ECONOMIC CRISIS and its POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

Have an election today and the government would bolt in, primarily because of Jacinda’s star power induced by the media’s obsession with her. But the election is six months away and then, I’m picking a change of government.

First, to clear the air, I like Jacinda and don’t wish the government’s demise. Long before there was any thought of her rise I admired her and Julie Anne Genter more than any other MPs. That’s because when I occasionally tuned into Parliament and they were speaking they did so enthusiastically, arguing for initiatives they thought beneficial, without ever resorting to the customary and tiresome abuse of the other side. This I found refreshing.

Second, perhaps surprising imagery-wise, I’ve voted National once in the last 40 years, that in 2014 as I was alarmed at the prospect of a Cunliffe Prime Ministership so don’t assume I’m writing this as a closet Nat.

The single issue facing the world currently, and I emphasise currently as it won’t be in a year or so, is the coronavirus crisis. Seemingly overnight it went from a detached China event to a dominant global one. All governments should have anticipated that possibility. After two months our death statistics are a standout low in the world but our hopeless media, who if they did their homework should not have been surprised. Instead they ludicrously attribute this to Jacinda’s leadership. In fact as I shall show, she’s made some awful blunders.

WHY HAVE WE PERFORMED SO WELL?

Over the last six weeks I’ve read three similar articles in the serious European press, the latest, in the world’s best newspaper, namely The Financial Times about 3 weeks back. All predicted an easy ride for New Zealand. If you want to dodge the virus and remain in a modern developed nation then shift now to New Zealand it advised, pointing out that New Zealand, has stand-out virus-combatting advantages. It’s the world’s most remote nation, an island country, thus easy to monitor visitors and a small population. Our only city of size (the virus primarily hits elderly city crowded environment dwellers) is substantially suburban without intensive occupation.

ITALY AND SPAIN

The focus of media attention has been on Italy’s and Spain’s high death rates. That’s easily explained, namely cultural factors.

First, as is often a source of teasing, Italians and to a lesser extent Spaniards remain at home until marriage, often into their 30s.

In New Zealand, Australia, Britain etc our 20 year olds are off flatting, to the mutual delight of them and their parents. Thus Italian and Spanish households frequently comprise three generations, an alien proposition in New Zealand.

As said, victims are the elderly and specially those with health conditions such as a weak heart etc. That’s a fairly common state of affairs for folk in their seventies onwards.

Furthermore in the big Spanish and Italian cities most folk live in intensive occupation high-rises which is where the deaths have occurred.

It was world news last week when a purportedly healthy 15 year old French girl succumbed. I’d wager an autopsy shows an underlying condition, such as a weak heart which would otherwise only be revealed should she say have taken up squash. That’s not an uncommon phenomenon, specially with vigorous sports.

But there’s another critical difference between New Zealand and Italy and Spain. The latter two countries are not reproducing themselves, thus their average age is significantly higher than here with a much greater proportion of vulnerable elderly folk.

That collapsing population is true of other European countries such as Germany for example. But they’ve compensated through large-scale migration. Germany has 4 million citizens of Turkish ethnicity plus many others.

A further factor distinguishing these two heavily hit countries from ours is they’re host to millions of northern European retirees, that is elderly sun-seeking folk who have opted to live there, albeit not in the vulnerable cities, but nevertheless may well be contributing to their hosts fatalities figures.

Japan and Korea are also not breeding replacement figures but again a cultural factor may apply. While both nations enjoy longevity, indeed Japan has the world’s longest life expectation, thus a high ratio of elderly, they customarily don face masks in winter to avoid colds and the flu and are also highly disciplined people.

In New Zealand, Australia and Britain, having shed their offspring off flatting, our older folk willingly see out their years together. As said, that’s not the way in southern Europe, thus their elderly are exposed to the virus to an immensely greater degree.

Our population of 5 million is spread over the size of Great Britain with its nearly 70 million people. Again, another huge advantage when it comes to infection contagion.

With our major export earner of tourism now history for some years to come, the balance of our trade involves bulk goods such as dairy, meat, wool and timber.

With say Britain, it involves intangible things to a much higher degree, such as insurance and finance, these causing a heavy interchange of people travelling. Consider the current Brexit negotiations with the European Union. The major issue is how to treat the millions of Brits living either temporarily or permanently on the continent and conversely, the millions of continentals living in Britain. So with tourism gone plus our remoteness, we have comparatively little people traffic, a greatly reduced contagion risk.

CONCLUSION

While so sudden was the virus arrival, we now know dealing with it for us was a cakewalk compared with most other nations. Mind you, if European journalists could write that about us as much as three months ago, then we should have known. But seemingly we didn’t. Six weeks ago at a small dinner party I remarked to three of our most senior government figures, “get ready to write a huge cheque for Air NZ”, the response – puzzlement.

HOW HAVE WE DONE?

Contrary to some of our Jacinda-obsessed non-analytical media, not very well.

We’ve wrongly followed overseas practices to the letter, indeed mostly to a more extreme degree. The advantages we started with meant we need not have gone that far and the economic cost will be enormous.

When the lockdown ends our major employer category, namely small and medium sized businesses will not simply start up again. Instead, a high percentage will have gone broke.

A Dominion-Post investigation revealed 400 Wellington restaurants are pulling stumps for example. They’re broke.

But economically it’s far wider than cafes. Everyone other than company receivers will suffer. The tourist related businesses; hotels, flights, travel agents, motels etc. etc. employing circa 300,000 people are gone. That’s not the governments fault but all the more reason for some common-sense with the balance of our economy which was sadly lacking.

Some economists are talking 10% unemployment. I hope that’s true but will be very happy if it’s only 25% although I expect for a time, an even higher figure.

Confidence and morale will be terrible. For example, how many architects do you suppose will be busy and therefore the construction industry. People build in good times not during, as the IMF have claimed is about to occur, a depression worse than the 1930s. People will hoard their money, driven by fear. A new car, normally an indulgence, will be put aside. The car sales industry is in big trouble, so too for similar reasons the house sales business. New shoes, clothes, furniture? You’re kidding, and so it goes. Employment agencies will have no employer customers but a huge number of jobseekers on their books, a complete reversal of six months ago.

There was never the need for such a severe approach in New Zealand, rather we just needed to propagate the hand-washing and maintaining distant measures. As for the elderly living at home, a volunteer scheme to do their shopping and take them for outings in a bubble situation with their carers, would have been enough. The goal should have been to get everyone back to work as soon as possible. Now thousands of jobs have gone needlessly.

THE FOUR WEEKS LOCKDOWN

I fit the danger category with my age and a medical condition that would see me a goner in days if I got the virus, which of course could still happen. I’m supposed to be in Paris now, furnishing a luxury apartment and discussing a library with an architect, then on to Scotland golfing, but I didn’t have to be ordered to instead go into isolation. Common sense dictated that. Furthermore I’m thoroughly enjoying it with just my partner and me in 50 acres. But what of the low-income punter with three kids in a state house? Is it any surprise to hear of the avalanche of family violence, of the women’s refuge overflowing etc?

The government seemingly gave no thought to that but instead mindless aping Britain, and Australia’s quite different situations created a ridiculous array of totally unnecessary busy-body rules as never before in this country history.  Let’s examine some.

LOCATION – You must lockdown in your home but not a holiday home. Why on earth does it make any difference? It certainly does for the occupants as a change helps tolerating it. Instead the police inspected cars over Easter, turning back those with suitcases.

EXERCISE

1) You may go for a walk but only in the vicinity of your home. What bloody difference does it make if you walk for an hour round and round the neighbourhood or a more interesting one of changing scenery. So too with cycling.

2) You cannot go swimming in beaches. Why? Because you’ll tie up police resources if you drown. Someone drowns roughly once a week in New Zealand, mostly in summer and in boating mishaps or rivers. So dozens of policemen have roamed our beaches to watch out for sinners. Madness! In the hugely improbably event someone drowned in Mission or Oriental Bay it’s an ambulance issue.

PURCHASING – You may buy food but only in supermarkets. The result; all day queues. Obviously the more food outlets the better but the half-witted government had butchers, corner grocers and the like closed. In the process they’ve destroyed numerous small businesses.

DRIVING – You must only drive for an approved purpose, i.e. food or pharmacy purchasing. What nonsense! Thus slowly going mad, confined in a small house families, were denied the relief, while still maintaining their bubbles of an outing in a car.

FISHING – Banned. Why? We’re not told. So a bloke surf-casting alone on a beach, apart from the mental relief of escape, and the possibility of fresh food, constituted a massive health threat to the community. It should have been encouraged.

GOLF –  Ban the groundsmen working despite them sitting alone on tractors in a massive land expanse. They doing that was ludicrously deemed a health threat to everyone. Golf courses already struggling now faced ruination.

Playing golf alone or in pairs should have been encouraged. Simply close the pro-shop, café and bar.  Two days ago this absurdity re the employees, was lifted but playing is still prohibited.

All of these lunatic rules were mindlessly copied from the Brits whose 70 million people in a land the size of New Zealand, raised hugely different contagion issues.

Nevertheless, in Britain they’ve now been relaxed after a series of mad Police boss declarations.

The British Police commanders (not the policemen) have featured in a series of shocking judgement scandals in recent years. Their reputation is deservedly appalling.

Last week the North Hampshire Police boss, a blowhard called Nick Adderley, announced they’d be raiding supermarkets and inspecting shoppers’ trollies to see if they’d bought any non-essential items with their groceries.

That was enough for the aptly named, no nonsense Home Secretary Priti Patel (why can’t we have Ministers who look like her?).

Priti has form in putting bighead public employees in their place.  She not only kicked this idiot’s head in but the following day extended shopping to all food outlets, newsagents, corner stores, hardware shops, hairdressers (one customer at a time) and many other activities and told the public they can buy what they want in the supermarkets. Here, purchasing magazines was declared a danger.

We seemingly have no grown-ups in charge.

DOCTORS – Visiting GPs was banned. How much suffering has that caused to people with medical problems? GPs earn middle class incomes, those not high in New Zealand thus they’re all now surviving on welfare to exist, this in a health crisis for God’s sake. It’s Kafkaesque.

CONCLUSION

The government lost all sense of proportion in their handling of this crisis. For example, the World Health Organisation advise that up to 600,000 people annually die of the flu, most I suspect in the 3rd world.

The government should have recognised early that the problem was one primarily affecting the aged and infirm. A lockdown for a fortnight points the finger at the governments naivety.

I like Labour politicians. As I’ve always said, you want a Labour politician as a dinner guest and a Nat as a neighbour, (assuming you have a high boredom threshold).

But in fairness, the Nats do understand small business; Labour don’t.

Roger Douglas made this observation about post-war incoming Labour governments. He wrote that their unawareness of practical life and governing experience made them too reliant on advice from senior public servants and academics. Instead, he claimed, they should follow their own intuition.

There’s a world-wide political swing to the right to an extent that has alarming dimensions. But it’s understandable in times of crisis. By election time the Jacinda aura will be dead in the water as she learns the truth of another famous political adage, namely Enoch Powell’s correct but sad assertion that all political careers end in failure.

THE FUTURE

The IMF say the world is heading into a 1930s depression. I believe them.

By the time the elections arises we’ll be wallowing in despair with numerous small and medium sized businesses (our major employers) destroyed and unemployment levels that don’t bear thinking about.

Borrowing billions to dish out is no substitute for people working.

The government should end the lockdown forthwith, stress the social distancing and hand-washing rules and try to minimise the damage. Then concentrate their protection efforts on the vulnerable, namely the elderly.

THE ELECTION

As Clinton famously remarked, “It’s the economy stupid” and so it’s always been.

The well proven adage that oppositions don’t win elections, rather governments lose them will come into play in the pervading gloom.

THE GREENS

In a climate of deep economic despair the Greens message will seem irrelevant and their concerns esoteric. That’s another nail in Labour’s coffin should they lose their coalition partner, as I believe they will. There’s an irony to that as with the global shutdown and little vehicle activity, reports elsewhere talk of the new found clean air and visibility.

My hill-top home has views of the entire Wellington harbour and Hutt Valley. Despite fading eye-sight, for the first time in the 51 years since I built it, I can now clearly pick out the individual buildings on the Wellington waterfront and Oriental Bay, 20kms away.

NEW ZEALAND FIRST

I won’t be surprised should New Zealand First survive but that won’t be enough to save the government. I say that as Winston and some of his hitherto self-employed MPs understand the realities of life and will begin speaking out.

By contrast, Labour politicians, typically academic, union or public service type backgrounds and view the world in idealistic ways, frequently ignorant of the realities. That has merit when changes are needed but is hopeless in earthy situations such as we now face.

To at least reduce the harm being done the government should drop to stage 2 immediately and a week later, with heavy propaganda about hand-washing, maintaining distance etc., get those still with jobs back to work.

This will result in more virus outbreaks but people get over it. It’s the vulnerable elderly who need the close attention. With every nation planning to borrow billions of dollars, once again the printing presses will be busy. But it won’t be inflationary. The Chicago monetarist theory was always silly. Inflation is solely caused by demand exceeding supply and in a shell-shocked world with mass unemployment, demand will be miniscule. In the space of a few months all the certainties of everyday life have been turned on their head. Make no mistake; politics will not be an exception. I’ll be abused for this but come back in six months and tell me I’m wrong.

247 Comments

It sounds like Bob is upset not going to Paris or Scotland. He overlooks the large number of Covid19 patients that imported and spread the disease in NZ.

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    Maybe because it isnt relevant to his narrative.

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    John Smith – what are you basing the ‘large’ numbers on? Annually on average we have just over 10 people die a week of influenza. We have 9 people die from ‘ ‘COVID’ over 9 weeks of this ‘Pandemic’. Globally there are 30mill people die from lower and upper respiratory issues. No one has shut the borders or knocked economies on the head. What I think Sir Bob is driving at is – has this even thought out end to end, the answer is no!

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      I also think that the constant comparison to the annual flu is a mistake. The problem with the virus is not which political party leads the country through this, the problem is the fact that it’s a virus. It’s not bacterial and able to managed with antibiotics, it’s unpredictable, volatile, has inconsistencies, mutates and most importantly, has no vaccine. This should not be trivialised.

      In my opinion, there was no “right way” of dealing with this, no decisions of experience that could have been 100% right. Why? I’d guess it would have something to do with a general lack of experience, backed up by overwhelming fear of the unknown. Every country is in the same leaky boat, the size of the hole is the only difference.

      Sir Bob makes really valid points, it pissed me off when our local butcher was shut down. One approach, would have been – if you could prove you were 100% non contact, then trade through, this would’ve made businesses work out their own solutions to how to manage and be of value during a contagion.

      Looking left and right or up for that matter, may give you someone to blame, but discovering who or what your old business is going to look like moving forward, is up to us and not possible for everyone.

      We have been told herd immunity is not an option for this virus, that’s 95% of the population getting it, unless this is controlled to not overwhelm our medical system, again this is not at all an option – refer Sir Bob’s comment on unknown underlying conditions. Who know’s how many would die.

      I’m a Nat voter, but would be happy for Jacinda to take the reigns of empathy and Mr Key to return to help us out with the financial mess. What are the odds?

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    Correct Bob, however you omitted the real problem re the mode of the sickness.
    Take off your $$$ daffy duck lenses, for there are bigger issues you require before we pass away.
    For many of us there have been too many tourists coming into nz unrestricted.
    Money focussed tourist operators pushing for higher inbound, with the tourist crashing their way along our roads, rolling our once better gentler way of life into a $$$ bonanza for the tour operators.

    Government failed us by not stopping these hoards immediately at our airports and docks once it was becoming obvious there is something unhealthy, about this virus spreading rapidly worldwide.

    The sickness of $$$ in having too many tourists has gone on at a relentless pace.

    Immigration fails us with more people than the country can accommodate many ways.

    This grinding halt is marvelous, for from it will be the changes in and of hearts around this nation of what is really important .
    Not huge wealth, but caring loving people seeking what is this life on earth truely about.

    Ms Adern our Prime Minister, has done the best she knows how to.
    We are all fallible humans, she lacks worldly living business skills and God fearing truth for the future.

    NZ has lost its once fear of the man Jesus Christ.
    This virus came from evil, but a Holy Savour will use it to measure you for eternal life in heaven, or as NZ seems to rather prefer eternity currently to be by their choice The Lake of Fire.

    Make your choice New Zealand the clock for salvation is near noon at 11.59.
    Repent of the sins our immorality.

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    Bob for prime minister!

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Nice writing as always Sir Bob, but you’ve actually only stated the obvious here – economic depression is inevitable.
What you’re not recognising about the lockdown – again unusually for you – is that there are so many idiots who wouldn’t drive around with their windows up, wouldn’t keep their distance from others when launching their boat, wouldn’t be as sensible as you are, that need lockdown to protect themselves, protect us all from their stupidity, and especially protect you and those like you; the high risk older dudes.
And Sir, your timing is out, again unusually for you… If you’d written this 3 months ago or even one month ago you would have shown yourself to be a wise man predicting we would do well, but we have nil idea what would have happened if we had tried for herd immunity. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but if we had copied the Sweden experiment you may have been the late Sir Bob.
IN any case I think you are, in fact, a little late in writing this piece…

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    My thoughts exactly. A number of articles have been written with some considerable benefit of hindsight, what were these people writing a month or six weeks ago? They haven’t had to make decisions based on limited information, plus we’re not privy to the conversations or considerations of those making these decisions, so don’t know upon what the decisions were really based.
    And the movement restrictions had to be strict and simple because not everyone listens carefully or reads appropriately – how does one not understand or misinterpret “stay at home”? But many have, even without the disadvantage of stupidity. Stage 3 lockdown will be very difficult to manage due to the increased flexibility and movement allowed.

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Good points in Jones’ analysis but a far too negative, pessimistic view of long term outcomes with the expected applause of red-necks and National supporters, increasingly alarmed by Jacinda’s well deserved support at home and abroad. No political leader could have handled this situation better than she has. Suck it up, reactionaries! In the difficult days ahead, her calmly authority and sound reasoning will carry this country through its economic and social problems. Bring on the elections!

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    Really?
    You truly believe that? You’re as naive as hers truely.

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    Norman what on earth is “calmly authority?”and show me the evidence of sound reasoning that will survive scrutiny in the washup of all this .I think you are confusing pessimism with realism and yes there will be serious social and economic problems to deal with that wont respond to slogans

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    ferrari12345hotmailcom April 16, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    And, there, Gentlemen, I rest my case. The idiot Bob was talking about just vomited.

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    Yes, please do bring on the election. Any single additional day this country having to bare the idiocy and mismanagement this government have propagated across the nation, would be one day too many. Those, aside from the Ardern obsessed media, who delusionally believe her handling of this crisis to be commendable, will soon get a whiff of reality when they are lining up at WINZ offices and their bank manager has an agent knocking in a for sale sign on their front lawn. Good luck NZ, you’re going to need it.

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      Jerry,take your blue eye patch off and look around you,imagine what this country would have been like if Labour wasn`t the government and looking after the country as they are during COVID19.I will say straight out – I`m a Labour supporter,the main reason being and always has been, they actually care!!,whereas National are a facts and figures party that look after their business mates,not the man on the street!.I would hate to see what would have happened if National were in power when COVID19 first appeared,they probably would have stuck their heads in the sand as they did with the housing crisis when they were the government.Jacinda is doing a fantastic job of saving our jobs and our sorry arses.Never in the history of NZ politics has a New Zealand prime minister had to deal with what she has – the Chch Terrorist attack,the White Island eruption and now COVID19,so get off your blue box and give her some credit,because she`s earned it!!!

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      Lot easier to lock up and isolate 40k at the border over time than try and lock up 5m kiwis while infecting them with incoming travellers and crash the economy.
      Been over 20 deaths today…and every day in NZ from elderly people over aged 85 from different diseases.

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      Brett Cole
      Your response is the standard delusional Labour waffle religiously trotted out when challenged on performance, “Labour the nations saviour”, honestly, give us a break, the public are not all imbeciles. The government through fiscal mismanagement were already in the process of piling on an additional $19 b in debt to fund crucial infrastructure projects they no longer had the funds to carry out. With little to no reserve accounts and a national crisis to confront, god only now knows where the debt ceiling level will end? So just think for a moment Brett, that if the leader of the Labour Party had acted in the manner that clearly necessitated, in accordance with the strong vocal public opinion at the time, had closed the borders 3 weeks earlier, and mandatory isolated incoming arrivals, the country wouldn’t be facing the economic ruin that it now faces today. The buck stops at the top Brett.

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    Let’s put things in perspective. 1409 confirmed cases, 816 people recovered. That means, at present there are only 593 people in all of NZ with Covid-19. I know this does not account for the people that may be infected and not know it or haven’t been tested but what is the panic all about?

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      Hi Ian. You rightly acknowledge the infected who don’t know. There’s also the previously infected who didn’t know they had it (like the BBC reporter recently). We don’t know the numbers there b/c both areas have been systematically ignored in NZ for months (at least until the random testing, but that’s hopelessly late if it’s for scientific purposes). But the real kicker is a science and maths double punch combo. On the former, its asymptomatic with a longer incubation period and much more lethal (still uncertain but maybe 10x), so it spreads a lot faster and easier, and much more silently (eg no obvious runny nose, sniffles, sneezes we’d ordinarily see, and avoid, people with common cold etc), and with much more impact, than influenza. That combo then triggers the maths, making it exponential. So, even if we had ‘only’ say 5000 infected people a month or two ago, doing nothing would have led to the modelling at whatever it was,100,000 deaths?

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      Also further to my earlier note, the late random testing does at least serve one useful purpose, ie helping guide the decision to drop to L3. Doing it so late means we don’t really get much understanding of the virus, but if as might be expected at this late stage the rates are low, it would give more confidence for L3. (And if high would be a very real concern).

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    I disagree…she should have taken measures at the airports in Feb ( she had a whole month before we locked down ) when we had our first positive case.. temperatures taken..all their details and had healthline checking in on them daily.. there should have been a website detailing all the cases and there location down to the suburb and any places that those cases may have exposed others with dates etc.. no need to name or even put age or gender.. just so people could look up and see if they’ve been in the same place as them. Then if they were to get symptoms they could self isolate and contact healthline.. there are so many more with it than the numbers show.. I no lots of people (males especially) if they get a symptom they will fob it off as a cold etc won’t be till they are full blown that they’d go see the doc and healthy people with no underlying may have very Little symptoms so could definitely go u detected

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      Totally agree.
      Cant tell me Cival Defence wouldnt have made plans for something like this many times over…but of course they werent in charge were they.
      Came under Medical.
      Many say how do you take care at the border…easy…you stagger incoming numbers /flights to suit your isolation set up.
      I have been in Rome where the just shut down flight numbers when their air quality its a certain number…doesnt matter where a flight is…they either dont take off or land..no matter what until the air quality numbers comes right.
      We could have protected our economy .

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      She had to wait to close the borders because her parents were overseas. Couldn’t shit borders before they were back.

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    I think it was quite a well balanced article, Jacinda may well put icing on a turd but its still a turd.The Recovery will require courageous and strong leadership sorry but the jury is still out for me lets see how really good the economy is in 6 months!

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I gotta say I believe (hope) any NZ Prime Minister would have handled CV19 in pretty much the same way…

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Great read Sir Bob..I developed a business when the government at that time removed import liciensing . In order to determine a duty relevant to demand they put a years licence
volume up for tender . You could tender for a quantity of the total value and access the
licence without paying a premium until you wished to use the licence .
.. I tendered for 6.5M ,used 2.7m made a handsome profit by selling the licence on to an importer who required the licience and would pay a premium. Thats how bloody stupid governments can get when blinkered.I am 72 and no longer require to utilise opportunities that will be presented as a result of this goverments tragic handling of the economy ,however there is always opportunity presented from disaster so get ready for some fun

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Philip Lenton
Mr.Mclean needs to realise that our M.P. has a degree in Public Relations; as a result she is an expert “at getting a message across”. This doesn’t necessarily mean the message is good, or correct, but it is said nicely. David Lange was even better than Jacinda; he could talk for an hour, say nothing, BUT it sounded great !!!. Perhaps Mr. Mclean should listen to Jacinda’s address to the World Junior Socialist Party (when she was Pres.of it) — absolute rubbish, said very nicely.
Any NZ P.M. could have done what Jacinda has, and hopefully better.
Covid-19 would not have got to NZ if the correct procedures had been put in place earlier.
— we are an isolated country– however our P.M. and her cohorts are not good at making decisions; certainly not quickly.
You can say hindsight is a wonderful thing- but then I am not the P.M. and don’t have all her advisors — however looking overseas should have given a damn good guideline of what was happening; we should have taken immediate precautions to protect our peoples.
Note, inspite of all our excitement about C0vid-19 levels in NZ we do have, per pop, 16% more than Australia. So how well are we doing.?!!

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    And, Philip Lentin, NZ’s number of cases is also a gross undercount of the actual number of infected people. We studiously didn’t test for asymptomatic, known to be most people with the disease. And, still only testing symptomatic cases, the reduction in ‘cases’ further obscures all the people who got it and didn’t know or mistook mild symptoms for cold/flu. The number of ‘known cases’ is meaningless, but the media treats it as if it is important, and doesn’t even ask about the true number of cases, happy to be fed and regurgitate meaningless pap. The result is that NZ’s bizarre testing regime has artificially massaged the ‘known case’ numbers to be low, with eyes tightly closed to the true number of cases. A better question is how many deaths might have been avoided if NZ started full-population testing, cycled every 7-10 days, even just a few weeks ago? If we did it in February, it might have avoided deaths and lockdown. If we do it from today, how many more lives will it save, and allow businesses to get back to work, almost completely, with high certainty? All it has needed, and all it needs, is a fast pivot to effectiveness, based on proven science (other solutions enabling better outcomes have also been locked out), but it looks like we’ll never know.

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      Ideology Ron. We only have finite resources and manpower for testing.
      Might work on the Chathams if we sent a boat load of supplies to facilitate it.

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      Thanks gwha. Actually, testing is remarkably cheap (both the tests and the testing machines) and can easily be done at scale. I appreciate that the perception is NZ is otherwise, with the much touted “huge” increase in testing from 1700/day to 3000 then 5000, but the reality is otherwise. Media just repeated the “test, test, test” mantra without questioning it, as if it represented meaningful testing. It doesn’t, neither as to substance nor scale. On the latter, Germany has long been doing 200,000 per day (and is probably much higher now), and usual postal testing a UK researcher reckons up to 10 million tests may be possible, per day. He also costed it, if I recall less than a pound each. Not even a rounding error compared with other costs, and which decent testing could stop, so the ROI would be massive. More here https://bit.ly/2xC6xM3 and https://bit.ly/2Kd9DZO

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    Blah , blah , blah
    That’s really helpful

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    Your comment comparing NZ numbers with Australia is simply not true. In fact, all the numbers tell us, is how many cases have been found. Not how many people are infected. Only widespread random testing can tell us that, within a margin of error.

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      Dead right Grant Mazengarb. With a catch.

      Random testing is a great idea (although full population testing would deliver better health and economic outcomes, and is feasible in NZ, and cheap [even Sir Bob could just about do it with the wager he just made and seems likely to retain]), but leaving it so late flies in the face of known science, and scientific endeavour generally.

      It is now weeks past the median incubation period, and long past even the 97% tail. This means that almost everyone who had the virus at the beginning of lockdown will no longer show it in these tests.

      That last sentence is worth reading again.

      Moreover, the apparent current lack of functioning democratic checks (excruciatingly tight message control with almost zero leakage despite likely concerns by thinking MPs and in-group advisers; scientists demonstrably invested in the narrative; extreme media sycophancy invested in the ‘war’ analogy leaving journalistic standards to catch up in a year or so; apparent opposition inability to understand, articulate or communicate basic science; and independent scientists excluded, muzzled, and thrown under proverbial buses for advancing anything slightly off narrative, with that media called in aid accordingly) also suggests it’s likely the “results” will not be seriously questioned. The media (one channel especially) seems likely also to continue its self-selected role as lead cheerleader for the proclaimed “lack” of community transmission.

      This will make me zero friends in high places, nor powerful media interests, but if the above occurs it also means that the media and people who should know better will be complicit and/or wilfully blind in advancing the dangerously misleading narrative on community transmission to an unsuspecting public already misled [and I don’t use that word lightly] on community transmission [and ‘cases’] before lockdown; a public that should be able to rely on the media, opposition, and dispassionate, objective science.

      Nor is any of this rocket science. A random testing program advancing scientific endeavour, and objectively interested in truly understanding how the virus operates, would have run multiple cycles before lockdown, several during lockdown, and after.

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      btw, I don’t believe anyone is being deliberately misleading, only that the effect of some of what’s been said is misleading. As far as I can tell everyone involved is completely genuine, and truly trying to do their best (and I have enormous respect for that, much of it is truly inspirational) but sometimes that genuineness of purpose can get in the way, blinding us to other, possibly better, ways of achieving what we all want here. Probably myself included, to be brutally fair.

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Some salient points however I was distracted from your arguments by the errors. There has not been a ban on GPs – I had a the option of a phone or online appointment; those going to their bachs/holiday homes put people into areas where there is not the resource to handle an outbreak if it happens so even though they may prefer it, it is a danger to the locals – so no doctors/supermarkets or other amenities would be available; and yes someone drowns on average every 4.5 days however with everyone in lockdown not only would the recommended physical distancing not occur there would be more people heading to the beach or lakes to swim where life guards, coast guard and other emergency services would be put at risk. I appreciate your financial insights and look forward to your next article!

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I agree with Bob Jones. We have become a culture with no back bone. I have a mother coming up to 90. Lived in Liverpool through the war. Know’s what it’s like to see death & suffering. Three score in 10 is still life for the majority. Face it we die. It’s a wonder anything gets done today. People use to go to other worlds that had no welfare or even government to make a new life for their families. With just their faith in God & a work ethic. Socialism is killing this country, it’s a slow sure death to liberty & a free thinking people. We are ruled by Pharisees, who try to give the appearance of caring for the most vulnerable. But all the time doing the opposite. When crimes are committed it’s the freedom of the general population that are taken away. Making the killing of the unborn legal, promoting euthanasia. Taking away our ablity to protect ourselves & the ones we love. All with an attitude of we no best. As for me & my family our trust is in God & the liberty he gives to walk this earth without fear, to discover & explore unimpeded by superstition. For to long New Zealand has been governed by the politicus of envy.

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What no one is mentioning here is that half witted Jacinda has sprayed money around in a quite reckless fashion, putting over $7,000.00 dollars in people’s bank accounts – 3 month’s worth of money apparently – if one has decided to do something as daft as that, why not pay one month at a time, not three months at the outset. All this, I might add, without any checks as to whether they were eligible at all for this largesse.
Rarely, if ever engaging the brain, Jacinda and her cheap sentimentality, (which the media confuse with compassion), seeks only to show “look at me, look at me”, “I care, I care” – daft stupid women. Will she now care about all the fall out from her catastrophic overreaction?

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    The agenda is falling into place and being managed so well for the commies.
    Shame there is no backbone from the opposition to show an alternative direction.

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    Wendy , maybe you prefer the USA model where you wait for your $1200 while President Trump adds his name to the cheque and in the mean time you may have to eat ?

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Well written and in my opinion spot on. Thank you for the great article.

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“You must lockdown in your home but not a holiday home. Why on earth does it make any difference?” Seriously? Because when areas higher in bach capacity than permanent residents reach capacity, they don’t have the infrastructure to deal with those numbers under lockdown. It’s not rocket science.

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Oh, so profound and wise in retrospect. I wonder how many of the commentators have actually gone without meals or seen a close member of their family struggling to breathe with this horrendous virus in the last month. Lesser measures are fine so long as youre not elderly, vulnerable in any way, have Covid and could die. Such a shame redecorating the Paris luxury apartment and the golf in Scotland is on hold – ‘ say what ‘ says most New Zealanders. There was another time in history that didnt protect those groups and the disadvantaged also, which thankfully most people and a people-led government have thankfully remembered.

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Here’s a letter to the Herald one week ago that of course wasn’t published.

COVID-19 assumptions and NZ’s “strange” difference

Dear Editor
Time on our hands can be usefully spent researching and thinking logically about COVID-19 data.
Logical questions occur to me: why not to investigative reporters?
COVID-19 has a very high incidence of asymptomatic infection. The few testing programs that have provided data for this, suggest between 40% and 60% of infections do not even cause illness. Many of the balance become only mildly unwell.
Given that NZ is at least as connected to China as a source of inbound air travellers as any other country is, how credible is the assumption that the spread of the virus here, only relates to our confirmed testing and known clusters and that our “curve of infections” is weeks behind Northern Italy, New York or Sweden??? With our known clusters, we have tested hundreds of people and confirmed that many are infected, but now we know almost none of these people have needed hospitalization let alone Intensive Care!
We pay experts to identify and explain good news as well as bad, surely? Are they all intoxicated by the destructive power they are wielding by sticking to the most negative possible assumptions, regardless of how false these assumptions increasingly look for NZ?
Yours faithfully

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    I’m not sure what point you are making here Phil ?

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      I’m saying the same as Sir Bob. It’s obvious now even if it wasn’t earlier, that NZ doesn’t have the same vulnerability as “old Europe” and New York. Experts should be able to tell us why this is, instead of posturing that it is them and their alarmism that is “saving us”. Otherwise, are they experts at all; how come they have the important job they do (is it because they are politically tame); and why is the establishment so resistant to experts who are in disagreement and supported by the evidence? All the “government spokesman” could lamely say in response the other day was “but our models show….”
      Letters to the editor have to be short; so what I couldn’t say is that it isn’t hard to find explanations why NZ has low vulnerability to viruses. We are very lucky with our ambient humidity levels, in addition to our clean air, low urban density, and old vulnerable people not living in tenements right in the middle of “vibrant urbanism” and / or immigrant workforces.
      Rest Homes are a special case, especially Dementia Units. The virus can find its way in regardless of us locking down or not, it is essential for these places, that workers are able to come and go. The disruption and trauma of lockdown is quite possibly deadly for the most vulnerable people, especially in Rest Homes. Lock a dementia patient up in solitary confinement at the best of times and what might happen? If we were to examine each of the several hundred deaths in NZ of “normal causes” over the last 3 weeks I bet we could find some that were premature BECAUSE OF lockdown.
      Sir Bob is right; as he says in a later posting, we had a unique head start over the rest of the world and we not only blew it, we did ourselves the most harm possible rather than the least!

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      As well as rest-homes, hospitals, etc, prisons are another area of real danger. (No need for the rabid right and left wing responses, please). I haven’t seen much about them, or maybe missed it.

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Wendy is bang on about Adern’s “look at Me, look Me” attitude. Shades of CH/CH where she dashed around with a head scarf on hugging one of her new found” best friends”, with a mournful expression on her face, every time a camera was near. !!! Worthy of at least a Golden Globe if not an Oscar.
Adern is very good at P.R. but she is very bad at decision making. She is the Govt’s face on TV and at that she is extremely good; she has, of course , been well briefed in what to say and how to answers any questions Don’t be deceived — it is the “experts” behind her, who are the driving force .
Not sure what Maureen means by a “people lead Govt”. This Govt. is in power thanks to the Greens, and especially, thanks to Winston. It is a Coalition Govt. –Adern is P.M. with Grant Robertson being the guiding light, and Winston bringing, on the odd occasion, (remarkably), some moderating sense to it. Not a “People’s Govt” in any way or shape!!

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Well I suppose someone had to spell out the bleedin obvious.
Shouting from the sidelines is an easy thing to do.
Julie Anne Genter , give me a break ! Out of her depth.
If you want some savage opinion I suggest you check out Palki Sharma on WION News , India.
Hindsight is going to be a wonderful thing Bob , but let’s get this thing in our rear view mirror before we start that , eh ?

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Well I suppose someone had to spell out the bleedin obvious.
Shouting from the sidelines is an easy thing to do.
Julie Anne Genter , give me a break ! Out of her depth Bob.
If you want some savage opinion check out Palki Sharma on WION News, India.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but let’s get this thing in our rear view mirror first , eh Bob !

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ferrari12345hotmailcom April 16, 2020 at 8:01 pm

The point I agree with Bob, is that NZ should have applied the Swedish solution long time ago, but our current ‘leadership’ do not have the I.Q to think that far . At least follow a REAL leader like Trump, and return NZ to rebuilding ASAP ( even though the ‘government’ do not have the pressure of opposition Trump has )

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    Have you actually listened to Trump lately? We know he will be re elected because Americans are sick of the Kennedyesk style of ignoring the working person and looking after the rich much the same as Bob does. Nothing worse than someone who is past their best but can’t accept it.

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    ” The Swedish Solution ” may yet be proved an ominous predict.
    Sweden 10 million people and 1300+ fatalities.
    NZ 5 million and 11.
    Hmm , I suppose if a family member is not one of the number , you could shrug that off.

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      Now wait ten to fifteen years, add in suicides, heart attacks, strokes and other stress related causes of death caused by unemployment and a collapsed economy. Then, and only then will we be able to compare these two approaches. You may wish to take that further and multiply the number of deceased by the number of expected years remaining for each victim. In other words – does our approach save people with few years remaining, whereas Sweden is possibly saving a lot more life/years by reducing the stress levels within the population.

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I wholeheartedly agree with your perspective Bob. Jacinda and her inner circle have overreacted and done significantly more damage to the economy than they needed to.
There is a well referenced summary of the facts about COVID-19 which can be found here https://swprs.org/a-swiss-doctor-on-covid-19/ and it offers anyone who reads it a significantly clearer picture of the virus than can be achieved from watching mainstream media.

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    This current situation is still a work on. No-one is privy to all the answers or effects.
    The full outcome may not be known for a generation given the prospect of long term damage to various organs of the body , even in the so called ” recovered “

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    Two new pieces of information.

    1) A top Israeli Professor, Prof Isaac Ben-Israel, head of the Security Studies program in Tel Aviv University and the chairman of the National Council for Research and Development, claims simple statistical analysis demonstrates that the spread of COVID-19 peaks after about 40 days and declines to almost zero after 70 days — no matter where it strikes, and no matter what measures governments impose to try to thwart it. He said the policy of lockdowns and closures was a case of “mass hysteria.” Simple social distancing would be sufficient, he said.
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/top-israeli-prof-claims-simple-stats-show-virus-plays-itself-out-after-70-days/

    2) The Chinese Coronavirus, is a man made virus according to Dr Luc Montagnier, the man who discovered HIV. Also, according to him, the altered elements of this virus (HIV virus sequences) are eliminated as it spreads: “Nature does not accept any molecular tinkering, it will eliminate these unnatural changes and even if nothing is done, things will get better”.
    https://www.gilmorehealth.com/chinese-coronavirus-is-a-man-made-virus-according-to-luc-montagnier-the-man-who-discovered-hiv/

    It is interesting that these two pieces of new information, from two reputable scientists, support each others assertion that the virus will go away on it’s own.

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Well Bob, another Doom and gloom merchant ? – Aside from your aborted trip to refurbish your Paris apartment , as a billionaire has it even crossed your mind to help to address the looming massive unemployment problem ? You could click your fingers and borrow $100million at the best rate and use it to create a manufacturing facility to employ thousands (and even make a profit )
New Zealand has been good to you with no capital gains tax -now its payback time !!!

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    We live in a welfare state. People are more encouraged to stay home and do nothing…but get paid for it.
    Getting back to work is paramount in NZ…its great that businesses get a lift from the govt during this time, but its only temporary…but once people get paid for doing nothing, we know what that leads too.
    Welfare needs to be cut to a level where you can’t survive on it…….go fruit picking or anything. Self respect is better than none.

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    We need more like Bob in NZ and probably less like Nigel, I commend self made billionaires, they do more for any economy than Jealous tall poppy knockers (and I’m broke but not bitter)

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You really are a Nigel, another bloody envious socialist looking to access and spend other peoples money to facilitate the so called rights of those who cant or wont take personally responsibility for themselves .How about you climb off your envious arse and follow your own advice .Sir Roberts commercial endeavours already provide employment and opportunity for others which is patently obvious to those capable of engaging the top two inches .

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The extent/degree of the lockdown in NZ has indeed been OTT. Why can contruction workers not continue to build while maintaining social distancing for example? (As in Australia…) Or road workers continue to build roads? I mean buses are still running with “shared air”. Again it is “the little guy” who will suffer the most losses.
Sir Bob made salient points and we are certainly en route to an economic trainwreck. Micro-management of the populus at large relies upon co-operation/fear, but as time goes by, rules are likely to be broken, with the onset of sheer boredom/common sense!
E.g. why can a family not spend time at a beach, albeit separated by 50 metres?
Post Offices are unable to do over the counter sales? How is a Post Office different to a supermarket or a dairy (on a one-in, one-out basis). Don’t get me started on funerals/tangi…(weddings can wait) but…”let’s get on with it, really soon” – please!

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Sir Bob is correct, we expats in Australia have no issues with being able to continue our works as builders on site – Perth Airport (no one here) and the exterior facade of a hospital on scaffolding. There is no wild numbers of CCP Virus here, nor is there a need to shut up shops that need to stay open for their own sake – and us shoppers, we need them open.
it is extreme that cafe’s were shut up, bars & nite clubs were a good call to shut up, as noticeably the young do not keep their distance, that pisses me off and I do tell them off!
Our next 3 generations of family will be slaves to the tax man/woman paying for this folly shutting the whole of NZ and a lot of Oz down and bailing them out with printed money.
50 years in building tells me it will take 3 terms of government to start getting it right, but please, no more Labour government like that of Clarke/Douglas that sold out generations of young people with no hope for their future.
Bring back manufacturing, close China’s CCP rape & pillage of both our countries.

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Typical labour govt
HG

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As Sir Robert correctly identifies, New Zealand has the world’s largest moat.

As soon as news of an incipient pandemic leaked out of Wuhan, our borders should have been closed to all but returning citizens and permanent residents, with all returnees placed into government-run 14-day quarantine.

This should have happened weeks ago.

Everything My Little Ppny has done to combat the pandemic has been reactive.

Handled things well?

Pfffft!

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Winston’s in damage control mode. Thrown coalition Govt under the bus. He’s already decided, level 3 ASAP. “Rockstar Prime Minister” I bet she now wants election sooner rather than later.

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Sir Bob is trying some reverse psychology to galvanise stabilised faith in the status quo so his vote for someone other than national is on the majority side, and gratifying to a chubby ego

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    markscreaminggoosearmstrong April 25, 2020 at 11:38 am

    Suzanna, I understand what you’re saying but re ego I think anyone – including me – who takes the time to blog as Sir Bob does, or even replies to his blog, is doing so for personal; reasons that almost invariably include a large dash of ego…that’s just my view about all of us…

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The writer of this piece is making up facts by comparing apples to oranges.
Compare NZ and Finland!
Not NZ and Italy.

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Great article, Sir.

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I can understand the ‘liking of Jacinda and her government’. Labour governments fill up office blocks in downtown Wellington and in Porirua for that matter. But still, running a market based economy by a person with little world experience – oh, I forgot. Jacinda has had some 9 years experience on the international stage as President of The International Union of Socialist Youth, no less. Overall, her play book is small and the rhetoric of boring proportions. I find the National stable equally boring. If one cares to look at IUSY you’ll find it’s leadership largely populated by youth from dog-tucker countries including Venezuela. Most if not all of its leadership come from countries of dictators. Of my scanning of FB and Youtube and other sources, will such a middle of the road IQ that one possess, Sir Bob’s analysis is about right (my IQ, not Bob’s). I think I’ll relocate to Mebourne – the golf courses are magnificent.

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P.S. Why to my low IQ mind do I get the distinct impression these blogs are full of psychophants.

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While I broadly support the view that this whole thing could have been handled differently i.e. not locking up women to protect them from rapists, your assertion about inflation is incorrect in the extreme. Inflation is going to be huge in the next year or two.

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“Jacindas well deserved support at home” Hahahahahaahaa. What a woke sheep!!

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