As I’ve written before, this blog is a fun exercise which I don’t promote. Equally, I leave it as an open forum.

However, I do resent re my criticisms of the government’s reaction, being accused of being wise after the event.

Someone called Mark Armstrong, labelling himself with perfect accuracy as “Markscreaminggoosearmstrong” accused me “again” of “working with the benefit of hindsight”.

He wrote, “In February you predicted CV19 would cause economic difficulties”.

I’d have thought that item headed Recession or Depression? did a great deal more than that.

Furthermore, I did not make my observations because of the virus which wasn’t a consideration then as a factor, but solely because of the coming collapse of our major export earner, tourism. I predicted the direct and indirect effect of that alone would see 200,000 unemployed. In fact it will be a great deal higher. Mark says I “fell way short of suggesting lockdown was a bad idea”. Well, screaming goose, there was a bloody good reason for that, namely it wasn’t even contemplated back then.

He then tells us re the virus that Australia “has the advantage of a better climate and an even more spread out population base than in NZ”. What extraordinary nonsense! Australia is an immensely more urbanised nation than us and has two large cities with populations similar to NZ.

Finally, to put the seal on his spectacular ignorance he quotes Ghandi’s, “A nation’s greatness is measured how it treats its weakest members”. What the hell that has to do with the issue is a mystery. That said, Ghandi was a figurehead for the Independents movement but was sensibly pushed aside once independence was achieved. He never lived to see his ideal socio-economic order attempted, as it was three decades after his murder, in Cambodia and we all know how that worked out.

Finally, he predicts because we’re “a great nation our economy will recover quickly”. Words fail me. But as said he got one thing 100% right, namely his self-label of screaming goose.


Mr Goose also knows little about Gandhi. Salman Rushdie on him: http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1653029,00.html

Sadly NZ is awash with these screaming gooses. Classic example – the mother of three young children, exhibiting a facebook symbol ‘Stay the f**k home’ – who posted of Jacinda making sure we will ‘bounce back’. The post appeared the same day my neighbour told me he’s laying off up to 300 men and women in their 30’s to 50’s – minimal skills – some of whom will never get another job.
Or the chap who told me yesterday he applied for the job he’d always wanted – digger driver – but has missed out to a pilot. And that’s just in one street of this ‘great nation’.

Spot on Bob. I have to wonder where some of these people come from? Screaming Goose may be an Apache or a relative of the great Trump.

It’s not so much about hindsight, it’s about not having access to the parallel universe where we did nothing or remained at level 2 and seeing what the effects were in that scenario. The NZ Government and its health experts were panicked by the (probably inflated) infection and death rates in Italy and Spain and erred on the side of caution which was effective but had a severe economic impact. I’m hopeful that the economy will bounce back over time when lockdown ends as market fundamentals haven’t changed and there will be pent-up demand and deferred spending coming into play similar to the current spike in demand for fast food.

    Comments about parallel worlds is straying towards the territory of difference between ensemble averages and time averages a la ergodicity economics. So interesting to see.

Sir Bob – I live in London but always enjoy receiving email update advising me of your latest musings.

I am interested in your thoughts relating to the commercial real estate market – my current employer and others are seeing the current crisis as an opportunity to “prove” the effectiveness of having people working from home. There are currently conversations going on suggesting we might reduce our global property portfolio by 1/3.

I understand commercial interests may preclude you being able to dive into too much detail. I do assure you I am nothing but a lowly accounting graduate with a solitary residential property to my name……

    For my two cents, here’s something of a list of impacted things.

    – bars
    – cities
    – retail
    – sports
    – hotels
    – airlines
    – offices
    – universities/schools
    – concerts
    – medicine
    – immigration
    – conferences
    – supply chains
    – meat packing
    – movie theaters

    Consider what won’t change, and what has to change.
    Where offices say at suffer, commercial property along the lines of warehouses for grocery providers, data centres, Amazon-type companies etc. shouldn’t. As for what is changing – education, and healthcare are two of the big ones, remote consultation/remote education are being forced ahead years of where they were previously.

markscreaminggoosearmstrong April 29, 2020 at 10:23 am

My otimism is a God-given gift Sir Robert.

(Although I support the do-unto-others way of life I am not a practicing supporter of God but can’t ignore my hope there is some benevolent entity putting a little balance between good and evil on this planet.)

And please don’t be offended by my views – I have sadly inherited much respect for you and your unbridled pugilism and if not your blinkered capitalism; I would expect nothing less than your scorching responses.
To be honest, I am struggling with how well Australia is doing in the CV19 stakes; Australia seems to be the best global justification for criticisms of the way NZ’s handled this pandemic. But Australia is a land of coastal populations isolated by deserts and surely this is helpful to their pandemic resistance. Perhaps also a criminal gene pool accustomed to survival in filthy disease-ridden penal institutions gives them resistance to the pestilence.
The Weak
I honestly can’t see how you, Sir Robert, and your tax-phobic supporters, can be so blinkered as to fail to recognise that NZ’s lock-down, if nothing else, is protecting our weak. Or perhaps it’s ok by you lot for CV19 to kill off our ill and elderly because they were going to die soon anyway? I can see it has the great economic benefits you worship, and while I bow to your superior Ghandi knowledge (in contrast to my undoubted gander knowledge) I worry that your advancing years are adversely affecting your hitherto sharp intelligence if you cannot see Ghandi’s quote as relevant to my views.
NZ is indeed a Great Nation
And may I suggest if you see another nation as greater than NZ, you surely have sufficient resources to pay your $50 million or whatever it takes and bugger off and live there.

    Go THE GOOSE !
    Let’s look to the future.
    What’s done is done.
    We’ve tried to protect the vulnerable in my view.
    All the commentators only addressing the economic effects must be the ones that are probably in the best position to either ride it out in their advantageous position or they are worried about the hit they may take to their advantageous position.
    How about looking firstly at : What can I do to help the less fortunate?
    Or : This is a new playing field : There will be new opportunities.
    Or : This is the new normal , it’s been a set-back but I can recover from this.
    It seems to me the least productive thing we can do is bitch and carp and moan and look to play the blame game.
    It’s impossible to trump hindsight , no-one ever has!
    We want ideas not recrimination.
    Hat’s off to THE GOOSE , he got Bob’s attention !

Poor old screaminggoosearmstrong ,he will have the contents of his patently small cranial vault in an even bigger flap having being called on the accuracy of his intellectual endeavours .I recall that Sir Robert once wrote about “intellectual pygmies “and one sure has been flushed out here!Im willing to bet he has a beard and a cardigan,walk shorts,long socks and sandals

    markscreaminggoosearmstrong April 29, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    Beard only and that won’t last this virus my Philistine Dr.

    It never fails to amaze me how a conservative , mild mannered comment that promotes empathy and tolerance can engender such vitriolic replies.
    Go figure.

      markscreaminggoosearmstrong April 30, 2020 at 10:35 am

      I reckon gwha! This column is surely simply about airing our views with a little entertainment thrown in for good measure…can’t understand why people get all bent out of shape when someone dares to disagree with them…it’s hilarious. But also kind of sad really…

      markscreaminggoosearmstrong April 30, 2020 at 10:37 am

      I hasten to add my last comment was not directed at Sir Robert – he has the wit to at least make an entertaining vitriolic response…

“Markscreaminggoosearmstrong” is a pest on many blog sites. Like a few other mug keyboard warriors they eventually filter themselves out. This lockdown I notice has really bought out the frustration and anger in many. It maybe a sign of things to come. Buckle up Princess Cindy your expensive “consultants ” can gouge some more out of the public purse.

Perhaps Mr Goose is a member of the cabinet using a pseudonym? Those who attended the Epidemic Response Committee appeared to be incapable of understanding that if many retail businesses cannot pay their bills, because they cannot trade owing to the ‘lock down’, it ripples throughout the economy, dealing a death blow to many more businesses in turn. They resorted instead to asking the business owners to agree that the lock down was necessary, which they foolishly agreed to (even though the WHO did not recommend such a measure as recently as last year – see 2019 WHO report on non-pharmaceutical public health measures in an epidemic or pandemic, ISBN 978-92-4-151683-9).

markscreaminggoosearmstrong April 29, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Nah I’m a-political.

Well said Sir Robert.
Considering that,as Bob said in his Feb article, the world’s economy,very much including NZ,was not robust before CV, to shut it down was incredibly lacking in foresight,if not criminally negligent.
Jacinda recently stated that ‘our” next priority is to save “jobs”.
Her level of economic naivety is astounding, as amply demonstrated by her apparent blindness to the consequences of shutting the country down,and would be laughable if not for the tragic scenario which lies ahead.
If National do not landslide the next election they will have only themselves to blame.

    National have no show unless they push Judith Collins out front.
    To be clear I probably won’t be voting for either L. or N.

In 1947, Albert Camus published his masterpiece, “The Plague”.
Ostensibly about a plague more serious than the nasty flu the world is experiencing at the moment, the story also seamlessly showcased Camus’ philosophy.
Camus’ philosophy compared man’s life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again.
My ode to Camus is my daily posting on Stuff comments. Every day, I throw a few comments in, which are always banned.
Why do I bother?
I know the policies of the government will probably turn to custard (this has already started). I know that there will then be the apologists who will then say (or even say now) – these views are all in hindsight.
Of course, this won’t be true. Although my comments are now lost forever in cyberspace, someone (and probably a great many people) did resist. They don’t have the unanimity they pretend that they have.
I think in my last comment to Stuff, I tried to appeal to their “wokeness”. I pointed out that when they are about to show bright lights, they quite rightly warn epileptics, so they can change the channel. I suffer from coulrophobia. When trying to stay abreast of the latest propaganda about this nasty flu, I open articles and with no warning – I am assaulted by pictures of Siouxsie Wiles. This has caused me panic attacks and bouts of nausea. I simply requested a health warning. Nothing has been forthcoming, to date. Of course, this post was never published.
Anyway, lets discuss the goose. To be fair to him, he’s virtually conceded that Oz got it right, and therefore our government got it wrong. Of course, he implies this result is an anomaly, and remains an apologist for the government (no one could have known!). Still, he’s further down the road than most zealots in accepting mistakes. Most of the ideologues still believe they are doing just splendidly.
Still, the common man gives me hope. Talking to actual working people, a lot of them have realised the lockdown was nonsense. New Zealanders are pragmatic, sensible people. Ideological thinking and extremism doesn’t wash. The ship is turning.

    To turn things on their head.
    Do you not think that perhaps the globally envious position which we are in is the very reason that is giving all the detractors the ammunition to say everything the Government has implemented [ yes J.A. and A.B ] has been ill advised , wrong , and a complete over-reaction ?
    Yes there have been mistakes undoubtedly.
    But more along the line of , damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
    I just can’t get that term hindsight out of my head !

Frederick Williscroft April 29, 2020 at 6:47 pm

Very good post Sir Robert. The last 2 days watching the epidemic committee encapsulates everything that is wrong with this governments response. Yesterday small and medium business told us in no uncertain terms that the govt has let them down, many are desperate and cannot continue, and that the govt is not listening to their grievances. Then today I recommend (if you had not seen it) Professor Des Gorman who absolutely tore into the govt for their initial shambolic response to Covid19 and that they could have prevented it right from the off. Then their response since then has been disorganised, disjointed and haphazard. I hope before the election that the incompetence of the govts response is chronicled for all to see.

    Dr Des Gorman is not an epidemiologist or a virologist.
    He is qualified in the field of Occupational Medicine , that’s like Health and Safety in the workplace to you and me.
    He makes some valid points regarding the early actions at the border , or lack thereof , but that is hardly a new viewpoint .
    Beyond that , he is commenting outside his area of expertise and his view is no more valid than that of anyone else.

Overall population densities are a dumb way of assessing how easily the virus can be spread: If a city had a population density of 10,000 people/km^2 so the people were all standing 10 metres apart there would be hardly any more transmission than if everyone in a country stood a kilometer apart, spread occurs when people come very close together, usually contact or within a metre and usually indoors. So what counts isn’t the population per km^2 but how often lots of people are crowded into relatively small rooms, whether that’s restaurants, cinemas, buses, prisons, rest homes or shops (lots of people in a small space vs few, means one can infect many in a short time).
Obviously behaviours like cough etiquette and hygiene are also important to prevent spread.

Leave a Reply