You can tell things are fucked when Q+A ponders whether Australia should “have a more pragmatic attitude to death” in the middle of a pandemic, but last night’s episode of the panel show really was an absolute ripper.
Genuinely blackpilled stuff, folks.
When asked if Australia’s response to the coronavirus crisis is “worth it”, the University of New South Wales’ Professor Gigi Foster argued the indirect damage of shutdowns may be worse than the virus itself.
“Has anyone thought about how would you get a measure of the traded lives when we lock an economy down?” Professor Foster asked.
“What are we sacrificing in terms of lives?… If you do that kind of calculus then you realise very quickly that even with a very, very extreme epidemic in Australia, we are still potentially better off not having an economic lockdown in the first place.”
Her logic, as it were, suggests that the total sum of human misery imposed by the closure of businesses and a shrinking of the economy will be worse than if the virus were allowed to churn through Australian society.
It’s an argument that’s been trotted out quite a bit recently, and I’ve tried engaging with the idea of the “cure” being worse than the “disease.”
Still, I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea of a huge number of COVID-19 deaths in the short term somehow being preferable to economically-modelled deaths in the longterm.
Professor Foster’s logic also suggests that an explosion of deaths linked to the virus wouldn’t negatively impact the economy to the extent of current lockdown protocols.
Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who didn’t quite get it.
Other members of the panel, which included an ethicist, an epidemiologist, a trade union leader, and the leader of the Australian Government’s approach to the pandemic – people who are, broadly speaking, interested in minimising human suffering – jumped in to dispute her claims.
But fuck me sideways, I am sick of these brutal hypotheticals rolling out when we have rock-solid evidence that lockdowns are saving lives – and have bought us time to plan for a safer and more secure reopening of the economy.
As for the original question, about whether we should have a more “pragmatic” approach to carking it: Nah, I’d rather not. Cheers.
Fucking hell. Watch it below:
— QandA (@QandA) April 20, 2020