Let’s kick off today with some eye-opening numbers.
From the start of January to the end of March, the national road toll was 286.
That’s 286 people who lost their lives in some form of road-related accident.
Over the same period in 2019, the toll was 327.
That’s an improvement of 41.
Over the Easter long weekend, six Aussies lost their lives on the roads. Even amidst lockdown restrictions, six people sadly died.
This is a stark improvement on the 2019 figures as you’d expect. In 2019, 19 people lost their lives over the Easter weekend.
Year-to-year though, an improvement over the Easter weekend of 13 lives.
Not taking into full account the other days in April, we know that from 2019 to 2020 the road toll is roughly 54 road deaths better off than the year prior.
Also according to the TAC (Victoria), year-to-date up until midnight 21 April, 75 lives had been lost on Victorian roads. This is an improvement of 19 lives compared to 2019 when to the same date 94 lives had been lost.
It’s a tragedy when people die in road-related events, particularly when with modern technology they can be avoided.
But an improvement of 54 is good news. And an improvement in Victoria of 19 year-on-year is great. Now, we know this is predominately a by-product of people keeping socially distant and on the bulk, staying at home.
What we also know is under these lockdown conditions so far the national coronavirus death toll currently stands at around 74. In Victoria there have been 15 coronavirus-related deaths.
So if there were 15 coronavirus deaths in Victoria, and 19 less deaths from the road toll…then just on the road toll reduction, Victoria has seen less death in 2020 so far than 2019.
Let me just leave you with that information for a moment. You can start to piece together your own views from those figures.
Now I also want you to consider something else…
The biggest economic disaster since the Great Depression
This week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor, Philip Lowe, provided an economic update on this crisis.
In his speech he noted:
‘The result of both the restrictions and the uncertainty is that over the first half of 2020 we are likely to experience the biggest contraction in national output and income that we have witnessed since the 1930s,
‘National output is likely to fall by around 10 per cent over the first half of 2020, with most of this decline taking place in the June quarter,
‘Total hours worked in Australia are likely to decline by around 20 per cent over the first half of this year,
‘The unemployment rate is likely to be around 10 per cent by June.’
That’s the RBA’s view.
The government has also chimed in with a number of stimulus packages (in conjunction with the RBA and the states, of course).
All up when you go to the checkout cart, you’ll find (so far) a grand total of $213.6 billion in direct stimulus measures.
Of course, that’s peanuts compared to our American brethren. But it’s still a hefty wad of moolah for little ole Australia.
Now, what I would also like you to think about — focusing in on Australia specifically — is the economic response in relation to the actual impact of the event.
Bearing in mind that it was the government and the states that shut down the economy to start with. They were the ones who forced businesses to close, who made it illegal to be out in public with more than a handful of people at a time.
They decided to drive the economy into complete standstill, then provide some of the biggest economic stimulus packages ever seen, to stave off the biggest downturn since the Great Depression, that they forced on Australians.
For a net additional deaths nationally of 20.
Granted that’s only looking at the offset of the reduction in road toll versus the addition of the 74 coronavirus deaths. But the number is still 20.
The greatest downturn since the Great Depression, from a net extra 20 deaths nationally.
Death by government
You have to at the very least wonder if the extreme draconian measures put in place are justified considering the direct impact to Australia.
But of course, I thoroughly expect people to say the government action saved thousands of lives. Their lockdown measures will have saved countless people from the coronavirus. And maybe that’s true.
However, we know also that recessions and depressions also end up costing the lives of people. In fact, should Australia go into a prolonged recession, should unemployment remain high, should it take years for the economy to properly recover, then I have no doubt that the economic mortality from this will exceed the virus mortality.
Stressful economic times leads to upticks in suicides, domestic violence, and even rates of cancer. Research from Imperial College London published in The Lancet suggests:
‘[The 2008] economic crisis was associated with over 260,000 additional cancer deaths in countries within the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD) by 2010.’
The lead author, Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, said:
‘We found that increased unemployment was associated with increased cancer mortality, but that universal health coverage protected against these effects. This was especially the case for treatable cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.’
Which makes us wonder if the real threat to Australia is the coronavirus or the government?
Soon you’ll be pressured into subscribing to the virus tracking app. While they say your privacy will be maintained, you have to admit they have a tendency with tech to make it a tool for surveillance.
Remember the metadata retention laws? And the encryption backdoor laws put into play? Both provide the government and authorities access to your information even just under the pretence that you may have done something they deem to be not in their interests.
People give China stick for being an authoritarian state. But just take a look in your own backyard for the real evidence.
Of course, it’s easy to lambast the actions of the government and their mishandling of the economy in this ‘global emergency’. They’ve made decisions that you’d hope they never had to make in the first place. And you’d never hoped it because deep down we all knew they’d stuff it up.
They’ve stayed true to form.
Editor, Money Morning
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